Second Opinion: Xeodrifter (3DS eShop)

Xeodrifter 3DS eShop Release Date

Xeodrifter, a game made by developer Renegade Kid is a retro style, side-scoller adventure that draws its inspiration from classic 2D Metroid games. Right off the bat Xeodrifter excels at providing a polished gameplay experience that is reminiscent of its inspiration while also providing its own unique experience. Much like past Metroid games, your blaster-equipped space explorer protagonist will gain abilities and upgrades as you progress through the game.

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What separates Xeodrifter into its own type of experience is the simplistic ingenuity of its upgrades, most notably the ability that allows your red spaceman to jump in-between a foreground and background level layout. Unlike many games that provide gimmicky exploration enhancing upgrades that feel incorporated for the purpose of overcoming a single obstacle or boss fight, Xeodrifter‘s main upgrade adds another dimension to its aspect of exploration. If it had been executed poorly in the game, I would have quickly grown tired of having to jump in and out of the background, but instead it stood out as a unique and clever idea that was incorporated expertly into not only exploration, but also combat.

What’s unfortunate about these benefactors of the game is that they can only provide enjoyment for so long when the environment, enemy, and boss designs remain the same throughout the game’s storyline. The game provides four planets for your red spaceman to explore, all of which I began to refer to by their color because that is the only unique aspect of each planet. As you progress through the game and gain new abilities and upgrades, the worlds slowly become more accessible and fleshed out, which seems enjoyable enough on paper, but unfortunately it becomes difficult for the game to elicit a rewarding sense of exploration when new found areas are nearly indistinguishable from past areas and the  platforming is only made unique by your new abilities that are needed to progress further.

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Why they couldn’t even come up with a creative name for each planet is beyond me.

This critique may seem somewhat harsh, but is warranted because the lack of variation does not stop at level design. The unchanging environment of Xeodrifter is perfectly complimented by the same type of monotony in enemy and boss design. It would be one thing to be traversing through unchanging alien environments while going up against a plethora of unique and challenging enemies, but that’s not the case. With every new same-old environment, comes the same-old hurdles of traversing through the same-old enemies, aside from two to three enemy types that are added as the game progresses.

The boss design in Xeodrifter is another creative idea that is yet again held by by a lack of variation. The first boss faced in the game, which also happens to be the only boss you face throughout the game, is an equal part cute and horrifying three eyed rodent that I can only assume was the end result of an experiment gone wrong on the fifth generation Pokémon, Joltik. As you progress through the game, you face Mutant-Joltik a number of times, in a number of different colors, and despite my constant criticism, I regard them as difficult and enjoyable boss encounters. As your character progresses and upgrades, so does Mutant-Joltik. It develops abilities and attacks that can be handled through the use of different strategies and new found abilities. What was notably enjoyable about facing Mutant-Joltik, was realizing that I could use my new found phase ability to mess with its attacks as it jumped into the background. However, even with an enjoyable and upgradable boss, it was still frustrating to learn that Mutant-Joltik would be the only boss type of enemy that I would come up against in Xeodrifter, adding yet another layer to its lack of variation. Had the developers included just a few more boss types so that there could be a respective boss to each planet, a majority of my argument would be completely dissolved, as there would be a new variation among enemies, and I would also be able to distinguish between the four planets.

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I would like to personally coin the idea that Xeodrifter is set in a post-apocalyptic Pokémon universe

Xeodrifter is a game that provides an enjoyable baseline of gameplay that it builds upon with clever upgrade ideas, which is why its lack of variation in both environment and enemy design is as disappointing as it is. Give Xeodrifter a try if you want a game that provides a well-made platformer experience reminiscent of classic side-scrolling metroidvanias, just don’t expect the same level of rewarding exploration and enemy design.

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About The Author

Feature Writer

Eli Hile is a feature writer at Always Nintendo. He likes spreading his opinions and knowledge on all things Nintendo, and is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aside from logging countless hours into Pokemon and Super Smash Bros, Eli enjoys playing tennis or golf with friends.