First released back in 2016 on Xbox One and PS4, Blue Rider is a twin stick shoot-em-up coming direct from the development team at Ravegan and published by EastAsiaSoft. Having received good reviews on other platforms, has time been kind to Blue Rider as it makes the jump to Nintendo Switch, or should it have remained in the past? Strap on in and let us find out!
Twin stick shooters like Blue Rider live or die on the control scheme, and in this respect the game is firing on all cylinders, if you’ll pardon the pun. The left stick moves your spacecraft, the right stick rotates it and then the left and right triggers fire the special and main weapons respectively. Add to this a boost function to get out of trouble and the controls are complete; beautifully simple. In addition, they are very responsive and tight, so the last piece of that gaming puzzle is all present and correct. Any deaths (and there will be many) can’t therefore be blamed on the game.
Blue Rider has a variety of stages, each crammed with a large variety of enemies, all armed to the teeth. They really aren’t keen on visitors and make their feelings plain with many, many bullets. Luckily, destroying them can deliver nice things like powerups or new weapons, so killing them is always worthwhile. Skating around the level, firing and blowing the baddies to smithereens never fails to raise a smile, and is very satisfying. Things get harder when the bosses appear though – at the end of each of the nine stages. These guys are huge, robotic beasts that have an almost overwhelming power when you first encounter then. Finding out their attack pattern, then taking advantage of it, is all part of the fun, and taking these behemoths down feels like a real achievement.
Gameplay wise and Blue Rider is almost bang on. The controls, as mentioned, respond with alacrity, and the patterns of enemies can be learned. What happens on the higher difficulties and the latter levels is that the run of the mill enemies are so numerous and trigger happy, that Blue Rider turns into a proper old skool bullet hell shooter. Quite often the only thing you can do is concentrate on staying alive, dodging the myriad of projectiles, and firing back feels almost out the question. However, the game never feels unfair when you do succumb to one of the many bullets whizzing about; rather you can usually look back and realise that you zigged when you should have zagged, leaving you to restart with a renewed sense of purpose. This is the big addictive hook of Blue Rider; at the end of each level you are given a score, and if you have performed well, some stats will be in green. Trying to improve your runs to beat your own record (let alone place on the world leaderboards that are included) is very addictive and will keep you coming back for more. Getting that perfect run through a level feels like it is almost within your grip, but nearly always remains elusive.
In regards to the negatives of Blue Rider, and it must be said that in this game there are very few. In fact, the only downside really worth mentioning is that when the screen gets very busy – and at times it does – the game does slow down a bit, which is a little jarring. It doesn’t happen all the time though, and the upsides of what you will get out of the whole experience more than outweigh the downsides, however, I would be remiss in my job as a reviewer if I didn’t mention it.
All in all though and you’ll find that Blue Rider on Nintendo Switch is a very good game. The challenge is real, the score chasing keeps you coming back, and the gameplay is just pure fun. Apart from the occasional slowdown, everything else is polished and works very well, and so if you are looking for a shooter on the Switch, you could do a lot worse.
Now if you’ll excuse me I have to try that level again…
Release date: December 2018
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: EastAsiaSoft