Soldner-X 2 is a pure shmup experience that will please fans of the genre. With a nice amount of weapons, enemies and bosses the game is an entertaining despite its short campaign mode. Soldner-X 2 may not be an instant classic but the game is a must buy if you like shmup games as it’s one of the best recent offerings in the genre.
The HD visuals and overall ascetic of the game is gorgeous. Even though it’s a shmup the difficulty level is forgiving as it isn’t a brutal game to play and enjoy. Nice soundtrack filled with some techno buttery beats.
The single-player campaign is a bit too short. Would’ve been nice if there were some additional modes to mess around in.
There are some video game genres that thanks to their simplicity are timeless classics. We of course still have the core genres out there such as action, adventure and racing but with the evolution of gaming most of those genres have taken on traits from others to become new hybrid genres. But one genre that has remained the same since its inception many years ago is the side-scrolling shooter genre aka shmups. Now without going into the debate of whether the genre should be referred to as shmups, it’s basically the one remaining genre that has remained untouched because of how damn fun it is.
Lately the genre’s popularity has somewhat dwindled to the point where it’s a niche genre of sorts. But while the audience may be small that isn’t stopping publishers and developers from releasing quality shmups such as Soldner-X 2. The sequel to 2008’s PSN exclusive, Soldner-X 2 once again provides players with a simple yet highly fun experience that is about as old-school as you can get.
The one thing that surprised me the most about Soldner-X 2 is that it’s really old-school. Now in some cases that can be a deterrent but in this case it isn’t. Everything about Soldner-X 2 is fun, simple and nicely put together; essentially it’s all the things you want out of a shmup. Hell, even the story is somewhat standard shmup fare but it’s still entertaining. In the 32nd century humans are engaged in a stalemate battle with the D’aarg, a deadly alien race. But despite the massive D’aarg forces and advanced technology the humans do have a chance at winning thanks to the badass ship you fly in the game.
Most shmups are known for being absolutely brutal when it comes to their difficulty level. Now this isn’t a complaint amongst the casual gamers nor is it me being a gaming wuss thus losing some points on my gamer cred card. It’s a simple case that most shmups proud themselves on presenting an extraordinary level of challenge to players which far exceeds the realms of masochism. Even the first Soldner-X game suffered from being too damn hard and most players never completed the second stage. Thankfully Soldner-X 2 isn’t as brutal but it will still please the hardcore fans who like a fair bit of punishment.
The level of difficulty in the game has been toned down but not to the point where it’s a simple cake walk. Enemies will still throw an absurd amount of energy pellets and lasers at you to the point where it’s almost seizure inducing. But despite it seeming like the odds are stacked against you, it’s entirely possible to complete a stage and only lose one life. Yeah I know, it’s a bit of a shock but the default difficulty is manageable enough that you may not have to use a Continue until the 2nd boss or the third stage. Your ship itself can even take a nice amount of punishment before it goes boom and there are a few lifesavers such as extra health which can save you if you’re in a pinch. Soldner-X 2 is far from being a game geared directly at the casual audience as it still requires a nice amount of precision and timing to avoid the onslaught of ships and bosses you’ll come across in space adventures.
Even though Soldner-X 2 is rather retro in the gameplay department one thing that isn’t old-school are the visuals. Soldner-X 2 may not be the most jaw dropping PSN game out there but it’s rather damn good visually, especially when there’s about twelve or so enemy ships on the screens sending waves of energy pellets at you. The one thing that surprised me the most about the visuals of the game, both from a technical and art design standpoint is that they remain consistent. I know that’s a silly thing to say but some shmups can veer off a bit and include segments or bosses that seem like they belong in another game. Soldner-X 2 on the other hand has a nice cohesive feel for all its stages which range from space, an industrial structure and some ancient alien ruins. Each stage has some eye popping visuals and everything is just silky smooth. The ships, weapon effects and backgrounds all have nice detail to them and have a very polished look to them.
The art design also keeps things relatively simple at times and there were a few instances where I couldn’t help but feel it had a slight retro vibe. It’s not retro in the sense that it’s aiming to imitate games like Gradius as it looks like something you would see in a 1980’s anime. That isn’t a knock against the game as it has some unique and interesting designs. But playing the game I could tell that the developers at SideQuest Studios had an intense passion for shmups and sci-fi designs and were probably inspired by a wide range of material. Oh, and without spoiling things I must say that the design of one boss is truly epic just because of how damn weird and unexpected it is. Giant faces FTW!
The only downside I had while playing Soldner-X 2 is that it’s a tad on the short side. I know that most shmups aren’t six hour epics but if you’re a skilled player or have time to kill then you can probably blast through the core of the game in just under an hour. There are some additional things to entice gamers once their journey is over such as a challenge mode and three additional single-player stages which need to be unlocked by obtaining secret keys in the four campaign stages. The Challenge Mode isn’t just a one-off thing as it presents some nice scenarios which if you put the time into them unlock new Trophies. So all in all most players can probably get a decent amount of time out of Soldner-X 2 but it still would’ve been nice if the single-player campaign was a bit more beefy and was longer than seven stages.
If you’re a fan of shmups and own a PS3 then Soldner-X 2 is pretty much the complete package. Even though it’s on the short side, the game is still memorable and fun to play thanks to the challenge and gorgeous visuals it offers. For fans of the genre Soldner-X 2 may not be an instant classic like Gradius or Einhander but it’s an all around polished game that does an excellent job at honoring the genre and maintaining the core traits that make shmups so much fun to play.
Thanks to the nice folks over at eastasiasoft, we're giving away one copy of Soldner-X 2 to one lucky reader of the site. All you have to do is post a comment to this review and give a brief summary of which shmup game is your favorite. It doesn't need to be long or anything but the more detail the better. The winner will be announced in a week so that should give everyone more than enough time to think of something.
The contest is now over and killquick has won the code.
Honestly I'm having trouble remembering what the game is called. I played it all the time when I was younger. It was a two player game and insanely tough. I remember a boss fight with a big green monster where you had to shoot its arms off and then its face. It was pretty gory for its time.
It was a top down shooter. You played as two generic soldiers that tore everything up. IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY! I can't remember the name!
TOTAL CARNAGE! It just clicked in my head for the dumbest reason. Deep in my mind I knew I remembered something. Something funny that didn't make sense. And there it was.
I'LL BUY YOU FOR A DOLLAR! That game was so fun back then. We used to play it all the time. Makes me nostalgic just thinking about it. Gonna have to check if it's up on PSN or the xbox maketplace. Thanks Shogun Gamer, just unlocked a memory in my head. I hated the green monster so much.
Thank you for the contest.
I think my favorite one has to be Chicken Invaders, no it might not be the best game for the genre, but i had such wonderful times with it, haha good memories, gotta love those egg shooting chickens with those fat ass bosses!
For me, the best shmup is G-Darius for the PS1, it has all of a great game, good graphics, very, very fun and it has its difficulty so you will be destroying your controller with all the adrenaline, and the bosses, well, play it yourselves and you will know what im talking about.....
One of my favorite shmups was Aero Fighters 2 playing as Spanky The Dolphin. That's such an awesome character and how could you not love him? The game had catchy music and looked great. Really wish I could get some more smhup action like that as I prefer vertical shooters but horizontal ones are fun too!
My favorite is still Ikaruga, I just loved the concept, the graphics, and how the gameplay gets even more clever if you play with a buddy.
My favorite shmup would have to be Vector Man and Vector Man 2 because the graphics was good for it times it was a shmup that allowed you to shoot in any direction. The enemies would keep you on your toes evading far range and close range attacks and the bosses patterns are easy to follow but hard to kill. The pick ups really help and range from wide spread to rapid fire to laseres and protection orbs that. Along with the changing style of play from running and shooting to riding train tracks while trying to knock down a big arm creature while avoiding its arms and enemy fire to parachute falling while killlling airbound monsters. That is why I think Vector Man and Vector Man 2
Thanks alot just downloaded the game and about to play it, this contest was great and gave me a chance to get the game for free and free is better than spending money thanks to Shogun Gamer for this game.