(Psikyo 1997)

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3 years after the successful fantasy shooter Gunbird, Psikyo returned to the dark ages and developed an innovative hybrid between the shoot'em up and the beat'em up genre. Unfortunately it failed somehow: Real beat'em up players disliked the fast gameplay and the short stages, while pure shooter fans got frustrated because unlike Vasara or Brave Blade, the game couldn't be beaten without the use of the short-range slashing moves. Nevertheless, Sol Divide is not a bad game, and the homeports for Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn proof that the company believed in the success of this mixture. But you really have to be in both genres to get comfortable with it. I've read some reviewers describing Sol Divide as sequel to Sengoku Ace Episode II (Sengoku Blade). It is not. These games have very little in common.

One out of 3 brave warriors, Kashmon, Tyora or Vorg can be selected at the beginning of the game. They differ in weapons, strength and agility and one of nine magic weapons to be activated by collecting scrolls throughout the game. I already mentioned it, Sol Divide combines long and short range weapons. To shoot daggers, bullets or feathers, depending on the character you play, continuously tap button [A]. To slash up close enemies, hit
button [B]. Sometimes when the game is over and you get asked to insert another coin to continue, you will receive hints for button combinations to perform special moves. The third button switches through the different, available magic spells. They are displayed in the upper region of the screen. To use such a spell, considering you collected the appropriate scroll and you have enough power in the magic gauge, select it with the [C] button and press both [A] + [B] buttons together to release it. Some spells are really impressive to watch. There's a death spell for example. If you use it, Your character turns into a black shadow and a giant, ghostlike skeletton appears and turns itself to destroy the enemy. Also the other spells are sometimes real eyecandies. Check out the freeze spell whith that nice girl to breath the attackers to ice, so you can slash them, or Kashon's phoenix spell, calling a marvellous animated firebird crossing the screen. To refill your magic bar, you can collect the red bottles sometimes released by beaten enemies. But also slashing new ones will restore it after a while.

Sol Divide persuades graphic-wise, no doubt. The music score is good and fits to the game, although I sometimes wish, Psikyo employed the same talented composers like CAVE. The stages in Sol Divide are sometimes ultra short, but they are numerous, beautifully rendered and some of them appear only if you play them with a specific character. There's a lot of beautiful things to discover in this game. Maybe a lot more than in many other Psikyo shooters. But if you like it, you will have to find out for yourself.

- [the sheep] in 2003

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