Blue Rider - PS4 Review

Blue Rider is a wonderful bout of nostalgia that recalls a time when arcade machines where still relevant and quarters took up more space in your pockets than wallets and credit cards. Blue Rider is a sort-of top down shooter like Raiden, 1942, or Touhou - except with a lot less bullets and a lot more freedom of motion.

In Blue Rider you maneuver a ship around one of nine worlds, shooting at, and hopefully destroying, any enemy ships that come your way. I might be dating myself a bit here, but Blue Rider really makes me feel like I'm playing a Raiden style arcade game again. The difference being, instead of an auto-scrolling top down shooter, you actually have full freedom of movement in Blue Rider, including the camera. You must blast your way through nine worlds, destroying minions and bosses to reach whatever it is your goal actually is.

There are two primary bullet types: red/orange and blue. The orange/red is your "spread" shot, covering a larger range but dealing less concentrated damage, whereas the blue bullet type is a more concentrated line of fire, but only really fires in a straight line. In addition to the main bullet, you also have access to two different missile types: homing and burst, which are fairly self-explanatory. As you progress through stages, you can find power ups for both the missiles and main bullets. If you pick up an upgrade for the type of bullet or missile you don't currently have, the type of ammunition gets switched, while retaining all your upgrades.

Progressing through all nine worlds can seem quite the daunting challenge, especially considering there is only one life you're given to start off: thankfully, there are a few aspects to make it a little easier on you. First up, clearing a world will allow you to start anew from the next world in line, albeit without any of the handy powerups you've acquired up to that point. Additionally, enemies have a chance at dropping health (which didn't actually happen for me until after my second or third attempt). Additionally, hitting certain score markers will give you an extra life. While there isn't a whole lot of depth to the game, it definitely isn't a bad thing: gameplay is simple and fast, the nostalgia for some of the older players is nice to see, and while the game does provide a challenge, it isn't by any means "impossible". Which is a really good thing, considering that sometimes you'll just want to flip a table at some of the more aggravating quirks of the game.

Some of the bosses feel more like "cheap shot central" rather than a legitimate challenge, especially if you go in unprepared. Which means almost all of them. The upgrades, as in Raiden, will alternate between types. While not really a problem as is, I swear sometimes the timer can be schizophrenic, lasting half a second before switching to the other ammo type, i.e. the one I didn't want. The item drop rate is also really arbitrary, occasionally giving you enough bombs to start a new world war, and other times you get nothing, same for health replenishment. While the bullets aren't usually too hard to keep track of, I'll be damned if I couldn't see squat in the tundra/winter themed stage. I mean, I'm used to Touhou bullethells, but bullets blending in with the background is a whole other story.

While not necessarily best in class or most unique, Blue Rider offers a fresh new 3D take on an old 2D style of game. Environments are bright and transition between each other fluidly, controls are smooth and easy to handle, and stage design was overall well done. While there are some inherent issues with some of the aspects, such as the fast power-up rotation cycles, and it feels a little lacking in the number of available weapons, Blue Rider certainly doesn't disappoint. While not necessarily best in class, Blue Rider is a great console addition to the bullet hell and arcade-style auto-scrolling shooters with a nice 3D twist.

Game Information

Sony PlayStation 4
Shoot 'Em Up
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Provided by Publisher

Article by Richard