Xeodrifter Review (Nintendo Switch)


Xeodrifter is a retro-styled, Metroid-like game from indie developer Atooi. It’s a bite-sized love-letter to the Metroidvania genre, originally released on the 3DS and newly ported to Nintendo Switch.

You play as a little red guy (or girl? You never know with these games…), equipped with a gun, exploring 4 neighboring planets. You’ll need to unlock equipment and abilities as you go to advance through new areas.

Beating bosses earns you power-ups, and you can configure your blaster on the fly by allocating points to its speed, bullet size, spread, and more. Most other unlockables increase your mobility in fun and useful ways; think along the lines of the Metroid series’ shine-spark or rocket jump, but with its own Xeodrifter-flavored twist. The game prompts some “aha” moments as you’re forced to use these mobility upgrades in tandem for some truly memorable segments.

This game presents a real challenge. Once in a great while you will stumble on an enemy nest where you can farm for life replenishment, but by and large you have to traverse through these alien structures with care and caution, where every hit matters. It regularly took me multiple attempts to get what I needed and make it back to the safety of my gunship before embarking on the next mission.

The graphical presentation of Xeodrifter can only be described as simple. When first booting up the game, it didn’t strike me as beautiful when compared to some other modern takes on pixel graphics, but the art style actually did grow on me. For this version, graphics AND rumble were given the “HD” treatment. I also didn’t find myself missing the stereoscopic visuals from the 3D original. However, in the absence of a second screen, a little mini-map in the corner would have saved me a lot of pausing.

One more thing I have filed under the “would have been nice” category is variable jump-height. Whether you quickly tap or hold the jump button down, the character executes the same move and sometimes stays in the air longer than I would have liked. Variable jump height is something the developer has implemented in other games, and that lacking aspect of control did limit my precision.

Overall, I had a fun time with Xeodrifter. The game doesn’t hold your hand, leaving the player to his or her own devices to figure out where to go. In such a compact world, I never felt truly lost. You are encouraged to explore and see where your new weapons can take you.

Some gamers might have a complaint about the boss levels; roughly a half-dozen encounters that use the same giant enemy and attack patterns with increasing difficulty. I actually thought this was a cool analog to my character, as if I was growing more powerful in parallel with my archenemy over multiple showdowns, like you might find with Dark Samus in the Metroid Prime games. The boss fights were another area where this game doesn’t hold back in difficulty, and beating each one felt like an accomplishment.

Xeodrifter is short. It’s an excellent palate-cleanser between bigger titles, a great option for people who miss the Metroid gameplay loop, and a good effort from a passionate indie developer. For the $10 asking price, I can easily recommend it to fans of the genre. Xeodrifter gets a 7.75/10.

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Scott

Scott is a hardcore Nintendo nerd. Always on top of the latest news, as well as looking back fondly at retro history. Main job at TBC is co-hosting the show with BFF Simeon. Smash Bros. die-hard. INTJ, OCD, ONECOOLDUDE.