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Anayo
Next-Gen
 
Posts: 2021
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2007 10:18 pm
Location: North Carolina

Alien Soldier (Sega Megadrive review)

by Anayo Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:23 pm

Alien Soldier is a game released for the Sega Megadrive in Europe and Japan in 1995. I am reviewing the game as played from a repro cart I bought and played on my Sega Genesis, since I live in the US and lack a PAL Sega.

If you're a fan of 16-bit Sega games, the developer Treasure probably brings one particular game to mind: Gunstar Heroes. Everyone with a Megadrive/Genesis should play Gunstar Heroes. Its graphics and music are some of the most spectacular on Sega's 16 bit library, it's full of explosive action that's twice as fun with a second player, and the wacky storyline has a humorous tone that will make you smile.

Alien Soldier has a look and sound that's unmistakably similar to Gunstar Heroes. However, the game differs in a few ways. Some of these differences make the game stand out, establishing its own identity. Others disappointed me.

Gunstar Heroes starred a cast of cartoony human characters facing enemies who were all clumsy human storm troopers; more goofy than menacing. 99% of Alien Soldier's cast are non-human beings. The hero himself is a bipedal falcon-like creature in battle armor. The enemies are an unpleasant bestiary of writhing serpents, grinning carnivorous monsters, and scowling personified animals with cyberpunk machine limbs and weapons replacing more than half their bodies. The tone is decidedly darker and more inhospitable.

Gunstar Heroes followed the then-popular formula of presenting several levels to complete, each concluded with a boss fight. Alien Soldier, on the other hand, offers a formula I've never quite seen before. There's exceedingly little in the way of platforming stages or even traditional “stages” at all. The entire game is a series of 25 boss fights, one after another. You literally start the game with a boss fight and battle almost nothing but bosses until the game ends.

On one hand, I have a credit Alien Soldier for being unique this way. I also can't deny that the bosses themselves are all visually spectacular, imaginative, and challenging. One boss in particular took my friend and I well over 20 tries before we mastered the necessary patterns to defeat it, making victory feel all the more gratifying. But I can't shake the feeling that in my favorite 16-bit video games, I love the distance covered in between boss fights just as much as the bosses themselves. In Sonic the Hedgehog, for instance, I know there's no real point to watching Sonic run through a loop-the-loop or exploring the environment at my leisure, but it feels cool. With its 'all bosses all the time' style, Alien Soldier leaves me feeling robbed of any moments like that. And this is a shame because Gunstar Heroes was full of them.

What Alien Soldier has going for it is the sheer challenge involved in completing it, as the game is very difficult and would probably attract the sort of masochist who's into 'bullet hell' style shooters. Also, it's probably the most visually jaw-dropping Sega Genesis game I've ever had the privilege of playing. But the format of fighting nothing but bosses from beginning to end gives it an exhausting pace and although it has cool parts, it lacks the personality that makes other 16-bit games from those days so endearing to me. I'd be doing everyone a disservice if I said this was a bad game, just don't expect another Gunstar Heroes when you play this one.
Almost Gamers
8-bit
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:49 pm

Re: Alien Soldier (Sega Megadrive review)

by Almost Gamers Sat Nov 15, 2014 7:57 pm

I love a challenging game
Almost Gamers
8-bit
 
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:49 pm

Re: Alien Soldier (Sega Megadrive review)

by Almost Gamers Sat Nov 15, 2014 8:00 pm

I love a challenging game. Alien Soldier and Turrican 2 have caught my eyes recently but I just can't figure out how to get my hand on a working copy of Alien Soldier. It looks solo great though.
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