CODE SHIFTER / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: ARC SYSTEM WORKS / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH (REVIEWED), XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Code Shifter is a platformer from Arc System Works, the Japanese company primarily known for their 2D fighting games like BlazBlue and Guilty Gear and side-scrolling beat 'em ups Double Dragon and the River City series. Set in Awesome Rainbow Corps' game development office, employees are having a bit of trouble with their latest game, Colorful Fighters - mysterious bugs are appearing in the code, and the developers decide that the best way to deal with them is to create a new character to go into the game itself and eliminate all the problems from within. Along the way, you'll come across a ton of playable characters taken from Arc's 30-year history, alongside plenty of non-playable "assist" characters who will pop up at the push of a button to lend a bit of extra firepower.
Your main character has a few directional attacks (up, down and to the sides) as well as a single special move. You can have two additional 8-bit-style characters in your party at any one time (picking up a third will replace one of the old ones), all with their own unique moves and animations. They all also have their own music, taken from each character's original game, with the soundtrack changing each time you switch to a new character.
The first few levels feel a little basic, but it soon become more complex when a few light puzzles are introduced. Certain sections can only be accessed by characters with specific abilities, so you might need to hunt around for the right hero before you can activate an electric panel, for example. Your performance at the end of each level is graded, and gaining an elusive S rank will reward you with a range of equippable stat boosts and power ups. Even on normal difficulty, S ranks are fairly tricky to attain, so any perfectionists looking for a bit of a challenge will be well served with this one, especially on higher difficulties.
A playable version of Colorful Fighters, the Smash Bros-esque arena brawler that you're trying to fix, is accessible from the main office. Only four characters are available at the start, but more are unlocked as you play through the story. It might not be anything too essential, but it's a nice addition nevertheless. Which sort of sums up Code Shifter as a whole – it might not be anything massively groundbreaking, but it's more than enjoyable enough. A solid 7, which is absolutely fine in our books!