"Universal Soldier for hire you are equipped with just a gun; and in your mind this gun is your tool to a total enemy ass whipping. "
Luc Devreux has returned from the dead yet again -- this time for the Genesis. An identical portover from the SNES version, Accolade's Universal Soldier has lots of levels to be discovered, but little to keep you searching till the end.
Although there are few cinematic links in this game, Universal Soldier shares the same story line as Carolco's popular movie that starred Jean Claude Van Damme. You, as Luc, are a government- made "Ultimate Human Fighting Machine," a Unisol, but you're not the only one! One of your Unisol comrades has gone berserk and started a rampage of destruction. To stop his insanity, you must blast your way through 11 multi-scrolling levels.
ProTip: If you want to skip straight to Level 2, use this password: CHSGM
You have a vast cache of weapons at your disposal. Although you begin with only a simple laser gun, you can upgrade its blast by collecting tokens and diamonds. These turn your bullets into devastating laser beams, ricocheting fire bombs, and multiple shots. You also get three Power Unes that wipe out anything in the near vicinity. However, you'll really slice through the opposition with your ability to turn into a Shirakin blade that drops mines as it cuts a deadly swath across the screen. Your ultimate defense, though, is your Super Weapon, which lights up the screen by firing all of your weapons at once.
Whenever a stone platform appears out of thin air, activate a Power Line. The platform will spew out myriad power-ups.
Be All You Can Be
In the movie, Van Damme plays the big musclebound Unisol dude, but in the game your little soldier is not. Although his movements are smooth, controlling him is a test of patience. You'll find that you turn into rolling Shirakin at the most inopportune times, such as when you're tediously scaling a wall. On the other hand, it's hard to pack all of this game's weapon options into a three-button controller. Universal's repetitious 8- bit-looking graphics aren't much better than the controls. Luckily, the sound changes every level to keep you pulsating along.
- When you drop down to the deep blue sea in Level 4, immediately head down to your left. You'll find several power-ups, weapons, and Shields. While you're still enclosed by a Shield, head down and over to your right for more treasures.
- In Level 5, you immediately drop down to a lower area. On your way down, you'll pass a row of seemingly unreachable 1-ups. Once you get to the bottom, don't fire your Super Weapon. Instead, shoot at the honeycomb on the side of the walls to create a ladder. Use the ladder to crawl up to reach the 1-ups. Warning: Don't try this if your patience factor is low.
War is tiring, and so is this game. Video game veterans may find there's enough exploring to keep them active as a Universal Soldier for at least a couple of tours of duty. However, all in all, don't join the Unisols without thoroughly reading the contract. You may find that being a Universal Soldier is just not that Damme exciting.
Death isn't the end of the line for Vietnam vet Luc Devreux, but rather a new beginning. He's resurrected as a Universal Soldier (UNISOL), a human fighting machine with supercharged strength and firepower. Luc's mission in life-after-death is to terminate a former ‘Nam nemesis, Sergeant Scott, whose brainwashed UNISOL mind short circuits and drives him into a rampant shooting spree.
Universal Soldier, now for the Super NES by Accolade's Ballistic publishing division, is very loosely based on Carol-co's sci-fi flick of the same name. Don't expect a cohesive story line, cinema intermissions, appearances by actors Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, or any of that jazz. Instead, the game targets action enthusiasts with solid, side-view, run-'n'-gun gaming, but this commando has a few holes in its camouflage.
Call to Anns
Luc delves into the death fields with heavy armament. His regular machine gun powers-up to a three-way pistol, a laser, or a bounce shot. He can also crack his gun's built-in Lightning Whip. Luc's coolest, if slightly unbelievable maneuver is the Shirakin. He curls into a saw blade and buzzes along the ground. He's also armed with Power Lines and the screen-killing Super Weapon, a multigun salute to slaughter.
The weapons are bad to the bullet chamber, and they're fairly easy to handle. However, there's such a thing as too much firepower. The play field is often cluttered with thick clouds of shots, and the incessant laser ricochet sounds can be grating. Also, the never-ending supply of power-ups causes Luc to change weapons faster than an action film star changes agents.
ProTip: Stand on an item block, then crack your whip down on its surface. The power-ups will float right to you!
Devreux blazes a trail to Scott's fortress through 11 rough, tough, maze-like battlefields. Luc might spend tedious hours, days, even weeks crawling through every nook and crevice to find all the exits and secrets. Thank heavens Ballistic saw fit to include passwords and user-selectable difficulty.
The levels may be huge, but thrill-seekers will only come away half satisfied with the world wars. Luc's main threats are precarious leaps from platform to platform, and tiny, weak-looking enemy sprites such as bees, robots, pods, and sludge monsters. The pumped-up bosses and herds of enemy UNISOLS add spark, but don't start a fire.
Duck from a safe distance and shoot the Level 2-1 boss in its eye with the triple-shot gun.
UNISOL Sights and Sounds
Soldier kicks off with a techno-rad title screen track, and at first listen, the music sounds excellent. However, the tunes recycle and eventually wear out their welcome. The game's characters are small for a 16-bit screen, but the background graphics are crisp and colorful. And Luc even has a sharp swagger.
Casualty of War
Universal Soldier, the movie, is a blast from the future, but the Super NES edition plays like an M-80 from the past (the game has strong ties to last year's mediocre Turrican). This game's not a bad way to spend an afternoon or three shootin' and scootin,' but SNES power players may find that Universal Soldier only barely scratches their itchy trigger fingers.