Xeodrifter Review (3DS eShop)

You’d be hard pressed to find another game as metroidy as Xeodrifter. Renegade Kid took all the best bits you’d expect of that series—the exploration, the power-ups, the boss battles—and boiled them down to their very essence. Unsurprisingly, their end product is arguably the most streamlined Metroid experience out there, and that’s basically what you’re getting with Xeodrifter: no fuss, no muss, no coconuts. Definitely no coconuts, though.

This action/platformer starts out with a little red astronaut-lookin’ guy cruising the galaxy with his bad self when suddenly an astroid blindsides his spacecraft. Total bummer for his interstellar ride, but at least this yields Xeodrifter’s cute level select where players pilot the tiny ship to one of four neighboring planets. Because you’re a smart cookie and all, the game expects you to explore every level and eventually discern the appropriate path all by yourself, which is definitely refreshing since it’s a lot more fun to learn by playing than by scrolling through loads of text.

Things really start snowballing once you pick up the first power-up and while none of the subsequent upgrades are exactly groundbreaking, the Mutant Mudds-style layer jumping mechanic adds a neat visual flair to an already sharp looking game that would fit right in with anything from the Game Boy Color’s catalog. It should also be said that these power-ups are primarily used for spelunking rather than offensive purposes, though some do come in handy as evasive maneuvers against imposing bosses.

Moreover, the game boasts a fairly novel approach to boss encounters that I’m surprised hasn’t been copied to death yet. Instead of a whole slew of different bosses, Xeodrifter has one boss whose repertoire builds with each successive fight meaning you’ll be seeing a lot of the same patterns over and over again, but always expect at least one new trick up his buggy sleeve. At times this can get a bit redundant, though, on the other hand, it’s also a pretty economical way of handling bosses in a small budget like this. Yet, it’s still frustrating that bosses get a lion’s share of new abilities as the game chugs along whereas Buzz Aldrin’s gizmos amount to zilch when it comes to attack power.

The only reason to bemoan the lack of secondary weapons largely stems from how ineffective the blaster feels overall. Sure, there are gun upgrades which allow the player to tailor how bullets fire to their liking, but it doesn’t seem to increase the overall damage output. Do you fancy wave shots or rapid fire? Scatter shots? Maybe you prefer something a little bit more concentrated? Can’t decide? How about a little bit of everything then? Xeodrifter’s got you covered in all those regards, but it’s a shame that this only effects the pattern and speed of shots. This inconvenient truth makes late-game boss encounters a massive headache since they have more health AND offensive mix-up than our crimson crusader and is that really fair to him after all he’s been through? Poor guy.

All in all, there’s a lot to like about Renegade Kid’s latest eShop offering and it just goes to show that Metroids don’t always come in big ol’ Nintendo packages. Even though it falters ever so slightly here and there, Xeodrifter is still a slick little portable title that sets its sights on being just that: a slick little portable title. It’s a pretty solid one at that too, just not as excellent as it could have been had players had access to just a few more weapons to toy with. Though, perhaps Renegade Kid is all too aware of Christmas being around the corner and maybe, just maybe, they didn’t want us shooting our eyes out.

Xeodrifter is available now on the 3DS eShop for $9.99.

Xeodrifter Review (3DS eShop)
Gameplay7.2
Presentation8
Replay Value7
Little Red Astronaut-Lookin' Guy10
Pros
  • Nails the Metroid vibe
  • Stellar sprites all around
  • Fun-sized adventure
Cons
  • Secondary Weapons (Not) Acquired
  • Repetitive boss fights
7.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Former Co-Editor

Trace Wysaske lives somewhere in Washington, and when he isn't compulsively hunting Green Stars or felling the Lagiacrus, he's writing about everything from forlorn Japanese teachers to well-mannered crows. He still needs to play Ghost Trick.