Steel Assault Review (Nintendo Switch)29/09/2021
Steel Assault is a 16-bit 2D platformer that tells the story of Taro Takahashi, a resistance soldier, who’s on a revenge mission against the dictator who lords over the ashes.
While on the surface Steel Assault might look like a typical Super NES-like action platformer, the game has its own unique twist. Your main attack is a medium-length whip that you use to kill enemies from a reasonable distance; if you get up close with a few select enemies, you’ll punch them instead of using your whip. Killing enemies with your punch will reward players with health pick-ups.
Along with his arsenal of attacks, Taro can also use a zipline which some players might recall Bionic Commando on the NES. The zipline can be used in 8 directions to connect two platforms and allow our protagonist to reach areas unreachable by jumping. It’s a great and unique mechanic that adds an interesting layer of challenge as you jump from zipline to zipline all the while avoiding enemy attacks.
Taro can also jump, double jump (to reach higher or further platforms) and slide. Sliding is dependant on a meter that fills up automatically. When sliding, Taro is invulnerable to damage. As you navigate through levels, you’ll see destructible small boxes that will drop useful power-ups such as a shield, which can absorb a bit of damage or add-ons to your weapon such as Electricity.
The game’s biggest flaw here is the lack of gameplay content. Once you’re done with the story, you can tackle harder difficulty settings; ideally starting up on Easy will give you a feel of the game when tackling harder settings will provide an additional challenge. After Story Mode, you can tackle Arcade Mode, but it’s the same as the story but on a set difficulty.
While the game features 16-bit colorful goodness, it features beautifully hand-crafted levels with optimal screen resolution for CRT gaming. Additionally, each level is uniquely designed where they provide a different challenge. Enemy variety leaves a lot to be desired, but it is somewhat expected when honoring classic 16-bit games. The soundtrack features an addictive FM-synthesized score which sometimes can be drowned out by trying to focus on the sometimes shmup-like action on screen.
Lack of content aside, Steel Assault is one of the best games I’ve played this year. Its mix of platforming, combat, retro-style and the unique usage of a zip line makes for one of the best retro-styled games of the last few years. Additionally, given that various difficulty settings, any players from all skills can jump in this game and enjoy it. I can easily see myself replaying this game again and again. Don’t sleep on this one.