Code Shifter (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

In Code Shifter, you play as Stella.  She works as a programmer at a fictional video game company testing codes and deleting bugs.  When a malicious virus threatens the company’s latest release, Stella is on the case with a program that lets her avatar “Sera” defeat the bugs in a 2-D platform jumping cyberspace world.  But the cool part is that at certain moments in the levels, you can switch to 8-bit pixel versions of characters from other Arc System Works games and licenses they own.  These include games like Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Double Dragon, River City Ransom, and more!  Code Shifter is available on all current consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Before you start a level, you’ll play as Stella and walk around the office in a 3-D isometric perspective.  You can talk to co-workers to gather information and move the story along, and when you are ready to bust some viruses, just walk on over to Stella’s computer and log in.  You’ll select stages from co-workers file folders and play as her avatar Sera.  Sera can jump, run, double jump, and perform slash attacks in 2-D sidescrolling fashion.  At certain points you can change into other Arc System Works characters, and this is where things get cool.

There are two types of characters you can get.  Hero characters you can play as, and Assist characters are a one time use.  Some of the characters you can play as include fighters from Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, the brothers Lee and Abobo from Double Dragon, Kunio from the River City Ransom series and a lot more I don’t even know!  Heck, even the River City Girls are playable!  Each character is represented in an 8-bit chibi form, and they even play a neat chiptune theme song in the background for each character!  Certain ones have special skills that will help you progress.  Characters with fire or ice attacks can break ice and fire obstacles, respectively.  Fighters who can harness electricity can power on certain moving platforms.  There are many more characters with moves like that, and in a way it makes me think of Kirby.  When you beat a main boss, Sera can change outfits as well that give her skills and that reminds me of a GameCube game called Mega Man Network Transmission.

In between levels when you are in the office, you can also play the game Stella and her team are working on.  It’s called Colorful Fighters and is a competitive brawler for up to four players and features the fighters you can play as in the main game.  I only wish it wasn’t so hard to unlock new characters for Colorful Fighters.  There were other problems I had with the game, too.  Mostly minor ones, but they added up to cause me to be disinterested with the game faster than what I wanted to.

For instance, when in the main game, if you take damage you don’t get knocked back, but you also don’t flash invincible for a short bit, so you can lose energy really fast when hit if you aren’t careful.  Also, every characters’ movement speed and jumping ability is different, and it makes platforming hard to get used to sometimes.  The slightly floaty controls don’t help either.  Which is surprising since Arc System Works is known for precise fighters.  I also don’t like how hard the stages get late in the game, and talking with employees kind of bogs the game down a bit.  But you’ll want to talk with people because they might give you a chip you can equip to Sera to boost her attacks and defense, etc.  I also which they would tell you which games some of these characters come from, as they get pretty obscure!  But otherwise, this is still a fairly decent 2-D platformer, especially if you like Arc System Works’ games and characters.

Kid Factor:

Code Shifter is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Use of Tobacco.  You can punch, kick, slash, and zap cartoony enemies, but they just disappear when defeated.  And since this is all happening in cyberspace, nobody gets hurt anyway.  One of the characters you can play as is a guy in a brown dress suit with a cigarette sticking out of his mouth, so there’s the Use of Tobacco descriptor.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger players may find the game too difficult.  There is a co-op mode, though.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!