Star Soldier is a vertical shooter created by Hudson Soft in 1985 for the NES and was later ported to many systems, including the SNES and GameCube. This is the second game in the Soldier series. Although not complex, it was noted for it's hidden bonuses and allowed for a great deal of score challenges.
The player flies around and destroys various enemies and at the end of a stage, fights a Star Brain. Every fourth stage, the boss is a Big Star Brain which is more difficult than a regular Star Brain. The stages are littered with hidden bonuses, usually uncovered by hitting a certain spot a few times. The most common of these bonuses are ZEGs, which increase the bonus as each one is uncovered, maxing out at 80000 points. The player also has the ability to go underneath terrain, whether willingly or unwillingly. This allows the player to avoid enemy fire at the price of not being able to shoot themselves.
One of the most notable features of Star Soldier is it's powerup system. As the player gains more powerups, the ship's weapon increases from a weak, non-rapid fire shot to a five-way shot. At max power, the ship also gains a "shield" which allows the ship to take a few hits before being destroyed. Getting hit once is sometimes done on purpose in order to downgrade one level of power, since this allows more fire to be directed in front.
Listed below are the types of bonuses in Star Soldier.
- ZEG - These bonuses are the most numbered in a stage. Each one that's found increases the point value, ranging from 400 to 80000. There are usually 8 or so within a stage.
- Milton - Found in certain stages and can only be uncovered when the score in the thousands place is odd. After uncovering it, hit it 16 times. Destroying it earns 40000 points.
- Whale - Found in certain stages and can only be uncovered when the score in the thousands place is even. After uncovering it, hit it 16 times. Destroying it earns 40000 points.
- Warp - Found in stages 1, 5, 9, and 13. Can only be uncovered when the score in the thousands and hundreds numbers are the same. Shoot it four times to activate. Warps you to the next Big Star Brain stage (4, 8, 12, or 16).
- 1-Up - Found in certain stages and can only be uncovered when the score in the thousands and hundreds numbers add up to 10. Shoot it four times to activate. Gives an extra life.
- Rapid Fire - Found only in stage 3 and can only be found on the Famicom version. In order to uncover it, one must shot into the second controller at a given location. Once it appears, shoot it 16 times. This allows the ship to have an increased bullet limit, have 16 shots max on screen at a time.
- Super Laser - Found only on stage 6. In order to uncover it, one must press Select at a given location. Once it appears, shoot it 16 times. This allows the ship to use a powerful laser, switch to it using the Select button. This is a permanent upgrade that is not affected by death.
- Nozawa - Found only on stage 16 near the end of the stage. In order to uncover it, one must shoot a given location 9 times. Once it appears, shoot it 8 more times. This adds 2,000,000 points to the score.
- P - Found in certain stages and is only accessible by flying under the terrain. Once collected, instantly gives full power.
- Delilah - Found at the end of every stage, these are a pair of eyes that do not attack. If one can destroy them at the about the same time (give or take 1 second), then the player earns a 80000 point bonus.
- Lazarus - Randomly appears in a stage, perhaps based on score. This is a floating head that starts out as four parts, then combines to make two, then combines again to make a face. If one can destroy Lazarus when it is only two pieces, then the player earns a 80000 point bonus.
Star Soldier did not have a Caravan mode, but was one of the first games to have caravan contests dedicated to it. Caravans are a trademark for the Soldier series and most of the games have a caravan mode, usually 2 and 5 minute sessions.
The Famicom version (not the NES) was more unique due to the addition of the 2nd controller microphone. By using the microphone in certain places, the player can gain access to specials. The most prominent one being a special laser weapon that is much more powerful than the standard shots but can only be shot ahead.
There are several remakes of Star Soldier on the SNES, MSX, Playstation 2, GameCube, and GBA. Some of these are exact replicas of the NES version. Soldier Force from Studio Siesta is one of the more recent remakes and is very faithful to the original in terms of gameplay.