Soukyugurentai is a vertical shmup which has a little bit of plot involving
blowing stuff up. You'll get just a hint of it before each stage in
The push to create a sense of three dimensional depth on a flat screen in
video games can be traced back at least as far as Xevious. Xevious had two
weapons, one each for ground and airborne enemies. Later on, rail shooters
like Space Harrier and numerous racing games added sprite scaling to give
the illusion of objects rushing out. Ray Force combined the gameplay of
Xevious with Sega's advanced scaling and did an excellent job of creating a
3D world using 2D elements.
Raizing's Soukyugurentai (or Souky, or Terra Diver in US arcades) takes the
style of Ray Force and goes even further in creating a 3D world using 2D
elements. Enemy vehicles can fly underneath a bridge below you, zoom up
and attack while more enemies descend from above. To further reinforce the
illusion of depth, the fixed cursor used from as far back as Xevious is
replaced with an extremely cool targeting web that extends above and below
your ship. Depending on which ship you select, it can also extend in
front, to the sides, and behind simultaneously.
Controlling the game is pretty easy. The A button shoots, and the B button
bombs. Hold down the A button and after your bullets are fired, your
fighter will send out the targeting web. Release A, and any enemy locked
on will be attacked. Pressing B on it's own will drop one big bomb. Press
it with the web active and no lock-ons, and it'll shoots a bunch of little
explosions. Press B with a lock, and those little explosions will be
dropped right on your target which is an excellent way to soften up bosses.
The C button switches your web. Each fighter has two types.
Raizing developed three distinct fighters and a pilot for each. All have
different guns and webs, but the same bomb. The hitbox is fairly small,
roughly the fuselage.
KAORU YASHIDA in the TORYU
The Toryu's guns are the standard wide shot. The El-Dou web projects a
hemisphere in front of the fighter and shoots homing lasers. The Pinpoint
directs a cone in front and fires fireballs that do awesome damage. The
Toryu can have up to 6 lock ons.
RYOTA MIKAZUKI in the SHIDEN
The Shiden gets homing missiles as it powers up. It's webs have the
largest range. The All Range projects a sphere, with the Shiden at the
center. At it's largest, it covers almost all the screen. It fires a cool
looking but weak laser blast. The Bou-Ryu is a hemisphere with homing
lasers. It seems to have a larger vertical area than the Toryu's
hemisphere, but does less damage. The Shiden can have up to 7 lock ons.
RIKA KUNIMURA in the HOUGA
The Houga's guns can be swept to the left or right when powered up, based
on the ship's movement. The Mu-Sou projects a cone in front that acts
exactly like the Toryu's Pinpoint, but with lasers. The Random projects a
cone that can be swung around, pointing in the opposite direction of the
ship's movement. The Random unleashes fireballs. The maximum locks for
the Houga is 8.
TETSUO SHIMONIIDA in the OUBU
No picture. This character and fighter are for the Playstation release
only. I don't have access to that version so I'll just focus on those
Note that the Houga has the highest score potential because of it's high
lock on limit, but is extremely tricky to use to the full potential. The
Shiden's weapons seem weaker than the other two. While it has fewer lock
ons at once, I've gotten my best scores with the Toryu.
Raizing absolutely went to town with the 2D capabilities of the Saturn for
Souky. While not a particularly powerful 3D machine, the Saturn was made
to manipulate sprites and 2D backgrounds. Take a look at the backgrounds
of the first level. Buildings are not static boxes, instead the pop up out
of the background and you can actually see the sides as if you were looking
down from an airplane over a city. Using sprite scaling, enemies can dive
down from above or pop up from below, and with the sprite rotation of the
Saturn hardware enemies can follow smooth curves and paths. A few blue
enemies in the second stage seem to swim across the screen. And if the
boss is too big to fit on screen, it just zooms out so you can see
everything. Souky has far more depth in the graphics than Brave Blade has
Hitoshi Sakimoto provides the music for Souky, and does a great job. The
percussion effects are very deep, the bass drums sound excellent. When the
bass drum starts in stage one, you can hear the click to it that a metal
drummer would use. The melody is provided by piano and various synth
sounds. Some of the sounds are electronic sounds rather than synthesized
strings or horns. Level two has some very cool swells in both the level
and boss fights. I do have one small criticism, and that is that the music
doesn't really have the intensity that the game itself does, and just
listening to the music you might not realize just how much stuff is
actually going on. Explosions and other sounds have a "boom" to them,
rather than the crisp crack of Raizing's other shmup from 1996, Battle
Scoring is straightforward. Lock on to more enemies, get more points.
Each enemy has a base point value, which is what you'll get for killing it
with your guns. Lock on to one or two enemies, and it'll be half that
value. At three enemies, it'll be equal. Four enemies doubles the score,
and each enemy locked on after that adds one to the multiplier. The
multiplier applies to ALL enemies killed, not just the last one targeted.
Bombs will give 1/4 the score, but better to use a bomb than to eat a
bullet. If you manage to collect a bunch of bombs, they start giving
points instead of adding to your stock.
It wouldn't be a Raizing game without some form of rank, but in Souky it's
very easy to control rank. The more powerful your main gun is, the higher
the rank gets. Since your web can hit enemies in front of you and is
needed for scoring anyway, simply ignore all the powerups. Grabbing bombs
does nothing to rank. If you shoot down every enemy in a level, you'll get
a rank increase as well but even letting one go will prevent that.
The first level is a fight over a city. Even at this early stage, the
Saturn's powers are on full display. The first enemies come up from behind
you, and are mostly there for bait. Beneath you, you can see hover tanks
flying through the city, ducking behind buildings before climbing to attack
you. Towards the end of the stage you'll confront a pair of carriers that
spit out hover tanks. You can milk these guys for good points. It is
fairly easy to get to the boss fight with more than 1.5 million points.
Each boss is introduced with a little green box in the corner and a list of
all the weapons they have. In this case, it's a stealth bomber. Raizing
really love their stealth bombers, didn't they? It swoops down and
annihilates the airliners underneath you, before the fight begins. The
first step is to take out the six cannons. It then unfolds it's wings and
starts spraying bullets. This pattern is a combination of aimed bullets
and unaimed spreads, so try moving from one side of the boss and around to
the other to keep the gaps wide. When it stops, five missile launchers on
each wing open up. Using the Toryu, you can take out one wing before it
finishes firing. Look out for the machine gun, which fires a straight
burst of bullets. They aren't hard to dodge but they come fast. This boss
isn't too hard and is a great place to learn your web system or farm bombs.
Stage 2 starts out with your fighter being launched out of some kind of
tube, either at extreme altitude or low Earth orbit. This stage is full of
enemies that swirl about and move in strange, organic patterns. Early on,
you'll encounter a big green gun ship. It can be used to get a bunch of
points, as it has lots of lock ons and smaller enemies will be flying
around as well. This stage still isn't too hard until the last stretch.
This last part is a flight down a huge flying ship, with gun turrets on
each side, mechs, and flying enemies all at once. This is where the game
really starts to pick up in difficulty, but it is still fully playable.
The boss this time appears to be the offspring of an attack satellite and a
can of soup. Lots of gun ports on this one, and a cylindrical body. The
two spinning turrets on either side are your first priority. If the
portion you lock on to moves, you lose the target but you can kill them
with guns if needed. Once they both go down, the central body will send
out some rotating gun pods, but the pattern is easy to see and dodge. For
extra points, shoot the wire wings on either side with your guns. This
boss can pump out some dense bullet patterns, but it's still fairly slow
and as you take it down the number of bullets decreases. This shouldn't
give you much trouble.
Stage 3 is where Souky really starts to heat up. Your fighter is dropped
out of a much larger plane over thick gray clouds. Enemies swoop in from
all sides. They are more aggressive here now, all of them tend to shoot at
you. Of particular note are the gunships, big green and yellow planes with
shoulder pods. They aren't particularly deadly, but they look cool and are
worth pretty good points if you blow up a couple at once. A few big
bombers show up too, with very wide bullet spreads and no less than five
targets each. The second portion of the stage takes place over open
plains, with small trucks visible beneath you. You actually get to swoop
down and destroy those trucks. I find it quite delightful watching them
flip over, imagining the drivers screaming in flaming agony.
The boss for this stage is a huge tank. Instead of one big turret, this
tank has a nice array of weaponry mounted on it's turret. The most
distinct are the twin dragon heads that act as flame throwers. The homing
missiles are very fast, so get out of the way as you won't have time to
destroy them if you sit still.
Stage 4 is a space stage. In particular, the asteroids stage. Playing on
a Saturn, you can see all the little rocks beneath you. Playing on MAME,
this stage is rendered in inverted colors or something and looks really
fouled up. The asteroids can be locked on, and add to your multiplier.
Take note that they can also take away from destroying enemies. This stage
has some robots with tank heads that take quite a bit of punishment, and
you don't want to waste your shots on asteroids especially if you are being
heavily attacked. Running into asteroids doesn't kill you, and if an enemy
touches one they take slight damage. This is one of the only shmups I know
that has enemy/environment interaction.
The boss is a big robot. So big, the whole section zooms out so you can
get a better look. Along with bullet spreads, his shoulder cannons can
fire flurries of missiles, fireballs, and blue death beams that are very
pretty. I have never actually beaten this guy, he always times out before
I can kill him.
Stage 5 is a stage over a sea base, and has perhaps the game's best
soundtrack. The enemy that gave me the most trouble here was the little
green walker. You'll see a couple of them. They fire a little green orb
that slowly follows your movement. I thought I had dodged them, and they
turned around and still got me. Sneaky. Numerous enemies are below the
water, but you can still hit them. The level scrolls diagonally for a
short time, which throws me off just like it did in Raiden Fighters.
The boss is an airplane with turrets and missile batteries across it's
back. It also has four engines. You can target the engines for extra
points, and the exhaust won't hurt you. The shoulder turrets it has fire
streams of bullets almost exactly like the first boss from Battle Garegga,
a circular pattern of twin bullets. When it's had enough, the back
detaches and you fight an orb. The main attack it has are the star
bullets, which are big shiny projectiles that have some homing
capabilities. This section doesn't seem to have too much health.
The final stage is an attack on the moon, starting in deep space and going
into the interior. Pink enemies that have been in every level now carry
giant missiles, and those gunships from stage 3 make a return and fire a
lot more bullets at a time now. Even popcorn enemies now fire quite a few
bullets, but it never turns into Sengeki Striker (thank god) and I was able
to twitch my way through quite a few bullet storms.
This stage also has a midboss. Raizing likes to reuse bosses, but here
they just reuses boss attacks. The falling bullets from the first boss,
the turrets from the second, and some death rays are all being used by this
When it dies, the music gets really moody and calm. The screen pops up
with the boss information and as you wait for it to arrive, you realize
you've actually been flying over it. Welcome to Raizing's take on the
The design looks roughly like the cancelled XB-70 bomber. You start off
attacking the central fuselage, where multiple gun turrets guard a pod that
shoots a long stream of bullets at you constantly. I had my best luck
going around it rather than trying to weave between salvos. The second and
third sections of the fight are against the engines on either side. Each
one has a bank of huge missile launchers on the wing above it. As you move
between sections, popcorn enemies keep attacking. I had to use a credit
about halfway through and managed to rack up over a million points very
quickly due to the number of targets.
The final section is the cockpit. The cockpit has more of those stars from
the Stage 5 orb, as well as some thick bullet spreads. When the central
portion takes enough damage, it opens up and starts using new attacks.
Once you beat it, you fly through black space content that you've defeated
And then the battered stealth bomber from Stage 1 shows up. Just like
Bashinet, it wants revenge. This one has some new tricks since last time.
Most notable among these is that it has your web attack. It can lock on to
you and fire away. Luckily, the locks are fixed in place and if you keep
moving the lasers won't hit you.
The actual ending shows a nicely rendered view of your selected fighter,
and has a bunch of text.
If you want to play this game, you have a few options. It can be played on
MAME with graphical errors (like in this review), try .128 for best
performance. The Saturn got two versions, with the Otokuyo being preferred
thanks to bug fixes and a playable Battle Garegga demo. This one also
allows you to shoot guns while using the web. The Playstation version
loses some graphical polish, but adds a fourth ship and cutscenes. Both
were released only in Japan, but are fairly affordable even today. You
shouldn't have to pay more than $50 for a copy for either system. I highly
recommend trying this game out. In my opinion, this is Raizing's second
best game after Garegga, and one of the 5 or 6 best shmups I've played.