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Steel Empire aka Koutetsu Teikoku

version: jp - year: 2004 - developer: starfish - publisher: starfish - format: gba, cartridge - condition: mint - rarity: uncommon

Enhanced port of the MD shooter by HOT-B


Steel Empire has a unique atmosphere


In this GBA port, powering up seems to be slightly harder to do.


Steel Empire looks extremly good on the small screen but sometimes bullets can be hard to see.


The water and the sky look definitely better now


At the end of each stage, you're given a choice between two vessels:

Fast but more vulnerable


Slower, bulkier but way more resistent



Review - Steel Empire was originally released back in 1992 on Mega Drive and this GBA port is a close reintepretation of the original as it remains structurally faithful.

Changes are for the most in the cosmetics with widely improved graphics which sport redrawn sprites, backgrounds and special effects. The glorious parallax effects of the original game are now even smoother and in the last level (by the final boss), several layers have been added where before there was only 1 lonely foreground layer of parallax scrolling. The color palette has also been enhanced to take advantage of the more powerful hardware.

The graphical overhaul has been definitely beneficial as levels look more vibrant and crisp, and the game tends to look more like Capcom's early 1990s shooters (like Chariots).

Even the audio part has been well taken care of and in particular, sampled speech sounds definitely clearer compared to the garbled voices of the Mega Drive version. Still though, the work done on the audio front is slightly less impressive compared to the visuals.

The play-mechanics remained untouched as you'll still have the ability to shoot facing two directions to avoid being encircled and there are still 3 difficulty levels to choose from.

Gameplay could feel slightly repetitive as bosses tend to look “samey “and attack with similar patterns. Slowdown has been eliminated for the most part although it still inexplicably persists in some situations. This comes a bit as an unwelcome surprise since one would expect the GBA hardware to be way more powerful than a basic Mega Drive . Interestingly, some slight changes have been made on some of the bosses while the last boss is actually different altogether! Also, when you lose a life your smart bombs stock resets to the default setting (3 bombs) while in the original game, you kept your stock throughout the whole continue.

In the end, this reworked port of Steel Empire represents a great addition to the GBA library and it's probably one of the best shooters on Nintendo's little portable system. Go for it if you are looking for a fairly challenging shooter and if like me, you enjoyed the Mega Drive original, you won't be disappointed by the great restoration work that has been done by Star Fish.

On a side note, the great artwork found on the Megadrive box and instruction manual is missing in the GBA packaging which still has some pretty good cover art but has a rather weak manual.

Bottom line: a great GBA enhanced port of a quality old school 2d side-scrolling shooter....8/10











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