SolarStriker [Game Boy] – Review

I've got that boom boom pow!
I’ve got that boom boom pow!

So after completing Kirby’s Dream Land, I figured I’d make a kick out of this “playing Game Boy games” idea and keep the concept going. I acquired SolarStriker and another Game Boy shoot ‘em up at the famous (infamous?) Admiral Flea Market for a few bucks many weeks ago and barely played it then. It was released in 1990 by Nintendo and developed by Nintendo R&D 1 and Minakuchi Engineering. The copy I have is loose and there are no indications of a narrative in-game, although I can tell from a little research (Wikipedia) that there is some mumbo jumbo about saving the Earth. A story isn’t crucial though, as is usually the case with this type of game. What matters is the gameplay.

These are a couple of the first enemies, and the stages never got much tougher than this.
These are a couple of the first enemies, and the stages never got much tougher than this.

All of the game’s six stages had me piloting an X-Wing looking spacecraft vertically towards the top of the screen. The enemies remained basic throughout my sessions with the game. They always entered from the top of the screen, and maybe even the sides; always in waves though, but never shooting profusely in a bullet hell way. The game did grow challenging, although I was able to make it the final stage within a half-dozen attempts. The bosses were the most challenging foes (duh) and I thought the fourth one especially was a life-sucker; there were bullets coming from all directions! In my favor was a simplistic power-up system, although my weaponry never deviated from shooting straight ahead.

That is, excluding boss fights of course. They could be challenging, at least from the fourth one on.
That is, excluding boss fights of course. They could be challenging, at least from the fourth one on.

When I began playing SolarStriker, I thought that I wouldn’t get close to the end. But after a little bit of time and determination, I was able to routinely make it. So, it’s a challenging game, but not devilishly so, however… the naturally dark color palette of the game was an issue. I had to adjust the color palette on the Game Boy itself to a negative version of the default to stand a chance. There was something about the black background of each stage obscuring the enemy fire that I couldn’t get my head around. Like Kirby’s Dream Land, this was a simple iteration of the genre it’s portraying, but a fun one that didn’t consume a lot of time.

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