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Sinistron aka Violent Soldier

version: usa - year: 1990 - developer: alfa system - publisher: igs - format: turbo grafx 16, hucard - condition: near mint w/ outer cardboard box - rarity: hard to find

A sinister logo... (I could not resist to make this lame joke somewhere in the review hehe)


With the beak wide open, your weapon covers up a bigger portion of the screen but it is also weaker


Level 3 is where the difficulty curve starts to go up and where the parallax scrolling mysteriously vanishes for good


Level 5 requires pattern memorization. A lot of it...


Level 6 is tough. When you think you reached the last boss, another one pops out and...another one!! Die and it's back to the last checkpoint


The last boss isn't very hard once you know what to do. Focus on the blue circles. Destroy them asap to avoid being killed by little spawning aliens. As an extra task, try to find time to actually hit the boss.

Review - “Early in the 33rd century space-based orbiting telescopes detected the presence of an extremely large mass slowly entering the outer reaches of our solar system. Research dronecraft sent to investigate determined that the colossus ship was biomorphic in nature, and programmed to destroy planets. After witnessing it engulf Pluto, it quickly destroyed our drones. Your squadron of cybernaut fighters were assigned to seek out, enter, and destroy the brain of the monolithic machine, but all of them except you were lost in a ion storm on route. Now – alone – you must face the challenge of entering into the thing scientists have dubbed the SINISTRON !”

And this extract from the game's manual brilliantly takes care of the definition of Sinistron and if scientists say so, then it must be true :)

Anyways, what we have here is another noteworthy 2D side-scrolling shooter on TurboGrafx 16 / PCE.

There is basically no intro, no options screen and as far as I can tell, no ending sequence besides a couple of static screenshots of the levels already played and a black screen with "Congratulations" written on it…If you don't mind your shooters to be spartan and down to business, then keep on reading!

The first few levels are particularly well drawn. The multi-layered parallax scrolling coupled with the smooth scrolling, and the very colourful sprites and backgrounds work really well. Flickering, which is often a problem on Nec 8bit console is reduced to a minimum so overall, this game really looks nice.

The music is also well done and it gets catchy quickly although sometimes it tends to be a bit repetitive while sound effects are simply in the norm.

Gameplay is where Sinistron really shines. Not only handling is top-notch, but the game is very playable also because of the original weapon system. By keeping the fire-button pressed for a few seconds, you'll unleash some sort of circular blast which initially will seem weird. To be honest, I didn't used it that much as I simply preferred to set the auto-fire (to give my thumbs some rest!).

Moreover, by grabbing power-ups, you'll be able to open the front of your ship (which looks like a beak) so that your weapon can cover a wider area. This comes at a cost though: keeping the “beak” shut means your weapon will be more powerful but it won't cover much of the screen.

On the contrary, by opening the beak by one or two positions your weapon will cover a much wider area but it will be less effective. The beak also works as a shield so this must be taken into account if you are determined to play the game through!

Interestingly, you'll often be required to switch positions to the beak to pass more easily certain sections of the game so this really adds some strategy to a shooter that would have been otherwise generic. As cool as the weapon system is, I just thought the ship was a bit too long and this sometimes proved to be a problem when too many bullets were flying around. Luckily, you can also grab additional cover (in the form of fixed side-wings) which will often prove precious.

Now about the difficulty level, I must say that Sinistron is pretty easy up to stage 3 but after that, things will heat up quickly and…exponentially! Level 4 (asteroids field) is a living nightmare as there are several asteroids with different properties to deal with. Some will just explode in smaller (lethal) bits, while others will stop or accelerate madly towards you and finally, some will shoot projectiles. When you have to deal with a screen crowded with different asteroids, it is very easy to get confused and to die. Multiple times.

Stage 5 and stage 6 are also very challenging although practice, pattern memorization and a good understanding of the weapon system will be your best allies to get through them.

In the end, Sinistron is a nicely crafted shooter, colorful and very playable. If you are up for a challenging experience, go for it!

Bottom line: a tough yet playable shooter which perfectly incarnates the idea of what a shooter game was in the early 90's..7,5/10










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