Xeodrifter (Switch) Review

Diet Metroid

Metroidvania games have become commonplace on Nintendo Switch, and Atooi has eagerly jumped into the trend with Xeodrifter, which originally released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2014. Xeodrifter functions like a light version of Metroid and adheres very strictly to the formula of exploring mazes and using upgrades to reach new places. Although Xeodrifter doesn’t do anything particularly exciting for the genre, it’s a solid, short romp with a gorgeous faux-NES graphical style and wonderful chiptunes.

Please be sure to check out the Video Version!

You play as an astronaut whose ship has collided with an asteroid, leaving you stranded in space. Your barely functional ship only has enough energy to travel to four nearby planets, each housing a different self-contained mazelike area. This structure may disappoint fans used to the unified map in most Metroid games, but at least the levels are solidly designed, albeit overly streamlined.

Xeodrifter Nintendo Switch Gameplay.jpg
Not even a distant land – We’re stuck on a whole different planet…

Every platform is aptly placed, which lends itself to optimal run and gun gameplay. And the laid-out paths are designed to cleanly guide you from point A to B. But due to the overly simplistic and fairly small levels, I didn’t get that important sense of excitement from exploration. The multiplanet format doesn’t live up to its potential either. Although you can freely hop from one planet to another, the game technically follows a linear structure and you’re meant to go through each level in a certain order. It’s pretty clear that you aren’t on the right path if you’re blocked by an obstacle and don’t have the corresponding upgrade to get past.

On the plus side, by veering off the beaten path, you receive nice bonuses. In particular, the gun upgrades are implemented well. Your starting character is only equipped with a weak blaster, similar to what Mega Man uses. By grabbing upgrades, you can choose how you wish to improve your gun. For instance, you can equip it with homing bullets, wavy shots, or stronger firepower. Or with enough upgrades, you could use a combination of any of five gun types. It’s a versatile system that tailors progression to the player and rewards adaptation. For example, I preferred using the strongest shot, but switched over to a wavy gun to destroy an annoying enemy without getting hurt. I enjoyed blasting tougher enemies with the most ideal shots.

Xeodrifter Nintendo Switch Enemy.jpg
It’s a blocky Mutant Mudd!

Just as impressive are the power-ups, which are a blast to use. There are standard powers that help you travel in water or run rapidly, but my favorite was the ability to phase-shift between the background and foreground, a move clearly inspired by Atooi’s Mutant Mudds series. The only thing missing is the 3D effect from the 3DS version! I owe part of my enjoyment to how responsive it is to control the astronaut. Movement was smooth, and death rarely felt cheap. I was empowered to perform any action, even some in succession, like running and phase shifting at the same time.

Xeodrifter Nintendo Switch Phase Shift.jpg
This game has literal depth.

However, to earn these fun power-ups, you must fight the same squid alien boss not twice, not thrice, but seven times. Sure, it gets stronger with every encounter, but it’s still the same exact creature every time. The redundancy is an overall problem with the rest of the game as well. You end up backtracking through these areas often, whether you hit a roadblock or get sent back to the beginning upon death. It’s an unnecessary amount of repetition for such a short game. Speaking of which, a first-time playthrough will likely take just a couple of hours, and 100% completion can be achieved within three or four hours. Its length makes for good replays, though it’s not necessarily enticing to experience it again. On a related note, if you’ve played it on another system, the Switch version doesn’t add anything new to warrant a second purchase.

Xeodrifter Nintendo Switch Boss.jpg
“Think you can take me?! Don’t forget me!”

Conclusion

It’s hard to feel one way or the other towards Xeodrifter. I certainly enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t consider it a must-play. It’s a solid Metroid clone, though it feels stripped of what makes the series great. The multiplanet structure is interesting, but its individual levels and their designs are too small and basic to stand out. The power-ups are fun to use, but they reveal a rigid linearity that cheapens exploration. And unnecessary repetition plagues the already short experience. I don’t mind quick games, but Xeodrifter comes and goes without making a huge impression. Regardless, if you are a hardcore Metroidvania fan and want something akin to a “Metroid-lite,” Xeodrifter is a good bet.

Score: 7/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was originally written on Miketendo64.

What are your thoughts on Xeodrifter? What makes a Metroidvania game good? What is your favorite Metroidvania game? Please share any thoughts or questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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13 thoughts on “Xeodrifter (Switch) Review

  1. Nice review! I’m not a huge Metroidvania fan, as I have a tendency to get lost in mazes. So actually, this seems like it might be a good option for me, even if it might be bland for most Metroid experts. The levels look pretty compact. I might get tired of fighting the same boss over and over again, but I bet I’d get pretty good at it after doing it so long! I like the different types of gun power ups you can get too. I want to use the wavy shot! This game seems short and sweet. I might want to try it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always for being so supportive! It means so much to me! 😀 You know, now that you mention it, I think you would enjoy the light Metroidvania approach Xeodrifter takes. It’s not an easy game, but it does get easier as you find upgrades, and you’d probably enjoy all the different gun types. And you’re right about getting better at beating the boss haha! This could be the perfect game to train you to finally play Super Metroid! ;)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reoccurring boss fights can be done well, but you have to be really careful with them, as by their very nature, they tend to make things repetitive. That was one of the problems I had with Skyward Sword; there were two bosses encountered at least three times, and one of them happened to be the least engaging boss in the game. I like the boss fight rematch where someone that was once a pushover ends up being incredibly difficult to defeat the second time around.

    Either way, I like that more people have been trying to come up with a good 2D Metroidvania. It’ll be interesting to see if someone can make something of the caliber of Super Metroid or even surpass it. There is a lot of backtracking to be done in the average Metroidvania, and if the creator isn’t careful, it too can lead to the game being stale and repetitive. The best ones make players want to revisit old areas while in lesser efforts, the very act of backtracking becomes very noticeable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, The Imprisoned…I couldn’t stand that boss. It was annoying the first time, and it only got worse afterward. I’m all for the Groosenator though!

      Repeated bosses just signify wasted potential to me. In Yoshi’s Woolly World, several bosses are repeated. Coming from Yoshi’s Island, a game that has some of my favorite bosses ever, it’s a disappointment to have to fight the same boss 3 times when it could have been 3 separate bosses. Xeodrifter has a similar problem, except the boss is repeated 7 times, and there is no other boss. He adds one move in each fight but still uses all his previous attacks, which takes away from the excitement of a big encounter. It would have been a fine miniboss alongside other bosses, but not so much as the ONLY boss.

      I’m all for other developers making 2D Metroidvania games, since Nintendo (and I guess Konami lately) don’t make enough. I totally agree with you that backtracking can be done well when it allows you to revisit old areas with lesser efforts. Xeodrifter’s upgrades don’t necessarily backtracking that much easier, unless you count the handy run function. But they do unlock new areas, which is also a fun way to enhance backtracking. The halls feel more claustrophobic than a typical Metroid, which may be why it doesn’t feel like you can really make travel easier or sequence break.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know it’s bad when even the Groosenator can’t fully save it.

        I think that’s just it; reoccurring fights work either when they adopt completely different strategies the second time around or are downgraded to miniboss fights if fought the exact same way. Sounds like Xeodrifter fares worse than Skyward Sword though; only having one boss to fight is a serious waste of potential. I like the way Yoshi’s Island handled it in that you did refight the second boss of the first world a few times. The reason it worked there was because he became a miniboss rather than being fought at the end of the level.

        I think what one should do when creating a Metroidvania is either have the later power-ups make traveling easier or have a way to teleport.

        It’s really sad what Konami has become, isn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, refighting the bosses in Yoshi’s Island wasn’t even a problem for me, because they were treated as normal enemies. I like it when games take what was once a big deal boss encounter and throw it in later in the game as a “standard” enemy. Xeodrifter’s boss is much more like the Imprisoned, except you encounter it more than double the times. And depending on how many upgrades you get, the boss actually may be easier the stronger you are.

        That’s a good idea that I hope to see in future Metroidvanias moving forward. I think the teleports in Castlevania were very effective. Too bad we won’t see another one…ever. I guess besides Bloodstained. Oh Konami, seems like they’re just a Pachinko and Yu-Gi-Oh company nowadays.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Good review! This looks like Metroid-lite, but the ability to switch between background and foreground is cool. I also don’t hate the idea of fighting the same boss multiple times throughout the game, but it doesn’t sound like they innovate enough to justify it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words! 😀 Phase shifting between the background and foreground is definitely one of my favorite parts. It’s also why I liked Mutant Mudds, which is by the same developer, Atooi. You know what else has that mechanic? Wario Land for Virtual Boy. Yeah, I know. Now we both need Virtual Boys. WAAH!

      Like

  4. I would be scared to run into a Metroid who was on a diet, haha. And ugh to fighting the same boss over and over. The Imprisoned from Skyward Sword comes to mind. Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I was very tired getting this review done so I’m very glad you enjoyed it!

      Yes, yes! I can’t stand the Imprisoned. Those repeated fights were insufferable, even though I like the idea of the Groosenator. At least with Xeodrifter, the boss isn’t as annoying as the Imprisoned, but you fight it no less than 7 times.

      When I thought Diet Metroid, I was thinking like Coke, but now I’m legit terrified thinking of a hungry Metroid…

      Liked by 1 person

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