Blue Rider Review
Remakes are an all too common reality in video games of the last few years. Franchises are rebooted and reborn, ideas are reworked to appeal to the modern gamer, and old classics are brought “up to code” so the next generation of gamers can delve into the same dungeons we once explored. Sometimes this feels like a cash-grab, like we are being handed the same old product and expected to enjoy it because it’s been digitally remastered. But every so often, you come across a gem that takes a classic experience and creates something worthy of being called a new experience.
Published and developed by Ravegan, Blue Rider in itself is not a groundbreaking idea: one part twin-stick shooter, one part adventure, and one part bullet hell title all welded together in one. Players take control of a bulky blue hovercraft with forward mounted blasters and limited missile barrage capabilities. The objective is simple: survive as long as you can, travel as far as you can, and get the most points. While Blue Rider may not have a story to follow, it’s easily forgotten with how tightly the game works.
“…one part twin-stick shooter, one part adventure, and one part bullet hell title all welded together in one.”
The camera will always remain behind the vehicle, which can dart throughout the level to avoid the barrage of slow moving bullets headed for your hull. The first few stages are testing grounds to get a handle on the mechanics before all hell breaks loose and you find yourself simultaneously holding down the trigger and trying to artfully dodge a sea of bullets that washes over the screen. It’s the kind of challenge gamers get nostalgic for, thinking back to the good old 8 and 16 bit days. Enemies are even color coded to know how dangerous they are, with red enemies firing the most bullets in the most directions at once. Power-ups frequently appear to permanently upgrade your own blaster with stronger shots, multiple cannons, and multiple angles to help take down the wall of enemies closing in on you in tight spaces. Missiles can also be upgraded for extra firepower; however, the joy of watching things explode can overpower the common sensibilities of conserving the missile launchers ammo.
Stages are simple yet colorful, with nine different locations to unlock by defeating their respective bosses. The odd angles and bright colors of the stages landscapes are reminiscent of 64-bit era adventure and platform titles like Banjo-Kazooie or Conker’s Bad Fur Day, again seemingly relying on hints of nostalgia to bring this title to life, and in truth it works. This is a game that doesn’t take itself massively serious, it’s here to have fun and it’s a blast to play. Stages are extremely straightforward and linear, relying on the threat of the enemy to make you dodge and weave rather than supplying a complex map to explore, which can be a little dull at times.
“Blue Rider banks on its well-managed use of nostalgia, bringing the gameplay of the 8/16-bit era to the design of the 64-bit era and the polish of the current gen.”
Points will carry over from world to world until you are eventually killed. While you can play any unlocked level to start from and don’t necessarily need to go back to square one, if you want to get a high score on the global leaderboards it will be necessary to start from scratch and build that score back up. The one flaw I felt with this title is in the control of the vehicle itself: it can be a bit bulky for the barrage of bullets flying at you, and trying to artfully dodge and weave becomes just a little trickier when you remember this is a hovercraft and so it will sway as it strafes. This means a simple tap left or right will see the vehicle drift just a little bit more, which can make precision manoeuvring a problem, especially late in the game.
Blue Rider banks on its well-managed use of nostalgia, bringing the gameplay of the 8/16-bit era to the design of the 64-bit era and the polish of the current gen with a balanced blend of twin-stick shooter and bullet hell shooter. Featuring upgradeable weapons, unlockable combat companions, and hidden collectibles to find, Blue Rider’s biggest problem is overzealous movement controls that make fine-tuned bullet dodging trickier than it needs to be. While it does not feature a story or basic plot, it makes up for it with fast action, explosions, and replayability as you try to reach the top of the leaderboard.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Wide range nostalgia
- Easy gameplay mechanics
- Fun environments
- Movement controls
- Lacking story