Psycho Soldier Review—Sounds Familiar
It takes an awful lot of time for me to review SNK Minis, compared to your usual Mini. I always try to finish the game with just one coin. When you try to finish arcade games by going all-out since you have limitless credits, it takes the fun out of Gaming (yes, the proper noun/gerund). I prefer to finish these classics based on my skills, not relying on infinite tries. Also, Minis releases are sparse at this time, so I might as well take my time and dissect the game more deeply than usual.
Psycho Soldier is one of SNK’s arcade classics re-released. This was supposed to be the sequel to Athena, which was also re-released as a Mini. Athena is an awful game, regardless of whether you played it today or back in the 80s. And I don’t quite get what a bored Greek goddess has to do with a high schooler and her boyfriend. Without consulting the Internet, I wouldn’t have known the backstory of Psycho Soldier, but it doesn’t matter anyway. Psycho Soldier is an improvement over Athena across the board.
Psycho Soldier is a side-scrolling action-platformer, but this game is more a shooter than anything else. It’s so very basic when it comes to gameplay that I fear that kids these days won’t enjoy this game. It’s all about evasion and shooting down enemy forces before they shoot or tackle you, or before you manage to run yourself into a concrete wall.
At the start of gameplay, you arrive on screen as a flying saucer, and for a limited amount of time, you can shoot bad guys in this form without taking damage. This also happens when you are respawning; it’s sort of a creative way of granting invincibility, protecting you from getting killed again right away before you can position yourself out of harm’s way.
The game may be basic, but it is rather entertaining, even if you are just bashing the X button to fire your apparently psychic powers. Pushing O will let you use your special powers. Like all SNK Minis, you can remap the controls. The level design is good, though I find the clearing of concrete and dirt blocks, to open paths, rather overemphasized. It’s like playing Dig Dug all over again, or a side-scrolling Minecraft, if you will.
The graphics of this game are not the prettiest. It’s basically the same as every SNK Mini, a direct emulation, with everything being exactly the same as it was in its original, arcade form. Well, except for the ability to play with a friend. Such a shame, as I know this game would be pretty much amazing with cooperative play. Anyway, this particular SNK Mini is at its best when played with the game screen enlarged to fit the PSP screen. The graphics may be pixelated, but it’s better to play it that way.
Psycho Soldier offers a variety of boss fights, and they’re pretty neat, actually, but it’s damned difficult to survive them with limited credits. Well, like every other SNK arcade classic Mini, it’s just impossible to finish the game that way. Business came before pleasure when these games were developed; they wanted to grab all of your lunch money.
When it was originally released, Psycho Soldier had the distinction of being the first video game to include a vocal in-game soundtrack (thanks, Wikipedia!). The soundtrack triggers attacks of nostalgia in me. I’ve never played this game before, but the music is downright familiar. The soundtrack sends chills through my bones. Now, I loved The King of Fighters ’98 and played a lot of it, but I don’t remember much of it. Maybe those latent memories embedded in my subconscious are being activated by this game.
There are power-ups in the game, like a sword, protective spheres and the ability to turn into an overpowered phoenix. Enemies are aplenty, but what I hate about them is that they run around in random directions. It’s like they don’t have a purpose in life but to run around like a bunch of headless chickens. The boss fights do improve, with the AI becoming challenging.
I always question the value of the SNK Minis. Really, they are just straight emulations with nothing special added to show for it. Yes, a nostalgic gamer may want these games the moment they come out of the gate. Still, it’s hard for me to imagine that these games will gain new fans. Nonetheless, Psycho Soldier is an entertaining Mini, even with my disappointed stance.