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January 20 2019

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  Retro - Psycho Soldier

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Game Stats
1 or 2 player

Further Info:


Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
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Athena's name is magic,
Mystery, is what you see...
Her crystal is the answer,
Fighting fair,
To keep us free...
She's just a little girl with power inside,
Burning bright...
You'd better hide if you are bad,
She'll get you...
She'll read your mind and find if you bel-ieve in right or wrong!
Fire! Fire!!!
Psycho Soldier...
Fire! Fire!!!
Psycho Soldier...

I'm sure that most King of Fighters fans will find the above lyrics familiar, especially if they have played KOF '94 on the Neo Geo CD machine (even if those lyrics were in Japanese). For those who don't know, it's Athena's theme tune, Psycho Soldier (the English version). Although Athena is a very popular character on the King of Fighters, many people don't know her origins and that she has appeared in a few other games as well! She actually started life in a couple of arcade games by SNK from 1987, this game and another simply titled Athena from 1986 (see below), not to mention the fact that she appears in a number of other games, some on the Playstation (again, see the list below).

The first thing to grab me about this game was the sound. When you begin the game, the above theme tune plays, complete with lyrics... this really surprised me considering how old the game was. In fact, when I originally played this game, I didn't even realise what it was until I heard the song, even though the Psycho Soldier name was instantly familiar (duh!). I probably wouldn't have played too far into it, but I love SNK games (and play as Athena in KOF too :) so I decided to give this pre-Neo Geo game a bit of a play test.

So what does it play like then? Actually, I found it very addictive! It's very simple to get the hang of although it can be tricky at times. The screen scrolls from left to right automatically and you have to jump up and down onto platforms by tapping up and down on the joystick. You do this to avoid certain obstacles and enemies. Simply avoiding enemies wouldn't be any fun though so you also get the opportunity to use Athena's Psycho powers to kill the nasty mutations that you face. Tapping button 1 fires small beams of energy and tapping button 2 unleashes one of a limited number of Psycho Balls. You can power up your attack by collecting certain power ups and you can also get more Psycho Balls by picking up orbs along the way.

There are a number of other things that help you on your journey too. First off you can sometimes collect a sword that is good for attacking enemies at close range. Unfortunately when you have the sword you can no longer destroy obstacles (like stones etc) in your path with beams of energy, instead you must get up close and smash them (smashing them by the way uncovers power ups). You have to be careful not to collect a power up that looks like a skull, or that will drain your energy! If you can manage to build your energy up to full and have a lot of Psycho Balls, you can then smash a green egg that appears from time to time... this turns Athena into a powerful Phoenix! Don't try to smash it when you are low on energy though as you get attacked by nasty green maggots if you do.

For its day, the graphics are not too bad at all and much better than some other titles out there from the same time period. The walking animation on Athena herself is quite nice (obviously nothing special at all by today's standards though) and overall the graphics are better than I expected them to be. Don't expect Neo Geo quality though - it is an old game! As I said at the start of this review, Athena's Psycho Soldier theme tune plays at the start of the game, albeit for a short time, but it's impressive nonetheless. I can't remember many other games from 1987 that had anything like this. Although the sound effects are fairly limited I didn't expect anything more from it. Overall, the graphics and sound are good all things considered.

If you are a King of Fighters fan, love Athena and want to know where she started out or just love retro games, then I'd definitely recommend giving Psycho Soldier a whirl. It is great nostalgic fun for a limited time. Oh... I almost forgot to mention the other character of this game! It's a two-player game and player two plays as Athena's teammate Kensou from the King of Fighters, so this game actually shows the origins of two well-known KOF characters. For your info, this game is emulated by MAME ! :)

Retro rating: 8/10

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Home Ports:

Ported to 8-bit computer systems like the C64,
Amstrad CPC & Spectrum.

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