… is more like the same adrenaline pumping five minutes repeating twenty times. OK, less than twenty times if you include going through the menus and Fast Shot Mode. However, Star Soldier R is only two stages and you’re limited to five minutes of play time.
The concept for Star Soldier R is based on a time attack mode which was originally implemented in Super Star Soldier for the TurboGrafx-16. You could set the clock for two minutes or five minutes and attempt to beat your best score. Star Soldier R for WiiWare is exactly like that, except it only has a time attack mode. You cannot explore a stage freely or practice against a boss.
With that out of the way, the time limit means your ship turns into a death machine in seconds. The first stage of Star Soldier R doesn’t skimp on the power-ups. Pink capsules increase the amount of lasers you shoot. The first one ups fire power with a second stream of energy. The third gives you a “Y” style shot where two lasers are in the front and a tail gun. By the fifth power-up you have a star pronged star formation with two tail guns and three pronged laser in the front. If you collect all the power-ups in the first fifteen seconds you should be at laser level four.
Blue power-ups give players force, floating orbs that can be used as a rotating shield or let loose by pressing the A button where the act as auxiliary gunpods. Unlike Super Star Solider you do not have different kinds of weapons like flamethrowers, it’s a spread laser plus force orbs or nothing.
On one hand, I miss the death dealing diversity. On the other, everyone gets the same stuff. That means getting a high score in Star Soldier R comes down to collecting as many yellow porous point orbs and shooting down as many ships as possible. It’s more about reflexes than planning which weapon is more effective at different points.
Most of the enemies don’t pose a threat. They dive in at predictable lines, filling the screen with a minimal amount of fire. Occasionally, enemies will appear from the bottom of the screen and once per level a four part ring will formulate from the four corners of space.
If you want to play it safe you can hug the bottom of the screen. However, if you want to get points (i.e. the goal of Star Solider R) you want to be in the middle holding down the Z button (in nunchuck formation, the 2 button with the remote only) to rapidly fire the laser.
Don’t worry about aiming much. You will hit something with five bullets streaking on the screen.
You can increase your speed up to three levels by pressing the B button to dodge shots and rapidly move between the screens. However, moving faster doesn’t make the game scroll faster. You move vertically at a fixed rate, which means the bosses are the only true bottleneck you encounter. Even if you crash into enemies or get shot (note: a fully powered up ship requires three shots to explode, before biting the big one you lose power-ups plus the combo meter for each bullet you absorb) the screen continues to move.
So, if you want extra time to face the boss on stage two you better shoot down the first boss in hurry. Fortunately, the first fight is against a slow moving, rotating turret. It has four shields and you don’t need to crush all four to win. I made this mistake on my first few times. To quote Gradius, “shoot the core”. The green, center core with a V shaped laser when it rotates to hide its weak point. Another strategy I tried was to rotate with the boss, concentrating on the single area where I removed the shield. I’m not sure if this is the most efficient way to eliminate the boss since it is difficult to aim the rear lasers, but this tactic could save time since you aren’t wasting shots on barriers.
The second boss poses a threat. With only five minutes of play you need to rush through the stage part. Oh wait, you can’t. All you can do is focus fire on blowing up the flashing green targets to destroy the ground below and try to aim at the ships above. Make sure you don’t die though because you will have an extremely difficult time finishing off the second boss with a single laser. In its first form there are two guns you need to shoot. The five shot star laser allows you to shoot both at the same time since it has two angled shots. After you destroy this form the boss spins around, touching the bottom of the screen in case you’re hovering there, and launches a pod of bullets. It shifts from side to side with a weak point near its nosecone, but you really need an angled shot to hit it. So, don’t die here or anything.
Once your five minutes are up you can upload your score and compare how you did on the leaderboards. Star Soldier R allows you to compare yourself against your region (Tokyo), country (Japan) or the world (as of now this is also Japan). Hmm… worldwide leaderboards? Hudson is a forward thinking company.
I hope this information will allow you to decide if Star Soldier R is worth 800 Wii Points ($8) or not if it comes out anywhere else. Personally, I feel Star Soldier R should be set at 500 Wii Points or a lower price point. Since you’re going to be playing this in short bursts and there isn’t a full level set to challenge yourself with Star Soldier R faces fierce competition from Super Star Solider, which only costs 600 Wii Points.
One more note about Star Solider R, there is an additional mode. Fast Shot Mode tests how fast you can mash the fire button in thirteen seconds. You’re given a fully powered up ship, an enemy free area and a field of ground targets to hit. Unlike the two/five minute time trials, Fast Shot Mode does not have an online leaderboard.
I really wanted to see how fast people could mash the 2 button…