Mega Drive cover art (Japanese version)
|Developer(s)||Treasure Co., Ltd.|
|Release date(s)||Mega Drive
|Genre(s)||Run and gun|
Alien Soldier (エイリアンソルジャー Eirian Sorujā?) is a side-scrolling run and gun video game developed by Treasure for the Sega Mega Drive. The game was published by Sega in Japan and Europe in 1995, and was temporarily available in North America via the Sega Channel cable service.
Much of the gameplay in Alien Soldier is borrowed from Treasure's earlier Mega Drive release, Gunstar Heroes, but rather focuses almost entirely on boss fights. The levels themselves are notably short and easy, serving as downtime between the more difficult boss battles. Released late in the Mega Drive's lifespan, Alien Soldier pushed the system near its technical limits. Treasure describes the game's technical prowess with a catchphrase on the title screen, "VISUALSHOCK! SPEEDSHOCK! SOUNDSHOCK! NOW IS TIME TO THE 68000 HEART ON FIRE!", referencing the Mega Drive's core Motorola 68000 CPU.
Alien Soldier was reissued in Japan for the PlayStation 2 as part of the Sega Ages Treasure Box disc. This version exceeds the Mega Drive's intrinsic sprite display limit, which eliminates slowdowns and missing graphics during busy sequences. The player can also select either the sprite-based pixelated graphics of the original game or a new mode that uses certain filters to produce a high-resolution look. Alien Soldier was also re-released on Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console download service in 2007, and Steam in 2011.
In the year 2015, the "A-Humans" (Sierrans) of "A-Earth" (Sierra) have created genetically engineered A-Humans, capable of super intelligence and strength, as well as parastic co-existence with machinery and animals, particularly humans. A terrorist organization known as "Scarlet" rose up within this race and sought to dominate the rest of the A-Humans and A-Earth, through locking the planet down and keeping anyone else out.
During the height of Scarlet's power, an assassination attempt on the group's leader, Epsilon-Eagle, was carried out by a special forces group with certain abilities of their own. Scarlet fought back with their powers, and the battle somehow breached the space-time continuum. Epsilon was gravely injured and cast somewhere into the continuum.
Seemingly gone forever, another Scarlet member known as Xi-Tiger took control of the organization. Under his rule, Scarlet became too brutal even for themselves, and they called for Epsilon to reclaim his position. More or less isolated from the rest of the group, Xi sought to find and assassinate Epsilon himself. He planned an attack on an A-Human research laboratory, where children with special abilities had been kidnapped and experimented on.
Upon arriving, Xi sensed that Epsilon was actually there, hiding in one of the children. Indeed, for some time, Epsilon had been hiding within one of the kidnapped boys; his "good" formed a strange bond with the boy and caused a dual personality, constantly fighting the "evil" to control the boy's body. From this, Xi could not detect Epsilon's normally "evil" presence. In frustration, Xi took a girl hostage and threatened to kill her if Epsilon would not show. This seemed to be too much for the "good" Epsilon, who overpowered the "evil" and took the form of Epsilon-Eagle himself, described as a "bird-man with steel wings". Xi seemed to sense this strange power; in fear, he killed the girl and fled.
By now, Epsilon had completely split his dual personality apart; the "evil" Epsilon 1 and the "good" Epsilon 2, the player character of the game. Both took off in search of Xi-Tiger.
Throughout the game, Epsilon 2 encounters and defeats Xi-Tiger, Epsilon 1, a certain girl made host to a Scarlet member (believed to be the same girl Xi had killed), and a creature known as Z-Leo (the final boss). The girl, known as "Seven Force Kaede", is noted for being based on the "Seven Force" boss from Treasure's previous Gunstar Heroes; Treasure even went as far as using a remixed version of that boss's theme (both games having been scored by Norio "NON" Hanzawa).
Alien Soldier is unique among side-scrolling shooters in that, instead of long levels with several minor enemies before reaching the boss, the levels are notably short and easy before reaching a boss. This results in the game being mostly boss fights. The game has 25 levels and 31 bosses in total, and two difficulty levels, Supereasy and Superhard. The difficulty of the two levels is largely attributable to the lack of continues (and password-based "saving") available in the Superhard game, which is enabled by default.
The top of the screen is dominated by a status bar which gives information about the player current and maximum health, the current and maximum energy of the selected weapon and the current and maximum health of the boss of the stage.
The player can alter the status bar at the beginning of the game to show each details either in numerical format, a bar format, a series of "????", or a combination of the three. If the player wants more challenge, it is possible to make all of the details to be "????", thereby denying any visual information of the health of the player, weapon energy and the health of the boss. Similarly, if the player wants to be more careful, the player may change the status bar to give numerical details so as to know exactly how much health and energy remains.
Another feature is that if the player were to be hit by an enemy or projectile that would have been fatal, the player's current health will always be reduced to 1 first. The player will only die if he gets hit thereafter, reducing health from 1 to 0. This, in a way, gives the player a second chance to recover and continue with the game.