Graphics:
8.0
Gameplay:
7.2
Sound:
7.3
Control:
7.9
Replay Value:
6.5
Overall Rating:
7.4
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Publisher:
SideQuest Studios
Developer:
EastAsia Soft
Number Of Players:
1-2
Genre:
Action
Release Date:
March 17, 2015


Yes, I’m perfectly aware that I gave Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype an 8.4 when it debuted on PlayStation 3 back in 2010. I’m also aware that the recently released Vita iteration is basically the same game. Hence, you’re probably wondering: Why does it score a full point lower? Okay, this may be difficult to explain but in all honesty, time hasn’t treated this game well. It’s still remarkably flashy, silky smooth, and lots of fun, but it’s as if the last five years have only served to amplify the previously minor drawbacks. Now it just feels a bit more repetitive, a tad more challenging, and just a little too retro (if there is such a thing). Not enough new and too much of the expected, I suppose.

Sony’s portable has always been capable of producing beautiful visuals and Soldner-X 2 is no exception. This is a bright-lights extravaganza complete with excellent frame rate and special effects. It’s a bombastic arcade set-piece with ceaseless movement and explosions. In brief, you can’t really say anything against the graphical presentation, aside from one increasingly obvious fact: Despite its sheen, it’s starting to look somewhat outdated. I was actually surprised at how little these visuals impressed me, especially considering how pleased I was with them back in 2010. Perhaps it just goes to show that time – and technology – moves exceedingly fast in this industry.

Same goes for the audio: We get a relentless soundtrack that pushes us through each level, with special tracks tossed in for those bitterly tough boss fights. It works and it’s a fitting homage to the golden age of sidescrolling arcade shooters. The sound effects take center-stage, filling the Vita’s small yet highly effective speakers with a myriad of interstellar shoot-‘em-up goodness. As is the case with the gameplay, however, one senses a lot of repetition in all aspects of the sound. And if you happen to get stuck on a particularly tough level, you’ll soon grow tired of that driving music, and even the crisp effects start to feel tiresome. “Tired” is perhaps the best description of Soldner-X 2 , actually.

Which isn’t to say the game isn’t fun. I would never say that. If you’re specifically seeking an old-school sidescrolling arcade shooter with a lot of flair and panache, it’s right here. There’s a story but I mean, who really cares? This is all about testing your reflexes and twitchy strategic skills against an oncoming horde of enemies. It involves simply holding down the fire button and avoiding anything fired your way, which was always a simple concept but extremely difficult to master. I’d say the Soldner games were a little more accessible than some of the old-fashioned shooters we once played in the arcades, but it’s still substantially harder than most titles today. And yeah, one could argue that it’s one-dimensional but that’s the way video games used to be.

I don’t want to make it sound overly simplistic, though, because there are certain gameplay elements that spice up the experience. For instance, instead of getting just one default ship, you have the option of three different ships. You have to unlock the third one but at least that gives you something to shoot for (get it?). On top of which, you have different guns on board your ship, and you can switch between them on the fly, giving you more variety right off the bat. As you progress, you’ll find a standard assortment of power-ups and other goodies, including health, bombs, and various boosts for your weaponry. The game runs well on the Vita and the analog sticks are a godsend for such a title; I don’t even want to imagine playing it with just the d-pad.