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Alive 7
                             SoulStar prototype
                                   by Marss

It seems that the year 2003 is  full of surprises. All  the  games that seemed
to be lost, suddenly re-appeared  as protos, betas or even  sources. It's kind
of a good move  coz it  may motivate  some programers to revamp or write games
without having to torture themselves, so to  say. The sources of Breakout2000,
Fight for Life, Primal  Rage, AVP, Iron  Soldier 2, Black Ice, White Noise and
so on can be  bought for some bucks. There  is one game I have  been expecting
for years  since its  presentation in AEO and  later in JEO. It's not American
Hero that will be available at the UK Jagfest in June. No, no...It's SoulStar.
The latter was released for the SegaCD  format but none  of us has ever seen a
picture  of it  till few  weeks ago. So I  browsed the  Net to  get info. Some
lucky ones possess protos and share tidbit about it.

all the missions appear in fact to be present. Letting the attract mode run
past the first  two  missions, it starts  to move  on to  the ones that are
unreachable in the proto. Only  the first  phase of  each mission  is shown
(each mission comprising 3 phases) but there's still a LOT of variety to be

First up is the title  screen. Second  is the  highscore table  which  seems
filled with real people who'd played the game. Interesting. This is a rather
nice effect, with  the  rainbow  text  gradually  fading  and shifting  into
different colours, and fake-3D  scaled-sprite asteroids  heading towards the
player in the background.

First phase of the first mission is not shown.

Mission 2 looks terrible. All the textures seem corrupted, and playing
through the game nobody with the proto has got past here.

Mission 3 and on to the demo-only scenes. Some very nice grassy landscape in
evidence here, with  sprite  mountains as  a background. The  ground texture
changes  to  more  muddy at the very  end of the demo. Paths and vegetation-
encrusted rocks are all present along with the enemy buildings, and yes, you
can shoot the trees.

Mission 4 is very impressive - a 3D environment in which the player controls
a large walking  mech. There  is  a  gun  turret on  its  back  that swivels
automatically to follow targets flagged  by the HUD - a very cool effect. It
is possible to stomp about, skim along at high speed (in straight lines) and
even jump/fly!

Mission 5 is also  impressive, but from a  graphical point of view. Nice water
textures as  you fly over them at high speed, coupled  with enemies that burst
from the  depths  in  front of  you makes  this  a highly exciting  level. The
animated manga-style explosion in the background (complete with roiling clouds
of dust/smoke) is also very nice. The graphics  bugs appear entirely connected
with a  series  of long, armed  barges that  pass by  under the player at high
speed. Once there are no more on-screen everything clears up. Nice!

Mission 6 sees you on a  lava-planet, complete  with  stretches of fire which
spout flames at the player (and messing up his shields). Some very impressive
visual effects when enemies are defeated (falling to the ground and exploding
in flames? ) as  well as nice  ground textures  for  the 'runway'  areas make
this worth watching too.

Mission 7 is one  of  the  most impressive : a 'Dune'-style  landscape,  with
turrets, landing pads and a  plethora of enemies, all to an impressive sprite
background. Floating 'drone'  enemies drop  mines which fall into the sand in
a spray of  dust,  which explode  and send laser pulses flying out as you fly
past. Nice touch. This level includes  evil mechanical enemy centipede-things
which burst from the ground and then tunnel back down *right* in front of the
player and a HUGE boss, who features a laser chaingun and the ability to drop
enemy mechs at you.

Mission 8 is another space mission, with a bright-green nebula in the back-
ground and the standard complement of space fighters, as well as some giant
mechs who ride flying disks into battle, then leap off to face you...scary.

Then the demo sequence loops back to mission one, by which time you've
probably had enough.

The only slowdown  occurs  when a  graphical  bug hits (as  in  missions 2 and
4, though  there  are  some  in  mission 5 too). These seem to  be  misaligned
texture references (ie the Jag is trying to use as a texture some memory which
doesn't contain image data) and this causes giant black blocks to flash on and
off, with  scanline-type  interference (as when  viewing a misaligned image in

As for it being released - well, this is *extremely* unlikely. There's some
serious legal issues just having people owning copies of this proto, and it
wasn't even Core doing the development (they out-sourced it). So don't hold
your breath, basically.


Alive 7