Switch version tested
Review code provided
Blue Rider is another shmup from the camp at Ratalaika Games, and to the fans of this developer it should look familiar. This has familiar colours and graphics, it could be the unspoken sequel to Full Blast? I haven’t read that, but it’s what I decided. We’re going to call it a 360 Shmup since your ship can move in any direction, controls require the use of both joysticks to move around.
The player is shown the controller button layout and the chaos begins, the game doesn’t explain much after that. Very colourful landscapes and terrains that span 9 levels from lush green forests to snow-topped trees to lava ridden areas. The time it takes to beat a level will be anywhere from six to twelve minutes depending on your level of exploration. Lava levels sink beneath you, kind of difficult to tell if what you’re flying on will hurt you before taking damage.
Every level beaten will bring a menu that shows statistics and status. Once I found out relics were a hidden item and finding them was part of the mission, seeking them out was my main priority. That mainly pointed my ship towards the edges of levels looking to shoot at every tree and rock in sight. One relic was located off the stage where your ship couldn’t access, but I saw it and shot the bugger. Relics give bonus points to your total score.
If a string of enemies is destroyed it will increase your “rampage” which I would guess increases your bullet damage. The game doesn’t explain anything about it, but I wish it did. You can swap weapons if you find the right hidden item and shoot it. Shots are satisfying, explosions are as well, upgrades are primary or secondary and found from blue towers.
Your ship is pretty slow moving which can be offset with the boost button, although it’s pretty awkward to ZR to shoot and R to boost. I ended up using my trigger finger for both buttons at the same time. There is no mini-map and that sucks. The game is short overall but a mini-map would have been a great for each level, mostly for the sinking lava levels but overall as well. I wish the angle of view was tilted back a bit as enemies will quickly be on you as you explore new areas. I kept leaning the Switch backward as if that were to help. A bit awkward is all I’m saying. Just the option to change that would have made the game more accessible.
The sound cut out 3 or 4 levels in, then I accidentally hit the main menu button and lost all my points. How unfortunate. The snow level increases the difficulty of the game with snowflakes that resemble shots being fired, keep a keen eye on those. Enemies range from homing missiles smaller than your ship, to ships four times your size. They all have similar looks, bullet size and trajectory differ slightly. One cool bullet feature was a shot that split into multiple bullets, more than once. Bosses are massive and give good variety from one to the next.
You can either play it safe and shoot folks from a distance or get right in their face and enjoy the action. I started off playing slow and safe then once I felt more comfortable with the controls, I was whizzing into enemies faces and spinning around while shooting in every direction. That was a really fun aspect of the game. The ending is pretty hype and the credits are more interesting than the typical scrolling names on the screen. @mikeysnes is still on the top ten leaderboard!
For fans of Full Blast, this is a great game to play and keep the shmup fun going. The price is perfect, three tiers of difficulty and leaderboard are great. The viewpoint really bothered me and took away from the experience. Overall it’s a good game you should check out.
Beard Score: 6/10
Nintendo Switch Essentials:
Allows for Nintendo Video Capture: Yes
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: Dec 13, 2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Shmup, Shooter, Arcade
Developer Ravegan / Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop