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 Post subject: Solar Shifter EX (PlayStation 4 - XBOX One - PC)
PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:03 am 


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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 197
Location: Autobot City
So many XBOX One shmups that i have and little time to play and review. Here's the review for Solar Shifter EX.

To begin with, the game is not your "I have Many Modes for you to Play", so this might a short review.



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Starts from being "Easy-Peasy" to "Tough-as-Nails", better start learning and memorizing things.

As soon as it begins, we will notice that the game is a semi-vertical shooter in the likes of Konami's Axelay and Taito's RayStorm. For a bullet-hell gamer, the enemy will look like your typical simple pattern shooting enemy formation, 'cos sometimes it can be easy to predict the enemy bullet patterns, but any old schooler shmupper will know that simple formations and patterns could be a challenge, and what a challenge this game will be. Because the game has two flaws to be criticized: First one is the lack of a spread shot or a homing weapon, making the game difficult by limiting your fire range to frontal fire. Second, is damage to your ship, 4 regular bullets can destroy you and if that wasn't enough, there's "Turridamage", which means your life can be drained in an instant because there's no afterhit invincibility to recover from the attack just like in the first Turrican. Also, dying implies going back to a checkpoint, which can be called "R-Type Checkpointing".
Expect to die, die a lot, 'cos the game really knows how to bring challenge with basic attacks because they're placed in a strategic manner that the wrong movement will result in potential damage/death predicament. There's very few instances of "Cheap Shots", but that's only because of the background color that hides the bullets like camouflage, and that's in a few space stages. So, its you against smart placed enemies just like the old hard games like Vapor Trail and Raiden.


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Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu.

Aliens and Lasers are hammering at your ship? This is when the coolest feature of the game kicks in: The Warping. Rather than focusing on power, the game focuses on evasive maneuvering at the right time and moving to the right place. You can teleport from one point of the screen to another by either using the X button and the right analogue stick or simply moving the analogue stick on the desired direction.



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Laser traps?, Turn the tables instead! Now your enemy will know how it feels when things play @#$%! on you.

Learning this tactic is vital to make progress in the game because there'll be instances when enemy formations or laser beams could potentially trap you or even kill you. Also, in the later levels your evasive skills will be pushed to the test up to the point of knowing the "Ins-and-Outs" of the game's teleporting skill in extremely difficult evasive maneuvers to survive like crossed lasers. To put it simple, what this game has to teach you, may very well mean the difference between life and death.



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After Burner-ing?, Not exactly.

The game also uses the camera changing like in Ether Vapor, switching from Perspective "Semi-Vertical" to Full Vertical to Isometric, Angled and 3rd person. While the After Burner II-like 3rd person is easy to learn, the Isometric and Angled views can cause problem because the movement is still ranged as a normal vertical shooter.



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Space Combat above planet Overpixelatia.

Ironically, while the stages can be extremely difficult due to their puzzle factor, the boss battles range vary from Easy to Medium, as they require simple Warping and dodging basic spread attacks.



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Time to go bad to the bone.

After clearing a few levels, you'll take the role of an "Alien Ravager" and attack the good guys. So this game puts you in the role of both good and bad guys, breaking with the monotony of "Heroes prevail" just like X-Morph Defense, even for a little while.



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Superdeath Machine. THIS MEANS WAR!!

But the best part is when you assume the role of an Alien Battleship. It's destruction and mayhem non-stop, even for a short while, its great to have an overwhelming ship with a murderbeam. Make sure to mute the game and play Lamb of God's "Black Label" during this level.



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"If you need supplies, i recommend you to visit McCoy's Storehouse at the far side of the hangar."
- Saki Vashtal (Area 88)


Like some shooters like U.N. Squadron, Carrier Air Wing, Ginga Force and Natsuki Chronicles, Solar Shifter EX uses a store to upgrade your ship, where you can only buy two tings: upgrades your primary and secondary cannons, nothing more or less, makes me wish i could buy more life so i can withstand more damages on this extremely demanding shmup-puzzle mix of a game.



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Blu-Ray-esque quality from an indie game.

Graphically, it seems the game designers knows how to use the potential of the XBOX One. It's not Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, but unlike XenoRaptor, Solar Shifter EX uses extremely detaled terrains, quite well detailed futuristic buildings that gives life and atmosphere to the overall look of the game. The cutscenes and the frame rate feels blu-ray like just like the big commercial games. The planet design looks realistic enough despite using the "Make a Planet on Photoshop" technique of dinyctis and Superiorgamer's DeviantArt page 'cos you can see trees, leaves and rock textures mashed up on the surface, that trick of combining textures of grass and rocks really does wonders when it comes on making an alien star system and this game is proof of it.

However, there's a few problems that will make your gaming experience more difficult, and that's the bullet camouflage. In some stages, the background colors will make the enemy fire to blend with the scenery, resulting in potential cheap shots becoming annoying and frustrating at the same time, regardless of the visual beauty they bring to the game. Another detail to mention is that sometimes, the planet textures will look too pixelated as you get close to them in your missions.



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Now i know why this part of the game was so Vapor Trail for me.

The nostalgia factor in some parts of the game can't be avoided, like this one right here, which is very reminiscent of the third stage of Kuhga: Operation Code Vapor Trail.



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SHMUP CHARACTER QUESTION: ¿Who do you want in your shmup team?
ANSWER: Not these guys, I prefer a girl like Margarette instead.


Just when i've talked about this in many of my reviews and i've made fun of them again and again and AGAIN, i thought i would never, EVER, i would talk about this again. But here we go again with this topic 'cos i guess that's what the character designers are looking for. So, this time i'll bring the big guns about criticizing the character design. This game uses 3D-esque, pseudo-realistic characters that to be honest with you, they look like mannequins or plastic action figures. ¿Why not a sexy anime-styled girl? Just take a look at Ginga Force. Margarette Whitetail is (from an otaku perspective) the kind of girl that you'll like in your game as your partner and even to see her wearing a bikini, sipping an umbrella drink on the beach watching the sunset, while Allen Volker and the Colony Magistrate (level 1 store guy) from Solar Shifter EX look more like the generic bad guy moronic dudes that you'll only want to punch in the face. Seriously and honestly, if you're a game designer remember this: One single decision can really turn the table on your favor or against it, so pick the anime style the next time someone wants to make a game.

The music is suspenseful and tense like a sci-fi movie. With moments of tension that makes you wonder when the boss might appear to ambush you, and suddenly, the pace changes to a calm-yet-rhytmic beat in the space stage fitting with the scenery of the game. Voice acting is well made and much better than Aces of Luftwaffe - Squadron which is another point in favor on the game's audio department.

SOLAR CURIOSITIES SP
- "Astra la vista, baby" is a reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger's quote "Hasta la vista, baby" from Terminator 2 Judgment Day.
- "It's the final countdown" refers the song "The Final Countdown" by Europe.




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*"Final Take Off" plays in the background.*

Solar Shifter EX is a nice basic-yet-challenging shooter that tries to keep some of the Axelay spirit and RayStorm's atmosphere and blends it with cool ideas. If you don't mind about being limited with a basic twin shot, the absurd Turrican-style damage taking, the R-Type checkpointing and the dull characer design, then we still have a good shooter that makes simple bullet patterns challenging while bringing originality with an interesting feature such as the Warp. Despite the moments of extreme difficulty this game could bring, just give the game a try, you would not repent of buying it.

NOTE: IF YOU HAVE A BAD TO EXPLOSIVE TEMPER BETTER STAY AWAY FROM THIS GAME.
_________________
Ready to Shmuppin' again... No Guts No Glory!
STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki


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