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Anyone brave enough to have backed a Kickstarter campaign for a video game will have learned the value of patience. Steel Assault successfully reached its campaign goal back in 2015 with a one year estimated time of completion. Five years later, the developer clearly had some setbacks but when comparing the final product to the original offering, backers got more than they were expecting. With beautiful graphics and solid combat mechanics, Steel Assault is a terrific side-scrolling beat ’em up that feels great to play on the Nintendo Switch.

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Steel Assault doesn’t get too detailed when it comes to the story. In a post-apocalyptic future, the protagonist, Taro Takahashi, fights through a handful of levels in order to defeat an evil tyrant bent on world domination. Each of the five levels has the hero side-scrolling through a 2D environment Contra-style fighting through bad guys and finishing with a boss fight. The difficulty varies greatly thanks to several different settings and ranges from incredibly easy to sadistically punishing. At the lowest setting, the game can be easily completed within an hour so the amount of time put in will mostly be linked to how much punishment you want to apply to yourself. 

The pixel artwork is quite beautiful, defaulting to a traditional 4:3 viewpoint with scanlines to simulate playing on a CRT TV. The pixel perfect mode is more my style, and looked beautiful on the Switch whether in handheld or on my OLED TV. Traditional side-scrollers really are a dime a dozen these days so it”s nice to see some variety in the combat. Instead of guns, the hero has an electric whip as the main attack, and a grappling hook that shoots out in two directions to provide a rope to hang or jump from. The levels are designed with the grappling hook in mind, almost all requiring mastery of this mechanic to successfully traverse, so it’s recommended to start in the optional tutorial to get a handle on how it works. In my haste, I actually missed the tutorial option in the menu and got a bit overwhelmed initially having no understanding of how to properly use the rope. 

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Some creative boss encounters

As recommendations go, Steel Assault is certainly fun for an hour or so, but the price at launch seems high for the amount of content provided. If money isn’t a factor and you’re simply looking for a short and sweet side-scroller with fun combat and nice graphics, then this may be up your alley. 

Score: 6.5


  • Fun combat mechanics
  • Beautiful pixel graphics
  • Interesting boss fights
  • Range of difficulty settings


  • Pretty short, left wanting more
  • Better if the tutorial was baked into the game

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