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Final Soldier (TurboGrafx-16) artwork

Final Soldier (TurboGrafx-16) review

"Middlin' Soldier"

No matter how awesome at shmups I want to be, I suck at them. However, that doesn't stop me from enjoying them while they peel the skin off my face. In particular, I remember Super Star Soldier bending me over its knee and flogging me until I couldn't sit for a week. It was exhilarating! When the opportunity arose to fire up Final Soldier, I happily assumed the position and readied for another paddling. It occurred to me just then that I may have been hasty in presuming it would be another face-breaker, but then I thought, "Come on! It's a Star Soldier game. It has to be difficult!"

I tore into the first stage, thirsty for robot blood and explosions. Tiny electronic nemeses flew in small swarms, tossing a bare minimum of projectiles. I wove around them with ease, thanking the tight controls Final Soldier sports, and blew everything I could see to bits.

Weapon upgrades appeared often, and I saw my miserable standard shot grow to a spray of bullets while robo-casualties increased. As I continued, I nabbed further upgrades that transformed even my measly bullets. Before long, my tiny ship belched immense flames, fired columns of devastating lasers, and tossed circular green shots that destroyed anything in my path. I was untouchable. My arsenal was so ridiculously overpowered that few enemies remained on the screen for long. Even bosses dropped after short, continuous peltings. What's more is that I couldn't die as long as I possessed an upgrade. Rather than outright killing me, suffering a blow meant losing one level of my weapon power. As plentiful as they were, downgrading was only a momentary setback.

Final Soldier screenshotFinal Soldier screenshot

I saw much of what the game had to offer in a short time. In my travels, I zipped across a desert and battled a gargantuan plasma-shooting tank, and eventually sent it to the great scrapheap beyond. Blasting my way across an ocean, a la 1942, I went cannon to cannon against a massive submarine armed with a punishing laser turret. After minutes of torture, the turret succumbed to its injuries. Even a titanic flower that blew ship-shreading seeds later on bowed to my superior shmup skill.

It was then that I thought, "Wait a tic... I don't have superior shmup skill."

The horrible truth is that, while Final Soldier is action-packed, it's incredibly easy to the point that it's dull. I may have enjoyed the godly complex that the first level gave me, but it wore thin by the end of the second stage. I was the one doing the flogging this time, and it felt so...backwards. That certainly isn't something I would associate with Star Soldier (or even shmups in general), and is definitely a step down from previous titles in the franchise.

It wasn't until halfway through stage five that the game remembered what franchise it belonged to, but by then it was too late. At that point, I'd lost interest and was merely forcing myself to power through the rest. Accomplishing that was no simple task, though. The last two stages were real killers, especially the final one with its dizzying background. Mainly, It was difficult to focus on my targets while being assaulted by seizure-inducing visuals. While the critical part of me kept thinking that the stage was neat and challenging, I was still sighing and saying, "If only the rest of the game had been this cool..."

Final Soldier screenshotFinal Soldier screenshot

This isn't to say Final Soldier is a terrible game. It's stable and has a few fun moments, but it doesn't compare to the bulk of entries in its genre. Unfortunately, you have to chew through a lot of mediocrity to get to the juicy bits. That begs the question: why do that when you could boot up a shooter that's juicy from start to finish?

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (January 21, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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