Alien Soldier (Mega Drive) Review

By Athanasios 07.01.2020 5

Review for Alien Soldier on Mega Drive

1995. There's isn't exactly much room for 16-bit games anymore. Or is it? This was the year when the fourth generation of consoles would push the limits of their respective systems. The SNES completed its lifecycle with the absolutely fantastic Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. For the Mega Drive it was quite possibly Treasure's awesome Alien Soldier; an action title that would drop jaws even without its impressive technical quality. Insanely fast, insanely demanding, and a great way to become insane yourself, this retrospective look at it tells you all about this underrated gem.

Let this get out of the way as fast as possible. The story, which is told through a stupefyingly long scrolling wall of text in the intro, is an absolute mess that'll put you to sleep after the third or so paragraph. Apart from the fact that it doesn't even make any sense, it's badly written, and throws all sorts of names and weird jargon at the player in less than two minutes. Worry not, dear bored reader. This can be summed up in: you are an anthropomorphic cyborg falcon, and you have to shoot down alien and robot scum of all sizes and colours. Thankfully, this is a pure side-scrolling shooter game, and nothing more than that.

Screenshot for Alien Soldier on Mega Drive

Note, that while similar to Treasure's previous gem, Gunstar Heroes, this is something different entirely. For starters, it's actually a boss rush in disguise, at least for the first couple of stages - which, by the way, are actually one big continuous journey, with just a few "transitions" from level to level. Therefore, if looking for something more "traditional," this isn't for you. Oh, this also isn't for you if you don't like plenty of challenge. Alien Soldier will test you. "I've played tough shooters before, man. I know what I'm doing!" Well, okay, it's just that Epsilon-Eagle can do more than just run, jump, and shoot.

You can toggle between two shooting modes, with the first having you stand still while shooting, and the second letting you move while shooting at one direction; you can hover on the air and run on the ceiling; you can equip four different weapons, and quickly toggle between them; you can "parry" projectiles and turn them into health; and, finally, you can dash to the other end of the screen - heavily damaging foes if in full health. These extra abilities aren't optional dressing, but must-have ingredients. You absolutely need to use them in order to survive. Even the small road that leads from boss to boss is filled with all sorts of dangers that can severely damage this agile, feathery soldier.

Screenshot for Alien Soldier on Mega Drive

This is, without a single doubt, a game of skill. Bosses do follow a certain pattern, but you still need to be in the moment every moment, and juggle many things simultaneously Moreover, even if you have the skill to beat a boss, the clock can frequently turn out to be your enemy. Hard or not, this doesn't throw any punches below the belt. There are some flaws here, like how the enormous size of your character needs some getting used to in a game that's so fast, how some bosses don't let you catch your breath (one in particular is three opponents in one), or how changing weapons isn't as smooth as it should be (in the heat of the moment, at least), but, generally, this plays fair, and is designed in such a way that, each time you play, you'll actually get better, and manage to move even further.

Screenshot for Alien Soldier on Mega Drive

Note that this is a relatively short trek. Is that a problem? No, because it has a heavy arcade/speed-running mind-set, and begs to be completed again and again, trying to get the best score and time while at it - whether playing on 'Supereasy' (hard), or 'Superhard' (very hard). Having said that, not all parts were created equal, as some bosses aren't really that enjoyable to fight with. Some can even aggravate, due to a lack of wiggle room - especially annoying in a title such as this, where your character is able to pull all kinds of tricks, super fast, but usually has to "restrain" himself.

Let this end with a little bit of nitpicking. While technically whole as a piece of software (it even includes the option to decrease/increase game speed), audio-visually it's a pretty mixed bag. Like with the story, the visuals are all over the place, with no consistency in terms of style, and the music, while very adrenaline-pumping, can get highly repetitive, as the soundtrack severely lacks variety - but it doesn't matter, as this is like those über-ridiculous '80s action animation series. Furthermore, this is more concerned with making you feel like a hyper-sonic super-soldier, and it certainly achieves that, both through its gameplay, but greatly aided by the music too.

Screenshot for Alien Soldier on Mega Drive

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Alien Soldier is a relatively unknown action title from the final days of the Mega Drive. A result of subpar quality? Without a single doubt, no, no, no! Treasure's extremely fast, hardcore shooter, is a must-have for all gamers, old or not, as long as they can stomach the challenge available, as well as its short length - something that's not a flaw, by the way, as Alien Soldier has a heavy arcade mindset.

Developer

Treasure

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

i dont think there is a more challenging 2D game than Alien Soldier 

Insanoflex said:
i dont think there is a more challenging 2D game than Alien Soldier 

Ninja Gaiden?

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Ofisil said:

Insanoflex said:
i dont think there is a more challenging 2D game than Alien Soldier 

Ninja Gaiden?

i said challenging.

NG is downright cheap and unfair. 

Insanoflex said:

Ofisil said:

Insanoflex said:
i dont think there is a more challenging 2D game than Alien Soldier 

Ninja Gaiden?

i said challenging.

NG is downright cheap and unfair. 


That was a trick question: you passed the test.

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Ofisil said:

Insanoflex said:

Ofisil said:

Insanoflex said:
i dont think there is a more challenging 2D game than Alien Soldier 

Ninja Gaiden?

i said challenging.

NG is downright cheap and unfair. 


That was a trick question: you passed the test.

i still love NG tho.
the music manages to elevate such a crushingly unfair and frustrating platformer. 

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