In the world of gaming I consider myself to be relatively old. I remember the excitement of playing Crash Bandicoot on the Playstation, I remember buying Pokemon Red for my Gameboy from an airport shop before going on holiday. But even I wasn’t around when Soldier Girl Amazon was first released by Nichibutsu in 1986, so I was quite excited to play a game older than myself for a change. Another in a series of PS4 ports of classic arcade titles by Arcade Archives, it took me back to playing on old, battered, arcade machines in holiday parks begging my parents for a few more 50p’s to throw down.
As you might imagine the game is relatively simple in its concept. It doesn’t really have anything you could even loosely describe as a plot. Playing as a soldier girl named Amazon you fight your way through wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies until you reach the end of a level and take on the boss. If you win you move on to the next stage, if you die back to the beginning you go. This is something you’ll get used to by the way, because like many arcade games Soldier Girl Amazon is really rather hard.
Enemies move faster than you, have a greater weapon spread than you, and can take more hits than you. When you get hit you lose your more powerful spread gun and are left with a single shot gun to make life even more difficult. Getting to grips with enemy movement patterns is key to survival. Even if you do traverse to the end of the level a new fresh hell will appear before you as the end of level boss does its best to drop kick you back to where you came from. Mercifully, thanks to the beauty of modern technology, you can at least save and start back on the same level after a ‘game over’.
Despite the difficulty though I did find the game oddly addictive. It does have the ‘one more go’ buzz that good arcade games should dish out. Although I was often frustrated I never felt like success was completely out of my reach so the desire to push on was always there. Enemies are quick but beatable and you can pick up power-ups which provide some much needed firepower in tough situations. Especially if you manage to steal the futuristic motorbike, which turns into a literal tank if you can grab a power-up while riding it.
By virtue of its time the graphics are obviously not fantastic in Soldier Girl Amazon. Thankfully though the nostalgia value more than makes up for it. The sprites are decent for their time and there is something oddly wistful and satisfying about the way the monsters and machines colourfully explode when you finally blast them to pieces. The game is set on an alternate Earth so the standard fare of 2D crumbled buildings and crater filled landscapes applies. It is proper, old school gaming.
Unfortunately the music is another matter. Whilst it maintains the familiar style of arcade music from an era long since passed, it actually just becomes annoying more than anything as there’s no real variety throughout the levels. It really started to grate on me in the end to the point where I muted it rather than put up with it for any longer.
One thing Arcade Archives does add is the chance to mess around with a few gameplay options which was a very welcome addition. This included upping the difficulty (although why anyone would be sadistic enough to try that I do not know), changing the number of lives you start the game with, as well as playing the original Japanese version. There’s also a ‘Caravan Mode’ in which you have five minutes to get as high a score as you can without saving. The modes do a little to add to the replay value as does the inclusion of online leaderboards to show off the high scores you get. Although if you harbor any desire to hit the top 100 prepare for one hell of a grind. Some of the scores people get on there are ridiculous.
Aside from that though, outside of pushing as far into the game as your natural ability will allow, there’s not much else to Soldier Girl Amazon. It’s not a bad game by any means and it certainly delivers if, like me, you’re a bit nostalgic for old arcade titles. As a result it just about justifies its price tag of £5 for me. If you don’t like a challenge or aren’t a fan of older games though, there are far better things to be spending your hard earned cash on.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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