A classic styled scrolling shmup, Soldner-X2 feels very much like an also ran. A decent game, that unfortunately brings nothing new to the table, it’s like playing a long lost game from fifteen years ago – fancy visuals aside.
A little harsh maybe, because it’s still an enjoyable game (especially once the difficulty picked up). What starts off as a light challenge will soon turn into bullet hell towards the end, but once you reach that point the game ends. Well, kind of.
You see, throughout the levels by destroying enemies you’ll sometimes find keys, collecting these unlocks the latter levels. It’s a good way of adding longevity to what would otherwise be a short experience, but I would’ve personally preferred a greater variety of levels. There is some additional DLC that you can get if you buy the bundle on the PS Store, which is a little cheeky of them. They’re good levels mind, and do give the game’s story, (which is rather pointless to say the least), a conclusion.
Additionally there are also leaderboards for the high score fanatics. This on top of challenges that get unlocked in the main game (such as completing specific levels without losing a ship).
From a gameplay perspective Soldner-x2 doesn’t do anything new, but what it does, it does rather well. With a good range of pick ups and weapons, an interesting combo mechanic and clever enemy design it’s a game I certainly found entertaining.
Enemies come in all shapes and size, a giant robot that bears a strong resemblance to one of the bosses from Starfox 64 is the first one you encounter, then it gets even crazier as you get deeper into the game. Bosses each have a weakness (usually indicated by something glowing), other than that there’s not much in the way of tactics. Just shoot till everything blows up, dodging all the bullets as you go. And sometimes dodging environmental hazards.
The first level shoves you straight into an asteroid field forcing you to burrow your way through a seemingly endless amount of floating rocks, one of the later ones set on an ice planet has you dodging giant icicles. And there’s also the floating airship you have to navigate, because it’s a shmup, so obviously there’s a floating airship level. Graphically the backgrounds all look nice and sharp, though it’s the enemy ships and explosions that really showcase the game’s style.
The main tactical element will come in the variety of power ups and the combo metre. Rings that looked like they escaped from Sonic The Hedgehog will appear once enemies are destroyed, collecting them will keep your combo meter fully charged. Then there are the power ups, which collecting makes your currently selected weapon more powerful. The main issue with this is, despite having three weapons to cycle through, it’s the standard one that you’ll use most of the time. There’s another that almost acts like a shotgun and another that fires lasers in all directions, but really you’ll just concentrate on charging up the one and forgetting the others even exist.
There’s not a lot else to say really, Soldner-X 2 feels far more at home on the Vita than on a console and if you’re craving some shmup action then you could do a lot worse.