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Video Game / Run Saber

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Welcome to the dark future of Earth.
"The last hope of mankind rests in the hands of an elite force of cyborgs code named: Run Sabers. Created with a superior strength, powers, and abilities, these warriors are sent against impossible odds to stop a warped scientist from fouling the entire planet. Join Allen the Thunder Saber and Sheena the Ice Saber on their world wide quest to stop the super-mutant armies and their evil master, Dr. Bruford. Armed with indestructible blades, our heroes delve into a world infested with mutated monstrosities."
Instruction Manual

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 (Arcade), 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 Saber units are created: the Americannote -developed Thunder Saber, Allen; the Russian-made Ice Saber, Sheena; and the German-produced Flair Saber, Kurtz. 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: It's a very blatant copy of Capcom's Strider, with the same climbing mechanics allowing the player to cling onto anything, a very similar attack animation for Allen, the same items and 5-stage structure with a few similar settings even (a jungle filled with prehistoric animals? An oriental city and seat of power? check!).
  • Ambushing Enemy: The final Mini-Boss in Stage 1 is a female-type parasite coming out of the door to the final area.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Part of the trick with the doctor's mutant parasites is that they take over inanimate objects and grant life to them.
  • 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, stands at the right side of the screen and attacks with lasers and fire waves. Bruford's gigantic mutant form is in the background of the final stage.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Bruford.
  • 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: Shuri-Shumi was originally a normal-looking woman as shown here, but Nintendo believed that violated their guidelines against hitting women.
  • Breath Weapon: Stage 3 boss Skeltor breathes fire as his only attack.
  • 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 the code names of the three Run Saber units.note 
  • Crapsack World: If it wasn't crapsack enough with all the pollution issues, then Bruford made sure it is now that it's overrun by mutant parasites and creatures under his command.
  • Cthulhumanoid: Humanoid-looking squids are Mooks in Stage 4 and 5.
  • Cue the Sun: In the ending, where the two Run Saber observe the sun setting as a little girl goes hug their parents, now back on a clean planet Earth.
  • Cyborg: The three Sabers are mechanically enhanced, as seen in the blueprints shown at the intro. 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 a hidden island named Bruford.
  • Eternal Engine: Stage 4, Grey Fac, is an abandoned mining facility that has been taken over by the mutants.
  • 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 becomes an enemy through brainwashing after his defense apparatus malfuctions and he is taken over by Bruford's parasites.
  • 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, is the animated skeleton of a prehistoric beast.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Dr. Bruford sports these during 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.
  • Island Base: The final stage is an island hidden under the Pacific Ocean.
  • Jungle Japes: Stage 3, Jodvalley, is set in a South American jungle.
  • Laser Blade: The Run Sabers sport elemental-themed blades they can create out of their bodies.
  • Living Statue: Shuri-Shumi was originally the statue of a goddess of fortune and happiness before the parasites took it over and transformed it into a ghostly corpse lady. 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.
  • 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 has the Run Sabers spinning in mid-air while their aura takes the shape of a circular saw.
  • Schrödinger's Player Character: In single player, the second Saber is only seen in the ending.
  • Shout-Out: A likely intentional nod to Strider Hiryu that got Lost in Translation: Allen's Smart Bomb attack ("Thunder Dragon" in English) was named "Fei Long Thunder" in Japanese previews. Fei Long just happens to be the Chinese reading equivalent of Hiryu's name ("flying dragon").
  • 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 is surrounded by smoke every time he enters and leaves a boss battle.
  • Sound Test
  • Spell My Name With An S: The in-game intro briefly shows the main characters' names as Alon and Senanote . The game's Japanese promotional flyer lists the Run Saber units' codenames a「アロン」(Allen / Alon / Aaron),「シェナ」(Shenanote ), and「カルツ」(Kurtz / Kartz). It's debatable whether Kurtz is intended to be Flare Saber or Flair Saber given his elemental affinity and fighting style. The US manual and packaging use Allen, Sheena, Kurtz, and Flair Saber, respectively.
  • 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: As a clone of Strider, the game features the ability to scale and climb any surface.
  • Was Once a Man: Dr. Bruford was a normal human before he willingly subjected himself to the radiation in order to become the ruler of Earth.