Renegade Kid has shown Nintendo a lot of support in the form of nicely crafted downloadable titles for the 3DS, including its the retro-styled Mutant Mudds and Metroid-esque adventure Xeodrifter. Like Mutant Mudds, Xeodrifter has made its way to the Wii U eShop, and like Mutant Mudds, Xeodrifter is a very good game - if you don't mind tough-as-nails gameplay with intentionally old-fashioned mechanics. As a bare bones port there's not much new to see for those who've already completed the game on the 3DS, though cross-buy does mean this is a freebie if you're previously bought it on the portable.
Xeodrifter stars an interstellar adventurer whose ship is struck by a meteor and stranded in a tiny solar system of four planets. The adventurer sets out to search the four planets for a new core, and while the space ship is able to travel the short distance between each planet there are many hazards and obstacles that can't be overcome right away.
True to its retro stylings, Xeodrifter doesn't hold the player's hand at all, instead letting them figure out where to go and what to do from the very beginning. Between seemingly insurmountable obstacles like deep water, lava, enemies that take ridiculous amounts of damage before dying and areas that appear to be in the background and inaccessible, the player should quickly be able to deduce which planet they should go to first. After platforming and shooting their way through an area, a boss encounter will drop a new item upon victory. While Metroid fans will recognize some of them, such as the ability to run extremely fast, there are also clever, original items that feel novel and fresh.
There is a lot of backtracking in Xeodrifter, but the planets are not large or labyrinthine, so it's never hard to find a new path or area. Health and gun upgrades are hidden throughout, and you can customize your gun with different shooting styles. But despite the upgrades and consistent rollout of new items and abilities, this game is hard. From pattern-based enemies to increasingly tricky platforming, Xeodrifter provides a constant challenge. Prepare to die. Often. Luckily, there are unlimited lives, but checkpoints are few and far between, meaning lots of traversing the same areas over and over again.
The presentation in Xeodrifter is pure Renegade Kid, from the colourful, faux-retro visuals to the awesome 8-bit soundtrack. Unfortunately, there's not too much variety in enemy design; we came across the same boss over and over again with a different colour scheme, as well as the same general enemies on each planet. The boss patterns do change and get more complex, but it would have been nice to see more of Renegade Kid's charming character design at work. Xeodrifter supports Off-TV play and looks great on the GamePad, though, for those that like to utilise that particular Wii U feature.
If there's an issue here, it's just that this game is rather short; dedicated players can finish the game in 3–4 hours. While speedrunners will have a blast with this, some will likely be disappointed to find that the adventure is over so soon. Keep in mind that it's a really fun 3–4 hours, but that this is not the type of game you'll likely return to over and over again.
Xeodrifter is a fun little game that Nintendo fans should get a kick out of. We wish it was longer and had more visual variety, but those criticisms are mainly because we enjoyed our experience and wanted more of it. We'd love to see Renegade Kid revisit this world at some point in the future, and wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who hasn't played the 3DS version already.