Platform: PlayStation Vita
Released: September 2015
Developer/Publisher: Renegade Kid
Since Nintendo seems to have no interest in making good Metroid games anymore, it seems indie game devs have taken the torch and a lot of Metroid-influenced games have entered the market. Xeodrifter is one of them and since it was free on PS Plus for my Vita, I gave it a download. I'm not sure how different this version is from the PC, PS4 or 3DS versions, but you might as well treat this as a general review of the game as nothing about the PS Vita versions felt like it took particular advantage of the Vita's gimmicks. Is it worth picking up, or is this a game that should just be left drifting? Let's find out.
Xeodrifter is about a spaceman who ends up stranded in a small system when he accidentally bumps into a rogue asteroid. Scanning the nearby planets for resources, he finds some good energy signatures. However it turns out the simple plan to get a new warp core turns into a huge ordeal where he has to explore all four planets around him in order to find what he's looking for.
|Not sure if it's meant to be lava, or boiling hot KoolAid...|
|All modern space ships are of course outfitted with a save station, teleporter and map screen. No bed though.|
Now, that's kind of where the positives about the game end for me. Aside from the graphics which are really good for an 8bit retro game and the music which is perfectly decent, the game falls short in a lot of areas. Despite having 4 planets to explore, they all feel... small. Tiny even. The maps don't feel that big and instead of feeling like you are exploring different planets they might as well be parts of one planet like in Metroid. Each planet has its own unique theme to it, but due to the small size of each planet's map, it ends up feeling a bit unnecessary to have them being 4 planets. I simply wish there was more to explore and not to mention a bit more variety as a lot of the same enemies appear on all of the planets without any indication why they would if they belonged to one planet's ecosystem. For instance, a giant eye-block (for the lack of a better term) on one planet looked like it belonged on that planet because its design seemed to fit the planet's design theme. However I ran into the same enemy on an entirely different planet where it felt entirely out of place. Not to mention, the game is VERY short and you can easily finish it in a couple days if you are good enough. There's a bit of a difficulty to the game but it feels cheap because it relies entirely on how much health and gun powerups you have. If you get killed it's easily because you aren't strong enough and by the end of the game you can pretty much rape everything and take all the hits in the world if you have found enough powerups.
|"Imma firin' mah eyelazor!"|
Controlling the spaceman also feels like it could've been improved. Not only is he WAY too tiny compared to his environment (he basically looks like Samus if she was the size she is when morph balling), which makes calculating his position hard on smaller screens (this game was obviously developed originally with PC in mind...), but his controls feel very slippery and takes a while to get used to. Even hours after playing this game it's still very easy for me to screw up simply because the controls don't feel as tight as they should be.
|That'll teach you to spit fireballs on unsuspecting spacemen!|
Not really important to the gameplay and nothing memorable. It's just there pretty much.
Offering some cool gimmicks like the gun customization and phasing between background and foreground, but does little to expand on its formula or take full advantage of its level design and concepts. Repetitious boss battles and very cheap difficulty as well as slippery controls makes it hard to recommend repeated playthroughs of the game for anything but speedruns and to get a 100% rating.
The different planets have very cool designs to them and the graphics are generally very well done. The size of the hero is a bit too small for my taste though and I would've preferred a larger sprite for him.
While the music isn't outstanding and a lot of the sound effects are re-used over and over, it's servicable. A minor complaint is that the sound feels a little inconsistent. The sound effects sound like 16bit quality but the music is pure NES chiptunes which creates a bit of dissonance in my head. And the end theme is definitely not 8bit by any stretch. A bit more theming and consistency to the sound would've added a lot I feel. The music is alright, but nothing too memorable in my opinion.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10
All in all, Xeodrifter isn't a bad game. But it feels like it could've used more testing, more variation, and simply more of everything. Conceptually I like the idea of exploring different planets, but it doesn't feel like they explored the concept enough and instead stuck to some lazy shortcuts. It doesn't feel fleshed out enough. Compared to something like Metroid which the game obviously takes inspiration from, this doesn't feel like a worthy tribute. It has good ideas, but ultimately falls a bit short on all of them. It's probably worth the cheap price or getting it for free right now on PS Plus, but don't expect much for the money.