Video Game: Run Saber

Run Saber is a SNES Platform Game developed by Horisoft and published by Atlus in 1993. The game is best known for being an obvious Expy of Capcom's Strider, having a bunch of shared elements (wall and ceiling climbing, sliding, a very similar Laser Blade), though not without adding its own spin to it.

It's the year 2998, and the Earth is hopelessly polluted, to the point it threatens human life. All hope for a recovery falls on the technology created by one Dr. Gordon Bruford, which will clease the world by harnessing a new universal energy source known as Fusion. But, in order to do that, the Earth's atmosphere will be subjected to lethal doses of radiation, so humanity has to evacuate into space colonies and wait a full year to return. This, however, was exactly what our good Doctor wanted, as he stayed behind and mutated himself into a monstrous being. The new Dr. Bruford then proceeded to engineer an army of mutants and parasites to rule over the planet.

World scientists watched in horror as this happened, and decided to put forward Project Run Saber: the creation of highly skilled cybernetically-enhanced warriors with element-based Laser Blades and immunity to the mutant parasites. Three Run Sabers are created: Flair Saber Kurtz, Thunder Saber Allen (called Alow in the intro) and Ice Saber Sheena (called Sewa). The three are sent to Earth to recover the planet; however, Kurtz suffers a malfunction and is possessed by a parasitic mutant, becoming one of Bruford's followers. Allen and Sheena must now face him and the other mutants and complete their mission.

You can play as either Allen and Sheena, the game supporting both solo and 2-player co-op gameplay. Both characters have the same abilities: they can swing their Sabers to attack, do acrobatic jumps and climb up any wall or ceiling. Their repertoire of techniques include a sliding kick attack, a dive kick engulfed in energy (which allows the character to bounce from enemy to enemy) and a spinning aerial Sonic-like saw attack. Both characters also possess a full-screen attack that eliminates everything on sight; these are stocked by finding special pickups in the stages.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sheena.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Part of the trick with the doctor's mutant parasites.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Final Boss must be hit in the head in order to make his real weak point, the heart, vulnerable.
  • Background Boss: Shuri-Shumi, a.k.a. the giant undead lady from Stage 2, and Bruford.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Bruford.
  • Blade on a Stick: Early Mooks in Stage 2 throw spears at you. The robot knight Mini-Boss in Stage 4 wields a lance.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Normally an arrow appears at the top of the screen showing you which way to procede through the stage. However, when a boss is encountered, an ALERT! icon blinks there instead.
  • Bowdlerise: Supposedly, Shuri-Shumi was originally a normal-looking woman, but Nintendo believed that violated their guidelines against hitting women.
  • Breath Weapon: Stage 3 boss Skeltor breathes fire as his only attack.
  • Chain Reaction Destruction: Almost bound to happen when a boss or a miniboss dies. Also happens to some other objects like an aeroplane.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: By the end of his last Boss Fight, Kurtz disappears as he usually does...and that's the last you see of him, not even appearing during the ending sequence.
  • Code Name: Flair Saber, Thunder Saber and Ice Saber are specifically the codenames of the three Run Sabers.
  • Crapsack World: If it wasn't crapsack enough with all the pollution issues, then Bruford made sure it is now.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Humanoid-looking squids are Mooks in Stage 4 and 5.
  • Cue the Sun: In the ending.
  • Cyborg: The three Sabers. There's also the mechanical body used (or, more accurately, grown) by the eagle Mini-Boss during Stage 3.
  • Death from Above: The "falling spiked gears" section in Stage 4.
  • Egopolis: The final stage is named Bruford.
  • Eternal Engine: Stage 4, Grey Fac.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Mutant dinosaurs appear in Stage 3.
  • Evil Redhead: Kurtz.
  • Expy: Of Strider. If the gameplay mechanics, slide kick and wall-climbing aren't obvious enough, Allen's slash animation is pretty much a dead-ringer to Hiryu's, and he even has an item that extends its range in very much the same way.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Kurtz, through brainwashing.
  • Fake Difficulty: Quite a bit of difficulty is due to the floaty jumping and the hero's reluctance to let go of walls.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: The three elements of the Run Sabers.
  • Fossil Revival: Skeltor, the boss of Stage 3.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: In the intro.
  • Harping on About Harpies: Mutant Harpies at that, a very annoying enemy in Stage 3.
  • High-Altitude Battle: The memorable Stage 1 Boss Battle, which has you fighting against "Beautiful" (yeah, that's its name), an advanced parasite that has taken over a jet fighter. You fight aboard said jet, which every so often makes a full 360° spin.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Half the reason for Bruford's mutation (the other being the parasites he invented)
  • Jungle Japes: Stage 3, Jodvalley.
  • Knife Nut: Kurtz sometimes throws these.
  • Island Base: The final stage.
  • Laser Blade
  • Living Statue: Shuri-Shumi. The start of her stage also includes statues of chinese warriors coming to life as Mooks.
  • Losing Your Head: The eagle Mini-Boss in Stage 3 loses its entire body, but its head returns later for a Round 2.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Bruford.
  • Mini-Boss: Several over the course of each and every stage.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Bruford.
  • Moveset Clone: Allen and Sheena are alike in every way in terms of abilities; able to cling to walls, dash, perform a Super Metroid-ish 'screw attack' jump, and more... except...
    • Their actual main attack, the sabers. In its base form, it seems like they don't differ all that much save for how they swing them, but the saber upgrade puts emphasis on that small detail. Allen (who pulls back and swings forward) gets a longer horizontal reach, while Sheena (who swipes upward) gains more of a vertical swing on her attack. This gives Allen a better chance of hitting enemies safely out of attack range, and adds a very small curve above his head to protect from projectiles that somehow make it past the saber, but Sheena's swing actually becomes a wide crescent that can hit high and low in front of her, making not only for a better defense against forward projectiles but also giving her the chance to hit enemies without being adjacent to them. The different ranges can really make a difference to some players.
    • Hitbox Dissonance: There's a small case of this concerning Allen's aerial forward attack. While, for the most part, the game does absolutely fine in differentiating between Allen's and Sheena's saber ranges, there's a noticeable extended amount of vertical reach on Allen's saber when attacking during a jump: not only does the usual range count, there's an area below the saber's animation that also hits, that you wouldn't know going just off of the visible sprite.
  • Muck Monster: Mooks in the final stage.
  • Mutants: Everything is one of these, regardless if it's organic or some inanimate object.
  • No Export for You: For some unknown reason, the game never came out in Japan.
  • Palette Swap: In terms of alternate colors rather than enemy variety. By pausing the game and pressing select, the player can change the character's color scheme from among 8 variations.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: All main bosses and Kurtz are a result of mutant parasites controlling them.
  • Razor Wind: One of the attacks of the Eagle's mecha form.
  • Recurring Boss: Kurtz is a Type 1, being fought 3 times throughout the game.
  • Rolling Attack: The saw-like technique.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: In single player, the second Saber is only seen in the ending.
  • Smart Bomb: Special Attacks, each of the two have a different technique for this full-screen Mook clearer: Allen has the Thunder Dragon, which releases a dragon made of electricity: and Sheena has the Ice Cyclone, which unleash a blizzard.
  • Smoke Out: Kurtz uses it in his teleport.
  • Sound Test
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The in-game intro shows briefly the main characters' names as being Alow and Sewa, while the manual and box text all refer to them as Allen and Sheena.
  • Transforming Mecha: Southern Jumbalaya, the Humongous Mecha boss of Stage 4.
  • Villain Teleportation: Kurtz comes and goes this way in every one of his boss fights.
  • Wall Crawl
  • Wall Master: The final Mini-Boss in Stage 1.
  • Was Once a Man: Dr. Bruford.
  • Woman in White: Shuri-Shumi, the zombie-faced boss of Stage 2. It was originally a statue of a goddess of luck and fortune, until a parasitic mutant got a hold of it.
  • You Gotta Have Green Hair: Sheena.