Code Shifter (Nintendo Switch)

Code Shifter is the latest title from Arc System Works, it’s a cross over title mixing the worlds of BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, Kunio Kun and even Double Dragon. Is this another Arc Mash up worthy of Heaven or should these fates just avoid crossing?

Code Shifter puts you in the sneakers of Stella, programmer for video game giants Awesome Rainbow Corp, to help smooth the game during crunch she has designed Code Shifter, a programme which let’s her control an avatar inside the game data to destroy pesky bugs and glitches.

Naturally because this is the land of video game, there is a mystery to solve & the only way to solve it is using Code Shifter and your avatar Sera to save the day, finish the game and get another Awesome Rainbow Corp game to shelves.

When you look at the stacked roster on offer here it shows all the potential that this story sadly lacks. Outside of the main cast of game developers there is no character interactions which is a grave shame, when you see Kunio Kun and expect him to give Sol Badguy yet all your left with is soulless avatars it does knock the game slightly. Now the game never advertises it as otherwise it’s just a giant shame that the cross over potential wasn’t even attempted unlike BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle.

On the audio side of things, all dialogue is done in the Animal Crossing/Banjo Kazooie sound style. The music on the other hand is absolutely stellar, all the old iconic are songs redone in wonderful chip tune. Of course some songs were already in a similar style but who’s going to say no to the Double Dragon theme song really!.

Graphically Code Shifter is in a weird space, the  character models for the cross over characters are beautiful “8 bit” style sprites where as the main character avatar Sera, the enemies, the stages and the “real world” all look like they fell out of a flash game. It’s a weird balance and I know I personally would have preferred the whole game to have been the Sprite style rather than the overly clean and awkward look most of it is.

Another knock on this is the enemy variety, rather than take even more iconic properties, Code Shifter has you fighting legions of robot bugs acting as Viruses. While it’s fitting with the story of the game it is a shame there isn’t a little more variety and honestly more interesting enemies to wade through.

Gameplay is Code Shifter is simple enough, it’s a platformer with puzzle and brawler elements. Your avatar “Sera” can acquire assists and avatar changes in form of the Arc Sys backcat. Some areas will only open if you have a character with a specific element, some characters kick more ass than others and some just have some really really good music. The main hook for me with this game was the roster and how they played.

The platforming is serviceable if not a little floaty, the combat is a standard attack button, a special button and assist button, it’s not the usual Arc complexity and honestly it’s fine.

You can also play the game you are making “Colourful Fighters” which is like Arc Sys Smash Bros or even closer Shovel Knight Showdown. The game uses the same combat as the main game which means it’s not the most complex fighter, it’s also local multiplayer only and the roster has some real imbalances, it was never the main event of the game but I would be lying if I didn’t mention I have spent a good few hours playing this mini game and found a good level of enjoyment from it.

Code Shifter is a perfectly fine game, it’s not going to shatter worlds and doesn’t really do much with the cross over content. Outside of the fun bonus game of Colourful Fighters, the chip tunes and the sprites, Code Shifter doesn’t offer much you can’t get more of elsewhere. If you are a fan of titles like River City, Double Dragon, Guilty Gear & BlazBlue, Code Shifter is a nifty if not unremarkable distraction until the next main Arc game drops. 

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