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Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad

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Released: 1998

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Neo Geo

Publisher: SNK

Developer: Saurus

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I try not to say “it’s like [Game X] meets [Game Y]” too often. It’s a lazy comparison, as many games have far more to offer than that suggests. The same is true of Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad, but I still have to use the comparison because it’s the one I exclaimed the first time I saw it – “it’s like Mercs crossed with Metal Slug!” So Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad is a top-down run-and-gun in the style of the Commando series, but it adds some Metal Slug-style visuals to the formula of the first game, meaning it’s got some cutesy and humorous moments. Also unlike the first game, you can hop into a variety of vehicles with their own special attacks.

However, the game does differ from those influences. Primarily, it takes more cues from traditional 2D shoot-’em-ups, showing off its scoring system (based on the proximity of kill and vehicles used), and providing bosses with some elaborate bullet patterns. If you’re used to the Mercs enemies always firing on your current position, it’s a little bit disconcerting.

There are fans of the first game who aren’t so keen on the second, due to the changes it makes to the systems and tone of the first – the story is different, the graphical style has changed and the team play is gone. However, taken on its own merits, Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad is a blaster that provides a great deal of fun and is a game that we’d rarely pass up playing.