Steel Ranger, Commodore 64, ViTNO Game Review

There is something about a well executed 2D run and gun adventure platform game that never fails to draw me in to playing them relentlessly, daring me to put the joystick down and walk away. Turrican was a shining example of how good a platform shooter could get when all the elements come together to produce engrossing game play on an old 8-bit machine.

Psytronik Software and developer Lasse Oorni look to re-create this experience with the release of the action-packed Steel Ranger. The game starts off with a semi-interactive section that sets the scene for the game and is well executed. The quality introduction of the game provides the first indication of the high production values on offer here and sets the tone for the task ahead.

Intro cut scene sets up the story for Steel Ranger

Steel Ranger is set in the year 2218 and humanity is forced to travel through out space in order to sustain our own civilization. But during their exploration they get caught up in a war against a machine intelligence. thinking that it is the key to turning the tide against the machine intelligence, the humans look to send a patrol ship to land on a barren planet that is emitting a mysterious Omega symbol from its surface.

You play the role of one of the crew members who have crash landed on the planet and has gone out to find the source of the Omega symbol, equipped with the Ranger self-charging armour suits to aid him in his quest.

Moving the Ranger across the landscape is a breeze

Steel Ranger is a massive game to explore. In my time playing the game, I would have come across 15 or 16 different distinct locations with most of them consisting of 10 or more screens. Thanks to its high quality scrolling, the game moves smoothly at a face pace. The main character is customisable and very well animated. The backdrops don’t let us down either, with plenty of variation to add to the sense that we are exploring a large world.

As the Ranger moves through the world, he will come across flying creatures, machine soldiers, crawling robots, gun cannons and big boss battles to impede his effort to uncover the source of the mysterious signal. Shooting enemies may result in currency (called Parts) or temporary weapon upgrades being dropped for the Ranger to collect. As he explores deeper into the world, the Ranger will come across opportunities to upgrade his armour suit and weapons.

Flying robots is just one of many enemies to be found
Steel Ranger is very well paced as there is no time in which you feel overwhelmed with the number of enemies on screen. The game has the right balance between shooting and exploration and it is great to see that certain enemies do not re-generate once they have been eliminated. As the Ranger’s armour suit is self-charging, it is a good strategy to take a bit of a rest after clearing a busy screen as this will allow your power meter to climb back up, ready for you to take the next lot of enemies with full energy.
Disabling computer systems to bypass security

The puzzle element of the game comes in the form of trying to obtain passes and switching off computer systems in order to by-pass the systems of each of the broader security zones within the world. Figuring out where to go and how to access a blocked area or switch off an unreachable computer proved to quite enjoyable. The game utilises a save/checkpoint system that is as generous as those found on current gen titles, providing further motivation to persist through the game.

To round things off completely, the game’s soundtrack is nothing short of great and pushes out pumping tunes that further enhances the experience of playing Steel Ranger. The music changes from one location to another and it does a great job of giving an epic vibe and further immerses you within the game.

Steel Ranger features a number of great looking settings

Psytronik kick off the 2018 gaming scene with an impressive release. Steel Ranger is a highly enjoyable experience that shows us how good 2D shooter platformer can be. The game’s high production values, large game world, absorbing game play, and steady pacing make Steel Ranger a must play game for all fans of the ‘Run & Gun’ genre. We would have no reservations in recommending Steel Ranger.

Checkout the  link below for a video review of Steel Ranger, including a look at the boxed set.

Link: Psytronik

Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64 and Amiga releases. Contributes to RetroGamerNation YouTube channel, Vintage is the New Old blog site, Reset 64 Magazine, K&A Plus Magazine and various other publications. Youtube: Website: Email:

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