Run Saber Review for the Super Nintendo (SNES)

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In my mind I had always thought of Run Saber as a Strider Imitator for the Super Nintendo. However after firing up the game I found that it appears to have several influences, not just Strider. My initial reaction was that the game seems to have also been influenced by The Shinobi series.

The movements and actions of the protagonist are noticeably Strideresque. Your main moves consist of being able to attach to any surface and climb upwards and scale across ceilings. You can attack enemies with your Saber which looks uncannily like the weapon from Strider. I do not believe it is much of a stretch to say that the developers of Run Saber were fans of the Strider series.

Having said that to dismiss this game as a Strider imitator would be a mistake as it does have its own identity.

The game begins with a short introduction showing a family looking out across a galaxy. This is followed by an evil genius and then a glimpse of Project Saber. There is no text to explain the story which I must say I find quite odd.

From what is shown I assume that Project Saber is a bionic or DNA based super soldier program.

You begin by choosing a character, male or female the choice is yours. Having used both characters I found the male to be the best option. I preferred his method of special attack and he just felt a lot more agile to me. I died quite a few times when trying to play using the female character. Her special attack didn’t seem as impressive as her male counterparts.

The game can also be played as a Co-Op experience with each player taking control of the two characters. I was unable to test this out during this review but can see how it would be an advantage to play this game with a friend. You would be able to strategize with each other on the fly as to the best plan of attack.

This is something that is sorely missing in modern games. Whilst online gaming can be a fun experience there is nothing like playing with friends side by side for pure banter and interaction.

The controls are simple and well thought through. You can jump, slide, Saber attack and use the flaming foot of death when dropping down from above. There is also a special attack which is where the Shinobi influence rears its head. As you unleash the special attack your character raises into the air and prays Shinobi style and bounces energy around the screen. This attack reduces the enemy’s energy and makes them a little easier to defeat.

I did find that while the controls are well developed they are not without their faults. For instance I found on several occasions that when you drop from a platform your character will automatically attach to another surface. This can be frustrating when surrounded by enemies as you can easily lose a health bar due to an unwanted surface grab.

This doesn’t happen enough to completely annoy the player but it is a small issue which when in a tight spot can mean life or death.

The graphics for Run Saber like most Super Nintendo games are very polished. There is a fantastic use of colour and lots of fine detail. Stage three in particular stood out for me as the background has a vista which looks positively 3D. I couldn’t help think that this game would suit the 3DS as the depth that the hardware could lend to Stage three would look superb.

Each stage has a boss and sometimes even amid level boss. Each boss is well drawn and smoothly animated. At the end of stage one there is a fantastic boss battle which came out of the blue and surprised me. You are presented with a fighter jet which you must scale to confront the boss.

As you stand atop the jet it begins to rotate 360 degrees. This is something that needs to be seen but trust me when I say it impresses. Trying to find your footing and jump around the plane whilst fighting the boss as you rotate is quite disorientating and provides a nice level of strategy.

In general though I did find that the bosses are very simple and easy to defeat. I even found after a couple of playthroughs that I didn’t need to use my special Shinobi powers once I had locked in on the bosses attack patterns. I did use the Shinobi powers on occasion but this was mainly if I had low energy and didn’t want to use up a continue.

Another big plus for Run Saber is the music. As with the majority of Super Nintendo games Run Saber has a beautiful score. The music is crisp, clean and very arcadey. It has that arcade ability to attract your attention from a distance.

Each stage is complemented by a soundtrack that bounces along at a great pace and keeps you in the moment. In particular stage two stands out as the perfect example of the quality of the music within the game.

There are some flaws with this game though; one major one is that it is just too easy and far too short. However whilst that can be seen as a flaw it is also a big plus as it leaves you wanting more and as such re-plays are a must.

I am also unsure about some of the enemy types; you can find yourself defending against human opponents for the most part. However you will also encounter wasps and what look to be mini Godzilla’s which for me at least seemed a little random. I preferred to fight human enemies and what can only be described as waves of green goblins.

Of course you could say I am being a little bit picky as the enemies are a personal preference and I am sure that some gamers will not see this as a negative.

Overall I have to say that playing Run Saber for the first time I was left impressed. I enjoyed my time with the game and have gone back for several re-plays. It is a game that can easily be dismissed as a poor man’s Strider but do not let that put you off. As you scratch the surface you will find that the game has a lot more to offer than you may have first thought.

I would recommend Run Saber for anyone who enjoys short but overall enjoyable action platform games. It isn’t a cheap game to purchase complete in box but is without doubt worth every penny in my eyes.

TRGN Rating 85% – Reviewed by Pete (Snestastic)

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