Developed By: Peter Cleary, Stage Clear Studios
Published By: Digerati
Category: Action, Arcade, Twin Stick Shooter
Release Date: 12.25.19
Get those thumbs ready; we’ve got another fast-paced twin stick shooter incoming! XenoRaptor for the Nintendo Switch comes to us courtesy of programmer Peter Cleary, with publishing and porting assistance from Digerati and Stage Clear Studios, respectively. Even though it’s a twin stick shooter, not an on-rails shooter, the game sort of reminds me a little bit of Panzer Dragoon. You control a dragon while trying to shoot down dozens of enemies – that’s similar enough for me to give the game a try. What we end up with in this game is a worthy, addictive shooter with pretty good customizability options and a killer soundtrack courtesy of Bruno Alcara and some friends.
Rock the Cyberdragon
In XenoRaptor, players assume the role of a cyberdragon fighting skeleton ships in outer space. It’s a pretty rad concept, I won’t lie, but there’s no story or anything like a storyline to experience here. I got all the cyberdragon/skeleton ship stuff from the game’s store description, so don’t expect any kind of narrative fulfilment if you pick up this game. Instead, focus on the furious gameplay. It plays fairly similar to any twin stick shooter you may have played before; aim with one stick, move with the other, and shoot with the triggers. That’s pretty much it in terms of gameplay elements. Though rather simple, the game’s high-speed action and generous rate of fire of most weapons makes for a very satisfying experience.
Just to be a little more specific, though, you can equip two basic weapons, a special weapon attack, and a movement-based ability. There are lots of different weapons, from machine guns to missiles to railguns to lasers, but the movement abilities boil down to different types of dashing or sprinting. You can customize your cyberdragon in the hangar, which is one of the game’s cooler elements. As you defeat different boss enemies, you will unlock new weapons and cyberdragon equipment to increase your health, speed, armor, and damage. You can even change your dragon’s colors if you want. I love robust customization options in a game, and XenoRaptor provides plenty.
Three Ways to Play
XenoRaptor offers three different game modes to satisfy whatever types of skills players want to prove. The campaign doesn’t really have a story, but you progress through different worlds, encountering new environmental hazards and bosses as you progress. Beating bosses in the campaign is how you unlock new weapons and equipment, and it’s where I spent most of my time with the game. Endless is a survival mode; you just keep playing until you die to try and place yourself in the top 100 in the game’s leaderboards. There is a splitscreen mode that lets you and a friend team up against the skeleton ship hordes.
Cyberdragon Design Elements
The game’s graphics are perfectly presentable; though the game is seen from a bird’s-eye view like most twin stick shooters, the graphics are 3D. The cyberdragon model is fairly standardized except for color, really, but the camera is zoomed out far enough that you can’t really see the small changes during actual gameplay. It’s also difficult to make out smaller enemy models clearly, but the game still works and looks great without it. The fast-paced, dramatic, electronic soundtrack is the part of the game’s art direction I appreciated most anyway. While there are only a few different songs, they never feel repetitive or get old after a while.
While the basic mechanics of the game are simple and fairly standard for the genre, XenoRaptor implements them so well that I felt like I was playing something unique the whole way through. The environmental hazards like asteroids you can shoot into colliding with your enemies makes for a cool strategic element that separates this game from the rest of the pack. The graphics are fine, even if the camera is zoomed out too far to notice most of the changes you can make with the game’s fairly robust (for a game of this scale) customization options. The whole package is capped off with a great, if limited, soundtrack that will have players tapping their feet the whole way through. As long as you don’t need a narrative element to your games, XenoRaptor is a great way to spend a few gaming sessions.
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*A game code was provided for review purposes.