| paleface [sys=MD; cat=Platformer; loc=JPN] |
|Furious boss-rush run-n-gun from Treasure, with insignificant little repawning grunt sections between the highly creative boss battles.|
This being Treasure, the controls are a little complicated, allowing you to run and shoot in all directions at once. This part I got the hang of pretty quick, but I'm still a little shaky on the jump+jump to hover in midair, and on the weapon switching: you press one button to pop up the weapon switch interface to rotate between your four chosen weapons, but it takes a while to realize which icon is the selected one, and which gun that icon corresponds to, and then you have to press another button to accept the choice--really, it would have been much easier simply to have a button cycle through the weapons, as with the rotational selection scheme, it isn't really practical to switch weapons mid-battle.
You have to sometimes, though, because some weapons aren't very effective against some bosses, and some weapons tend to run out of ammo, and have to recharge. Also, you'll sometimes find weapon powerups, but be sure you have the right weapon selected when you pick them up, because they will replace your current weapon if you have a different one selected! Doh!
Even with all the massive weapons at your disposal, you won't get past the first boss battle without learning one of the tricks, which is this dash move that zips you across the screen. That's pretty much your bread and butter for the boss battles: shoot, boss approaches, zip past him, shoot from the other side, repeat. Boss difficulty varies; it feels like this could have been smoothed out into more of a linear progression.
There are further tricks, too, like dashing through a boss at full health, which does this explosive dash thing for massive damage--but it also takes off a little sliver of health, so you can't do it again until you get a health pickup. Health pickups, however, can be generated from incoming bullets by pressing the fire button twice rapidly, sort of a parry move. Ah, and you can run on ceilings, which leads to some unusual platform jumping sections.
The game clocks along at an impressive pace, with lots of large sprites and explosions and things going on pretty much continuously, with less sprite flickering and slowdown than you might have expected.
It's worth mentioning that, unlike many Treasure games, Alien Soldier has a very serious tone, without the wackiness seen throughout many of their other games. The longwinded opening story sequence (in English, with Japanese subtitles) will bewilder you with a crazy succession of names and events, but if you stick with it you will at least find a little amusement in the form of a few quality Engrishisms.