Review: ACA NeoGeo: Shock Troopers
Posted 04 Jul 2017 at 15:27 by Sam C Gittins
After an hiatus of sorts, I felt that it was high time that the classic Shock Troopers which has previously been released on the Wii Virtual Console some nearly five years ago towards the end of the consoles life, got its scored review.
Now it has been given another lease of life thanks to the efforts of Hamster, being that this is something of a pick up and play title, there is likely no better time to try out a title which may not get as much recognition as Metal Slug but is enjoyable for all of the right reasons.
So without further ado, on with the review!
Price: GB £6.29, EU €6.99
System: Neo Geo
If you mention Run 'N Gun as a genre then chances are the first games that spring to mind will be those from the Metal Slug series but if you were then to ask someone to name one that has an overhead perspective then they will probably mention the legendary Commando as quite simply there just don't seem to be that many which have employed that same underrated point of view but Shock Troopers is one such rare example that takes the same approach and uses it to great effect.
This may not be a huge revolution within its genre, but everything that this game does right it does with such a wonderful sense of style that you won't really care about its lack of innovation as you'll be having too much fun keeping your trigger-finger happy.
Blasting everything from start to finish is the order of the day here before facing off against a boss at the end of the stage so pick a character, select your route, jump in and get shooting! You have a choice of eight distinctly different characters each of whom have their own weapon set plus a unique special attack helping to add a bit of variation to the proceedings, of course naturally if things get a little bit too hectic then you can always chuck a grenade in there for good measure which will help you out of a few situations.
Oh a Flame-thrower, let's try it out... *Fwoom!* "arrrrgh!" Burrrn! Mwahaha!
The control scheme always feels tight as you can easily dodge out of harms way at the press of a button plus you even have the ability to strafe while continually firing which can be invaluable at times; also something of a life-line are the power-ups which include the additional ammo, extra lives and of course more weapons, it soon becomes apparent that you'll need to be collecting these frequently in order to survive while taking out waves of enemies so that you can go the distance.
You get two ways to play here as Lonely Wolf lets you pick a character so you can play solo through the entire experience while Team Mode gives you the chance to choose three characters from the full roster which you can switch out at the press of a button as you play, this mode really helps to mix things up a bit adding both variety and also some strategy which will please some players who like to think a little inbetween all the shooting.
It all seems really well balanced too as the difficulty curve is certainly fair offering a decent challenge for players regardless of experience and thankfully it never seems to reach any 'unfair' level of cruelty that other examples of the genre often choose to exhibit, wearing with pride like a medal... reast assured you'll certainly have fun with this game.
Graphically there is a reaonable amount of effort that has been applied here but overall the presentation is far from spectacular, naturally there are a handful of moments which will genuinely surprise you but there isn't really anything here that you won't have seen before but at least the level of animation is decent even though it's far from Metal Slug quality.
Oh no you don't! *Bang!Bang!Bang!* Heh, gotcha!
The music shows a bit more effort as there are some nice tracks that are very representative of the time that this was released which are sure to keep a smile on your face as will the rather substantial sound effects even if they do tend to overshadow the background music at times.
Plenty of options are available to you this time around though so you can rebalance the audio if you like, try out various filters to give the game whichever look you prefer at whatever ratio you deem to be decent, save states are easy to use though with the ability to add up to ninety-nine credits it shouldn't be hard to just play to the end of the game, though you might want to try with the default amount if you want to get good enough to try for a high point on the leaderboards.
Multiplayer is of course a highlight if you have anyone else who is willing to play along with you, this is one of those times when you could just about get away with using two Joy-Cons if they are your only option but two Pro Controllers of even third-party 8Bitdo pads (now that they support the Switch) will give you a better experience with a D-Pad that you can trust. Overall though you're still going to have a lot of fun in Co-Op mode here whichever way you decide to play, plus being able to use the tabletop mode anywhere is also a reasonable compromise if you're out and about.
This probably isn't going to end well... nevertheless, Fire!
Ultimately if you love the genre then you will get a lot of enjoyment out of Shock Troopers as it provides a decent experience even if it does fall a little short in certain areas there is plenty of fun to be had here even by newcomers though I'd advise trying a more accomplished example of the genre such as Metal Slug if you're at all unsure just in case you don't get on with it.
If you're a veteran of the genre then you might prefer the more refined Shock Troopers 2nd Squad which is certainly a more superior offering but if you've got an itchy trigger-finger then you still can't go far wrong with buying this first. Then you can go ahead and pick up Shock Troopers 2nd Squad if you just can't get enough frantic action coupled with an "outlandish" plot which might have seemed out there back in the day but feels borderline believable by today's standards; though it's really not the story you sign up for with these games, for it is mere embellishment to aid the mindless massacre.
N-Europe Final Verdict
A satisfying shooter which lacks lustre but makes up for with substance, Shock Troopers is best enjoyed in short bursts and preferably alongside another player for maximum enjoyment.
Excellent Co-Op mode
Fast, fun & frantic action
Aesthetically average at times
Not a lot of longevity to it