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Y0j1mb0 avatar 12:03 PM on 05.25.2010  (server time)
LOVE SHMUPS?? You may want to take a closer look at this.

If there is a genre of videogames that I love more than fighting games, it's the shmup. Being older than the average Dtoider here I still remember the 80's quite vividly and their prominent stable of vertical 2-D bullet hell shooters. Often times these games were incredibly challenging with nary a second given to find that sweet spot where you would be safe while systematically blowing away the thunderstorm of enemies unleashed on you. The weak willed players would play for a few and move on muttering to themselves how retarded the games were, yet those who truly accepted the challenge and committed themselves to the onslaught found not only the path of success but the pure bliss of exhibiting those hidden skills and reflexes reserved for the truly awesome gamer that were hidden inside them all along.

Come to think of it, truly good fighting games make you feel that way too. There will be a certain switch that gets flipped when you come to understanding the game mechanics and not worry about the implementation of the actual moves themselves but the application of strategy. That epiphany, to me, is one of the best rewards that gaming has to offer. The synergy of you and the game, not worrying about the controls because they no longer exist. It's just your will to survive, to win, and what you do with what is given to you to eliminate your foe. Good shmups give you that same sensation and it looks like eastasiasoft's second game Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype may very well be the next challenge you might want to enlist for.

If you were like me, you probably downloaded their first game Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer and loved the beautiful HD graphics but were a bit frustrated with certain aspects of the game. That being that it was sometimes beyond unfair. At some intervals in the game you were going to take damage no matter what you did. There's a difference between a robust difficulty and just being damn cheap. Their fist game was like that. Yet even though they had cheap sprinkled throughout, it was a testament to the overall quality, that I still wanted to play more of it. I still occasionally play their first game through its hellish difficulty to better my score on the leaderboards. To eventually best that game. Maybe someday but for now its sequel is here today on the PSN store for a mere 12.99 ( when it updates ) and from what I've seen and heard from the developers, it seems that they have addressed the weaknesses of their first game and built a must have gorgeous sequel. Here's a list of features in the new game:

* Seven unique action-loaded levels with fierce boss battles, staged across underwater worlds, ice caves, tunnel worlds, space and other deadly scenarios.
* Unlock bonus features in challenge mode, ranging from useful to prestigious rewards.
* HD graphics with 3D backgrounds in up to 1080p, combined with addictive, classic 2D gameplay.
* Dynamic score-linked difficulty system, making the game accessible for newcomers, yet challenging and rewarding for hardcore gamers.
* Two new playerships with distinct characteristics and weapon systems to choose from.
* A new bullet pattern system that requires more skill than ever.
* Brand new limit attacks and fourfold chaser system to face the most dangerous tasks.
* Detailed online high score ranking tables and replay file sharing.
* Hidden bonus elements, including a tribute to Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer.
* Adrenaline pumping soundtrack with 30 unique tracks and hundreds of dedicated sound effects.
* Multilingual text support: English voiceover with English, French or German subtitles.

Personally I'm digging the score-linked difficulty that changes what's thrown at you based on how good you are. The better you are ranked, the more enemies are thrown at you. That and the replay file sharing pretty much sold me on the game. Having just to go to the leaderboards, pick the highest score and then view their replay to see how the hell they did it is going to be fantastic. It doesn't hurt that the game is friggin' gorgeous either. Running at a native 720p with crisp bullet hell eye candy and ridiculous bosses? Yes, please. Here's one more video of it for you to peep at.

Again, if you love shmups, you may want to take a closer look at this game.

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