The TurboGrafx-16 has more than its fair share of excellent shoot-em-ups. Super Star Soldier is a follow-up to Hudson’s NES classic Star Soldier. It was one of the earlier games on the TurboGrafx and spawned two quality sequels including the rather spiffy Soldier Blade.
The shoot-em-up action is presented in a vertical scrolling format. This genre is renowned for being as tough as nails and Super Star Soldier is no exception. It will punish you almost making you throw your controller through the TV set at times. In addition to the usual waves of enemies, the action is interspersed with mid-level boss fights which keep the pressure on. They are not a pushover either so you’ll have to keep your wits about you.
Fallen enemies leave power-ups by which you can upgrade your weapons system. You can pick up: multiple shot, ring laser, spread laser and swing fire. There are times when one weapon will be more useful than others to use, when that time is will depend on your playing style. If you keep collecting power-ups of the same colour you can build up your weapon’s power and even acquire a shield around your ship allowing you to absorb a few hits.
A frustrating aspect of this game is when you lose a life you have to tackle the level again from the very beginning, respawning and checkpoints are for whimps after all! You do not have the luxury of smart-bombs to get yourself out of a sticky situation either, your best protection is prevention - keep on topping up that shield with power-ups and you’ll be OK. The game is hard, but fair, if you die it’s almost certainly because you screwed up. Take it like a man and move on!
Super Star Soldier features arcade-quality visuals, great music and bags of playability and as such comes highly recommended. Fellow TurboGrafx stablemates Blazing Lazers (Gunhed) and Soldier Blade are better blasters overall, still this is a stunning game and is worth a look until Hudson manage to release those on the Virtual Console at a later date.