STAR SOLDIER
Game Cover
Game Disk
スターソルジャー
©1986 Hudson Soft and ©Momo
Release: 1986-06-13 (¥4900)
Cartdridge SHVC-SO
Shooter/vertical

American Version
country
Released in America as
STAR SOLDIER
( NES-SO-USA )
Star Soldier is a vertical shooter by Hudson Soft. A giant super computer called the Starbrain is poised to take over the galaxy. A pilot and his advanced space-fighter, the Caesar, are on the front line of battle and they are mankind's last hope against the imminent menace. The space fighter comes equipped with a Vulcan gun - the weapon can be upgraded to fire in multiple directions by collecting floating pods with a "S" stamped on them. The fighter can also gain a rotating shield and the almighty rapid-fire. Star Soldier is built around a score attack theme which focuses on achieving the highest score - consequently, levels are littered with tiles, large blocks and other destructive elements allowing the player to crank up his score. The game features sixteen stages each one capped by a Star Brain boss and, interestingly, each one of them must be destroyed within a time limit. If the player fails to do so then the Star Brain escapes and the stage has to be played through again. Another unusual gameplay element of Star Soldier is the abilitity to fly the Caesar underneath certain the background to avoid enemies - however the ship can't fire in this mode.
Related
SuperStarSoldier (Pce-Hu) FinalSoldier (Pce-Hu) SoldierBlade (Pce-Hu) StarParodia (SCDRom²) CaravanShootingCollection (Sfc)
Non-direct relation: StarForce (Fc) Hector'87 (Fc) Gunhed (Pce-Hu)
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Star Soldier - Famicom & MSX
Star Soldier first came out for Nintendo's Famicom in 1986 on cartridge and for the MSX system on Hudson Soft's proprietary card format, The Bee Card (picture on the left). The game seems to be highly related to Tecmo's vertical shooter Star Force released in the arcades in 1984 and converted a year later by Hudson Soft for the Famicom and MSX systems. Tecmo later developed sequels such as Super Star Force (Famicom, 1986) and Final Star Force (Arcade, 1992). As a side note, Star Force and Star Soldier were the first two official Caravan games (read below for more information about the Caravan Festival held in Japan from 1985). Hudson Soft created their own license with Star Soldier and it was logical for the PC Engine system to host three different Star Soldier titles (or four if we include Star Parodia). Super Star Soldier was released in 1990, a bit late if you think about it as the PC Engine had already been around for three years. Then Final Soldier (1991) and Soldier Blade (1992) followed. Then nothing until 1998 with the release of Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth for the Nintendo 64, the first Star Soldier title to use polygonal 3D. More recently, Hudson Soft released the last episode of the series (so far) in 2005 for Sony's PSP system (a little more than twenty years after the first Star Soldier). Star Soldier also recently re-appeared in special editions, such as Nintendo's Gameboy Advance in 2004 where it was part of the Famicom Mini series or for the Playstation 2 where it was upgraded and part of the Hudson Selection Vol. 2: Star Soldier released in 2003.

Caravan Competition
Hudson Soft started the popular (in Japan) Caravan Festival event back in 1985. It was a yearly and national contest where kids from all over Japan (over sixty locations throughout the country !) could compete and play their favorite video games (mostly shooters) and win prizes and fame. This is what the Caravan Mode featured in most of these games was all about hence players played for the highest score. The Caravan competition initially started with Nintendo's Famicom and the first three competition games were Star Force (1985), Star Soldier (1986) and Hector'87 (1987). Interestingly, the highest score for the five minutes plays for Star Force was 314900, Star Soldier was 1051500 and Hector'87 was 1068000.
Takahashi Meijin
The festival is also closely related to a Japanese celebrity - Toshiyuki Takahashi, also known as Takahashi Meijin or "16-Shot" (picture on the left). Takahashi Meijin became the festival's mascot at the time and a star on his own thanks to his incredible ability to hit a button at lighting speed - up to 16 times a second ! The PC Engine then hit the shelves and, logically, the competiting moved to this system (don't forget that the PC Engine was a joined venture of NEC and Hudson Soft). The competition games that followed were Power League (1988), Gunhed (1989), Super Star Soldier (1990), Final Soldier (1991) and Soldier Blade (1992). I am not sure what happened next, but the competition carried on for a few years for sure. Special limited edition Hucards, specifically designed for the Caravan Festival, were given away to the winners - no need to say that they are very rare and expensive items nowadays. I have never seen a Special edition of Super Star Soldier though and I do not think it actually exists - the only special HuCards related to the Caravan Festival are Power League Special Version, Gunhed Special Version, Final Soldier Special Version and Soldier Blade Special Version. Naxat Soft tried to organize similar events called the Summer Carnival tournaments from 1991 to 1993 to promote their shooters such as Spriggan and Nexzr.

Caravan Competition A Star Soldier doujin remake called Soldier Force was released in Japan in 2006 by Studio Siesta for Windows 2000/XP. The game is incredibly faithful to Hudson Soft's shooter (maybe more than Hudson's own releases) and is the only straight remake of the Famicom/MSX originals out there. Two ships are available in this version - the Caesar and the Noah (borrowed from Hudson Soft's other vertical shooter Hector '87).


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Japanese Guidebook
Japanese Guidebook


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Star Soldier is the game that started it all for Hudson Soft's benchmark series and the Caravan Festivals arguably sold it to a wide Japanese audience (this may explain why the game didn't *really* appeal to Western tastes). But is the game any good ? Star Soldier is a bare bone affair with endless waves of enemy ships and recycled stages. It however manages to be a more compelling experience than its many peers of the time thanks to the rather impressive Star Brains and the simple (yet effective) weapon system. But Star Soldier has a couple of annoying flaws - the ability to fly underneath the scenery is more confusing than useful, the game is incredibly hard and stages are extremely repetitive. All in all, Star Soldier is a decent shooter but later episodes in the series have a much stronger appeal.




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