Stunning Pixel Platforming With Super Alloy Ranger

Welcome to Save State, where I talk about whatever game(s) struck my fancy in the last couple of weeks. During the latest Steam sale, I picked up a title called Super Alloy Ranger, and needed something to play while I was once again, you guessed it, sick and stuck in bed. My lovely wife brought home some kind of sickness that only had her feeling bad for about two days, while it kicked my butt for around two weeks, which is always fun. As a result, I impulse purchased Super Alloy Ranger and played the entire thing through on my Steam Deck, so I’d like to share my thoughts on it.

Super Alloy Ranger is a 2D platformer with gorgeous pixel artwork that’s heavily inspired by games like Mega Man X. The story is largely there just to serve as an impetus for the gameplay, beginning with two broke bounty hunters meeting two robotic sisters who want to escape a planet, but find themselves unable to due to a force field. The titular Alloy Ranger and one of the mechanical sisters, Combat Robot No. 2, suit up and teleport down to the planet’s surface to try and find ways to disable the force field and escape the planet’s orbit.

Super Alloy Ranger will almost immediately ask for which of its three difficulty levels you want to play at, and it will also ask you to select which of its two playable characters you’d like to choose (which can’t be changed until after you beat the game). Kelly, the Alloy Ranger, is blue and fires a gun at his enemies. No. 2 is red and performs close range slashes to dispatch enemies. The parallels between Mega Man X and Zero are worn proudly by Super Alloy Ranger, from not just the protagonists and how they play, but also in its stage selection, acquiring a new power-up after each boss’s defeat and more.

Super Alloy Ranger has a lot of similarities to older Mega Man X titles, such as high mobility. You have access to double jumps, air dashes, wall jumps, and can even crawl to fit through tight spaces or underneath attacks. There are some very solid changes to the core Mega Man style formula here, in that Kelly and No. 2 can attack above and below them, and the use of their special weapons (as well as multi-jumps and air dashes) is dictated by their special energy meter.

Defeating a boss rewards you with a new special attack you can use, directly tied to the special energy bar under your health, and said meter recharges with time. After defeating one boss, you can exchange Kelly’s charge shot with a slower moving fireball that can deal some pretty devastating damage, while No. 2’s weapon also changes her melee attack claws out for a flaming sword. Acquiring power up chips throughout each level gives you more meter to use your special attacks as well as gives you more midair jumps and dashes until you complete the stage. It’s always nice to have 4 jumps during platforming segments, so shooting containers and busting through destructible walls can help players who are struggling.

The stage select should be very familiar to a lot of people, though there doesn’t seem to be much need to tackle stages in a particular order, so you can play however you like. Initially, only 5 stages are available, but as you clear more levels, more open up for you to play. Each level offers a nice variety of platforming, combat, and sometimes even the occasional puzzle with a variety of items hidden throughout the stage for you to grab, such as keycards that unlock special challenge levels.

For those who want to challenge themselves, your performance at the end of each stage is ranked. You’re graded on how quickly you traversed the level, how many times you were hit, how many items you found in the stage, things of that nature. Acquiring high ranks isn’t necessarily difficult, but you might need to replay a stage a time or two if you miss some of those chips that power you up because some of them are hidden in pretty interesting places.

Super Alloy Ranger is heavily influenced by Mega Man X, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as those old games. This is much more forgiving with things like spikes damaging you instead of instantly killing you, and bottomless pits respawn you in the area with less health. Hitting most traps deals damage roughly equivalent to taking hits from enemies, and while you can raise the difficulty to increase the amount of health lost each time you’re hit, Super Alloy Ranger isn’t going to reach levels of challenge where you need to be an expert at precision platforming. So, while Super Alloy Ranger may not be for the most hardcore of players, this approach to design does make it extremely accessible, especially for those who aren’t incredible at platforming games.

The presentation of Super Alloy Ranger is fantastic. The bright and colorful sprite work makes it very easy to tell where you and enemies are, and the backgrounds are reasonably designed in most areas without being so busy they interfere with player vision. There are definitely too many colors on-screen sometimes, but Super Alloy Ranger looks as if it’d be right at home with many 16-bit releases. The sound effects and music are also up to par with the visuals- the OST is fantastic and has a high energy, cyberpunk feel, and all of the sounds are very fitting for the action going on in combat.

For those of us on a Steam Deck, Super Alloy Ranger runs fantastically on such a device, and yields around 5, maybe 5.5 hours of battery life while playing. Initially the game wouldn’t play at all, but after specifying which version of Proton to use in properties, it ran like a dream from start to finish. It has Steam Cloud support as well, so you can start on your PC and then play on your Steam Deck if you want something action-packed to play while sick in bed or something.

This is also a title that’s priced extremely well – it’s only $10 and offers quite a decent chunk of content given that it’s a platformer with a good number of stages and 2 playable characters. Anyone who can appreciate a good action platformer will enjoy Super Alloy Ranger as it has great presentation with its visuals and music, and solid gameplay and level design to boot. Cheap and fun- just how daddy likes it.

And with that, we’ll bring this week’s entry of Save State to a close. Join us again in two weeks when I might even be wearing pants for once. That’s right. This whole time, and you never had a clue.

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