We’ve already been blessed with the sublime Super Star Soldier and Soldier Blade but now it’s the turn of the game that started it all as the NES classic Star Soldier hits the Virtual Console.
Released on the NES way back in 1986, Hudson’s shooter went down a storm in Japan but failed to replicate this success in the West. As a result it’s not exactly well known over here, but it still ranks as one of the most important 8-bit shooters of the period. It doesn’t really do anything out of the ordinary when placed alongside some of the better examples we’ve seen on the VC so far, but it has to be remembered that Star Soldier was released at a time when things like power-ups and multiple weapons were fresh and innovative.
One feature that does stand out is the ability to ‘duck’ behind certain parts of the scenery, thus avoiding deadly enemy fire. The caveat is that you can’t return fire – it’s kind of like the shooter equivalent of Fatal Fury’s ‘plain-movement’ system. To be honest it’s not entirely successful and things soon become confusing, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Graphically Star Soldier has aged pretty poorly, with the usual drab NES colour palette doing its best to make the game look as unappealing as possible. The levels are also incredibly repetitive in terms of design.
Although Star Soldier entertained shooter addicts back in the 80s it simply doesn’t have the quality to compete against later, more notable genre pieces. If you’ve got an itchy trigger finger then Super Star Soldier, Blazing Lazers/Gunhed or Soldier Blade are much better choices. Only hardcore fans of the franchise should really consider downloading this.