Compared to the original Shock Troopers, it seems the sequel is much less well regarded by gamers and critics. Maybe it’s a blessing or a curse for this review, but I’ve never actually played the original. This review is just taking into account Shock Troopers 2 on its own merits.
Shock Troopers 2 is a run and gun arcade game that was released in 1998, just a year after the original game. It’s a mix of both horizontal and vertical scrolling action where you mow down hoards of enemy soldiers, dodge thousands of bullets and take on epic bosses
With four characters to choose from you walk around with the analogue stick and have three inputs to use. The one you’ll be holding down the most is the standard shoot button. Each of the four characters have their own unique shot and I quickly found my favourite in Lulu who has a spread shot. I didn’t get in too well with the two men, but the other woman was a decent secondary for me. To help with aiming, whenever you shoot you are locked into place, allowing you to strafe while shooting. I actually quite liked this and never had issue with targetting.
One of the most fun parts of the game is the jumping dodge you can do. As enemies spray their shots at you, you’re going to need that jump button ready in order to avoid them. It’s very effective and can save you from just about everything. You’ll find yourself hopping all over the place like a pro in no time at all. I actually really enjoyed this mechanic as it really does make you feel quite badass dodging hundreds of bullets at a time.
The final thing you can do is throw a grenade. These have limited usage but more can be picked up, or get replenished after you die. These are very powerful and should only be used, in my opinion, against vehicles and boss battles. Again these are unique to each character and honestly I found some more useful than others, specifically the women’s throwing grenades were much more my style.
There are occasionally vehicles you can jump into which gives you extra armour, more powerful shots and being able to run over enemies. They are quite useful just for the fact they pack quite a punch and easily take out enemy vehicles, but in all honesty I didn’t enjoy using them since aiming and moving with them was just extra awkward, as was charging their shots.
Boss battles are just ridiculous. At the end of each stage you’ll find some whacky foe that has multiple weak points that need to be hit. Whether taking on an 18 wheeler truck or a giant transforming building, they are often the highlight of the game for me.
It’s overall a pretty short game as you’d expect from the arcade. You’ll have played through the game within three quarters of an hour so it doesn’t out stay its welcome in anyway. To give an extra bit of replayability there are two pathways to choose to get to the end boss. It doesn’t add much but gives you a choice of experiences.
Something I found quite noticeable is that the default difficulty is quite manageable, especially after you’ve played through one time. It’s a pretty easy game compared to other Neo Geo brethren. It definitely makes it a much less frustrating experience to play through except at the end with the last boss which is where you’ll be spending most of your credits.
I think graphically it looks rather nice, although I think many will think it’s not aged particularly well since they’ve gone for a pre-rendered, faux 3D look. I’m not an expert on this so I don’t technically know what they’ve done but I kind of like it in a mid-90’s kind of way. Characters and vehicles are rather chunky, everything’s got a bit of meat to it. Whatever it is they’ve done to the art, it really takes it toll on the system. As HAMSTER faithfully recreate the original performance, Shock Troopers 2 sees some of the worst slow down on the system, it literally becomes a slide show at points which is kind of unbelievable. It’s not very often you can actually count the frames in a game, but here you can.
Also sticking firmly in the 90’s, to an actual detriment, is the soundtrack. I can’t actually explain it but it’s really awful in my opinion. Thankfully you don’t get to hear it much thanks to all of the explosions and screams, but the end credits are just painful.
As with all HAMSTER ports you can choose between the Japanese original and International versions. Personally, for this review I only played the international version so I’m unsure if there are any significant differences.
There’s also the option to play the game in Hi Score mode and Caravan mode for whatever that is worth. Naturally HAMSTER have also done a great job with options. The difficulty, how many lives you have and even if you want decapitations on. The best thing for me though was button mapping, the default controls didn’t feel natural at all on the Switch’s controller so I had firing at Y, jumping at B and grenades at X. I don’t care what anyone says, that’s much better than the default.
For me, Shock Troopers 2 is just a good of a time in single player and two player co-op. Usually a game is really suited to one or another, but I had just as much fun playing by myself as I did with a friend.
I think a final mention has to go to the wonderful English translation. I know it doesn’t have an effect on a game like this and dialogue is practically pointless, but it’s just so hilariously bad I struggle to believe that there would have been people who signed this off for distribution in the west thinking “That’ll do.”. It’s really quite charming.
Overall, while people may disregard this game when compared to the well-loved original, it’s still a fine game in its own regard since I did enjoy playing it both alone and with a friend. It’s not the best game on the system by any stretch but it has mindless fun to it. The main issue I have with it is the performance as it chugs along at a painful framerate which actually sours the experience quite a bit. But I still recommend it somewhat.
Game provided by HAMSTER Corp.