Soldner-X2 Final Prototype is a side scrolling shoot ‘em up game that was developed by SideQuest Studios and published by Eastasiasoft. It is available digitally for the PS Vita, and has had 2 physical releases. One by Limited Run Games in July, 2016, and one by play-asia.com in January, 2017. The Limited Run Games physical cartridge for the PS Vita is the one I used for this review.
The game begins with some story about The Virus Wars and the Planetary Union and some enemy species called the D’aarg and, yeah… it really wasn’t that interesting. Fortunately, the story scenes don’t last long, and you’re soon thrown right into the action on stage 1.
The game begins with 4 stages available to you, with 3 more stages being unlockable by obtaining enough keys on each level (more on that later). In addition, the physical cartridge includes the DLC The Final Chapter. This adds 3 more stages that must be unlocked first by beating the prior stage. So, beating stage 7 unlocks stage 8, and so on up to stage 10.
The first thing I noticed about this game, is that it appears to be quite easy at first glance. I say that because on my first playthrough of the game, I finished all 4 of the main stages, plus 1 that I unlocked by finding enough keys on one of the levels. I did this without losing a single life. I was a little surprised when I started seeing the credits roll. Could the game really be this easy? Turns out, the answer is both yes and no.
The game is designed to be both easy for casual play, but difficult if you want it to be. The game utilizes a “ranking system” which will adjust the difficulty of the game in real time to your skill. So if you kill more enemies, do it faster, and do it without taking damage, there will suddenly start to be more enemies, and they will be shooting at you more.
You begin the game by selecting the ship you want. There are 2 available at the start, with another one being unlockable later. The ship you select determines 2 of the weapons you have at your disposal , and you can get a third by collecting an additional weapon in the form of an “extra”, which I’ll talk about in just a second. If you collect any 3 extra weapons, you can unleash a “limit” attack, which will damage all the enemies on the screen.
As you blast your way through enemies, various extras will show up in the form of these “little glowing balls” that will do things like increase your score, give you additional weapons, increase your health, give you more power, make you fly faster, or add “chasers”, which are little ships that fly around your ship and shoot weapons along with you, allowing you to shoot more enemies. You can also collect chains, which will release even more extras when you fill up your “chain energy bar” in enough time.
One of the extras that appears are called “Secret Keys” Each stage has 5 secret keys, and in order to unlock stages 5 through 7, you need to find lots of these secret keys. Collecting 4 keys from any stage will unlock stage 5, collecting 4 keys from any 3 stages will unlock stage 6, and in order to unlock stage 7, you’ll need to collect 4 keys from all of the stages 1 through 6. Collecting these keys can be pretty hard, and require multiple playthroughs of each stage.
In addition to this, there are “Challenges” that show up in the menu screen which give you extra things you can try to accomplish like collect a certain number of rings, beat certain stages on various difficulty levels without dying, kill a certain number of enemies in a specified time, and so on. Completing these challenges gives you even more bonuses like extra credits, extra weapons, and even an extra ship. Some of these Challenges are extremely difficult, and will provide you with plenty of, well, “challege”
While I do enjoy playing shoot ‘em ups, I’m definitely not the best player, so I appreciated being able to play through the game with little to no difficulty. However, I would have preferred if the easiest mode were just a little bit more difficult. Even if it meant having to try more times, the sense of accomplishment I felt from beating each level would have been higher. As it is, the first time I saw the credits rolls, I was left with the feeling of, “Is that it?”
On the positive side, the game plays extremely smooth on the Vita. I noticed little to no slowdown, even when the screen was filled with enemies and bullets and large background scenery flying by. Also, the game is just a lot of fun to play. The controls are nearly perfect. The visuals are beautiful. Its just a very pleasant game to look at. Also, the replayability of this game is very high. And if you are looking for more difficulty, the extra “Challenges” in the game will provide you with lots of it. If you are a fan of shoot ‘em up games, and don’t mind being able to finish the main game without even really trying, I would definitely recommend giving Soldner-X2 Final Prototype a try.
- Game plays extremely smooth; little to no slowdown
- Nearly perfect controls
- Beautiful visuals
- High replayability, with extra Challenges to try
- Main game is too easy and short
- Story is boring and forgettable
3.5 out of 5
View my YouTube review of this game.
Buy this game at play-asia.com