Review by segasonicfan

"Quite possibly the best 2D shooter of all time...one of top 3 games on the Mega Drive...YOU MUST GET THIS!!!"

Okay, here we have Treasure again, famed developer of such classics as Dynamite Headdy, Gunstar Heroes, and Radiant Silvergun. We all know what genre they are the finest with and that is shooters. But enough with them, they get the plethora of praise they already deserve, let’s talk about ALIEN SOLDIER…

Released only for the UK and Japanese Mega Drive in 1995, Alien Soldier never made it to North America. This was toward the end of the Genesis’ life span and AS was basically unnoticed. With an average www.ebay.com price of $70, few people actually take the time and effort to track down this masterpiece of shooting bliss, and I am here to change all that.

The idea behind Alien Soldier is simple: fairly condensed levels of many boss fights. 25 Brilliant stages fill AS each with a small segment of enemies and, an ingenious boss to under mind and explode. AS is non-stop blood pumping action that’ll have you sweating and addicted until the end. At first, I admit, I found AS not entirely worth the hassle. I have always been a fan of shooters with tons of smaller enemies and only a boss would come at the end of a lengthy level. AS takes a completely different approach and, once you get hooked, you’ll never look at another Thunderforce or R-Type again…

Graphics: 10/10
Some of the single finest graphics to ever grace a 2D game. Period. The backgrounds are immensely detailed with use of every single pixel allowed-pushing the Genesis/Mega Drive to the limit. This is just the beginning. The explosions of bosses and various enemies are the coolest most astounding that I have yet to view in a video game. The effects are breathtaking. Your character himself, a most attractively cool character as well, transforming into a ultra bad fire bird to soar through levels and deliver extensive damage to bosses. Alien Soldiers weaponry is also fantastically drawn with detailed fire and laser effects. Pass all this and there’s still more. What makes AS’s graphics a 10 is what impresses you. Unlike Gunstar Heroes, surprising, brilliant, creative effects fill each stage to the max-increasing the replay and graphic value greatly. The bosses themselves each a wondrous concoction, each uniquely different and more creative from the next. Many of them have bionic qualities such as robotic snakes and birds, while others have a mainly techno feel. Throughout the game’s 25 levels, none of these fail to impress. Alien Soldier is among the top three for the greatest graphics in any Mega Drive/Genesis game.

Sound: 9/10
What we have is a shooter, so what we get is decent shooting themes. Each 5-10 levels have a new theme, none of which disappoint and many that are amazingly appealing. The Adrenaline pumping “Runner” theme in the beginning stages is fantastic and will have you hooked on the spot, just as the game’s opening theme will impress in is tempo. The sound effects are incredibly well done and some of the finest on the system. None of the themes are breathtaking and brilliant, but none fail to impress. A solid 9 goes to Alien Soldier in this category.

Gameplay: 10/10
This is where Alien Soldier defeats Gunstar Heroes mercilessly. The game’s 6 different weapons (4 are always equipped) are far more ingenious than its predecessor, each with strategically thought and idea to influence decision, speed, and challenge of gameplay. Alien Soldier stands as one of the most complex 2D shooters ever made, with various modes and abilities to adjust to. At first, this challenge creates a small annoyance, but once you achieve the skills needed to take down massive robotic spiders, you’ll never want to turn of your Genesis again.

I’ll attempt to explain all of the game’s modes: The first two are stop+aim shoot and run+shoot. In the first mode, you can shoot 360 degrees around you but you must stop to shoot. However, when you run you are quite fast, thus the game moves much more quickly than Gunstar Heroes. In the second mode. Usually only used by the expert class of AS gamers, you can run while shooting but you must tap the shooting button to change direction. This mode becomes much more exhilarating than the first as you become more skilled at AS but is also much harder.
The other one of the games modes is the ability to hover in the air and walk on ceilings, incredibly fun and awesome effects. You can also zip (REALLY fast) across the screen with temporary invincibility. Again, yet another brilliantly awesome ability. Another ability is that of the anti shot. When certain weak bullets are about to hit you, you can press the shoot button twice (fast) and the bullet will be deflected! You will also find that some bullets turn into life-restoration as do many enemies-a unique aspect of Alien Soldier. Finally, the coolest ability is turning into a giant fire bird destroying all enemies in your path. You may only do this if you have full health, and it’s a very important ability against bosses.

All of these elements are ingeniously mixed with a fantastic learning curve and increasingly harder bosses and enemies. There is also a password system on the easy mode so one may continue where they left off. Alien Soldier is the most fun I have ever had in a 2D shooter….absolutely amazing gameplay that achieves a well-deserved 10.

Lasting value: 10/10
After you beat the entire game on easy using passwords (which is a VERY challenging thing to do), you will continue to play Alien Soldier to beat it on the hard mode if nothing else. The plethora of abilities and weapons (I have yet to explain all of them still) will keep you thirsting for this title for years. Add the fact that its playable on the wondrous Sega Nomad (with a Game Genie) and you’ll never have another boring plane ride again.

Overall: 10/10
Unfortunately, Alien Soldier has a country-code lock-out making it almost unplayable on the Genesis. However, there are in fact Game Genie codes that break this so you can even play AS on a Nomad (!!!) The code I use for my UK copy is RECT-A6OJ and I can play whenever I want. A must own title for any Genesis owner unless you absolutely cannot stand shooters. Alien Soldier is among my favorite 10 video games ever made, and that is a huge complement on my part. To this day, the most sought after Genesis/Mega Drive game, and with good reason. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable title.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/02/02, Updated 01/02/02


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