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November 18 2017

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  Shock Troopers - ©Saurus 1997





Click here to view the image gallery for this game -->


Game Stats
Other:
Players:
1 or 2 player

Type:
Shoot 'em up

Size:
346 Megs
Japanese Name:

Shock Troopers

Released On:

MVS




Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
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Review Introduction:

It’s a very familiar scene: Terrorists calling themselves "The Bloody Scorpions" have kidnapped a scientist and his granddaughter, Cecilia, to gain the powerful drug, Agent 301. They plan to use this drug to condition their troops so that they can take over the world. You must choose from a team of eight troops and take out the terrorist group to stop their evil plan.

It may sound like a run of the mill storyline, but this is anything but a run of the mill game. Often described as a "top down Metal Slug", Shock Troopers is often criminally overlooked in favour of its side scrolling cousin. It might not look quite as pretty or as well animated as Metal Slug, but it has a great style all of its own. So, what exactly makes it so great?


Game System:



There are two different systems you can choose from at the start of the game. One is “Lonely Wolf” (which is actually spelt incorrectly as “Lonly Wolf”!) and the other is “Team Battle”. The former lets you choose just one character from the eight on offer, while Team Battle allows you to select a team of three; you can switch between characters mid game by pressing the D button, however each character shares the same life bar (and once that's depleted it's game over). Each character has their own special attack, and the downside to Team Battle is that each character has slightly less specials by default, but as you have three characters you still end up with more in total than you would have done in Lonely Battle. What is slightly odd is that there is more than one version of the MVS cart doing the rounds - one of them gives each character their own life bar, which adds a whole different dynamic to the game. Each character also has slightly different abilities in terms of speed and firepower, so the idea of Team Battle is that you can switch to the ideal character for the section you are playing.


Controls:

Fire Weapon/Close Range Attack:



In a similar way to Metal Slug, pressing the A button while at a distance to an enemy will make your character fire their currently equipped weapon. Pressing it while up close and personal will make them use their secondary weapon, which is character specific. Every time you kill an enemy up close, they will drop an item. Usually it just givs extra points, but sometimes other items will pop up (see below).

You can also sidestep while firing by holding down the A button and moving around. You will continue to fire in the direction you were facing when you held down the button.

Evade:



This evasive move can be used repeatedly at any time, and differs depending on what game area you are in. While walking on land, pressing B will make your character roll, in some circumstances they'll jump, and while riding the motorcycle in some sections, it will make them crouch. These moves all have a period of invincibility, and survival in Shock Troopers calls for perfection of this move. Don't expect to spam the B button indiscriminately however; you will only end up rolling straight into trouble, so good timing is essential.

Special Attack:



Like the close range attack, this is character specific (see below). For instance, Jackal throws grenades, while Marie Bee fires a rocket launcher. These attacks are powerful, but you don't get all that many of them per life (although you can occasionally find more), so you need to make the most of them.

Team Battle Character Select:



Pressing the D button while in Team Battle mode allows you to change characters. This can be done at any time.

Routes:



After selecting your character, you can then choose from three differing routes to take: Mountain, Jungle or Valley. After the first three stages you are then given the option to either continue on your path, or switch to one of the other routes to get to the final boss. Altogether there are more than fifteen stages.


Characters/Weapons/Items:

Jackal



Close range: Knife

Special Weapon: Grenade


Milky



Close range: Handgun

Special Weapon: Napalm


Loki



Close range: Knife

Special Weapon: Explosive Shell


Southern Cross



Close range: Punch

Special Weapon: Explosive Boomerang

Note: Southern Cross' standard weapon is a double barreled machine gun


Marie Bee



Close range: Knife

Special Weapon: Rocket Launcher


Rio



Close range: Fist

Special Weapon: Explosive Bow & Arrow


Maru



Close range: Knife

Special Weapon: Poison Gas Grenade

Note: Maru's standard weapon is a double barreled machine gun


Big Mama



Close range: Punch

Special Weapon: Grenade Launcher

Note: Big Mama's standard weapon is a double barreled machine gun


Common Weapons:



Heavy: A heavy machine Gun, more powerful than the standard gun.



Vulcan: Like the heavy machine gun, but fires three shots at a time.



Flame: Toast your foes with this flame thrower, which has a surprisingly long range!



3 Way: Does what it says on the tin (or should that be gun?). Fires bullets in three directions, and is pretty damn powerful!


Rare Weapons:

The weapons below don't tend to appear very often:



Buster: Shoots a speeding flame



Hyper: A Shotgun style weapon that fires in short bursts and does lots of damage.

Rocket (no picture): You only get a small amount of rockets, but it's nice and powerful.

Missile (no picture): Similar to the above


Items:



Bomb: Replenishes your special attacks. Will only replenish specials for the character currently in use when playing Team Battle!



Food: Restores a little of your life bar. If it's a banana grab it quick before a monkey comes in and steals it (you'll see!)



Life boxes: As above



Speed Up: Makes your character move faster



Red Diamond: Kills all enemies on screen



Yellow Diamond: Grants invincibility for a short amount of time



Blue Diamond: Increases your points total

Gameplay:

Shock Troopers really can be best described as a top down Metal Slug. In some ways the similarities are uncanny... seeing as Shock Troopers was released in 1997, and MS in 1996, it's hard to imagine that Saurus were anything other than at least a little bit influenced by Nazca's game. As mentioned before, the system for close range/long range attacks as well as having a special weapon (grenades etc) is very much the same, and even the selection of weapons that you can collect your way through the game bears some resemblance, such as heavy machine guns, flame throwers and more. The game has a mix between bloodthirsty action and comedic value with some quite funny animations; but more on that in the graphics section below.

All of these elements combine to give Shock Troopers a familiar feel to anyone that has played any game in the Slug series, but that doesn't mean it's just a rip off, in fact it is anything but. Just ten minutes spent playing Shock Troopers should be enough to convince most shoot 'em up fans that this is a game well worthy of their time. There's a great deal of satisfaction to be gleaned from the different types of death you can deal out to the Bloody Scorpions forces, as well as their vehicles and even some buildings and other scenery. There's even a little variety in the game in form of the different routes you can take through it, as well as the motorbike stage, and one stage where you have to climb a mountain while avoiding enemy bullets and ensuring said enemies meet a grisly demise.

Two player is pretty damn good fun too, if you have the luxury of a second person to play with of course. It's not something I had the luxury of doing very often when I owned the MVS cart, but when I did finally persuade a friend to sit down with me and give the game a go, they were surprised at how much fun we had. Both players can also select the same characters, so there are no worries about arguments over who gets to use a particular member of the Shock Troopers squad.

If I was to have any gripe with the game at all, the only negative thing that I can say is that Saurus could have put a little more variety in there. It would have been nice to see a few more stages like the one on a motorbike, or where you are riding on a truck for instance. There are a couple of short cut scenes where the team are seen riding other vehicles, so it seems a bit odd that those parts weren't playable, but it's a minor gripe really. It will take some time before you get bored of playing through it over and over to see everything and beat your scores, and a full run through can be done in around half an hour or so, so it's good for a quick fix. However, sometimes you wish that they had taken things a little futher.

I could also point out that many of the bosses/sub bosses are a bit on the generic side; there's a few fun bosses to fight against, like a pair of ninja's who try to double team you, but many of the vehicular bosses are very samey. A jet plane, a helicopter, a tank, another tank, and.... well more tanks. That's about it for the most part. They are all rather similar and little imagination seems to have gone into them, which is a bit disappointing, but saying that it's no less fun to take them down even if the general tactics for each one are more or less the same each time.


Graphics:



While Metal Slug is well renowned for its excellent art and graphics throughout most of the series and is held up as the pinnacle of action games on the Neo Geo, Shock Troopers is actually a very pretty game too. It might not have the same level of graphical detail, but it still has more than enough nice touches and variety to give it a special style all of its own. It's animated pretty well, and there are some quite funny parts - being able to shoot an enemy soldier a few times after he has died is fun in a sadistic way, as is shooting an enemy solder carrying a wounded comrade on a stretcher (see the pic above). Seeing the injured guys eyes pop out in a comical style as the stretcher falls to the floor always brings a smile to my face. Getting in close to knife or punch a foe has cartoonish comedy value too, as does torching them with a flame thrower. It's all quite impressive and thankfully slowdown doesn't rear its ugly head too much. Sure, there is some slowdown present when the screen is filled with bullets and enemy sprites, but not enough to break the game.



There's a nice amount of variety to the stages as well; no two stages look the same. The amount of destruction that can be caused is impressive too; many buildings and other scenery can be destroyed, and blowing up enemy vehicles and gun turrets produces a suitably cool explosion. What's interesting is that the character sprites all have a very cartoony look, while some of the enemy vehicles and some background elements look pre-rendered. Saurus never really covered themselves in glory with their pre-rendered efforts on the Neo Geo (see Ragnagard for proof of that), but it works pretty darned well here. The pre-rendered parts match quite well with everything else and overall the game looks great and it's hard to imagine it being done better on the Neo Geo.

There are also a number of cut scenes that are played as the story progresses, with stereotypical and silly dialogue, with the big boss of the terrorist organisation spouting on about taking control of the world etc. The storyline isn't exactly amazing, but at least the cut scenes add a bit to the feel of the game rather than you being up against a faceless enemy with unknown motives.


Sound:

Shock Troopers audio department is interesting too. The first stage has the sort of rock music you might typically expect in this style of game, but much of the soundtrack is actually more of a drum and bass/techno style. It actually suits the game rather well - I'd never really sit down and listen to it outside of the game, but in the context of the action it's very good. It's a shame that the same music is re-used on each route through the game rather than having different music on every single one, but I guess with so many stages it would have been a bit too big an ask. The sound effects are similarly well done. The explosions are more than meaty enough and there's a few different death screams for the bad guys too.

It's a little bit different, but Saurus have definitely done a great job with the audio! You can check out some of the music in the game on our Jukebox here on the site!


Overall:



If you are looking for a great action packed shooter, then look no further. This is without a doubt one of the best that the Neo Geo has to offer. Although you can easily finish the game by using credit after credit, it's a pretty hefty challenge to finish it on one credit, so there's plenty of replay value to be had from perfecting your skills, as well as going for a higher score. Add to this the differing routes and there's plenty to see!

The one issue with buying this game is that for some bizarre reason, Saurus never saw fit to release it on home cart format! If you're an MVS user then you can easily pick up a cart for a reasonable price; I've seen it go for anywhere between $30-$90 depending on whether it's a Japanese or US cart. Home console users will need to either buy themselves a converted cart, or an MVS convertor. If you are willing to go the extra mile to get the game, then you are unlikely to be disappointed with it! If you aren't bothered about having the actual cart, Shock Troopers is going to be included on SNK's Arcade Classics Vol. 1, which is due to be released on the PSP and PS2. It will probably be a good alternative, especially with all the other games that are packaged with it. Either way, this game is a great 2D action fix!


Graphics: 8.5/10
Sound: 8/10
Game play: 9/10
Replay Value: 8/10

Overall Rating: 9/10



Outside Links:
Related Reviews:

Reviews @ Neo-Geo.com:


- Review by BBH

- Review by Dan Elektro

- Review by Sifl

Above links open in a new window.
Shock Troopers 2
A worthy sequel!


Back to Neo Geo Reviews -->


  Comments
#1 | boogiepop on March 08 2008 02:00
Great review Kaz! Thumbs Up I really don't think it could have been any better.
#2 | Kazuya_UK on March 08 2008 22:55
Thanks man, much appreciated! Thumbs Up

Kaz
#3 | valgalder on October 29 2010 21:05
Do you always play on level 1? :-)
#4 | Kazuya_UK on November 06 2010 19:33
No, it's just easier to take the screenshots I need on a lower difficulty Smile

Kaz
#5 | NeoGeoGamer2000 on August 04 2011 19:51
Shock Troopers is awesome, although it gets a bit repetitive after a while. This was a very well detailed review and I enjoyed reading it.

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