One of my favorite games when I was a kid was R-Type. There was something about the side scrolling, space shoot-em up genre that I liked, and R-Type represented the pinnacle of that style of game for me.
It has been a long time since I played anything even resembling R-Type, and I eagerly jumped at the chance to review Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype by SideQuest Studios. I worked with SideQuest and Eastasiasoft in the past when I reviewed Rainbow Moon. I enjoyed that game immensely and immediately agreed to review Soldner-X 2 when offered the opportunity. Rainbow Moon was a modern take on classic SRPGs, and I figured if SideQuest did such a fine job with that game, why couldn’t they do the same for the space shoot-em up?
Well, they did. I had a blast playing through Soldner-X 2, and will most definitely buy the first Soldner game. I was familiar with the series even going into Rainbow Moon (the first Soldner came out in 2007), but that I’ve played X2, I’m wondering why I never heard of this franchise until now. Surely I can’t be the ONLY person who is a fan of the space shoot-em up, can I? I would have thought the series would have at least a mention here or there.
I’m here to correct that wrong. SOldner-X 2: Final Prototype is a boatload of fun, and a wonderful throwback to the classic space shoot-em up genre that is all but dead. Bigger is better in today’s gaming landscape, and we demand better graphics, better stories, and more variety. The production for some of these AAA titles is simply staggering. But more so than anything else, this current generation of games ( and the last) has seen a renaissance of the indie game. If done right, less can be more, and in the case of X2, it seems SideQuest has done it right.
Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype provides seven levels of awesome space pew pew action, and also includes three additional stages from The Last Chapter DLC. While ten stages may seem like a rather short game, especially considering the arcade nature of X2, rest assured that these are long, LONG levels. You’re not just blowing through a quick stage; you’ll be dealing with enemy AI that ups or lowers its difficulty based on your score, trying to score up for a powerful limit attack, collecting powerups and unlockable rewards, and of course, capping each level off with a massive boss battle which sometimes takes nearly as damn long at the entire stage preceding it.
As far as the gameplay goes, we’re not looking at anything too complex. X2 is a 2D sidescroller, so your only job is to dodge enemy attacks, and blow stuff up while collecting powerups and rewards. As I mentioned earlier, the enemies will change in difficulty based on your score, so expect them to get more aggressive and show up in larger numbers if you happen to be on a roll. Luckily you have three guns to choose between, ranging from a spread gun to a magma gun (my personal favorite). As there starts to be more of a variety of enemies being thrown your way, you’ll find yourself furiously switching between your current three weapons. Boss fights? Yeah, sometimes you’ll need all three just to get the done.
I was able to review both the PS Vita and PS3 versions of Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype (Cross Buy supported for $9.99). There’s not a huge difference between the way the game looks on PS3 versus the Vita, other than the fact that you’re playing on a much bigger screen in a higher 1080p resolution. Either way, X2 is a treat for the eyes. If you were a fan of the way Super Stardust Delta and Resogun looked, then you should feel right at home with X2. It’s an endless assault of colors and exploding particles, with a furious soundtrack blasting in your ears. Basically this game, like Super Stardust Delta and Resogun before it, is a spastic attack on your senses. It’s the purest form of coin-op arcade fun.
In addition to the three levels offered through the included Last Chapter expansion, you also get thirteen new challenges, including a secret stage, and an additional eleven trophies to earn. All the collectables and rewards lend a degree of replayability to X2, and if you’re the obsessive scorekeeping type, there are also online leaderboards and replay file sharing. Nothing too exciting here, unless you are one of the aforementioned score junkies.
Soldner-X2 : The Final Prototype is a fast, fun, and furious game which give you a surprising amount of content for $10. It doesn’t do anything too unique and really doesn’t introduce any new concepts, but it takes the space shoot-em up and shoves it back into our faces with a vengeance. This genre may not be too popular anymore, and X2 probably won’t win any GOTY awards, but SideQuest is going to make sure that you have a hell of a time playing through their game, which will often leave you breathless.