-Renovation Products (1991)
Mankind has become slaves under their own supercomputer, GCS-WT. However, this should have been expected when it was erroneously named Galactic Corruption System - War Tyrant. It was supposed to protect mankind against alien invasions, but now, as predicted by the sci-fi movies of yore, has turned on its creators. GCS-WT has “a near perfect thought process circuit component and a paradoxical psyche system” and has been dubbed as inorganic life matter. Those are just fancy ways of saying it is self-aware.
Dr. Edwin Deace, a leading scientist, has created the Sol-Deace, a three-person space fighter designed to destroy GCS-WT once and for all. You will be the pilot on this mission along with your navigator Eric, and gunner Misao. The Sol-Deace is mankind’s last hope against the cold robotic tyranny of GCS-WT. “The machines against the machine – It’s up to the Sol-Deace in a clash of oil and blood.”
Sol-Deace is almost Einhänder before there ever was an Einhänder. There are so many similarities between the two that it would be hard to believe if the Einhänder development team didn’t borrow a few ideas from Sol-Deace.
The first similarity is that the player’s ships are a little alike. Both have the long body and forward sitting cockpit, with a larger rear section. Einhänder evolved the design a bit further however, with the talon-like bottom claw and the top sitting wings of the ship. The idea of weapon pods that attach to the top and bottom of the ship is present in both games. While in Einhänder the arms of the ship grabbed to weapons, in Sol-Deace they just attach to the ship. But like Einhänder, maneuvering the ship so a certain pod sits on the top or the bottom can be done in Sol-Deace. One remarkable similarity is that the spread shotgun in Einhänder looks nearly identical to the grenade launcher (called a burn bullet) in Sol-Deace. In one of the final stages, the Sol-Deace destroys ships that are almost the same model as itself, much like the final level in Einhänder. So did the Einhänder designers really take some of the ideas from this game? It certainly seems that way.
Sol-Deace has four weapon pods to adorn the ship with. There is the regular blaster that will appear add a gun to the top and bottom of the ship. The wide blaster is a single cannon that will shoot two shots at a time. Melt ray is a powerful laser and the burn bullet is essentially a grenade launcher which shoots bullet at a curve. The weapon cannons can be positioned to shoot at upward or downward angles on the fly. You can make a more spread out line of fire to destroy enemies that fly on the top and bottom of the screen, or have all the weapons concentrate on firing forward. You can even have just the bottom gun angled down or just the top gun angled up. The weapons also have some nice recoil action. What surprised me was the lack of a screen-clearing bomb weapon. If you get overwhelmed with enemy ships, too bad, you'll have to fight it out as best you can.
The visuals are okay, but the colors are rather bland. There is a lot of screen flicker. At times, entire sections of the level will disappear for a second. Sometimes this affects enemy shots so you could find yourself dieing because of it. The sound effects don't stand out and the music is very forgettable.
Before each stage you see the Sol-Deace fly towards the next planet or base accompanied by a brief description of where it is headed. There are a total of seven stages with none of them being particularly inspired, including all the enemies. Stage one is a normal star field. One thing that is a bit nifty in the stage is that the debris that flies at the ship can be pushed back in the opposite direction if hit enough with the weapons. The boss is a typical space crab thing in a space lair. Stage two is one of the worst shooter levels I’ve seen. It is a factory for constructing the robot arms used in machines to nab stuffed animals and many of the enemies shoot blue gumballs. There are two bosses. The first is a robo-walker and the second is the core of the factory. Destroy that core and end the peoples’ plight of novelty arm machines.
Stage three is an artificial sun and you are initially fooled into thinking that you’ll be fighting a big space ship for the boss, but it is destroyed by an even bigger space snake. Stage four is the requisite giant space cruiser. The cruiser is a horrible design. To destroy it you shoot at a moving key hole. When it’s destroyed a giant mouth and a brain come out of nowhere to fight. Were these things inside the cruiser? The only goo thing about the level is the effect of the cruiser adjusting its speed. Stage five is a space yard and at the end you fight a giant space canon.
Stage six is a surface of a planet or asteroid. Here you fight guys that look like you and one enemy fires an energy bubble that slows the Sol-Deace considerably. The boss here is the cheapest and most difficult in the game and has two attacks that are near impossible to avoid. One attack consists of some weird yellow lasers that follow your ship and the other is a ball that explodes into a burst of tiny shots. The final stage is the base of the GCS-WT, although I’m not sure which of the four bosses is the actual GCS-WT. First you fight a ship that spins balls on rods, then you’ll see some robotic thing attached to the ceiling fill its lair with what I’m assuming is water. The graphics make it hard to determine what it exactly is; it could be white foam or steam. After that is destroyed you need to shoot a sensor on a wall. Exciting, I know. Once the sensor blows some zombie robot comes out and shuffles back and forth across the room. It doesn’t even fight back. If this zombie-bot is the GCS-WT that has enslaved mankind, then humanity deserved to be enslaved. A kid could beat this thing just by throwing a rock at it.
The ending explains that the battle is over and mankind has reclaimed their sovereignty. I found a few sentences in the ending rather interesting. After the ending said Sol-Deace had landed: “It is now preparing for its next mission. On that would hopefully never be necessary again.” Since there was not a sequel, it wasn’t. Except for a questionably named port to the Sega CD called Sol-Feace, the world had gotten their fill of Sol-Deace. However, Square had potentially gotten some ideas for one of their best games that was not an RPG.
While the game itself is considerably bland and average, I’ll give Sol-Deace credit for coming up with a few great ideas that seemed to make their way into Einhänder.