Game Boy’s first vertical shoot-em-up. Simple and clean, Solar Striker may not impress these days, but that’s by design: What seems painfully limited in 2015 made for a highly playable action game on the original Game Boy hardware. Sometimes, smart design and timeless design aren’t one and the same.
Japanese title: SolarStriker • ソーラーストライカー
Developer: Nintendo R&D1 with Minakuchi Engineering
Release date: 1.26.1990 [JP] | 2.1990 [US] | 1990 [EU]
Genre: Shooter (vertical)
Super Game Boy: Enhanced color palette (built into Super Game Boy)
Previous in series: None
Next in series: None
Similar titles: Nemesis [Konami, 1990], Aerostar [Vic Tokai, 1992]
For all the criticism that can be lodged towards these games, they still filled a vital function – a brief entertainment between the meatier stuff. Nobody really thought that the handhelds were going to get much more than simple games, or lower-tier games. Oh, how I laugh. Something must also be said for by-the-numbers games – for all that they fail to innovate, for all that they are a split average, not bad per se but not great either, for all that they are easy to forget, they perform what they try and do competently. They don’t break hearts, they don’t break consoles, they don’t have glitches that break the game. They set out to do something and then they do it exceedingly competently. It’s just that there are so many games that achieve much more, that do more, that games that are merely competent are unsatisfying, unfulfilling, unmemorable.
I have to say, as someone who owned Solar Striker when it was new, I remember really enjoying the game. It was different than the other games available on the system at the time, and worked well to pick up and play quickly. It was plenty challenging for me, who granted was young and inexperienced in the genre. It took a lot of practice before I finally beat it. I don’t know if I’d still enjoy it today, but at the time it was certainly a worthy investment.
“What seems painfully limited in 2015 made for a highly playable action game on the original Game Boy hardware”
This is a great point. People playing these games on an emulator, or even a GBA (or GBC) might be wondering, why are these games so slow and simple looking? It’s the only way these games would have been playable on the original GB’s blurry screen. This partially explains Castlevania: The Adventure (or, The Castlevania Adventure, as everyone knew it back then haha).