Review – Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype
Developer: SideQuest Studios
Release Date: May 25th 2010
Price: $12.99 / £9.99 / €12.99 / HK$ 101.00
Players: 1 -2 Offline
What I liked:
- Pretty backgrounds/ animations
- Catchy tunes
- “Can Do” difficulty
What I disliked:
- Comes off like its shareware
- Weapon powerups are hard to notice
- “D’aarg” is pronounced Dog
Soldner-X2: Final Prototype is a side-scrolling shmup. At a glance one is reminded of classic R-Type. X2 tries to surpass R-Type with some nice graphics, an attempt of a story (narrated by what sounds like Piccolo from DBZ), and a couple of gimmicks like chaining and grades. It goes so far as to imitate a “bullet-hell” kind of shooter but without being overly difficult. Problem is, just when you’re catching your stride, the game puts the brakes on and gives the player, I kid you not, a “The End?” screen just four levels in.
When starting out the player has a choice of two ships (and eventually an unlockable one). This is your standard affair, one being light and dealing out corresponding damage, and one being heavy and packing some pretty serious firepower. I was surprised at the amount of damage that either ship can take on normal difficulty. Each ship comes stocked with two starting weapons that you can switch to on the fly and upgrade individually. There are also extra third weapons that you collect during the level. When upgrading your guns, you catch a powerup icon like most shooters. These powerups gradually fill up a bar on your HUD for that particular weapon. I found it hard to gauge how much extra firepower I ended up getting. Usually you’ll have a different animation or so, but since its just a bar filling up, it makes things a little muddled. The only animation change I saw was that one of my beams got slightly thicker after collecting 10 or so P icons.
Levels each have their own theme, and come off pretty good looking. They also all have their over-the-top giant boss to take down at the end of each. This is hard to explain, but while pretty, I found that sometimes the backgrounds just didn’t seem to sync with the gameplay that was on screen. I didn’t feel as though I was moving through space, but rather, I felt trapped on a single plane a la space invaders. Throughout each level are “secret keys” to collect. There are five of each in every level, some having certain requirements to even appear. In order to unlock all 7 levels of this game, one must find the majority of these keys in each level. So when I beat level 4, and only had 3 keys for that level, the game ended. After a “The End?” and a credits screen, Soldner pops up a message begging you not to delete it off of your HDD. It reminded me of when I used to beat the first few levels of Duke Nukem shareware back in the day. “But wait there’s more! Just send away for the rest of the game!” The game gives you a laundry list asking if you’ve unlocked all weapons/ships, completed challenges, and found all of the keys. Oh if you wanna see the other 3 levels, go play the first 4 another 10 times a piece and then maybe you can actually “beat” the game.
I’m all for replay value, but there has gotta be value in the first run through too. Not my worst experience, but certainly not my best either.