|Title: Big Sky Trooper
Rom Player: ZSNES
Synopsis: Lucasarts has been known for the distinctiveness of their games, if not always their popularity. Boasting many types of gameplay, a unique style, and thousands of dastardly boogers--I mean, slugs--Big Sky Troopers has character in spades. But is it any fun? Sometimes.
Gameplay: 4 The opening sequence of Big Sky Trooper will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect. You are joining the army, and the CO gives you a reflex test to make sure you're quick enough to hack it. You're standing in front of a big view screen flashing images, and you're supposed to push a button every time you see a slug. Hit three slugs, and you pass the test (no matter how long it takes). Extraneous and unnecessary? Yes. Amusing? Sort of. This will set the tone for the rest of the game.
Once you get started, the gameplay goes as follows: Travel to a new planet. Shoot down slug ships around the planet, Asteroids-style. Go to the planet's surface in your combat suit and kill the slugs on the surface, picking up items along the way. Go back to your ship and deploy a transport relay satellite that allows you to travel past this planet to the next one. Repeat. This routine can become tedious, particularly when you need to get past four planets with no interesting content to reach your goal.
The downfalls of Big Sky Troopers start with the Asteroids ripoff. To begin with, your ship moves painfully slowly, is almost as slow to turn (you can face eight directions), and can only reliably turn to the right. Yes, you heard me: you can turn right all you want, but cross your fingers if you want to turn left, because it probably won't work. This is fixed about two-thirds of the way through the game by a ship upgrade, but by that time you'll have come to loathe these sequences enough that it doesn't matter how much easier it gets. Score one for extraneous and unnecessary.
Once you get on the planet and start fighting slugs, you'll run into a few more little annoyances. Slugs are little one-eyed booger-creatures that can combine to form bigger, stronger slugs--the biggest I saw at about the 3/4 mark had five eyes. Shoot a big slug a bunch of times, and a little one pops off; shoot a little slug, and it dies. The problem with fighting slugs, particularly the big ones, is that it is extremely hard to avoid being hit. Now, this is a rather easy game where you can take countless hits before "dying" (you are pulled up to your ship when your health is minimal), and healing opportunities are plentiful, but it is irritating that the game favors charging in with little regard to self-injury over safer tactics that end up just wasting time. This applies to other enemies as well, primarily the little robots that slide around on the floor and damage you when they come near--they are often found on narrow walkways (so they're unavoidable) and they take enough shots to kill that they will inevitably hit you before you manage to destroy them.
I have two other beefs with this game. One is the insanely twisted layouts of some of the planets and structures, featuring many one-way doors and paths. Oftentimes, especially indoors, you'll be forced to go by guesswork and trial and error alone due to your limited view. The outdoors on the planets wrap around, so it's impossible to have an absolute sense of direction or even to recognize similar-looking paths at times.
Finally, the game lacks a compelling storyline and the kind of interesting missions that would make up for this lack. You end up mostly just flying back and forth to fetch things in-between the odd boss battle.
That said, it's not terrible. Running around shooting slugs can be fun at times. But there are too many sticking points for this to be even an average game.
The graphics are cartoonish, colorful, hardly detailed, and stylish. Nothing breathtaking or technically brilliant, but at least it's something we haven't seen before. The sound effects are dull, while the music is forgettable and ranges from dark, to bouncy, to heroic.
Overall, the uniqueness of Big Sky Troopers is all that saves it from utter tedium. It's worth a try, but don't expect too much of it.
Best Cheats: Nothing Entered
Game Play: 4
Overall Rating: 5
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