It feels like I’ve been sleeping on Shock Troopers for most of my life. The first time I had ever heard of Saurus’s Shoot ’em up was when it appeared in the Humble Neo Geo Bundle and even then it didn’t grab me at all. It took me eventually playing the Switch port of the game to finally see the light and in all honesty, I was enamoured by it.
Shock Troopers is in no way an amazing game but it does a lot to be an enjoyable experience. It’s something that is simple and does have a couple of glaring flaws, but it’s definitely a decent way to spend some time. I may not have had the greatest appreciation for arcade games but now that I’m a little older and try my best to bring almost anyone into gaming, I’m starting to understand more and more how they became a cultural hallmark.
The premise of Shock Troopers is pretty straight-forward with the baddies kidnapping a scientist and his daughter and the player having to rescue them. It’s some very typical 90’s plot but the simplicity is necessary when you’re sitting in an arcade cabinet, hoping to take tokens away from many a player. In Shock Troopers you’ll get to choose from eight characters that you’ll either take into the fray as a lone wolf or choose three to make up your elite squad. What’s interesting about the way character select is handled is that while you have the choice of eight unique characters, who have their own unique stats and weapons, you can either choose three that will switch out when you die or select your favourite one who will get two additional lives should things get too hairy. I really like this aspect to character selection as it lets you play around with the entire cast before you settle on your favourite. It’s not only characters that you’re able to select but also how you approach the game’s campaign as you can select your route through to the final boss. It’s things like these that give Shock Troopers a lot of variety and replay-ability so while the game isn’t all that long, you’ll more than likely jump straight back in to try some different things.
Even though there is a lot to Shock Troopers it is still a very standard experience that is kept interesting through its characters and varying paths. You’ll find yourself running and gunning your way through hordes of enemies as one expects from Shoot ’em ups, but you’ll have to first get used to the controls. It’s not that the controls are all that bad or clunky, but they rather came across as unintuitive to me. In Shock Troopers, when you start shooting your fire will be aimed in the direction you’re facing until you release the fire button and face a different direction. This isn’t a terrible way to handle things but it does feel a little awkward until you get used to it. Other than having to get used to directing your fire however the game is a pleasure to play with each character having unique bomb types that do some wacky things and weapon drops that allow you to tear through enemy hordes that stand in your way. All-in-all, while it does take a bit of getting used to, Shock Troopers is an absolute pleasure to play that is a lot of fun to take on solo or with a co-op partner.
To top everything off however, Shock Troopers has an incredible presentation to go with its solid gameplay. The different routes through the game all have their own unique look and feel to it, which keeps things visually entertaining while a rocking soundtrack keeps your ears busy. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the game looks incredible or anything along those lines, but it is indeed more than competent at what it does and manages to keep things quite focused while not being boring. The sounds and themes of Shock Troopers are incredibly catchy and go a long way to get your blood pumping while playing the game. I absolutely adore this game’s soundtrack and it definitely captures the feel of a one man army taking on an entire criminal organisation.
As a complete package Shock Troopers is an absolute blast to play and definitely an enjoyable game to play with a friend. It’s an energising and exciting game that can be appreciated for what it is, either alone or with a friend. The one thing that is rather nice about having this game available on the Nintendo Switch is that one could quite easily hop into it with a friend on-the-go. Shock Troopers is an absolute blast and while it can be played through quite quickly, it’s multiple paths and characters will keep you coming back for more.