Before explaining everything else, I thought I'd write a little bit about the game, consider it a review if you've never played it.

Remember what the arcade was like a decade ago? Remember when there were great games to play like Ikari Warriors, Time Soldiers, Mercs, etc... Who didn't enjoy kicking back and wasting everything in sight on one of those vertically-scrolling "human shooter" games? Sadly, this is a genre that has pretty much become all but dead. But one company dared to make a brand new one for the aging Neo-Geo Multi Video System (MVS)... the company is Saurus, and the game is Shock Troopers. Released in winter 1997/1998, Shock Troopers helped satisfy the people who didn't think that putting the Ikari Warriors in KoF was enough, they wanted a NEW action game. With Metal Slug being the next best thing to Contra, why wouldn't anyone attempt an overhead human shooter? Somehow, ST has become one of the best in its genre... if not THE best.

So what makes it so good? Right off the bat, you're given a choice of playing in two modes: Lonly Wolf (an in-game typo), and Team Mode. Lonly Wolf is the standard way of playing, where you take one character and kick some ass. But Team Mode lets you pick three characters, KoF style, and switch between them in the middle of the game! There are eight characters to select from, all with varying attributes and special weapons, making each character a different experience... unlike Metal Slug 2, where there are four characters that are all exactly the same in terms of gameplay.

After you select your characters, you're given a choice of which route to select. That's right, you can play through the game in three totally different paths as you make your way to the Bloody Scorpion's Headquarters. After you finish the third level on any route, you're given the choice to switch over to another one. Through experimentation you may find one route combination that's easier to get through... or one that awards more points! So this means that you have to play through the game a minimum of three times just to see all the levels... just something else that adds to the replay value.

Then, gameplay begins. Standard 8-way control is present, nothing new there. To shoot, press the A button (unlimited ammo). If you hold down the A button, you will keep shooting in that direction, without having to hammer the button. But this serves a double purpose, as it "locks" your position until you let go of the A button. Meaning you can move in whatever direction you want and keep firing at a specified target... this is the next best thing to a rotary joystick. The B button activates an invincible roll in the desired direction. Against bosses, rolling is absolutely vital as you can avoid swarms of gunfire/missiles with one well-timed roll. You are very vulnerable as you come out of it though, so be careful! The C button uses your special weapon. You have a limited amount of times that it can be used, so don't waste it. Both the B and C buttons can be used when the A button is held down... you can push C to fire in the direction you're facing, and use the B button+joystick to roll in a different direction, and then resume firing as you come out of the roll. Sound confusing? It's not, really. Finally, the D button is used to switch between your teammates. When the switch is activated, the next character goes into a pose that leaves them [almost] invincible until it ends... kinda like rolling.

The A button serves another important purpose: close-range attacks. When you are near an enemy, pushing the A button (presuming that you're not already firing at them) activates your character's close attack (usually a knife stab or a punch). Using this to kill human enemies will make them drop an item 95% of the time (certain soldiers won't for some reason). Usually a 30,000-point gem is awarded, or a life-up. Sometimes you'll receive a special weapon, and sometimes you'll get other goodies like a red gem (kill all enemies on screen) or a yellow gem (temporary invincibility). Once you start to get good at the game, killing as many enemies as possible with close attacks for the highest score is the next step.

One thing that people have complained about in this game is the graphics. I remember reading comments that they were "SNES quality". Well, have you ever seen the SNES put out this many animation frames for a game like this? In still shots it might not look like the most high-tech game, but it looks a lot better in action. When you have 8 different characters with tons of different actions, PLUS having to draw them for all 8 directions, you start to appreciate the hard work that the graphic artists put into this. Even the human enemies die in a myriad of ways... and you want gore? You got it. But even if you think it still looks poor, pretty much everyone tends to agree that it sounds GOOD. There is so much kickass music in this game it's not even funny... if there was a soundtrack released for this game, I'd buy it in a heartbeat... but alas there is not. :( The sound effects are great too, with plenty of digitized voices (each character got a voice actor credit in the Staff roll, that should say something)

Sadly, a game this good has only been released on one format... the arcade Neo-Geo MVS hardware. (there are unofficial home carts floating around, but I wouldn't recommend getting one). No official home release, no ports to other systems... isn't that a tragedy? So you can either find an arcade with it, buy an MVS setup with the game, or *gulp* go the emulation route... but you're on your own there, I hold no responsibility for your actions :)

And by the way, a sequel was released entitled Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad in late '98. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near as good as the first. Why? Well, that's a whole another story. For now, move on to another page and continue your Shock Education.

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