Arc System Works are a company that have been around for a long time now. Since 1988 in fact. In that time they have produced and acquired numerous franchises. So what should they do with them? Well bring them together in one game is what. Which is where Code Shifter comes in.

Fictional video game developer Awesome Rainbow Corp (get it?) are about to release their latest game. However there are bugs in the code and they need fixing! I mean you can’t release a game that is full of bugs… who in their right mind would do that?

Ever wondered how game developers get rid of bugs? You really think they sit there looking at lines and lines of code? Then think again. As Stella you take your digital avatar into the game’s code and fight the bugs. Progressing through platform inspired levels and taking down the game breaking bugs.

The traversing of the levels is pretty simplistic, as is the battles with the enemies. Both bits come together in a pretty satisfying way. It feels easy to play. You can upgrade your avatar as you go and get more and more powerful. But as you get further into the game, the enemies you face also become more difficult.

It keeps a decent balance throughout. Sometimes it feels really weighted in your favour. Yet it will then make you feel a little underpowered at times, forcing your hand to look for upgrades, or take a different approach.

There is nothing overly complex here. If you’ve played any platformer, or 2d action game then you’ll be right at home. Its simplicity is welcome, as you don’t need to ever struggle to get to grips with any of the systems.

Whilst in the game, you can get help from real world Arc System Works characters, each of whom have a specific skill set and can give you a leg up at the right time.

The use of different characters adds in some level of tactical thinking, as you try and choose a team that suits. It is almost Kirby-esque in this sense. Allowing those with different abilities to take part when needed. Yet adding in restrictions enough you can’t just spam them. It is clever and adds something unique to the game.

The overworld is intriguing as it tries to drive a story forward. However it feels cumbersome to navigate and if anything get in your way. It just slows everything down just a tad too much.

The characters are likeable on the most part and Code Shifter does have some fun at the industry’s expense. Never taking itself too seriously, with the humour never being cutting enough to offend any of the big players.

It feels like it could have done with a bit of voice acting, rather than doing that thing, where the characters talk in a garbled Sims fashion. It gets a little too much a few hours in. Either than or cut down on some of the dialogue.

I really felt personally, that Code Shifter could almost have done without a lot of the overworld stuff and condensed things into focussing on the main part of the game. It doesn’t wreck the experience, but the shift in pace can get a bit annoying.

Yet, it is almost worth it alone for the game within a game you get. Colourful Fighters is a fighting mini-game. I mean this is Arc System Works, so why the hell not! It is pretty much a Smash Bros / Brawhalla lite and becomes a fun little time waster.

Colourful Fighters isn’t fleshed out enough to make you think it should be its own game. But at the same time it does make me want an Arc System Works game in the vein of Smash Bros. They have quite the cast they could call on.

Overall Code Shifter is a decent effort and whilst it can be bettered in a lot of areas, it is still a good experience, especially if you have love for the franchise from the company. It gives around 8-9 hours of entertainment, which feels like a good balance. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t really do quite enough to attract non fans.

Liked it? Take a second to support Mental Health Gaming on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!