Monday, March 22, 2010

Virtual Console Review - Final Soldier (Turbografx-16)

Final Soldier - Hudson for Turbografx - 8/10

Final Soldier is the second of three games of the Star Soldier series to appear on the PC Engine/Turbografx, fitting nicely between Super Star Soldier and Soldier Blade.  This is probably the signature series of scrolling shoot-em-ups on the system, much like the Thunder Force games on the Genesis.  It's a standard of quality.

All three games are excellent, and you'll be more than happy to waste an hour or two blasting spaceships and dodging bullets.  Very little of substance separates one from the others, and this will be a weakness for anyone who isn't already a dedicated fan.  You may have bought Super Star Soldier when it was released on Virtual Console, and you're not feeling the urge to play through another set of levels.  Fair enough.

For the fans, I think Final Soldier is an excellent game.  Perhaps it's easy to overlook, since it is the middle child, but the superb graphics, impressive weaponry, and challenging gameplay will keep you coming back.  I know, I know, that reads like the back of the game box.  It's an arcade shooter.  You shoot aliens with cool weapons and try not to get killed.  This is not rocket science.

Japanese arcade shooters were immensely popular in the late '80s to early '90s, and these were the defining "hardcore" games before Street Fighter 2 came along.  These were the games that tested your skills the hardest, and offered the loudest bragging rights.  And don't kid yourself, this is a tough game.  The Soldier series may not have R-Type's reputation for difficulty; it's more subtle, it slowly builds over the levels.  Just wait until the fifth mission, and you've just been shot down.  Then you'll enjoy some short bursts of terror.

I have no idea why the PC Engine had so many shooters.  It seems like those were the only games being made for the system, in between the CD RPGs and the lame platformers.  You can see that Hudson had their formula down cold.  Final Soldier gets my thumbs-up, and I heartily recommend adding all three Soldiers to your Virtual Console.

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