Soldier of Light

by Softek International Ltd: Christian F. Urquhart, Doc
ACE Software [1]
Crash Issue 54, July 1988   (1988-06-30)   page(s) 75

Producer: ACE
Retail Price: £7.99
Author: Softek from a Taito coin-op

Xain, coin-op hero and intergalactic mercenary, has been summoned to tackle the greatest challenge of his career. Three planets in the sector have been invaded by Federation infiltrators, and the spaceways separating them are clogged with alien craft. Equipped with only his exoskeleton armour and jet boots, the intrepid Xain teleports straight to the heart of the disturbance.

The mission is loaded in two parts and takes place against a horizontally scrolling background of strange and hostile planets. Rocky outcrops form a system of platforms againsts the sky and man-eating flowers waiting patiently for Xain to put a jet-booted foot wrong.

Aliens attack from all sides shooting pellets and advancing with armoured machines. Contact with enemies and their bullets diminish strength on contact, as indicated by an energy bar.

At first, Xain is equipped with a single laser but other weapons, in the form of armour piercing lances, double shot fire balls and triple blasters, can be collected from the surface of every planet.

Once each planet has been cleared within the given time limit, the mission transfers to deep space. Taking control of a spacecraft, Xain attempts to ward off fleets of alien fighters against a horizontally scrolling starfield. A direct enemy hit is immediately fatal.

Given the chance, Federation forces re-invade a cleared planet in the time it takes to regain all three, forcing Xain to go back. It looks like he'll be busy for some time…


Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: monochrome throughout, with a wide range of large and small monsters - well drawn
Sound: squirty firing effects
Options: definable keys

Most arcade conversions either have lots of colour and lack speed (Karnov) or have great speed but lack any use of the Spectrum palette. But Soldier Of Light is beyond me; it not only lacks colour but is also very unresponsive. Coming from the author of Xecutor (84%, Issue 45) I find this hard to believe. Fans of the arcade machine should recognise the computer version but won't necessarily be at home with its jerky scrolling and dodgy collision detection. Soldier Of Light is, however, very addictive due to exactly the right difficulty setting - you'll probably complete it, but it'll take many, many hours play. A decent, albeit niggling, shoot 'em up.
PAUL [70%]

Soldier Of Light is an excellent conversion from the arcade machine. Right from the start you get slick presentation and excellent graphics. The only problem is the game lives up to it's name: it's very light! The programmers must have used up all their colour allowance on the title screen and not left any for the game itself. The monochrome doesn't spoil the playability, though; if anything it makes it better by taking away the threat of clash. There are some really tough baddies in the game, and I still can't work out how to get past some of them which makes it a bit frustrating. However, Soldier Of Light is a great conversion. Bring a first class Taito arcade game into your bedroom today!
NICK [84%]

Xain's mission takes place against a detailed and occasionally atmospheric background. Huge, man-eating plants and even a distant, rather grisly relative of the Loch Ness monster appear. The game itself is compelling, although it does require a little perseverance. Aliens advance mercilessly from all sides and working out exactly where it's safe to tread turns out to be a matter of trial and error. One minor quibble regards the control method: to get out of the crouching position you need to jump up. With jet boots this tends to take far longer than the surrounding aliens allow and generally leads to an untimely end. However, this is a relatively small hitch in a competent, if unspectacular, conversion which should keep you playing for quite some time.
KATI [70%]

Presentation: 79%
Graphics: 75%
Playability: 70%
Addictive Qualities: 71%
Overall: 72%

Summary: General Rating: An enjoyable arcade shoot 'em up, with a few drawbacks.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 69, October 1989   (1989-09-19)   page(s) 50

£2.99 (rerelease)

Soldier Of Light was, 'certainly one of the most eagerly awaited arcade tie-ins', back when it was first released, as the inlay quotes us as saying. And I must say the conversion worked really well then. Many of you may know the coin-op by it's other name, Xain'd Sleena.

Your mission for the Galactic High Command is to rid the galaxy of all the Federation's infiltrators. Going through the planets one by one you must destroy all the aliens while also picking up the extra power icons (shown by a P) to increase your weaponry. Once you have cleaned out all the planets you're blasted into space to face a fierce interplanetary battle in your fighter craft. Cor, it's all go for your average, every day hero!

The presentation of Soldier Of Light is excellent with a star spangled title screen and groovy loader. All the fun soon ends though when you actually start playing. The graphics are okay, even if they are all in monochrome, but the game is SO slow. Whenever you jump you could almost fell asleep and miss your player coming down again' You'll have to get used to doing everything in slow motion if you want to complete the game. The few sound effects I could find aren't anything brilliant and there is no title tune.

Overall: 68%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 31, July 1988   page(s) 48

You are Xain, (yes, I know it doesn't say that on your birth certificate, but this is the seriously serious world of Speccy gaming, not yer namby pamby everyday John Smith from 4A stuff), and you have been given the awesome task of saving all the planets in the galaxy (well, three of them anyway), from the evil invaders sent by the Empire.

Starting on the first planet, you progress eastwards along the volcanic surface, killing the invaders and tank thingies that attack and shoot at you whilst you attempt to play the avenging hero. Contact with the invaders will diminish your energy, whilst the tanks will kill you instantly. But you can avoid the tanks by using your trusty ol' rocket booster which is strapped to your back, to jump over them. Various weapons can be grabbed along the way too, ranging from a one bullet at a time gun, to a three bullets at once carnage maker. And as if killing invaders and grabbing weapons wasn't enough, you must also negotiate floating clouds, jumping from one to another a la Ghosts And Goblins, before finally facing the Knight (Help me make it thr... sorry, I degrees) who lurks at the end of this level.

Having made short work of the Knight, you start to pack away your rifle and sarnies, when all of a sudden a message arrives - your mission on this planet is not yet complete. It's a hard life being a megahero. Completion of your mission can only be achieved by miraculously turning into a spaceship, and negotiating the waves of alien crafts which zoom at you from off stage right it you manage this, then its on to the second planet.

This is marginally more difficult, with flowers that eat you, birds which diminish your energy, and a rather nicely drawn dinosaur to slaughter in the middle. Then it on to another spaceship section, which seems to be the same as the first, but a little longer. Unfortunately I can't tell you about the third level because the version I played kept crashing after I'd saved the second planet.

Christian Urquhart, the author of Soldier Of Light has produced some pretty good games in the past, but sadly this is not one of his best. Sound is fairly minimal, the game is monochrome throughout, and although we cannot expect Karnov every week, I am sure colour and graphics could have been more effectively utilised. Soldier Of Light is also very easy to play, the spaceship section embarrassingly so, and I managed to complete two of the three sections within hours of picking the game up.

Unfortunately with this soldier there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Graphics: 5/10
Playability: 5/10
Value For Money: 3/10
Addictiveness: 6/10
Overall: 4/10

Summary: A disappointing coin-op conversion from The Edge.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 47, November 1989   page(s) 47

A re-released arcade conversion, this one. It originally came out at full price on one of The Edge's labels, I think, and now here it is on budget. Groan. It was one of those ones that surfaced just as everyone was reacting against the attribute problems that had been plaguing us for years and had started doing everything in monochrome. Things have changed since then, of course. Colour's back, and games like this look horribly snore-invoking.

Setting aside such prejudices and delving into the Inner workings of the program reveals... oh dear... jerky scrolling, confusing mishmashes of sprites, spluttery sound, just-too-slow movement... yeurch. If you want to you can pick up little Ps which improve your firepower, but I wasn't really taken by the idea.

If The Edge was hoping to make a few bob by flogging this to unsuspecting, impoverished readers, shame on them. Anyway, its plans have now been foiled, so ner.

Overall: 39%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 75, June 1988   page(s) 37

This reviewing lark isn't all it's cracked up to be. OK, so it's got loads of perks - as many copies of EastEnders as you can put down your trousers, endless supplies of Gremlin springy promotional "Things" - but there is a definite downside lurking just beyond the flashing warning beacon that is over-enthusiasm.

Soldier of Light is ACE Software's first coin-op tie-in. It's been coded by Christian Urquart who was responsible for the business end of Xecutor, ACE's first and much acclaimed release. Comparatively speaking, Soldier of Light doesn't come close. While X, was original and exciting, Soldier merely contrives to be an acceptable, though not particularly faithful, conversion.

Scrolling from left to right across a range of monochrome backdrops we find Xain, defender of all that is worth defending, and clobberer of everything else. The rate at which you can wipe out the bed guys is determined by the size of your equipment (fnar fnar). By picking up 'P' signs on the ground, you can enhance your firepower from a single-shot no-use-to-anyone affair, to the completely invincible gun which fires three parallel bolts of photon death each time you hit fire.

The enemy troops come at you in waves, having a nagging, irritating effect on your damage meter (top middle of screen). Even so, it's vital that you don't get hit too many times in the early stages of a level, as you'll need all your energy at the end when you complete the End of Level Larger-than-the-rest Alien.

The graphics, as you can see, aren't particularly impressive. They're a bit dumpy, and not especially attractive. Compared with some of the budget material coming from people like Players, it's a pretty poor show. Scrolling is handled merely in a workmanlike manner.

As you move further into the levels, life becomes more and more difficult. Between each level there is a bonus stage in which you find yourself in a space ship, confronted with wave upon wave of aliens.

Each level has additional nasties. There are birds which fly out of tree trunks and divebomb you, and plants which will swallow you at the drop of a hat. An increasing number of aliens must be dealt with.

It's no great shakes in any department Somewhat disappointing.

Label: ACE
Author: Christian Urquhart
Price: £7.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Overall: 6/10

Summary: Reasonable, though disappointing conversion of what was an extremely convertible game. Mediocre.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 10, July 1988   page(s) 68

Aces low.

This is very much like Crosswize and every other sideways scrolling shoot-em-up. Platform elements creep in at times and some particularly vicious nasties need destroying - it's a good job you can pick up extra weapons then. Soldier of Light boasts some good graphics and OK animation, but ultimately it's just another run of the mill shoot-em-up that won't get you too excited.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

Spec, £7.99cs, Out Now
C64/128, £8.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 70/100
1 hour: 60/100
1 day: 50/100
1 week: 45/100
1 month: 20/100
1 year: 0/100

Ace Rating: 499/1000

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE Issue 26, November 1989   page(s) 113

Rad, £2.99
Spectrum, Amstrad, C64

Scrolling shoot 'em up in the Forgotten Worlds, Crosswize mould. Lots of power ups, the odd bit of platform leaping, and particularly vicious end of level nasties make SOL an OK - but far from exceptional - shoot 'em up.

All 8 bit versions reached a competent level in both graphics and sound.

A well known, if slightly over rated coin-op conversion in its day. Good buy for those determined to have every coin-op that ever bleeped in their collection.

Overall: 3/5

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Computer & Videogames Issue 97, December 1989   page(s) 97

Spectrum, C64: £1.99

Re-released on The Edge's new budget label, Soldier Of Light is the computer version of the cult Taito coin-op, originally called Xain'd Sleena. Working for the Federation you, as Stormtrooper Xain, must act on the orders of Galactic High Command and rid the galaxy of a troupe of rampaging alien types. Each planet must be tackled one at a time and, with only a single-shot laser cannon for protection, you have a tough task on your hands. Collecting strategically placed weapon pods boosts your firepower, making life somewhat easier the further you go. Once a planet is cleared of enemies the action switches to an intergalactic dogfight as you. In your fighter ship, fly to the next area.

While the game itself is an enjoyable arcade romp with lots going on. Soldier Of Light only vaguely resembles the original arcade machine in presentation.

No more than average aesthetically, its best to think of Soldier Of Light as one of the better budget games around, as opposed to one of the feebler coin-op conversions. Worth checking out if fun without frills appeals to you.

Overall: 77%

Summary: Again, a fun blast, but minus any graphic or sonic niceties. Arcade addicts and people who don't know what to blow their last two pounds on should be well pleased.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 8, July 1988   page(s) 63

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £7.99, Diskette: £14.99


This is Ace's third game, and the second coin-op conversion from the venerable Softek's relatively new label. Coding is by a programmer almost as venerable as Softek, Christian Urquhart, one of the most experienced Spectrum programmers whose Hunchback was among Ocean's first commercial successes back in 1984.)

Xain'd Sleena is a Federation stormtrooper who has been given orders direct from the Galactic High Command. Several planets have been invaded by the hideous Empire and Xain's task is to clear the worlds of all the enemy troops. He arrives on the first planet wearing a damage-absorbing suit and jet boots. His weapon is a standard single-skim laser, but more powerful armament has been dropped on the planet, minus labels. Included in these weapon pods are armour-piercing lances, double-shot fireballs and triple-fire blasters. The latter is particularly satisfying to use (and all but essential for the lethal moon-buggies), but a time limit means the stormtrooper always has to hurry - when time runs out a life is lost.

After a planet is completed by defeating the end-of-level robot, you fly Xain to the next planet in his laser-equipped spaceship. Several waves of various suicidal enemy ships try and stop you, however. Should you survive this onslaught then you can begin the fight for the next world.

Planet two has a markedly different, prehistoric landscape with large poisonous plants, deadly flies and a huge sea monster. After this a multiload allows access to planet three which has a huge, ruined temple inhabited by monks and a fearsome Tutenkhamen head. If you die here levels 1 and 2 are thoughtfully rerecorded after level 3, so merely pressing play loads them in - as good a use of multiload as can be imagined, although the 128 works no differently. In addition when you have conquered the third planet there is a continue play option, retaining your high score but progressively weakening your armour.

Overall: 86%

Summary: The largely monochrome graphics of Soldier Of Light are consistently impressive and fast, making the game visually top class. Sound FX are generally adequate while gameplay is both very challenging and addictive. In conclusion this is a great, if unoriginal, arcade conversion which makes excellent use of the Spectrum. The +3 disk version won't be ready for a while.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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