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Steel Assault Review

Official Score

Overall - 80%

80%

Those with a pocket full of quarters and a fervent love for the classics will be right at home with the side-scrolling action of Steel Assault. It might be a bit on the short side, but it encourages absolute mastery - just mind the gap.

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Retro throwbacks are all the rage these days, but what makes for a good one? Following in the footsteps of titles like Blazing Chrome and Hotshot Racing comes Zenovia Interactive and Tribute Games’ 16-bit sidescroller Steel Assault. It’s certainly got the pixel art and the FM-synthesized tunes, but does it have the gameplay to match?

Steel Assault Review

Taking control of resistance soldier (and resident badass) Taro Takahashi, players must stop the evil army general Magnus Pierce. Of course, this baddie isn’t going to make things easy – he has countless reports, robots, and traps set in this post-apocalyptic America.

Thankfully, players have the tools to do the job. Unlike titles like Metal Slug and Contra that put a warm gun in players’ hands, Taro’s main choice of weaponry is an electric whip. This requires him to get up-close-and-personal in combat, taking an offensive approach whenever possible.

This weapon is fairly useful though – it can be used in rapid succession, can negate select projectiles, and can even be upgraded with select sub-weapons like electricity. In addition, checking enemies by attacking them even closer recharges said sub-weapons, so it pays to be in the thick of it all.

The controls are most certainly up for the task though. With a double jump, a slide with I-frames, and an eight-way zipline, the controls have the fluidity needed to make it out alive.

Steel Assault certainly puts players’ skills to the test, with side-scrolling action that would be right at home at your local arcade. Players will traverse forests, plants, and even a decimated Manhattan as they fight their way through this title. There are some creative elements in play, including a vertically scrolling level with rising liquid and a section where you have to get underneath an aircraft with your zipline to avoid fire. It never gets gimmicky, however – just mind the constant pits that’ll end your run in its tracks.

Just be warned that those diving into its main mode will be done with this title fairly quickly. We played through the title on Normal and were able to finish things in about an hour. However, this is one game that encourages pattern recognition and skill building, and one could see their initial run as a way to get acclimated to the challenge of its one credit clear Arcade Mode.

This is also extended to its achievements – are you a bad enough dude to complete any level without taking a hit? How about beating the game in Hard mode? Steel Assault likes to egg players on, encouraging players to come to terms with its system.

Those with a pocket full of quarters and a fervent love for the classics will be right at home with the side-scrolling action of Steel Assault. It might be a bit on the short side, but it encourages absolute mastery – just mind the gap.

This review of Steel Assault was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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