Soul Star

Sega CD

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 10

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 9

"Star Fox" was one of Nintendo's most hyped titles back when the SNES was hitting its prime. The extra processing power provided by the Super FX chip was enough to send people into a frenzy. The game of course now looks flat-out terrible, but a little known and under appreciated title on the Sega CD does not. "Soul Star" not only remains impressive graphically, but it plays better too.

Players control the morphing spaceship Aggressor along with pilot Bryk Hammelt in attempt to stop the Myrkoids, a band of aliens that suck out the planets internal energy. Eight stages, spread across six planets, need to be cleared in order to repel the invasion, and thankfully the ship can change form to match any situation that might arise. A multitude of weapons also adds to the cause, but these aliens will not go down easily.

This game is gorgeous. In fact, in terms of hardware capabilities, this is probably one of the most graphically intense and impressive games ever produced. The stunning and downright beautiful use of color is just remarkable. Toss in scaling effects that can rival a Playstation game any day of the week and you know you're playing a labor of love.

Of course, this all means nothing if the game doesn't play well but "Soul Star" beats the odds. This is a brutal game, hardly one for those who enjoy playing through a game in an hour. It won't happen here. You earn the right to see these stages. Initial stages are on-rails behind the ship, in space or just above the ground. Enemy ships swerve all around the field and fire off shots that only the most skilled players can conquer.

The second form, the "Turbo Copter," is the games only real misstep. Bogged down by overly complicated and confusing controls, these stages are generally free roaming, pushing the console's mode-7 capabilities far beyond what it should be capable of. But, when you need to hold down "C" just to turn and change altitude (when your finger should be in the trigger button instead), you'll take numerous hits that could have been avoided otherwise.

Finally, the "Combat Walker" is a blast to play as, loaded with firepower and the ability to maneuver on the ground. The only confusing aspect is jumping which requires a press of the fire button and up at the same time. You'll likely fire off a precious (and limited) special weapon instead of getting a boost.

Players can choose which way they play through the game after the initial few levels are completed. Each warp is configured on a different difficulty level so if you want to take on the hardest levels first, you have that option. Each one is complete with wildly different surroundings. Add that in with the different ship and you have a game that's always throwing new challenges at the player.

All of the music here could be in Hollywood. This is an epic soundtrack, one that ranks up there with the best video gaming has to offer. There are 18 different themes so you'll never have to worry about it getting redundant. Sound effects are somewhat limited, but explosions do pack a punch.

Besides the obviously rough difficulty level (at times you will never know what hit you), there are some minor problems as well. Hit detection can occasionally be spotty, especially in the on-rails segments. It can lead to some unnecessary damage for the player. Finally, there is some minor flicker when things get crowded, but it never really affects the gameplay.

This is one of the few games to ever show what this system was truly capable of. Had more games been released like this, the Sega CD very well may have made an impact. Even today, nearly 10 years later, very few games offer up this much variety and graphical bliss in one title. This is one of the most under appreciated classics of all time.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2004 09:14 AM