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Burning Soldier – 3DO

Burning Soldier – 3DO

Burning Soldier CoveartPlatform: 3DO Interactive Multiplayer

Developer: Genki, Pack-In-Video

Publisher: Matsushita Electric Corporation of America

Release Date (NA): 1994 Project Obscure

Genre: Rail Shooter

Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Sit down and shut the hell up. We’re about to go on a ride to obscurity. Welcome to Nerd Bacon’s Project Obscure, where we dig up the rarities and obscurities from video game’s past. While the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer gaming system might not be obscure to everyone, it is mostly unremembered (or unheard of) by the vast majority of, well, Earth. Thus giving me a great reason to bust out my overly expensive and super hyped 3DO Interactive Multiplayer Panasonic FZ-10 and input one of the games that has been sitting on my shelf (in its stupid long 3DO box) for a few years. That game is Burning Soldier, a game that most of the major players in the video game industry seem to have trouble providing valid information to its audience. I’ve unlocked the mysteries of the universe and discovered the developers to be some form of collaboration between Genki and Pack-in-Video Co., LTD.

Panasonic 3DO FZ-10

Panasonic 3DO FZ-10

At this point, you are probably wondering the same thing as me when I first opened the 50′ long box, “What the hell is Burning Soldier?” Burning Soldier is a first-person rail shooting science fiction video game made in 1994 that was developed with dreams of becoming the next big thing in the new-and-exciting world of 3D video games. The 3DO was among the first generation of commercially mass-produced home disc-based video game systems, and with that honor comes the first generation of full 3D gaming as well. Take that how you will, just know that Burning Soldier was a 3DO exclusive and the developers fully utilized this powerful machine to deliver a quality, enjoyable, fun, and beautiful rail shooter.

Burning Soldier 3do Mars

The story in Burning Soldier is presented in a four minute long introduction loaded with Star Wars-esque spaceship camera angles, post-2000 Sonic the Hedgehog music, an Alien ripped off from the Alien franchise, and lots and lots of narration from a very stern-sounding man. The story starts, “It is 2095, suddenly UFOs attack Mars. They are Kaisertians. Mars is crushed. The Kaisertians invade earth, out to destroy their defenses. Earth folds and the dark ages arrive. Tens of thousands of years back, a mysterious civilization, the Kaisertians, came to earth from outer space and built a new empire, which was later annihilated by a catastrophic flood 10,000 years ago. Now, after 20 years, the Kaisertians begin their earth invasion again. Rocks from the devastation of Mars formed into an asteroid belt around the planet. Earth’s defense forces lead their mothership to destroy INDRA, the Kaisertian flagship in the asteroid belt.*” And that’s it. That’s seriously the story, and it took almost four minutes to say just over 100 words. Why they repeated who the Kaisertians are, or that this happened 10,000 years ago, we’ll never know.

burning soldier tokio

The introduction narration is long, boring, confusing, and tough to hear. But I’ll be damned if I wasn’t entirely drawn into this game, likely due to its semi-rare status. For such a lengthy introduction, I don’t feel like I got a really good grasp on what the objective is, and that’s where the manual comes into play. There are pages and pages of backstory in the form of a confidential briefing report that breaks down everything from enemy specifics, the situation at hand, my own ship, weapon details, and a mission briefing. Our mission briefing simply states: “Your mission is to destroy the Kaisertians and their headquarters completely.” Spaceships? Lasers? Future Tokio (yes, spelled with an “i” in this game)? Mass genocide? Yes please.

Burning Soldier is comprised of 18 stages broken up into four levels, with stages 17 and 18 taking up the final level and final boss. You will fly through various stages including outer space just off Mars, the mountains outside of Tokio, flying above the city in Tokio, and flying in the Kaisertian cities in the center of earth. Hell, you even operate a giant hopping robot that hops an eighth of a mile at a time. Four stages might not seem like a lot, but each stage has about five different locations, some short and some long. To make matters harder, you can only play through the first 10 stages on easy, at which time the game will force you to up the difficulty and start back at the asteroid belt (stage 1). This was a confusing move and one that left me angry, upset, and generally pissed off. I would have started it on the hardest level had I known, but oh well. We move forward.

"You're TOO good at Burning Soldier. You can't continue unless we make it harder for you."

“You’re TOO good at Burning Soldier. You can’t continue unless we make it harder for you.”

What Burning Soldier Does Right

Like most games, there are some good things and some bad things, but surprisingly Burning Soldier leans more towards good than bad. Of the good things in Burning Soldier, the graphics certainly take center stage. While showing its age quite a bit, the graphics were wildly advanced for any 1994 game, even if it is a simulated rail shooter with digitized FMV-esque backgrounds. Burning Soldier could stand up to nearly any game made between 1994 and 1997 visually, and even in today’s world of 8th generation gaming graphics it is good enough to play and get by.

Burning Soldier Asteroid belt level 1

Just like the impressive graphics, Burning Soldier also houses some superb music and sound effects. While the music does seem a little out of place (think of any Sonic the Hedgehog game made from 1999 until today) with its fast paced techno-esque synthesized beats in a sci-fi environment, it is masterfully composed and somehow manages to fit in well once some time has passed. Quality sound effects can be found in everything from the explosions to the lasers and the… um… well, there’s not much more than lasers and explosions. But they are done quite well.

Where Burning Soldier Could Be Improved

With stellar graphics, solid music, and above average sound effects, one would hope that the controls lives up to these other facets of Burning Soldier, but unfortunately it is only average, at best. The controls are far from terrible but just aren’t good enough to say that it’s “good.” Somewhere around Area 2, you will notice yourself getting better and shooting with improved accuracy. Since the spaceship is on a rail, you only need to control the reticule and your weapons. And that’s where the main issue lies: controlling the reticule. The reticule movement is jagged and extremely touchy, and the only way to fix your sights on anything is to move this touchy reticule with your hard d-pad. After a few stages, I noticed that 80% of the enemies seem to fly on a semi-horizontal plane that cuts right through the very center of the screen. Not all enemies do this, and it becomes less frequent with higher difficulty and in later levels, but at least it makes things easier for the first 7 or 8 stages. This game really needs to be played with a joystick.

Burning Soldier Area 1

Aside from poor gameplay, Burning Soldier also suffers from simplicity and shortness. It is a hell of a challenge to line up the reticule over and over in odd places to kill enemies, but the simplicity of the game makes doing that nothing more than pressing a direction on the d-pad and mashing your lasers repeatedly. A standard 3DO controller has five action buttons (not counting pause/play or stop) and Burning Soldier only uses two of them, both for weapons. This is a disappointment, and a game like this warrants more advanced variety.

Burning Soldier Area 2

 

The simplicity of the game leads to what feels like rapid progression, and before you know it, you’re over halfway through the game (less than 30 minutes for me). Perhaps the developers used up all of the disc space on the great graphics and numerous cinematic cut-scenes. Some might consider the shortness of Burning Soldier to be a weakness, yet I’m on the fence. I’m a strong advocate for short games that don’t burn you out on monotony and repetitious level structure, but I do think one more level would have given Burning Soldier a little more oomph.

Burning Soldier Area 3 and 4

Conclusion

Overall, Burning Soldier was a pleasure to play and is worth any gaming enthusiast’s collection. The amount of detail in the game, from the confidential briefing report (in the game manual) to the fantastic graphics and music and to the game’s overall presentation, Burning Soldier is a fun pick-up-and-play rail shooter for any casual gamer looking for a game with just the right amount of challenge paired with just the right amount of levels. While Burning Soldier could have benefited from some fine-tuning in the controls department, we have to consider the technology present when this game was released. With all of that said, there are two more things you should know:  1) Burning Soldier features unlimited continues, so if you’re strapped for time but you’re itching to beat a game, pop Burning Soldier into your 3DO system – which I’m sure you keep sitting on top of your DirecTV box in the living room. Right? And 2) Burning Soldier can be a 2-player game where the 2nd player controls a different colored reticule! Go kill the Kaisertians with a friend! If you have any…

Nerd Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

*Verbatim from the introduction narrator.

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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  1. Pingback: Project Obscure - Nerd Bacon Reviews

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