Review – Super Star Soldier on the Virtual Console

Originally released in 1991 for the NEC TurboGrafx-16, Super Star Soldier is an old-school shooter that really pushes your buttons.

If you kids want to see how bad we old geezer gamers had it back in the day, then you need to play Super Star Soldier. There are no save points, and forget about unlimited continues. To beat this game, you need…nope, forget it, you won’t beat this game. It’s just too hard for you.

If you’ve played any of the recently released shooters like Treasure’s Ikaruga, then you’ll probably be disappointed with SSS. It doesn’t have any unique health system or gameplay mechanic. SSS is very much by the books. The early 90’s shooter books, anyway. Basically, all bullets are bad bullets, and it only takes one to take you down.

One thing that really hurts me inside is that, if you die at a boss, you have to start the entire level over again. Sadly, this will also mean playing the mid-level boss again. When I first experienced this, I started to understand why I was such a pissed-off little kid. Video games were fucking hard!

SSS does have an interesting power-up system, where the more items of a certain color you acquire, the stronger your attack becomes. An interesting side effect of this system occurs when your screen fills up with many different power-ups. If you don’t want to lose that super cool blue-ray shot, then you better not run into any other items. Couple that with the fact that you’re also trying to dodge those pesky little bullets, SSS can become very hectic.

There are also robotic shield droids that you can pick up that circle your ship, deflecting any bullets you come into contact with. This will increase your life expectancy by abooouuuut three more seconds. Hey, it’s better than nothing. Also, if you get hit when you have multiple power-ups, you won’t immediately die. Instead, you just lose that power-up. This basically makes the game playable. If this weren’t in here, I don’t think anyone could have beaten SSS. Not even that 16-shot guy.

Considering this game was made for a system slightly less powerful than the SNES, you shouldn’t expect anything too great. But for what it is, SSS is a graphically competent game. It’s got a nice style to it, and is far from horrible looking. Some of the power-up abilities can actually fill up the entire screen, which is pretty neat.

The sound seems a little muted, but this seems to be a reoccurring problem with how TG-16 games turn out on the Virtual Console. Hopefully the Big N will release a firmware update to correct these problems with their emulation software. As it stands, many of the sound effects lack that certain punch we are used to in our shooters.

For the 600 points ($6) that Nintendo is asking for the game, Super Star Soldier is easily recommendable if you’re a fan of the genre. It’s pretty nice looking, and will definitely give you a boost in the “I want harrier balls” area with its nine intense levels and three different modes. If you don’t go in expecting a deep shooter, Super Star Soldier can be a very enjoyable old-school romp. Thumbs up.

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