So...what do we have here?

Sol Divide [Horizontal Hack & Slash Shooter Hybrid]

It's Sol Divide, the game with the poor North American localization!

U.S. Game Front

Japanese Playstation front

Japanese Game Front

Psikyo Shooting Collection: Volume 3

Psikyo Re-Released Sol Divide
Together With Another Medieval
Fantasy Shooter, Dragon Blaze, In
Psikyo's Shooting Collection:
Volume 3...And Both Games
Were Also Released Seperately
For The PS2 In Europe

Arcade Flier for Dragon Blaze

Flier For Dragon Blaze In
The Arcades. For More
Awesome Images, Visit
Arcade Flyers Today!

Slick image I put together

Main Characters Of Sol Divide

-General Information-
Version: U.S.
Year: 2002
Publisher: XS Games
Developer(s) and Others: Psikyo
ESRB Rating: Everyone
# of Players: 1 or 2
# of Blocks: None (can't save)
# of Discs: 1
Estimated Market Value as of 01/28/2008: $4 - $10 (USD)
Other Info: The Japanese originals differ from the North American release by XS Games. Eftar, the wielder of the powerful sword known as Sol Divide, is also known as Ifter and Efter (in the credits). Kashon, the birdman, is also known as Kashan due to a questionable translation job. Instead of calling him Eftar, I called him Efter in the banner on the left of the page. Psikyo was acquired by X-nauts in mid-2002 (according to this Wikipedia entry). Dragon Blaze picture is from Arcade Flyers, a site that is an outstanding tribute to old arcade games and gamers. This game is also sublicensed by Four Winds Incorporated.
Quick Game Overview: Available HERE.

XS Games...where do I even begin? Well folks, XS Games is an infamous publisher that specializes in releasing budget games at very affordable prices. HOW affordable? TOO affordable. To say that something is "too affordable" in the English language...well, it may not make much sense, but for Sol Divide from XS Games, I'll make an exception. The games they sell are very cheap...and they make this painfully obvious due to the amount of effort that goes into each and every single title they localize. The interesting thing is that some people may go out, return home with an XS Games product, play it, and even enjoy it. Unfortunately, those that usually enjoy the games don't have even the slightest clue of what they are missing...

The games they localize usually are missing content from the original versions of the games and they have awful translations...some things aren't even translated to BEGIN with. Back in 1997, Sol Divide was developed and released in Japanese arcades by Psikyo, a company known for quality shooters, quiz games and mahjong games. The game gathered a fair deal of popularity and later was published by Atlus and released for the Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn in 1998 (in Japan). Zip forward to 2002 and you can find this game in bargin bins and pawnshops everywhere! Why? Did it lose the charm the original game had? Not entirely...however, just leaving the game in one piece would have been well as a fair translation job. Unfortunately, many gamers who have already played this game will tell you that you don't get either of those things.

One day, an evil army appears to wreak havoc on the world. Lead by the Evil King known as Eftar, the army traveled around looking for legendary items known as spirit stones. With the magical spells of the spirit stones, Eftar could then resurrect the evil god known as Heladius. With his skill in using the mighty sword, Sol Divide, and the aid of his powerful assistant who happens to be a black magician (known simply as Kuromoa Wizard in the manual), it seemed as though Eftar would succeed effortlessly...however, you control three people who want to put a stop to Eftar's plans...Vorg (age 32), Kashon (age 25), and Tyora (age 1016). Vorg is a dark warrior that wields a special sword called "Helos" and is fighting Eftar because he destroyed his homeland to get his hands on its spirit stone. Kashon is a birdman who is fighting to avenge the death of his father who died when Eftar invaded his village. Tyora is a beautiful wizard who also happens to be the creator of the spirit stones. Their power was meant for good, but she is after Eftar because he is using them for anything but peace...and that is the basic plot behind Sol Divide. Now then...let me go tell you seven different names. There's Efter, Ifter, Eftar, Kashan, Kashon, Heladius, and Heradious. The thing is...all of the names are used at one point or another (either in the game or the manual). However, while I just mentioned seven names, they only refer to THREE characters.

The translation absolutely reeks. You know it's bad when I (of all people) can sit here and point out all the errors. I don't care if the villain's name was Lucky, Joebob, or Sally...but would it have been so difficult for the people over at XS to just stick with ONE name for crying out loud!? After reading the plot from the manual, I am still left's obvious that there is more than one Spirit Stone (due to the statement "One of the spirit stones..." in the manual) and yet they keep stating "Spirit Stone" in the singular tense...even when it isn't appropriate! I am not a god of writing, but something is seriously wrong with that. Thankfully, Sol Divide is a shooter and shooters don't usually require a good story or any kind of story period (though a good story would be nice).

Sol Divide gets the party started with an opening FMV that while dark and foreboding, isn't all that interesting. Yes, yes, see a skeleton on the ground and a Wyvern soaring across the dusty sky and...that's it. NEXT! Once you select a character, you get to truly experience what the game looks like. Hordes of hideous creatures, magicians, and warriors come at you with the force of a hurricane. The enemies animate nicely and you will travel across various detailed medieval settings...some of the behemoths you battle take up so much space on the screen, you feel like a kid stuck in a two-seater filled with three people...oh yeah...I went there. The dark atmosphere of the game has an interesting visage to it that I don't see in too many shooters. While the game doesn't go above and beyond in terms of outstanding visuals, enemies possess a similar pre-rendered graphics style as Donkey Kong Country for the SNES.

Unfortunately, Sol Divide's graphics lack the same level of polish as the previously mentioned SNES title and certain enemies and objects look grainy. On the plus side, since enemies are large, some of them are incredibly detailed such as the Hydra boss and Stone Griffon. Your characters can also cast flashy spells that are as cool as they are wicked. Summon a ice goddess to freeze enemies in their tracks...or how about a meteor storm...if that doesn't work out, you can also rain lightning bolts down on your foes. Given the mysterious world that the game takes place in, there are obviously a number of fantasy tunes to accompany you while you blast away at the mythological beasts. The music itself is nicely composed (especially the title theme). However, the music is also limited in number and the quality sounds as though it could be emulated on cartridge-based media with relative ease. Not only does the lack of audio quality bother me, but it reminds me of just how dated Sol Divide is and Psikyo has produced finer works. The game was a late release...and it wasn't touched up in anyway. Actually, the game was downgraded into something less intriguing than it originally was.

On the surface, Sol Divide seems like an interesting blend of genres. Combining hack & slash style action found in games like the classic Golden Axe and combining it with horizontal shooting action, Sol Divide attempted (I'm speaking in terms of 1997 and 1998 here) to make a cool and unique entry into the heavily saturated world of horizontal shooters. You control three characters who fight differently from one another. Kashon has the longest range and moderate power and is very effective at hitting groups of enemies. His magic is also fair, but his ordinary long range shot is weak. Vorg is an all-arounder; he has no noticeable weaknesses and his sword combo is the strongest. Tyora is a wizard with the strongest magical abilities. She also has a strong long range attack, but her close range combat skills are weak in comparison to Vorg or Kashon. You can gain score multipliers by finishing foes with the final hit of a character's four hit melee combo to get a really high score.

As you fly around the stages, you can hit enemies with a melee combo (or one powerful strike), shoot an upgradeable projectile weapon, or cast powerful spells. All the characters can use up to nine spells and there is a total of 11 spells and each character has a spell that is unique to them. Vorg can cast nightmare to paralyze an enemy, Kashon can summon the powers of the phoenix, and Tyora can summon a monster to deal heavy damage to her foes. Besides their unique spells, you can freeze enemies, become invincible, create a powerful gale that negates all enemy projectile attacks, slow down enemy movement, and cast other damaging spells. Sol Divide has two main modes; Arcade and Original. In the Arcade mode, the items that you get from defeated enemies are automatically used the moment you grab them...a power card to increase shot power, restorative potions to restore life, an herb that increases your maximum life, magic scrolls to cast spells, and magic potions to restore MP. Different spells cost different amounts of MP in Arcade mode and you lose some spells once you've casted them. Some enemies are weak against certain spells and some are immune to others.

Original mode functions differently from Arcade Mode. Instead of fighting Eftar/Ifter, you must fight in the dark depths of the underground. Original mode uses RPG elements unlike Arcade mode and is only one player while Arcade mode was for two players. You gain experience points from defeated monsters and you have stats that you can boost. Enemies still drop items, but this time around, you have an inventory screen where your obtained items are stored and you can use them when you need them. The items that enemies drop come in the form of treasure chests and some require keys to open (you get keys from other unlocked treasure chests). You also still get magic in this mode, though there is no MP cost; Instead, you get scrolls that you can equip that allow you to cast a spell a certain number of times. If you die in this mode, you lose all the items you had before your death and you must start from the first stage over again. Your shot power also weakens...BUT you keep the level you had before you died. You can avoid death altogether if you have a magic gem which allows you to return to the king unharmed. You can also equip a couple of accessories that do different things to aid you in your quest.

In actuality, the only way to downgrade this game would be to remove original content and Sol Divide happens to be the innocent victim of such tomfoolery. XS is known to butcher translations and rush ports of games, which naturally irks the general gaming community. I understand the game is cheap...but what was so bad that they had to remove it completely? The dialogue (what little is present) is a total mess and XS' port of the game doesn't allow you to save! This not only annoys fans of shooters who like to record their high scores, but you can't save in Original mode either. Unlike the very short Arcade mode that has you fight ten enemies then a boss fight or two, Original mode actually has some length to it which gives you a need to want to save your progress. Apparently, the original Japanese port ALLOWED you to save your progress in Original mode, but XS' poor North American localization turns an otherwise interesting and worthwhile RPG-esque mode into nothing more than a pile of poop. Sol Divide is challenging...and it's no fun to try to wade through Original mode for eight hours straight trying to beat the game when a simple save function (that was previously available to Japanese players mind you) was needlessly removed which could have prevented any unnecessary grief.

Enough about how much XS has screwed up...because I've got a couple of other gripes with the game too. Since you can no longer enjoy the Original mode, you generally must try to enjoy the Arcade mode. Size does matter...remember when I stated how big enemies were? It's fine that they are big, but the character you control is also considerably large for a horizontal shooter. You can easily get into situations where death is downright unavoidable because your character is large and it's hard to avoid the projectiles due to the size of your character. Ultra large bosses that take up a huge portion of the screen, while nice to look at, make it that much harder to dodge attacks. You also must rely on your melee attacks too much which puts you in danger often and the game as a whole is somewhat clumsy in design. Thankfully, you can play with a friend and the game does have multiple endings (as well as a "demo" mode that shows the opening)....HOWEVER, you won't even be able to enjoy the endings...why? I won't say, but if you take a look at my extra screenshots, you'll figure it out. Let's just say that XS forgot a few things during the localization process...either that, or they just ignored it. Hell, I won't even try to pretend that I understand the logic behind why this localization was so bad.

This is the bottom line; I like cheap games. Who doesn't, right? However, this is one cheap game that you can live without. I seriously hope that XS gets their act together regarding localization. If they don't, gamers won't care about what they have to offer. Regardless, let's forget about XS for a second and talk about Sol Divide. Sol Divide attempted to be a great hack & slash and a shooter, but due to the cramped design (due to large characters and enemies) and short length, it doesn't exactly live up to either of those standards. Because the game is so cheap, I would give it a try. You might enjoy it better if you try to forget the absence of a save feature as well as the translation...but do you really want to play this game now that you've read this?

- Written by Vyse the determined -

Game Screenshots

Title Screen It's the wyvern...and it looks HUNGRY! Fighting fire with fire! the fire didn't work, but how about some lightning instead!? It's raining swords! Watch OUT! Excuse me Mr. Monster, but are you related to Godzilla in any way?

This review has 69 extra images.

See credits for Sol Divide.

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