Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth

Nintendo 64

Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 6

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 4

Overall: 4

starsoldiern642.jpg (50731 bytes)What is it that makes a space shooter great? I'll answer that for ya. Besides the usual graphics, sound, gameplay, etc. it is that MOMENT when you’ve successfully navigated through a level and have accumulated the maximum power-up level, and are ready to challenge the boss.

The “Soldier” series from Hudson is an 8/16-bit classic tale: Star Soldier (NES), Super Star Soldier, and Soldier Blade (both TG-16 games) are arguably the defining titles of the shooter era, which to me was 1986-1991. But when Hudson put together their 1998 “update” for the classic series, they left out not only the important elements that make ANY game fun, they also removed the single most important element to shooters: there are none of those power-up high MOMENTS here.

In fact, you could almost say the power-up system doesn’t even exist. You start with one of three ships, each of which has its own weapons. You can increase the firepower of each ship as a level progresses, but to tell the truth, you’ll hardly notice the difference between level two, three, and four… and the super weapons have just one level of power. You can’t change ships mid-way through the game, and you can’t switch weapons.

starsolidiern641.jpg (36104 bytes)If the level design and bosses were outstanding enough to draw attention away from this fact, I might have scored the game higher. But they’re not. They’re pretty dull, actually. The bosses have dramatic 3D introductions but the battles are pretty bland.

The overall gameplay itself reminds me of the Sega CD title Silpheed, with its “fake” 3D backgrounds and real 2D action. That was a novelty at the time, and does nothing to help this game. The game is also way too short and too easy, and that’s very unlike the “Soldier” series. On the positive side, the music and voices are excellent. There are also hidden forks in the road, if you will, that lead to alternate areas of several of the levels. Let’s just pretend this never happened.


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Last updated: Saturday, October 01, 2005 12:13 AM