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Xeodrifter (Vita) artwork

Xeodrifter (Vita) review


"Diet Metroid. With only half the hours!"


Xeodrifter wants to be just like Metroid. Not Metroid Prime or even Super Metroid - just Metroid. And thatís fine. A lot of recent Indie games have gone back to the beloved titles of our youth and mined them successfully for inspiration, retro-fitting chunky pixel graphics and chip tunes to old school mechanics with modern twists. Xeodrifter mostly succeeds at doing just that.

In an attempt to fix a busted warp drive, your nameless astronaut fellow has access to four distinct planets he needs to explore in order not to only repair his vessel but find the means to delve further into each world. He might find his way blocked by a large body of water which heíll need the submarine upgrade to bypass, or perhaps he stands at the bottom of a huge ravine and instead needs to locate a jetpack accessory before he can move on. If that doesn't scream Metroid at you, then I suspect nothing will. Xeodrifer certainly scratches the itch that equipment based exploration affectionados might suffer from time to time by closing large chunks of the environment off from you until you possess the right item to bypass it.

So, thatís great. So many of the things Xeodrifter does manages to work out better than perhaps it should. Taking a page from their previous title, Renegade Kid have also enabled the ability to jump into the background, accessing elements of the scenery other games will only supply as garnish. It means your small pixel astronaut becomes an even smaller pixel astronaut taking on the same dangers he used to face, just scaled down some. Itís a clever touch, taking you out of the mindset that all obstacles need an upgrade to your inventory to bypass and offering a second line of thought. Thereís not enough platforms in the foreground to climb that vertical shaft, but those bits in the background look solid enough to work if you segue into them at the right time. Thereís your twist in the formula. So, why only mostly succeeds?



Mainly because Xeodrifter is an four/five hour game and a lot of that time will be spent cursing lost progress thanks to the irrationally sparse use of checkpoints. You save at your craft at the start of each planet then you get another save directly before or after a boss fight. Why directly after? Because once youíve trudged far enough into a planet to discover a boss fight, you then need to travel all the way back to your ship with your spoils. Itís not like these trips are cakewalks either; Xeodrifter provides many differing and creative ways to kill you. Though I laud games shying away from the press X to win mentality, games of the 8-bit area offered up exaggerated challenge in order to artificially boost their lifespan. It helped hide the hardware limitations that ensured there wasnít a lot of content. Xeodrifter does not have these limitations to hide yet insists on offering up the same rage-inducing pitfalls.

Itís also a shame that every boss fight you encounter is the exact same boss plus one new attack pattern. Expect to see several somewhat adorable giant mutant hedgehogs of differing hues as you battle them and members of their immediate family relentlessly. On one hand, itís kind of refreshing to see the slow evolution of the galaxyís angriest hedgehog, dodging attacks you learnt in your last battle only to be smashed by something new and unexpected the next second. But, on the other, this re-offender does sum up Xeodrfiterís unsavoury pallet swapping tendencies. I get that Metroid 2 used a similar progression of bosses but, to hell with you purists, I didnít much like it then, either.



The exploration you undertake to reach these battles is often nonlinear and that Xeodrifter point blank refuses to hold your hand in any circumstance does occasionally manifest as a boon. Youíre not told which planet youíre supposed to explore first, but are instead forced to seek out dead ends and overpowered enemies through trial and error. You eventually find the means to bypass these obstacles via the swag you glean off the space hedgehogís corpses and you eventually bolster your offence by collecting various health and weapon upgrades scattered around the world. Rather than offer permanent upgrades or swap in entirely new weapons, you instead collect stat points you can attribute to differing statistics. You can dial up your shot speed, factor in a wider beam or just plump for pure power - or any combination thereof. These modifications are never hard saved, so you can swap them around as often as you please and even store three preset models to switch out on the fly to suit your circumstances.

Itís to Xeodriferís credit that it hasnít just rolled out a carbon copy of Metroid, called it a homage and rolled the credits. While itís happy - proud, even - to wear its influences on its sleeves, itís the little touches which break formula that stand out the most. Sometimes these will get buried in the frustration of trying to reach them, or in suffering a fair death that rewinds your progress an unfair amount. Xeodrifer is often an exercise in seeing how much rage you can swallow in order to power through to the highlights.

4/5

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (September 10, 2015)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Masters posted September 15, 2015:

Very nice short review. I'll be trying to do as much justice to the game when I review the PS4 version.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted January 16, 2017:

Late comment:

I just finished the PS4 version of this, and I have to say it's wonderful. Then again, I also liked Renegade Kid's Mutant Mudds as well, so it's no surprise I dug this title. I think one thing that drove me nuts at first was the jump mechanic. It seemed a little too overresponsive and didn't allow for just a short hop. Trying to dodge those triple shot projectiles when fighting the boss was irritating. Eventually, I just learned to jump over the entire trio instead of trying to leap between the bullets, though.

Great quick review, as well. Out of curiosity, did you play Mutant Mudds?
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EmP posted January 17, 2017:

Thanks for this topic, Joe. Not just for your kind words, but for reminding the world that Marc is several years late on his last deadline.

Oh, that Masters!

Interesting fact: Mike 'Suskie' Suskie read this review, bought this game off the back of it and hated it. He has not been seen since. Warning: may not be 100% factual.

ADDEMM: I know about Mudds, but I've never played it.

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