Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Soldier Blade

Hudson Soft

Pre-release screens of this shooter caught my eye thanks to the often-depicted big-ass laser super-shot, which is absolutely awesome.

As cool as the energy overload weapon is, though, the featured boss assemblage is the game's pride and joy. Soldier Blade's multi-part machines can really take a beating, and they have lots of different weapons to hammer you with. Dismantling them is a pleasure.

The coolest fellows in the lot appear during Operation 6:

This craft utilizes the armaments of slain bosses before tearing pieces from the wall and chucking them at you...

...while this huge contraption can teleport you to distant spots in space...

...and that isn't the only trick he has up his sleeve.

The standard stage foes are a stout bunch for the most part, though some of them have a very-flat look about them; and by Operation 5, enemy redundancy becomes a bit of a problem. But the action is consistently heavy; SB's strips never reach the level of intensity that Blazing Lazers' last few stages attain, but they don't contain BL's stretches of dead space either. They also look a good bit better than decent. Operation 3's blasted-up city was drawn extremely well, as was the sixth-level base, but for whatever reason, I've always found the cloud depictions in Operation 2 most appealing.

The most interesting progression of events occurs in Operation 4:

You can see your enemies maneuvering below you before they fly up to assault you. After you fend them off and defeat a good, tough midboss...

...the ground opens up. Soar through the steel-lined fissure until you find a gateway that somehow sucks you into outer space...

...where a flame-throwing robot confronts you.

The music is nice, if not particularly special except in a couple of stages. SB has the sort of opening-level music that every shooter should have: the track flaunts a catchy hook and gets you involved and excited at once. And Operation 5's up-tempo number adds to that respective strip's intensity.

For some players, Soldier Blade might seem to lack a certain "wow" factor. The action and the visuals, while quite solid, never really reach a point where they could be considered mind blowing. This might be a concern since SB costs a decent chunk of change relative to most other chip shooters. I got mine on the cheap years ago and have never looked back, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn't hesitate to plunk down a good $30-40 for it. There's no question that it's one of the strongest chip verticals.

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