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Video Game / Psycho Soldier

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Athena's name is magic
Mystery... is what you see
Her crystal is the answer
fighting fair, to keep us free
She's just a little girl with power inside
burning bright
You'd better hide if you are bad...
she'll get you
She'll read your mind and find if
you believe in right or wrong!
Psycho Soldier, the theme of the eponymous game.

An action arcade game developed by SNK that was originally released in 1986 and internationally in 1987. Psycho Soldier stars Athena Asamiya, a descendant of Princess Athena from SNK's previous game Athena.

Psycho Soldier is noteworthy for being the first video game to utilize a vocal track during in-game play, with vocals provided by Japanese pop idol Kaori Shimizu (not to be confused with the Japanese voice actress Kaori Shimizu; they're two completely different people). This was achieved by creating a JAMMA board that was much larger than usual, and consists of three PCB boards hardwired together and sandwiched on top of each other inside the game cabinet. Her song made Athena one of the earliest video game idols in Japan. Both the Japanese and English-language versions of the game have different vocals for the main song.

The Japanese version of the song was released as a single in 1987 on a special cassette that was available only to those who purchased the Nintendo Famicom version of Athena in Japanese retail stores. The cassette also included a special vocal version of the ending theme.

Athena and Kensou would go on to be far better known as standards in The King of Fighters. The two would also appear in the Darker and Edgier spin-off, Athena: Awakening from the Ordinary Life, released for the PlayStation in March of 1999 by developer Yumekobo.

Not to be confused with Sociopathic Soldier.

Psycho Soldier has examples of:

  • Action Girl: Athena Asamiya, one of the first video game heroines in SNK's history.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The European and American covers and flyers fit this trope to a T. Here's the art. For extra hardcore points, the model for this art is Lisa Lyon, a female bodybuilding pioneer.
  • Animal Motifs: Athena's motif is the phoenix and Kensou's motif is the dragon.
  • Autoscrolling Level: The whole game, which pauses at each boss wall.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Psycho Soldier", which is used as a stage music and appears again in ending credits. The fact that this game included the first known example of a full song recording was the biggest selling point, and SNK went a great length to hire the idol singer Kaori Shimizu as both the song's vocal and Athena's in-game voice actor.
  • Big Bad: "Shigu Do Dabide" (however the Hell you wanna translate that — the last word is exactly like the Japanese rendition of "David"), the Final Boss and apparent leader of the Shiguma.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Zeel species, massive blue bugs that wander around. The first boss is a swarm of their strongest form infesting a building, the Zeel Zebub.
  • Butt-Monkey: Downplayed with Kensou, who after any long drop will inevitably land flat on his face.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: You can invoke this on Athena if you make her walk over the bamboo shoots lying on the ground without destroying them. She'll have trouble not tripping over them, and she comments on how hard they are in the English version.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: After defeating each boss, you go through a very short area at the back filled with breakable walls and power-ups before a drop down that seamlessly segues into the beginning of the next level.
  • Energy Ball: The signature Power-Up of the game, where Athena and Kensou can collect up to four Psycho Balls to create an Orbiting Particle Shield, all of which change color and size according to their personal energy level. (They'd both go on to use these Psycho Balls in The King of Fighters tournaments).
  • Evolution Power-Up: There's an item that allows you to boost all the enemies on-screen to their next level, with new attacks and attack patterns. There's another one that allows you to level them down as well.
  • Expy: Athena greatly resembles Saori Kido / Athena from Saint Seiya.
  • Graceful Landing, Clumsy Landing: The transition in-between levels have Athena Asamiya and Sie Kensou jump down to their next destination. Athena lands on her feet while Kensou lands on his face.
  • Gratuitous English: The Japanese version of Psycho Soldier.
  • Idol Singer: Athena. Kensou appears to be her lead guitarist.
  • Image Song: "Psycho Soldier", one of two available stage music and the one with vocal track. It received multiple remixes in SNK's crossover fighting game The King of Fighters, usually as theme song for in-game Psycho Soldier Team, and it was also covered in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's Terry DLC with both Japanese and English vocals.
  • Joshikousei: Athena fights bad guys in a Sailor Fuku.
  • Power-Up: A dozen of 'em, which was one of the distinguishing factors of the game.
  • Psychic Powers: The basis of their gameplay.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The "Shiguma" (literal translation "Corpse Fool Demons"), who were sealed away in the bowels of the earth until somebody accidentally let them out.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: The credits have Athena and Kensou putting on a concert atop a pile of rubble, with Athena singing the game's main theme, while Kensou rocks out on guitar. There is also one of the game's enemies dancing along, for some reason.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Falling in the water in Stages 2 and 4 equals instant death.
  • They Look Like Us Now: Downplayed with the Duff-kun, trenchcoat-bedecked zombies with glowing eyes that wander around. Upon being defeated they may reveal themselves to be a disguise for another type of monster.