Sol Cresta (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 09.06.2023

Review for Sol Cresta on Nintendo Switch

Sol Cresta is a belated sequel to the 1985 arcade shoot 'em up Terra Cresta and the 1980 original, Moon Cresta. Out of the blue, Platinum Games announced that they would develop Sol Cresta and that famed Bayonetta director Hideki Kamiya would be involved. The first two Cresta titles were not exactly big names like Namco's Galaga, Irem's R-Type, Sega's Zaxxon or Konami's Gradius. The company that produced these titles hasn't released a game since 2005 and has been relegated to IP management for the better part of seven years, until Hamster Corporation acquired their assets. In the middle of all of this, Platinum Games has sought to become more than an action games developer, and with Hideki Kamiya having just got out of the doomed production of Scalebound, it was time to do something small scale with a quick turnaround. Is Sol Cresta a crusty shooter rising from the ashes like a phoenix? Can Platinum Games make an authentic scrolling shoot 'em up?

Hideki Kamiya is a man who grew up playing arcade games in the 80s. He has often expressed how the cabinets back then were very challenging and that if he ran out of tokens, the sting of defeat would mean having to watch others play. Having to watch others play would inspire him since he would learn from their mistakes. The next time he had some change, he would use what he had learned to forge a path to victory. Kamiya has since applied a lot of this kind of challenging gameplay ethos in all of his projects. In almost every single one of his games, there are homages to all kinds of shoot 'em ups.

Kamiya's gimmick in Sol Cresta is the docking mechanic. The idea is that gamers would have three ships and, depending on the formation, the craft's weapons and handling would vary. On top of the docking mechanic, the ship can perform some complex manoeuvres via fighting game style inputs. All of this is very bold, and for the first few stages it is a stroke of genius... until the game becomes insanely fast paced and the inputs become impractical. Being able to fire to the hard right or left from a hadoken-style input sounds appealing and would be satisfying if Sol Cresta didn't go full Dodonpachi Daioujou with its elaborate bullet patterns and massive waves of enemies.

The ship in Sol Cresta on its own is a fair and feasible size. The confusion comes when trying to execute the docking moves while in combat. The ship breaks up into three and in the heat of the moment, good luck trying to quickly figure out the desired arrangement while also dodging a nigh endless curtain of fire crashing towards the bottom of the screen. This kind of gameplay does have its appeal. If there was a simplified mode where gamers could press a single shoulder button to cycle through the possible combinations, then maybe the experience would feel smoother and fairer. Even when the different docking combinations are committed to memory, sometimes they don't always work as intended - like a less reliable "Wonder Liner" from The Wonderful 101.

Screenshot for Sol Cresta on Nintendo Switch

Sol Cresta's graphics are a mixed bag. At first glance, they look awesome and perfectly capture the feel of the arcade style chunky but detailed pixel art from the mid 90s. In most angles, the visuals pass for a high-level Sega Saturn game. Where the graphics falter is telegraphing important information to the player. Sol Cresta can be a very busy looking shooter and there are lots of hazards on screen that don't look threatening or are drawn in a way where they look like they are in the background. The core experience is already very challenging and the feeling of being unsure about what caused one of the ships to explode is cheap and frustrating.

For most of the time, Sol Cresta looks the part of the era it is emulating, but where it utterly slam dunks and shatters the glass is with its electrifying and energizing music. This is a Yuzo Koshiro joint, famous for his indelible work on the Streets of Rage series and more. The man is a natural when it comes to heart pounding synth, and he taps into the genre tropes to make Sol Cresta sound very authentic. This is a soundtrack that wakes up the listener and sharpens them up for a violent round of space blasting and bullet-dodging mayhem.

When Sol Cresta works as intended, it is an enthralling and exciting shooter. The boys at Platinum Games really cared about making something that honoured the kinds of games they grew up with and they largely did it. This is an acquired taste and maybe Kamiya knows this; Sol Cresta was originally announced on April Fool's Day, so most Platinum Games fans thought it was a joke - and maybe that was the point. Sol Cresta is definitely not a joke. It is the real deal.

Screenshot for Sol Cresta on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Sol Cresta can be a little annoying with its mechanics for anyone who is willing to take the time to get good at it. There are way better scrolling shooters already on Nintendo Switch and the one thing that makes this one notable is the pedigree behind it. At the very least, the music is pure fire and energy - some of Koshiro's best work to date.

Developer

PlatinumGames

Publisher

PlatinumGames

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

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   

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