Review: Star Soldier R (Nintendo Wii)

Star Soldier R
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Release Date: 5/19/2008

The Soldier franchise is back baby!

I was so excited about this. The Soldier series is my #3 shooter series of all time after R-Type and Gradius. I’ve missed it so. Titles like Soldier Blade and Blazing Lazers are what made me love my Turbo-Grafx so very much as middle schooler.

I was ecstatic when I learned this was a launch title for Wii Ware in Japan. I was even more excited to learn Hudson would be bringing it Stateside. Then I learned the game was no longer than five minutes and I was well…I was irate. It’s a FIVE MINUTE GAME? What the hell kind of ripoff is that? Eight dollars for a five minute play is worse than the old cruel arcade games of my childhood.

As you can imagine I was deeply conflicted. How good could a five minute, two minute, or THIRTEEN SECOND game be? At the same time, I love Soldier and I knew if I didn’t download it, that would be one less vote for a full length entry into the series.

So like an idiot, I downloaded it on the 19th as soon as it was available, and…I quickly took a top spot on the scoreboard. I have no idea if I still am by the time you read this, but I am the one with 10.6 shots per second, approximately 2 million in 5 minute mode, and 700K in 2 minute mode. Please note unlike the sad little geek wank fest that is sure to occur over the game, this is not me saying “I AM AWESOME,” it’s me saying I did pretty good at this game, so if I get a single “You don’t like this game because you’re not any good at it.” emails that most negative Shoot ‘Em Up reviews get, then congratulations, I will point you back to this opening and bestow upon you the title of illiterate boor.

Obviously my distaste for the shortness of the game compared to the cost and memory space on your Wii keeps me from recommending it fully to any one, but how is the game itself?

Let’s Review

1. Modes

Usually I would rate the story here, but there IS NO story. It’s just shoot as many things dead as you can as quickly as you can. So instead we’re taking a look at each mode.

First up is Quick Shot. Here you have 15 seconds to get as high as score as you can. The key is to match your speed with your shot. The smart way to go is your middle speed setting as you’ll get the most things hit in ratio to your speed. Stay low and making sweeping passes and you should be able to get 6.6 shots per second without any fuss.

Second up is 2 Minute Mode. Here you just play for two minutes. Dying takes a few seconds to regenerate a new ship, but really, there is no way to die here unless yo are utterly bad at this super easy shooter. If that’s the case, you should probably move on to a different genre. Just fire away, kill enemies, dodge return fire and in the time it take you to read this first page of the review, you’re done.

Five Minute mode is the same thing, but you should be able to clear two stages instead of one. It’s the exact same stages, power ups, and enemies, so if you want to get really good, memorize the board from the two minute stage by massive repeated playing (say ten times or so unless you’re really good at the genre, then cut that number in half) and you should do gangbusters on FMM.

In all, three modes of play are nice, but it essentially boils down to taking the biggest niche genre in the US right now, Shoot E’m Up’s, and giving the most devoted fanboys of the genre a way to measure how big their dicks are. It’s a disservice to those who play because we like the hand-eye coordination challenge or because we actually love the genre for games like <I<Ikaruga down to River Raid. I was really disappointed that this is going to be a whole generation’s first exposure to the Soldier series. Hudson should have given us a full Soldier game and charged 1,000 wii points. Instead we have an eight dollar tech demo.

Modes Rating: Bad

2. Graphics

This is a pretty game, to be sure. Sure most of you won’t be able to watch what’s on your screen because you’re too busy dodging bullets and trying not to get smacked. I was the same way with the game the first two times I played it. After that, you know what you’re in for and you can take a look at the myriad of ships, firepower, power-ups, and background design that litters the game. Even better is the between stage graphics you get after defeating a boss. The ship is just magnificent in design.

There’s no slowdown to speak off, boss designs are original and yet familiar, and it’s as pretty as My Life as a King, but in its’ own way.

Really nice looking game. Too bad there’s not much to see.

Graphics Rating: Good

3. Sound

To be honest, you don’t really listen to the music when you’re playing this, so there might as well not be any. When you’re under a time challenge, music is a distraction at best. However, the opening theme song is well done, as are the sound effects.

This is one of those games where it’s just too short for sound effects to have any real bearing. You’ll be impressed with the weapon sound effects, especially from the second boss who uses mines and a series of dog whistle laser beams, but that’s the extent of the quality here. Again, like the rest of the game. It’s a nice little tech demo, but there was so much wasted potential.

Sound Rating: Above Average

4. Control and Gameplay

Bottom line, screw the Numchuk and wiimote controls. It’s nice to see the game actually takes into account wiimote tilting, but this is about control and high scores. STICK TO THE CLASSIC CONTROLLER AND USE THE D PAD. Analog sticks get you killed in Shoot “em Up’s, so ignore it.

With the classic controller, the gameplay is the most solid I’ve seen in a Shoot ‘Em Up in a very long time. Controls are precise, speeding up and slowing down is a breeze and I was constantly impressed with how amazing it played. It wasn’t quite bullet hell, but it was a great little vertical shooter.

There’s not much to talk about here. One button controls your speed and wing layout and the other controls your fire power. Collect power ups to increase your gun spread and/or shields. When you get hit, you lose a power up instead of dying. If you’re out of power ups you die. This was an excellent touch I wish more shooters would try out. Sure it lacks the would be HARDCORENESS of the one shoot and you’re dead gameplay, but it’s an excellent innovation and a great way to break new players into the genre.

Honestly, if this had been a full game, it would have easily been my Shooter of the Year just for how well built it is. Still, for 8 bucks you can get a full soldier game from the Virtual Console. Do that instead.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Unparalelled

5. Replayability

Well, it’s short, so you can play it ten times in an hour, or like I did and play Quick Shot mode 100 times in an hour. WHOO REPLAY VALUE.

The game never changes. The AI is always the same, the enemies are always the same. It’s just rote memorization and if you sneeze or you look over at your couch and see there is a cat there when you don’t own any cats that will change how you do.

If you’re not in the game to try and get a super high score and get your name on the leader board, it’s utterly devoid of replay value. If you are, there’s no better game for the Wii to make up for that void of real life accomplishments.

Replayability: Mediocre

6. Balance

If this was a full length shooter, it’d probably get a good score here. Instead, as the game is so short, and so routine, even someone that is awful at this genre of games should have no problem achieving a better score each time they play.

I love boss boss fights, although neither is challenging. You should be able to figure out the patterns almost immediately and go off of that.

Again, I’d probably be more positive if this was a harder game, thus making achieving a high score or beating stage one in under 2 minutes/ stage 2 in under 5 a challenge. Instead you have a very solid,.but VERY easy shooter. Exactly what a tech demo should be.

Do I sound bitter I AM.

Balance Rating: Poor

7. Originality

Yet another shooter. It’s s decent one, and even fun the first few times you play, but it’s absolutely devoid of any innovation in terms of gameplay or styling.

The only thing truly original is the time limits, which is really just a way of selling you an unfinished game. Still, I’ll give Hudson points for most appalling thing I’ve seen done with the Wii Ware and/or to the ever shrinking Shoot ‘Em Up fanbase in 2008.

Originality Rating: Dreadful

8. Appeal Factor

Once people realize they are paying 8 dollars for a game they can “beat” in under ten minutes, only the most ignorant of gamers or zealous fanboys who love every shooter simply because it is a shooter could defend this title as worth playing, much less worth buying.

Look, I love shooters. The entire staff at DHGF can tell you that I, their editor in chief, am a complete nutjob for the genre. I voted Gradius V as the 2004 GOTY for crying out loud. This is one of my three favorite genres and I am saying 99% of you will never play this game past the first day you download it. The other 1% are going to be on some internet message board crowing about how awesome your high score is while the rest of us roll our eyes and go back to playing shooters require skill and give you your dollar’s worth.

Remember, full length Soldier games for the same cost on the VS, or for two bucks more you can get Ikaruga or Trigger Heart Excella on Xbox Live.

No one should be happy with this purchase. NO ONE.

Appeal Factor: Worthless

9. Addictiveness

Quick Shot was a lot of fun the first ten times I played it. Heck, all the modes were fun the first dozen times I tried it. But then, ten times for all three modes combined adds up to less time then an ABC Movie of the Week.

That means in less than an hour and a half, you will be bored to tears with this game. I was angry and disappointed with the lack of content and the fact the game took up as much memory as 4 other Soldier games on my Wii internal memory. For a tenth of the play time as any of them!

Absolutely dreadful here. It’s cute at first but it has the least amount of replay value I’ve ever seen in a game. Unless of course you absolutely, positively want to be on a high scoreboard where people you will never encounter in real life can see your handle.

Addictiveness Rating: Dreadful

10. Miscellaneous

Hang your heads in shame Hudson Soft. The engine is amazing, but then you went and threw it down the toilet for cheap cash. This is the most disappointing thing I’ve seen from a publisher in a long time. Eight bucks for a five minute game? This is shameful and a kick to the bollocks of every one who clamored for a new Soldier title. Who bought the VC re-releases. Who cheered when you announced this was coming.

You owe Shoot ‘Em Up fans everywhere an apology with this one. We won’t get it, but you owe it nonetheless.

Miscellaneous Score: Worthless

The Scores
Modes: Bad
Graphics: Good
Sound: Above Average
Control and Gameplay: Unparalelled
Replayability: Mediocre
Balance: Poor
Originality: Dreadful
Appeal Factor: Worthless
Addictiveness: Dreadful
Miscellaneous: Worthless

Short Attention Span Summary

DO not buy this game. Send a message to Hudson Soft and send it without the slightest twinge of guilt. Who cares if we never get another Soldier game. With this one mad dash for cash, Hudson has not only given the middle finger to Soldier fans, but put a huge black mark on the series. It’s a shame too, because the engine is amazingly solid and there is a HUGE amount of potential to be had with it. Instead we paid for a tech demo instead of a full game and there is NO excuse for that.



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