Have you ever wanted to play a video game about developing video games? CODE SHIFTER from Arc System works is just that, but it may not be what you think.

You play as Stella, a programmer working for game development studio Awesome Rainbow Corps as they are almost ready to ship their game Colorful Fighters. Unfortunately, an army of mysterious bugs have found their way within the game’s code, and it’s up to Stella to eliminate them all. Does that mean you, the player, will have to actually learn some coding in order to fix the game? No actually, as Stella designed her own personal avatar named Sera to fight them off.

The single-player story of CODE SHIFTER is divided through the folders of employees, and in those folders are 2D side-scrolling levels with bugs as enemies and bosses. As Sera fights off these bugs and closes the portals letting them in, she will unlock characters from Colorful Fighters she can transform into that will help her on the adventure. Electric-type characters will unlock switches for elevators and other floating platforms; fire-types will melt ice walls; and lightweight characters can be lifted by pockets of air. Some of these fighters don’t have these special abilities, but their added strength makes combating the bugs a whole lot easier. There are other fighters you can equip not as transformations, but as summons that will help you on the side. When you complete a level, you will be ranked depending on how well you do, and if you get an S-rank, you will be rewarded with a character buff that gives you extra damage, extra HP, etc..

The core gameplay of CODE SHIFTER is simple enough: eliminate the bugs, get to the end, do the same in the next level. Matter of fact, it is too simple really, and doesn’t do much to stand out from other platformers. The levels are fairly straightforward with no unique quirks to them, and the bug enemies are as generic as they come. As for the controls, Sera feels rather stiff and not as responsive as I would like her to be. The same goes for the roster of Colorful Fighters. They all look and control dramatically different from one another, but they feel like they’ve been designed for a different game.

That part is true, because as you unlock these fighters, you can play them in the actual game the development studio is working on. When you get back to the hub world (the ARC offices), you can set up a game of Colorful Fighters to play solo or with 3 other friends. In short, it’s a frustrating endeavor, as the 8-bit characters can be hard to pick out from one another and they seemingly blend into the background making it more difficult to see them.

CODE SHIFTER is priced at $19.99 on the Nintendo eShop, and for that price, you could honestly buy a better game. While the concept is uniquely cool, the rest of the game is anything but. Obviously a video game doesn’t have to be unique to be good, but CODE SHIFTER doesn’t do much to craft a fun or memorable experience.

Nuke the Fridge Score: 6.5/10