North American cover art
Akiyoshi "Einosuke" Nagao
|Genre(s)||Vertical scrolling shooter|
Super Aleste (スーパーアレスタ?), known in North America as Space Megaforce, is a vertical-scrolling shooter video game, published by Toho and part of the Aleste series by Compile. In a traditional fashion, the player pilots a spaceship through a variety of locales crawling with enemy squadrons to shoot down, though the story in the Japanese version is different from American and European ones. However, Super Aleste also offers a "Short Game", where only a set of small levels are played, with the emphasis on scoring as many points as possible.
The story differs slightly depending on which version is played. Regardless of the version though, the opening premise to both Super Aleste and Space Megaforce is actually the same:
In the year 2048, a large mechanical sphere falls from space and starts attacking major cities around the world. After much destruction, the sphere hovers over the jungles of South America, drawing lines into the ground similar to the Nazca Line drawings as it expands itself and draws energy from the jungle foliage. Equipped with its own defense system, The Sphere destroys all attacks made on it by Earth's military. The original Aleste fighter ship's failure to stop the sphere's growth prompts the construction of a space fighter capable of wielding amazing weaponry, that fighter being the Super Aleste. Tasked with flying into and destroying the sphere, the Super Aleste must also destroy any reinforcements the sphere calls for which come from the deepest depths of space.
In the original Japanese game story, the Super Aleste was piloted by an ace named Raz and his co-pilot was a mysterious young alien woman named Thi, a prisoner aboard the sphere who harnesses strange powers freed by the constant attacks against the sphere. Thi's role in the game was to fly with Raz into the sphere, weaken its defenses and properly wrest the sphere's power source. The presence of both characters, and thus the game's original ending, were cut from Space Megaforce.
There are eight types of weapons to use, and each can be powered up by collecting chips (small spherical items). Picking up chips causes the player's current weapon to level-up, to a maximum of six. There are two types of chips to find; Orange chips contribute to a level-up, but at higher levels, more chips are required to reach the next level. Green chips make the weapon level up instantly. Each weapon has a function that can be manipulated with the Shot-Control button, changing around the weapon's abilities to suit different situations. Switching to another weapon is done by picking up a numbered item, with initials representing one of the eight weapons. The types are in order:
- Multiple Shot: standard bullets, which can be set to fire in different patterns.
- Laser: lightning gun, which can fire homing bolts or swiveling streams.
- Circle: small Multiple Shot, and spheres orbit the player, rapidly damaging whatever they hit, and can be set to stop moving.
- Multi-Direction Shot: plasma balls which are aimed by pressing the control pad before holding Fire, and can be controlled to either aim freely, or strafe.
- Missile: shoot strong straight-firing missiles, or slightly less powerful homing missiles.
- Power Shot: small Multiple Shot, hold Fire to charge up energy, and release to fire a continuous beam, can be set to charge quicker with no Multiple Shot.
- Sprite: small ships follow the player, all able to shoot one stream of bullets each, can be set to lock positions.
- Scatter: shoot bombs that split into bullets upon impact, can be set to fire at an angle based on horizontal movement.
In standard shooter fashion, the player is allotted a supply of smart bombs. Unlike in most games, these bombs don't render the player invincible, although they do block most enemy projectiles. Upon releasing a bomb, it creates an expanding ring of explosions that spread out, then converge.
Health and lives
The player's health is tied to the level of their weapon. When the ship is hit, the weapon loses four levels of power (but it cannot go below 0). If the weapon is already at level 0 upon getting hit, the player dies. This means the weapon must be at level 5 or 6 for the ship to survive two hits. Also, there are two types of extra lives; Normally, if the player dies, they try the level again at the last checkpoint. However, it is possible to convert lives into Special Lives with a certain power-up; These allow the player to come back at the exact place they were killed, losing no progress. If the player has enough lives that a number is used to display them, then the icon becomes red if they have at least one Special Life left.
Like many other shooters, this game has its set of obstacles, but the ship won't be destroyed by touching them, unless the scroll pushes and crushes the ship against the obstacle.
Many different items can be picked up during levels.
- Weapon Switch: This item will switch your weapon to the indicated type. If you already have the shown weapon type, it will raise your power by 1.
- Cycling Weapon Switch: This is a different Weapon Switch item, which cycles through all eight types. You can shoot it to stop it cycling for a moment.
- Enemy Eraser: Shooting a Cycling Weapon Switch enough will turn it into this small ball of energy. The moment you touch it, every enemy and projectile on the screen will be destroyed. This also converts one extra life into a special life if the player has at least one regular extra life spare.
- Spare Bomb: Adds a bomb to your reserve.
Super Aleste has very lush and varied stages, ranging from forests to alien bases. Here is the list of stages and original names:
- Emerald Belt Jungles - The first level of the standard game. It is very lush, then there is an expansive field full of alien built floating cities, with a defense system, which after then the player encounters their first end stage boss, a machine armed with four cannons, called Agalor.
- Super Battle Ship - A very large space station-like enemy called Dunbak, it has weapon emplacements all over it, with the last enemy a set of nine turrets.
- First Bonus Stage - An alien space mining zone, with the boss being a machine called Sangor.
- Pullman Nebula - An area in space where there is an enemy emplacement, called Fakkrel, with enemies ranging from fighters, flame-emitting ships and expanding/contracting moons.
- Cavern of Doom - The caverns of a planet which is dead from over mining by drill units and the boss, a bronze contraption called Tabary.
- Second Bonus Stage - Another mining quick stage, with the boss being a machine called Blasmet.
- Meteor Shower Zone - An area in space where asteroids roam free, and in the middle of the field, is an alien base with a defense station called Mingal.
- The Ghost Fleet - An area where an unsuccessful attempt by the Earth Defense Force's fleet lays. Sadly, the Alien army has gained control of the laser systems and engines on the Earth's battleships and are using them against the Aleste. The boss is called Thork.
- Third Bonus Stage - The final alien mining zone, this one is better protected, and the boss is called Dubber, and it launches small fighters.
- Mirror Jungle - The alien mirror world of the first stage's jungle, it has flying stone blocks and enemies galore. The boss here is repeat of the first one, Agalor, except this time Agalor is harder to destroy and has bombs added to his arsenal.
- Turbo Tunnel - A large blue and black tunnel where the Aleste flies very fast, and must dodge turrets and fighters to make it out. There is no boss.
- Alien Lair - The final level, there are literally cells which attack you, with a pulsating background. Tabary and Thork return as minibosses, and you have the showdown with the alien leader, Zaju.
The Japanese version has more content than the European and American versions, here are some of the differences.
- Has super deformed art on the options and game over screen.
- Has story intermissions between the stages.
- The ending is twice as long and reveals the mystery behind the enemy invasion. More information is revealed upon beating the game on the harder, very hard, and then the hardest difficulty levels.
- The names of the levels and their bosses are different
- Some voice samples are different in the US/EU than in the Japan version