Steel Empire (PC) Review
Competent Side Scrolling Shooter
Good sense of style
Steel Empire was originally released back on the Sega Genesis and has seen a scattered series of re-releases throughout the years on various consoles. It is easy to see why; the game is a very stylized side scrolling shooter with great pixel art graphics and an amazing sense of place. There also seems to be a form of functioning story that ties one level to the next, which is almost unheard of in shumps. The real question, though, is if the game stood the test of time or not.
While the game itself is entirely functional from the start, it doesn’t do anything that will change the genre. For most fans, that isn’t a bad thing. This isn’t a game that is trying to change everything that the world knows about 2D shooters, but more a classical version of one. The standard Gradius like “options” fly around the player and provide extra shots, which extra bomb and point pick-ups are scattered throughout. The only real difference is that the shot power up requires several drops in a row to increase in strength and doesn’t ever appear to decrease.
The game is fun, too. It is paced well, and any fan of more classic shooters—like UN Squadron or 1942—will feel more at home than those of Touhou or bullet hell fans. The difficulty is there from the start of the game, and enemy placement does need to be memorized at any level higher than easy, but the game never gets super strikingly difficult like more modern shooters seem to feel like it is simply their job to do from the moment the game is started.
The only problem, though, is the price. The game is a classic, and probably should be priced as such; sadly, it is not. The MSRP on Steam at the time of writing is hanging around 15 dollars, which is higher that most throwback titles of this era. While the experience has aged well and has something to offer those that go out of their way to play it, it seems that the company that is putting it out is asking a little much for the title. The best course of action would be to probably wait for a sale and try to get the game at a steeply reduced price.