I’ve been playing a lot of retro games lately, especially arcade brawlers and run and gun style games. There is a certain feel to classic arcade-style games that modern games can only attempt to reproduce. Steel Assault doesn’t exactly feel like a retro run and gun style game, but it comes pretty damn close.
Steel Assault is a 2D action platformer in the old school run and gun style. Think games like Contra, though Steel Assault does away with guns and gives you a whip and a zip line. In Steel Assault you play as Taro Takahashi, a one man army on a mission of revenge. Your goal is to wipe out an evil dictator, and to do so, you’ll need to fight through his army over several chapters of explosive side scrolling action.
In pure arcade style, Steel Assault is a pretty short game. You can probably play through it in an hour or two—depending on your skill level. Steel Assault is a pretty difficult game, and death can carry a penalty. There aren’t credits or lives, so if you die, you’ll be forced to replay the entire previous section you played. These sections are relatively short—only a few screens or so. You aren’t put back too far, but it can be frustrating to die at the end of a section, and being forced to repeat it.
Steel Assault gives you a whip as a main weapon, and there aren’t really too many power-ups to collect that changes things up very much. There are a few, however, like the electro whip that gives your whip the ability to shoot three projectiles. There were no power-ups that made me feel overly powerful, however.
There are a few platforming sections in Steel Assault, and they make prodigious use of the zip line. It’s not a grappling hook—the zip line requires you to make two points of contact for it to function. At first, I hated it, but soon I grew to not be so annoyed by it — though I still don’t really like it. But it does offer some semi-novel gameplay opportunities, especially since you can use your zipline to span a gap and hang on it — something that is required in a few areas, and even in boss fights.
Bosses in Steel Assault are appropriately large, but they never felt overly difficult. Each boss has patterns that are learnable, though a few can be blitzed by concentrating damage and ignoring any harm that is incoming. Of course, this kamikaze style only works in the standard mode.
While Steel Assault is a pretty difficult game, you can make attempts at difficult sections and keep on trying, unless you’re playing Arcade Mode. This mode challenges you to beat the entire game on a single credit. I would have liked Arcade Mode to be a mode that required you to beat the game in a single sitting with a finite amount of lives, without extra lives available for pick-up along the way. Steel Assault feels a little light on content, however, and I would have liked to see more challenge modes, maybe even a speed run mode or something similar.
Steel Assault is a fun game with tight run and gun controls. Its particular brand of zip line platforming takes a little bit of getting used to, but it managed to grow on me by the end of my first playthrough—and by that, I mean it was tolerable enough that I kept playing. Steel Assault is a fun arcade diversion, but it’s a short one that doesn’t give you many incentives to keep playing. It definitely has that old school arcade run and gun feel, however, and I definitely enjoyed my time with it.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.
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