Alien Soldier (1995)
Alien Soldier is a side-scrolling run and gun video game developed by Treasure and published by Sega for the Mega Drive. Retail copies were released in Japan and PAL territories while in North America it was only available exclusively via the Sega Channel cable service. The story follows a powerful being named Epsilon-Eagle, who after being nearly killed becomes determined to avenge his near death and save his planet. The character has a variety of weapons and moves that the player must master to complete the game. Many gameplay ideas are borrowed from Treasure's earlier Mega Drive release, Gunstar Heroes (1993). However, Alien Soldier puts an emphasis on challenging boss fights with short and easy levels serving as downtime in-between.
Treasure began development on four games after the release of Gunstar Heroes, among these was Alien Soldier. Development lasted two years and was led by Hideyuki Suganami, who originally held ambitious plans and wanted to build the entire game himself. With the market for the Mega Drive quickly shrinking to make headway for the incoming 32-bit fifth generation hardware, Suganami received support from other Treasure staff and released the game with only about half of his original ideas realized. The team designed and marketed Alien Soldier explicitly for "hardcore" Mega Drive gamers, designing its difficulty and scoring methods for those that enjoyed the system's strong action game library.
Alien Soldier was released towards the end of the Mega Drive's lifecycle in February 1995. Critics praised the game for its challenge and gameplay; these sentiments carried over into retrospective reviews where critics also highlighted the game's graphics, soundtrack, and overall intensity. Some negative critique was directed towards the hard difficulty, steep learning curve, and unorthodox gameplay, but many still recommend it to fans of Gunstar Heroes and the run and gun genre. The game's first re-release was on the PlayStation 2 in Japan for the Sega Ages 2500 series which includes different regional releases and extra features. It was also re-released worldwide on the Wii Virtual Console and Steam.