Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth
Star Soldier is a tough game for me to rate. On one hand, I can see people loving it for its extremely well-balanced gameplay and in-depth combo/scoring system. On the other hand, I can see people hating it because you can run through it on the Beginner difficulty in about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, I have a feeling most people will end up going with the latter, which is too bad because at its core, Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth is an excellent shooter that provides some serious challenge on the harder difficulty levels (specifically the Master level). Yes, I agree--it could've been longer. There are actually three hidden special missions, but chances are most people will never even see them. But on the other hand, if you're into playing for high scores (which has always been a staple of the Star Soldier series, especially in Japan), I can't see how anyone could dismiss this game in only one rental period. There's just too much depth to the scoring system. And on top of that, there are two very cool time trial modes that give you either two or five minutes to rack up as many points as possible before time runs out. The bottom line is this: If you're into shooters that require more than just quick reflexes to master, you should check this out. The lack of a two-player mode does kinda stink, though.
Normally I'm prepared to tolerate some bad presentation, especially for a shooter, but Star Soldier's graphics work against the gameplay. Sometimes it looks so bad, you can't see what's going on. It pretends to be all clever and 3D, but ends up just being a confusing mess of similarly colored backgrounds and sprites. Not the greatest example ever ..it's real old school and doesn't compare well with other recent efforts.
I don't think I've ever played such an average shooter in my life. Sure. Star Soldier has a few secret paths, some flashy graphics and a combo system for points, but it just doesn't have enough oomph to be long-lasting. It actually reminds me of some no-name arcade shooter. For $10-15 I'd consider picking up SS so I could have a shooter on my N64, but it's probably better off as a rental--you should be able beat it in a day or two.
I never thought I'd see an old-school shooter on the N64, so I'm especially pleased to say this first entry for the system is pretty darn good. You get classic top-down gameplay here with a cool twist that's unique to the Star Soldier series. Achieving a high score is the ultimate goal, and--as in Einhander--you earn major points by stringing together kills for massive combo bonuses. It all makes for a surprising amount of strategy. Crispin
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The first 'traditional' scrolling shoot-'em-up for the N64. Unfortunately, it's rubbish. Get R-Type 3 and a SNES for less.