Retro of the Week #4 - Alien Soldier

Posted by Swifto on 7 March, 2012 at 11:14PM

Tags: Retro, Sega, Genesis, Alien Soldier, Treasure

Retro of the Week #4 - Alien Soldier


I'll start this by saying that while eventually I'll write about specific game companies and the games they've made, Treasure is not one I'll add to that list.

Why? Simple.

I haven't played all of their games, and I'm not likely to. Unless Radiant Silvergun and Guardian Heroes suddenly get a modern port, I'm not likely to play them. (much as I'd like to) Plus, the sheer quality put into each game means that each one deserves their own focus and attention. Each game is so wildly different from each other (in a manner of speaking)] that it'd be so difficult to compare them anyways.
And, I'll get this out of the way: I won't be doing Gunstar Heroes. It has all the modern ports you could need, it's cheap, it's absolutely fantastic, and you don't have a reason NOT to play it.

So, we'll touch on a much lesser-known Treasure gem; Alien Soldier.

(the box art to this game isn't all that great, so, fan-art! [credits are in the filename])

I'll say this up front: Alien Soldier has an awkward control scheme. A very effective one, don't get me wrong. When you get used to it, you become a veritable destroyer of worlds unlike that which any other game has made you feel. It... Just takes some time to become accustomed to the slightly different way the game controls. Getting over that is worth every bit of effort and time, though. It's also worth playing the game over and over, getting used to every little trick and nuance to the game that you can use to your advantage. (there are many) You'll need every single damn one, since the bosses in the game are BRUTAL.

The game is primarily filled with these bosses. The stages between them are mostly filled with fodder enemies, which you'll use to regenerate your health and energy with. They pose little challenge, and are a welcome breather from the intense-as-hell and extremely varied boss fights.

Did I mention the bosses?

Treasure had one helluva time making these bastards. Each one poses it's own challenge, almost like a puzzle that needs to be solved. 'course, cracking this puzzle doesn't mean automatic victory. They'll still struggle tooth and bloody nail to get at you. The puzzle presented by each boss is different each time, and while some aren't that big a deal (the first several are wonderful forays and serve as excellent 'tutorials', so to say), some bosses are just going to wreck your shit. 6 years of concentrated and almost non-stop effort from me going towards this game, and I've yet to make it half-way through this game. It's a long, difficult ride, but my god, it's worth it. Every victory swells you with pride and glory in your heart as you pump your fists in the air after taking on such a monumental challenge, and besting it.

But challenging though these bosses are, some being damn impossible at first, they never feel unfair. Their attacks are almost always immediately apparent, have a fair amount of time of action to indicate that they're doing that particular attack, and besides that, you have a very impressive arsenal yourself. It's a unique attack system where you have limited, regenning ammo. You have four slots, and there's six weapon types to choose from. Fire away with one weapon, and your energy for it will drain. Switch out to something else, and the energy in the other weapon will gradually recover. You have to perform a careful balancing act with your arsenal, and it's exhilerating. A weapon that works very well with a boss, but runs out of energy at just the wrong time can send a jolt of panic.

Luckily, the bosses don't have quite the rock-paper-scissors weakness system as most other games. While the Flame weapon works amazing on organic enemies, it's quite useless on metal robotic ones. Just as the slow-but-powerful Lancer weapon isn't that great on high-mobility organic enemies, but can cut through slower robot bosses quite effectively. And while the Homing force is one of the weaker weapons you have, the fact that it goes through armour and always does damage to anything makes it invaluable. It all depends on your playing style, and experimenting with each one against different enemies is encouraged.

The music suits each moment well. The action-packed bosses have up-tempo and fast-paced music, while slower and more foreboding bosses have fitting music to match. A lot of the stage music, despite being sometimes just half a minute long, if that, have great music as well, each suiting the tone of the stage excellently. As with most Genesis games, the sound effects are passable, but not all too impressive. Still, the Ranger weapon sounds damn cool.

All in all, Alien Soldier is an excellent game that should be tried by everyone, learning curve be damned. Repeated playthroughs are encouraged and are very rewarding.

Alien Soldier is available on the Wii Vitual Console, but for 900 points. Well worth the extra hundred, though.

Give it a shot!