Review by Einpixel
"Better than Gunstar Heroes?"
Better than Gunstar Heroes? In my opinion, yes. Whilst Gunstar Heroes pushed the graphics of the Megadrive/Genesis at the time, in terms of gameplay Alien Soldier has the edge. If you don't like shooting games, it's unlikely that this game will appeal to you, but fans of 2D shooting games that have yet to play this are in for a treat - apart from offering adrenaline-pumping action, it also has some original touches that definitely lift it above the average horizontally scrolling shooter.
The story goes something along the lines of this: a leader of an evil alien army gets overthrown and the ex-leader then goes about possessing the body of boy (for some reason). The boy/ex-leader then grows to become big and buff and the boy's conscience somehow affects this ex-leader so that he feels obliged to use his powers for good as well as overthrowing the new leader. Or something.
Who cares anyway. The story is just the wallpaper for the action as far as I'm concerned, the action is fast and the action is intense.
As I mentioned already (repeatedly) this game's about action. You start off equipped with 4 different weapons which you can chose from a choice of 6, varying in power, range etc. The weapons have limited ammunition so once you run out of one laser you have to select another one. whilst you use one weapon, the others recharge, giving a slight element of strategy to the gameplay. Holding down the fire button fires the selected weapon, doubletapping the fire button does a special counter move. When you counter an enemy's fire, it converts the fire into much needed energy, similar to the way you grab fire out of the air in Mischief Makers for the N64. At the top-left of the screen is your power bar - when it's empty you're dead. When it's powered up fully however, it starts flashing white which means you can use your devastating special move...
...the flaming teleport move. By pressing down and jump at the same time you'll do a dash move that sends you flying across the screen in the direction that you're facing. Very handy in tight situations - which you are faced with a lot in this game. You don't have to be fully powered up to use the normal dash, the difference when you're powered up is that the dash move becomes an offensive move as well as an escape one, taking out minor enemies and seriously damaging major ones.
The structure of the game is unusual for a game of its time, levels themselves are short and you won't be spending much time fighting the minor baddies. Most of the time you'll be fighting bosses and sub bosses all of which require a particular strategy to beat, and there is a strong feeling of satisfaction after beating them. Oh, and I forgot to mention the fact that all this is done under a time limit, adding even more of a sense of tension/ desperation/ 'MUST BEAT THIS LEVEL' to the game.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The graphics in this game are amongst the best I've seen on the megadrive, big colourful sprites, varied boss designs and interesting backgrounds look good even today. The music in the game has received mixed opinions, I think the music is pretty good - the title screen music introduces the game perfectly, and the music in game is energetic and quirky - if you've played other games made by Treasure you'll kind of know what to expect. The music in this game isnt as good as the music in Gunstar Heroes, but you're too busy trying to destroy things to notice most of the time. The sound effects are functional - they sound exactly the same as the sound effects in Gunstar Heroes, i.e. they do their job but it would have been nice if they sounded a bit beefier.
As far as I'm concerned, this game is better than Gunstar Heroes (one of the best games on the megadrive as it is). It may be only one player but there is immense satisfaction to be had beating the bosses in the shortest possible time. This is short, focussed gaming - levels are concise and gameplay is exciting. I'm not sure if I would have preferred the main character to be smaller, because he/it is quite big it doesnt leave much room for manoevre. But it's perhaps this which contributes to making Alien Soldier as exciting as it is, the slight feeling claustrophobia works with the time limit to create an urgency to playing this game.
I don't think I'll ever get bored of this game, this game is a classic.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/01, Updated 11/08/01
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