Title: Shock Troopers
Price: $8.99 (PS3), $6.99 (PSP)
System(s): PlayStation Network, PSP
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Publisher (Developer): SNK (Saurus)
Pros: Network play, 14-year old explosions and shrieks are still entertaining, ability to save mid-level, eight playable characters
Cons: Too few continues, changing shooting directions can’t be done while walking, health doesn’t restore after each level
Overall Score: One Thumb Up, One Thumb Sideways, 83/100, B, *** out of 5.
Shock Troopers is one of the latest NeoGeo games to make its way to the PlayStation Network. We’ve covered other NeoGeo titles for PSN in the past including Baseball Stars 2 and King of Fighters ’95. Much like those games, Shock Troopers is a straight up port that adds a Network Play option. Is it fun? You’re about to find out.
Let’s get one thing straight. Shock Troopers has a razor thin plot that is typical of similar games of its time. There’s a hairy bad guy from an evil organization called the Bloody Scorpians that has a strong desire to take over the world and it’s up to a group of gun-wielding heroes to save the day.
Army of Eight
Shock Troopers has eight characters to choose from. You can choose to play the game in Lonely Wolf mode using only one character at a time, or Team Battle mode which lets you pick three characters at once. In the end, you still have a total of three lives total and three continues no matter what mode you choose.
The characters only differ slightly in terms of their default weapons. Simply put, everyone has a machine gun. What makes the playable characters different (aside from appearance) are the special attacks they perform. Special attacks range from grenades to flaming arrows, but they all have limitations on how many times they can be used.
Before starting each level in Shock Troopers, you have to choose which path to follow. The choices are mountain route, jungle route and valley route. This choice helps to break up the environments and gives you different situations to overcome. Naturally, there’s nothing that can’t be solved with bullets.
Shoot, Turn, Shoot
Shock Troopers has very simple controls. You press square to shoot, x to dodge, triangle to fire special weapons and circle to switch between characters in Team Battle mode. The default weapons have infinite ammo, but special weapons such as three-way machine guns and flamethowers will deplete over time.
The shooting controls earned my greatest gripe in Shock Troopers. There’s no way to change the direction you’re shooting in while moving at the same time. Enemies can appear from any direction in packs and their attacks remove a good chunk of health. You have to stop shooting and re-position your character when you need to shoot an enemy that is standing at a different angle other than where you’re aiming. This leads to many deaths and a waste of special weapons. On many occasions, I shot special weapons in the opposite direction of a boss due to these controls.
There is still something infinitely satisfying about blowing up tanks and shooting off arms in Shock Troopers. Maybe it’s the feeling of nostalgia, or perhaps it’s the simplicity of the gameplay, but killing waves of enemies never really gets old.
The Perils Of A 14 Year Old Game
I really wish there was a way to play through Shock Troopers with unlimited credits. Three continues isn’t really enough to get through this game. Even with a co-op partner, this feat was extremely challenging on the normal difficulty setting. Shock Troopers also doesn’t replenish your health after every stage. To its credit, the game does let you save your progress.
Don’t expect much in the graphics department. Shock Troopers was released in 1997 after all. It does however take advantage of the PS3’s smoothing feature. Much like the other NeoGeo games, playing Shock Troopers in full screen mode makes everything look stretched out and muddy.
So is Shock Troopers worth your time? I’d say yes if you’re aching to get in some truly old school gameplay. If you also happen to be a fan of games that require you to learn enemy attacks and patterns so that you won’t lose so many lives, Shock Troopers won’t leave you hanging. I will say that if you grab a buddy, the commentary you two will come up with while playing this game will be enough to put a smile on your face.