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Video Game / Star Soldier

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Star Soldier is a line of Vertical Scrolling Shooters by Hudson Soft. The series started in the 1980s as a Spiritual Successor to Tecmo's Star Force. The games are characterized by their distinct power-up weapons and "Caravan Mode" named after travelling video game competitions at the time, where the player has to score as much points as possible (or reach the end) within two or five minutes.

The games in this series include:

  • Star Soldier (1986, NES/MSX; remade in 2003 for GameCube/PS2/PSP)
  • Super Star Soldier (1990, TurboGrafx-16) - developed by Kaneko
  • Final Soldier (1991, TurboGrafx-16)
  • Soldier Blade (1992, TurboGrafx-16)
  • Star Parodier (1995, TurboGrafx-CD) - Cute 'em Up featuring Bomberman, developed by Kaneko
  • Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth (1997, Nintendo 64)
  • Star Soldier R (2008, WiiWare) - Caravan Mode only, although the 5-minutes mode has a final boss and ending.

A Hudson Soft game that could be considered as a spinoff is Hector '87, also known as Starship Hector. It differs from all other Star Soldier games by being set on Earth and scrolling horizontally in its even-numbered stages, but was the first game to feature the 2-minute and 5-minute "Caravan" modes found in the later Star Soldier games.

Tropes appearing in these games:

  • Attack Drone: In Soldier Blade, one appears upon picking up any power up.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: In Vanishing Earth, the green ship. How cool is it that its Ex-Arms consist of shooting green electricity everywhere, and throwing a freakin' stream of green fire towards the enemy? Problem is, it's the slowest ship, it's Rolling is the shortest, and its main weapon, while it covers pretty much everything in the horizontal field in front of you, is as a result the weakest one since all its damage is spread out rather than focused.
  • Boss-Only Level: Final Operation in Soldier Blade, The Earth in Vanishing Earth, and the final stage of the 2003 remake.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Vanishing Earth ends (if the final form of Duoss Core being defeated in time limit) with the Earth being saved from Duoss Core. However it is implied from the last message that the whole war is mentally straining for the protagonist.
  • Boss Rush: Boss On Parade in the remake for PSP.
  • Bullet Hell: Vanishing Earth pulls no punches on bullet showers, especially with the bosses. All bullets are rendered in 3D too, and players can roll their ships to bounce them back.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Super Star Soldier requires each stage to be completed without the ship being destroyed. The exception is collecting the blinking crystal in order to allow in-place respawn.
  • Content Warning: Presumably in order to deter It's Short, So It Sucks!, the purchase page for Star Soldier R gives you a warning in red text that the game only features 2- and 5-minute modes.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Duoss Core in Vanishing Earth.
  • Homing Projectile: Played straight in which some of the enemies fire blue energy balls that magnetically lock on to the player's ship unless you move away from them.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If, in Vanishing Earth, you run out of time when fighting the last phase of Duoss Core, you have to watch it destroy the Earth.
  • Nostalgia Level: The secret level in Vanishing Earth is the first level of the original Star Soldier.
  • Pause Scumming: Not in Caravan modes! The timer will continue to run down while the game is paused.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: In Soldier Blade, you've destroyed and escaped from the Zeograd base, but Duoss, just as promised, returns and wipes out the SIA fleet, and then the true final showdown begins.
  • Respawn on the Spot: Super Star Solider only provides this if the player collects a blinking crystal. Without one, the game restarts the whole stage if the Starbuck is destroyed, in contrast to other shooters of the time which either have the next ship appear instantly, or only do a few seconds of rollback.
  • Scoring Points: The main campaign modes have scoring systems. Then there's the "Caravan" modes—2- and 5-minute modes where you fly through a unique stage and destroy as many enemies and tiles as you can to earn points.
  • Self-Plagiarism: The Virtual Boy game Vertical Force (also developed by Hudson Soft) is very similar to the original game despite not being nominally part of the series.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The poem that ends Vanishing Earth implies this for the protagonist.
  • Spread Shot: At max power, your ship boasts the classic "four diagonal streams and two forward streams" pattern.
  • Time-Limit Boss: In the original game, if you take too long to defeat a Star Brain, it escapes and forces you all the way back to the beginning of the level.
  • Timed Mission: The Caravan modes.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: Vanishing Earth is rendered in 3D to take advantage of Nintendo 64's hardware.