Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Solar Striker

From the mind of the late Gunpei Yokoi, Solar Striker is the first and only scrolling shoot 'em up published by Nintendo. It's a fairly short game, only featuring six levels, but is challenging enough to make it worthwhile.

The game controls well and didn't notice any slowdown, even during boss fights with the screen full of bullets. Your shot can be upgraded a maximum of three times by collecting the floating powerups. The first upgrade only requires one powerup, while the rest take two. Unlike some other shooters such as R-Type, this one doesn't punish you too severely for dying. You respawn right where you died, and your weapon is only degraded to the previous level. The game starts you off with three lives, but you're rewarded with an extra life with every 50,000 points. These come in handy in the final levels, which send impossible-to-kill, high-speed ships careening down the screen one after another and also add mid-bosses into the mix.

The boss fights are all fairly unique in their patterns. I found the level four boss to be the hardest, taking me three tries to beat. After that the levels got much harder, but the bosses felt easy in comparison. The game has a good sense of balance overall, with the harder levels offering more powerups. These are always in the same spots, and are not obtained from killing enemies. There are a sizable variety of enemy ships and insects for you to blast away which all have unique patterns. It gets pretty hectic when there are three different enemy patterns swarming around and shooting at you.

Overall, this feels like a fun little popcorn game, good for a quick play-through here and there to break up the monotony. I was pretty impressed overall and wasn't expecting it to be as challenging as it was. For an even greater challenge, hard mode is available by pressing select after beating the game and returning to the main menu. The music's pretty good, and the game looks nice on a Game Boy Color/Advance on the black and yellow color setting.

Find Solar Striker on ebay | Amazon

Released: 1990
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Minakuchi Engineering, Nintendo R&D1


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