Review by Relle

"A fun game, but short and simple"

Run Saber is one of those games I saw in Nintendo Power back in my youth and thought ''Wow, that looks cool!'' Unfortunately, due to my above-mentioned youth, I never had the money to buy more than one or two games a year, and Run Saber just couldn't compete with Final Fantasy 3 and Chrono Trigger. Many years later, I find this sucker in the bargain bin. Lucky? Sort of. Run Saber is one of those games that is indeed fun, but compared to today's titles, doesn't have a lot to offer.

Graphics

SNES-era, though the environments are detailed and varied, while the enemies range from bland to wowzers! Your characters have moderately detailed sprites, but the big draw is the attack animations. There's a lot of them, and they usually provide you with a good show as you slice and dice your way through the stages. No FMV, no polygons, just good ol' fashioned spritely action. Plus, you can change the outfit and color palette of your hero(ine) by pausing and hitting select! Groovy!

Sound

Erm...nothing I'd buy the soundtrack to, if there even is one (I checked, there isn't). It's pretty typical for an action game, with techno beats and rhythms. The hero and heroine each have their grunts and groans when they're hit or attack or jump or whatever, along with a ''Haaa-aah!'' when you unleash their special attack.

Gameplay

In the age-old tradition of Contra, we have Run Saber. The world's been overrun by monsters under control of an evil doctor, and you have control of one of two Run Sabers, powerful warriors of good...or something. Obviously story is not a big part of this game.

As I said before, this game plays in the vein of Contra. However, rather than guns with unlimited ammunition, you have energy swords and butt-kickin' special attacks. Here's how it works: the male Run Saber, Allen, has a plasma sword that just plain toasts enemies with great reach. The female, Sheena, (who is better, in my opinion) has an ice saber that freezes enemies. She has less horizontal reach, but more of a vertical reach. You can pick up a single power-up that increases the range and power of your saber, but only one. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since when you die, your saber goes back to normal. Naturally, you have your special moves. These differ between each character, of course. Allen uses a bigass plasma dragon that snakes around the screen, destroying everything in its path, while Sheena throws out showers of ice crystals in a 360 degree whirlwind around her. As you may expect, both these attacks destroy everything on the screen.

The differences between the two heroes (besides cosmetic) end with their sabers. Their regular moves, including flips, speed, and other attacks are identical in every way but their color palette. Here's where things get interesting, though: while you have a whole planet full of nasties to beat up, you are, in fact, pretty badass yourself. You can, of course, use a normal attack while jumping, but on the way down you can hold down or down-left/down-right on the controller, engulfing your foot in whatever element your saber is, and basically killing whoever touches your foot. As funny as that sounds, it looks better in practice. In addition, you can hold up while jumping, lowering your height, but enveloping your entire body in energy that'll kill enemies and hurt bosses. Basically, it makes you invincible while in the air. Both heroes can also climb walls, hang from ceilings, and generally climb anything you see in the game.

With all these badass moves, you'd think the game's easy, right? Sort of. Instead of Contra, where one hit kills you (what's with these wimps who die after running into an alien, huh? Who gave them the guns?) you start with three hits that can be replenished by med kits enemies will randomly drop. You can have a maximum of eight hits, though not getting damaged in between med kits is fairly difficult.

Replay Value

Like Contra, the replay value is in getting yourself to the end and beating the main villain, thus saving the world. Also like Contra, it's short. Only five stages to speak of. Fortunately, that's its main drawback. There's three modes of difficulty, and you can set how many lives you start with, making things as difficult or as easy as you want. However, there's nothing to unlock, which is to be expected for an old game...an old action game, no less. Nonetheless, I recommend this title for Contra and Strider fans, or action fans in general. It's just plain cool.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/03


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