25 Years, 25 Games #9: Run Saber

Okay, I know I’ve been promising Super Mario RPG for at least two months, but this entry on my celebration of the SNES is Run Saber, another fairly short action game. A pretty great action game, as well. I mean, its Strider. While it isn’t quite a 1 to 1 copy of that game, it is definitely more than just reminiscent of that Capcom’s classic. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Run Saber is a copy of a pretty dang good game.

Run Saber (USA) 0002

The story of the game is some generic sci-fi stuff. The Sabers are some sort of cyborg super soldiers, dispatched to deal with a mad scientist bent on conquering the earth, as well as a rogue saber. The player gets to choose between Allen, the male Saber with lightning powers, and Sheena, the female Saber with ice powers, or both if playing two players. It controls well, with the player given a decent array of moves. You can jump and attack, as well as use a screen clearing super attack. The player character is very mobile, able to climb walls and ceiling as well as perform a Mega Man like slide. It is a solid set up for a game.

Run Saber (USA) 0009

It all plays out about the same way as Strider, with fast paced over the top action. The game has five fairly sprawling levels. The levels are more elaborate affairs than just going left or right, taking good advantage of the acrobatic skills to move the levels up and down and back and forth. The regular enemies aren’t particularly varied or numerous, but they are enough to keep the player busy. There are quite a few bosses, most of which look nice. I never really learned them, opting instead to cheese through with an emulator, but they provide new and interesting challenges. The boss of the first level takes place on top of a flying jet, with the player character hanging on for dear life as the plane flips and rolls.

Run Saber (USA) 0022

The game looks good as well. Good, not great. The player’s sprites a big and colorful, but they seem to be lacking some animation. The animations they do have look good, but there are times when it seems like there should be more there than there is. The big one I am thinking of is the running animations, because there aren’t any. Double tapping one direction will set the player running that direction, but while the character goes faster the moving animation stays the same. It is disorienting.

Run Saber (USA) 0024

In all, Run Saber is a lot of fun. It is clearly derivative, but it still possesses its own charm. It is also apparently the only output by its developer Horisoft, which is sad since this is a very solid first effort. I don’t really know where they could have taken Run Saber from here, other than to make it bigger and prettier, but gameplaywise this is about at the pinnacle of 2D action.

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