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Thread: Ramblings about Sol Divide (PSX, Psykio, XS Games '02)

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    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    Default Ramblings about Sol Divide (PSX, Psykio, XS Games '02)

    The various reviews for this game, according to the Rotten Tomatometer, place it at about 60%; they usually say it's a good game and the reasons for docking it 40% seemed vague to me.

    Sol Divide is something like Sengoku Ace (or was it Blade? the sidescrolling one) in a D&D fantasy setting, with items and a melee attack. Everybody floats about the screen, instead of running around on solid ground. Almost all enemies soak up lots of shots; the game is thus very much unlike a Gradius or Darius style shooter.

    My personal experience with the game (which, at the moment, can be found new on eBay for a bit less than the guide shows) is that it really does deserve that 60% score. High quality production values clash with some cheesy, bottom dollar budget values; the nice CGI intro is hamstrung by the repetitive wind accompaniment. The "title screen" is absolutely worthless, and you're booted right to a more meaningful - apparently original Psykio made - screen where you set everything up and play your game.

    Graphics are very good prerendered stuff; there's a bit of color loss, especially in the backgrounds. What did bother me was the lack of animation from my characters, and the general oddity of Golden Axe style skeletons floating in midair. The poses generally suggest standing on ground; many characters don't animate as if they actually *are* flying. Of your characters, I've found that one flaps his wings, and the girl (whatever her name is) doesn't animate at all. It looks really contrived and unnatural, in other words. Bosses, given the prerendered style, tend to have a small range of action, especially the two-headed dragon seen early on.

    Musically...hmm. The title screen has a decent enough fanfare which sounds, fades out, and then plays over and over. Ergh. The level music is good - I haven't heard anything that struck me as exceptional, but I can remember much of it. It's not bad. Sound effects were appropriate, but seemed a bit sparse - mostly sound effects consist of you swinging your sword/staff or firing your main shot.

    Controls are far too simplistic. You spend most of your time dodging things, and have no block, which makes little sense given that we're talking about swords and sworcery, and one would imagine that a shield would give the devs a reason to add a bit more animation to your characters. You're limited to choosing a special magic attack, your normal, weak shot (enemies take far too many shots, as noted above, though bosses tend to go down quickly). Your staff lets you stun an enemy and does more damage than the regular shot, but getting close makes you very vulnerable. Regardless, some enemies are very brazen about crowding your space (skeletons for example).

    There are two general modes of play - original and arcade. Original puts you right in the action and you fly about, collecting powerups and such. Arcade starts you at an item selection screen; I guess if you know you're gonna die you shouldn't select them all at first as you're taken right back here. Arcade seemed vaguely more like the original arcade game.

    Continues are wierd. You're started back at the beginning of the level, except - so far - I've managed to get a few bosses in at the original mode, and then suddenly the game throws into the wringer, making you go through multiple bosses on the same life. Die and start it all over again.

    There isn't any auto fire on the main attack, so you're constantly pressing the triangle button. Argh. Finally, the game comes to a halt for a second or two when the game loads a boss - always.

    It's been a little while since I MAME'd the arcade game, but I feel that something's missing in the port. It doesn't seem as fun now, nor as colorful.

    Thoughts on this?

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    Ladd Spencer (Level 17) Captain Wrong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ramblings about Sol Divide (PSX, Psykio, XS Games '02)

    Well, part of the problem is the US version is a cheapie, hacked up translation of the Japanese game. The text in the US version looks like something a fan group would have released as a beta, not something a large company would release. This is the same company that turned Gunbird into Moble Light Force, after all.

    The port itself is ok. Granted, I've never played the real PCB, but compaired to MAME the PSX rev seems to get the importaint stuff right. The real problem is, the game itself just isn't that hot. I love Psyiko for their vertical shmups, but it just seems like they can't make a horizontal shmup that stacks up. So you got a bargan basement translation of an average port of an average game. That's about the size of it.

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    Of the ten zillion shooters I have, Sol Divide definitely ranks near the bottom on the quality meter. I wanted to like it; but, I'd rather play just about anything else.
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    Yes, my fond memories of Sol Divide (PS) rank right up there with the ones I have of Twin Eagle (NES).

    Oh, maybe that's not entirely fair. I just found it irritating how many shots it took to take the enemies down. It violated the normally expected shot/explosion ratio parameters. Everybody wants to be a damn mini-boss.

    Maybe you should be able to bring a White Mage to heal you in between skeleton attacks.
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    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bargora
    Maybe you should be able to bring a White Mage to heal you in between skeleton attacks.
    Indeed; you can't block and vials don't heal you enough to say so (plus most are life meter extensions only). Even early bosses I've faced take away more damage in one hit than you're likely to recover in a whole segment of play - plus powerups and such fly all around the screen :(

    There's another thing...there's no sense of speed or flying in the game at all. Stuff simply bounces off the walls like a Windows screensaver, instead of arcing towards you (Mars Matrix).

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    The US release is plagued with problems if you try and play it on a PS2 as well - try changing your controls

    Even if you don't count the bugs though, yeah, it's a pretty mediocre game at best. Nice critique of it, btw.

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    the one on the pcb look good's ...but there are alot of other better looking shmup's on pcb
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