Developed By: Mebius Published By: ININ Games Categories: Retro, Shootemup Release Date: 01.23.24 Price: $24.99
What’s the best way for me to describe Steel Empire? “The Hidden Gem that refuses to die”? For a more lesser known shootemup, Steel Empire keeps on getting modern ports and remakes. I never did play it on the Genesis, but I picked up the 3DS version, and now nearly a decade later, we have a Switch release. And tell you what, I’m still wishing I grew up with this as a kid back in the day.
But the actual game? A steampunk inspired title that has animal themed machinery, and somehow ends up on the moon. And you can play as a Zeppelin! Dig that military style too.
Seven levels, increasingly more powerful shots, options, and bombs. Steel Empire is probably going to come off as simple to most players, and honestly, it is. There’s no real exciting alternative shots, there’s a lot of old timey looking ships, and the most exciting part about the aesthetic is the fact that if you pay attention, ships look like birds. I felt *very* smart when I realized that. Despite all of that, Steel Empire is a hell of a time, and also despite it’s low difficulty, I was hooked. Front Shot, Back Shot, Bombs, Spreads. Level them up to to level 20 to see them hit harder and faster. Maybe it’s all you need sometimes.
I don’t want this to appear as if I’m looking down on Steel Empire, because despite my preference for the more wild, more varied and more for lack of better words, “Japanese” shooters, I definitely was hooked. Maybe I’m a simple girl.
Can I talk about the music though? What an absolute banger of an OST. Great Googly Moogly do I love when a shootemup has a good soundtrack. I can go on how “un-hype” the general mood of the game might feel, but the music negates all of that. A game with a poor soundtrack can feel flat even if it’s otheriwse good. And a bad game with a good soundtrack is always going to be memorable. Luckily Steel Empire is addictive (even if not as spectacular in certain aspects as other shooters) and has a good soundtrack to boot.
There is some replay value outside of just playing the game for funsies. There is a gallery, which does unlock after you complete certain challenges. Mostly revolving around the difficulty levels, continues, and your ship of choice. I did notice that the unlock requirements are either misplaced or bugged however, as I played on Normal and then received pieces for harder difficulties.
I don’t know why Steel Empire is the game that keeps getting ported, remade, re-released, whatever. Don’t care why either, it’s a good game and if this gets more people to play it, so be it.