Posted by: seanmalstrom | November 24, 2016

TG 16 Review: Super Star Soldier

Note: This review was done playing on actual Turbografx 16 hardware with no emulation used.

 

Here is a Turbografx 16 ‘classic’: Super Star Soldier. Does this game stand the test of time? Is it still fun to play today? And more important of all, will it earn the Malstrom Award, the most highly sought after award in all of gaming?

 

Above: Gameplay of Super Star Soldier

Super Star Soldier is the first of the Star Soldier Trilogy by Hudson. After the success of Blazing Lazers which was made by both Compile and Hudson, Hudson made Super Star Soldier. It is also a type of ‘official sequel’ to the Hudson NES game of ‘Star Soldier. The other two games following Super Star Soldier in the trilogy is Final Soldier and Soldier Blade.

Above: Classic Game Room raves but struggles to say anything specific about the game.

Super Star Soldier is a very generic top down shmup. Sometimes you only come back immediately if you die, otherwise you start at a checkpoint. One hit doesn’t kill unless it is a large laser beam or obstacle. The hit just downgrades your weapons. Speed is determined by three settings chosen by select so there are no speed upgrades. You choose whatever speed you want.

There are two versions of quality to place Super Star Soldier, two alternate universes. Since Final Blade and Soldier Blade, the following two shmups in the trilogy, and Blazing Lazers, an unofficial type of pre-quel is legendary, there is much effort and thinking that Super Star Soldier is a ‘fantastic shooter’ and ‘one of the most excellent shmups ever made’. The other view is that Super Star Soldier is spiritually the same as its official predecessor on the NES, Star Soldier, in that it is extremely generic but solid, solid, solid on the gameplay.

I fall into the latter camp. I think the ‘praise’ on Super Star Soldier is unwarranted and is nothing more than the bandwagon effect and of people wanting this game to be good because the other three games in this series are good. This game is extraordinarily generic. It rips from every other shmup at this time. It has the fire loops from Salamander including the ‘narrowing escape’ from Salamander too. The soundtrack, aside from the first track, is nothing to write home about. The challenge is inconsistent. The game feels like it has no identity, no personality. This is the hallmark of being generic.

This game is a generic soup of shmups with no identity of its own. It’s only saving grace is that the gameplay mechanics are super solid. This is what makes people to think this is a great game. But is it? You’ll find many people tell these video reviewers raving about the game that ‘I don’t like playing this shmup. I prefer this other shmup much more.’

The challenge is so off that even die-hard Turbo fans have trouble finishing the game. I remember talking to the Hudson guy responsible for getting the Turbografx 16 games onto the Wii’s Virtual Console that he wanted to ‘finally finish this game’ as he never could do so.

Above: Even the Turbo Views reviewer had problems finishing this game which he has been playing since it came out!

I have an annoyance in this game that playing it makes it sound like I am making popcorn. I call stage one the popcorn stage because all the little enemies pop sound like popcorn. The more I play this game, the more annoyed I am at its generic quality. Solid gameplay isn’t enough, I need originality. This game lacks originality, lacks personality, and becomes less fun the more you play.

One major plus side is that this game has a caravan mode of 5 minutes and 2 minutes where you just go and get a high score. So there is another way to play the game. But seeing that the only differentiation between this shmups and others is the challenge, it is hard to recommend this game. You can get your challenge fix from other, more interesting, shmups.

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