Legend of Steel Empire (Switch)

Steel Empire is one of those games where anyone who had a Mega Drive will have at the very least seen the box art. Over the years it has gained quite a cult status and even seen a GBA remake, now it’s hitting the Nintendo Switch with an HD paint of coat and that same zest for destruction that gained it such a following, gather around while I tell you about The Legend of Steel Empire.

The Legend of Steel Empire tells the story of the war between The Republic of Silverhead and The Empire of Motorhead led by the tyrant General Styron. You are a pilot for Silverhead and take control of either a small bi-plane or giant war-delivering Zeppelin, fitted with some of the finest justice-delivering tools to deal with the sheer numbers of the Motorhead empire. 

The story is told with a well-drawn “old-timey” style movie that is easily skippable if you’re like me and just want to dive into bullet-dodging, bomb-dropping, point-scoring action. Still, the story has a decent setup and helps set this title apart with its strong Steam/Diesel-punk setting, something that was done decades before in Jamestown. 

Legend of Steel Empire is a horizontal shoot ‘em up (Shmup) with traditional left-to-right scrolling, aside from 1 section of a stage 1. If you’ve played a Shmup before you’ll comfortably sink into this quite quickly, you pick your choice of ship, dodge bullets, use your lighting bomb when things get tough, and fight some very impressive bosses that just grow in size until the final boss that has so many forms it puts Frieza to shame.

There are collectibles to grab, some strengthen your shot which can be maxed out at level 20, you can collect additional bombs, health as this isn’t a 1 shot kills affair, additional small crafts, and money to boost that high score for you budding Twin Galaxy chasers. 

The game is set across 7 stages and in fashion for the genre has a secret “true last boss” for the truly hardcore of pilots. What I did love about this game was just as I thought I knew what the stage was going to be it would do something to surprise me, be it taking on a train at high speed or making a high-speed escape from a facility blowing up, there is a lot crammed in these 7 stages and I enjoyed every single one of them. 

The controls are smooth without any notable lag, you can shoot both left and right which creates some beautifully chaotic scenes. There are several difficulties starting from Easy and ending with Very Hard and even a training mode allowing you to jump to any stage and learn the bullet patterns. For achievement hunters there are in-game achievements that unlock a picture when you have cleared all the conditions, adding to the incentive to go back and stick it to Motorhead one more time. 

Visuals are key here to set Legend of Steel Empire not only from its Shmup peers and not only does it successfully do so, it puts others on notice with its beautiful blend of HD backgrounds and cleaned-up sprite work lovingly fused with the Steampunk aesthetic throughout the game, starting with the old black and white movie and culminating in one the most memorable final stages in the genre.

Steel Empire is considered quite a beloved Shmup and while I don’t have that much familiarity with the original release, with Legend of Steel Empire I can see why, what I assumed to be a rather pedestrian Shmup affair gripped me from the off and kept me hooked as I worked through the difficulties, learning patterns and the nuances of when to bomb and which ship was best for what stage. 

For shoot em up aficinado this is a must buy, for those curious about the genre consider this a great “gateway” game, it doesn’t have too much in terms of extras, I would have loved a gallery and concept art but there is plenty here for the asking price, it’s certainly made an impact on my rotation of games in the genre as I reach for my Switch to have another crack at the Motorhead empire. 



A brilliant all round Shmup for newcomers and genre fans

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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.

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