Saurus and Capcom face each other for this duel, for the first time in our versus section. Seven years separates Mercs and Shock Troopers, two vertical run'n'gun, the first using a Tate display (screen in the direction of the height) and the second using the more traditional Yoko format. The CPS and the Neo Geo are powerful 16-bit systems, but having that said, the gap between our competitors gives Saurus a significant advantage. Indeed, in 1997 the Neo Geo exploits fully its potential and games already use massive storage capacities. See, Shock Troopers uses nine times more space than Mercs, in addition to benefiting a small technological advance and the experience of programmers on the system.
Shock Troopers is beautiful and varied, with a mix of digitizations and a very successful cartoon style. Mercs is made of a relatively similar style, but more "comics" way, but in fact, the game is even more impressive, if you take into account its era. The characters are smaller, but the amount and quality of details on backgrounds and sprites is incredible, and the title still has a lot of effect, despite the weight of the years.
Shock Troopers 90 92 Mercs
If Shock Troopers is a bit faster, Mercs is no less a model of its kind compared to its contemporary rivals, starting with Contra, to name just this one. The fluidity of the animations is at par with ST, but the Capcom title impresses more because it almost never slows down, despite the three players simultaneous play. The amount of details and of animation steps make it win the animation part, facing an opponent yet excellent, with no particular flaw.
Shock Troopers 96 98 Mercs
The melodies in Mercs are striking, quite in the spirit of a Rambo movie, so they perfectly accompany the action. The sound effects are also very high quality, for a whole soundtrack very impressive. We all know that the CPS is not reputed to be have great capacities with the sound, but here, Capcom really pushed it to the next level. Nevertheless, Saurus had an easier job with the Neo Geo and surpasses its rival, thanks to a gorgeous hard-rock soundtrack that is really loud, thunderous voices, bullets and explosions, and globally sound effects of superior quality.
Shock Troopers 94 92 Mercs
Mercs and Shock Troopers have one thing in common, it's that they are so good that players come back to them willingly, alone or in cooperative play. At the time, Mercs is a sensation, because you can play three together (against two in ST), there are several weapons, vehicles, etc. But Shock Troopers has significantly improved the replay value, with many good ideas: eight different characters, several different routes can be taken, possibility to build a team, deep gameplay ... and the icing on the cake is that it lasts much longer than its rival: forty-five minutes against thirty to clear.
Shock Troopers 91 87 Mercs
Capcom bet on simplicity: shooting with A, bombing with B. No other maneuver is possible. Of course our warriors are able to shoot in eight directions, and en route you will come to get vehicles, as in Ikari Warriors. Turrets, jeeps, tanks, jet-skis... There are four types of shots, for which power-ups can be collected. You can reload your grenade stock on the way, but also extend your health bar or refill it (food). The least we can say is that the action is varied, and the difficulty well dosed. Saurus has taken back a good part of Mercs and Ikari Warrior's series mechanisms, improved them, and added other very interesting concepts. Having eight different warriors to choose from is great, and being able to gather them in teams of three allows good strategies. Some fighters are powerful, others rely on the speed of movement, and each has a specific bomb (grenade, arrows, chemicals, etc). There are six weapons to discover, and about vehicles, we're granted a full stage on a Harley-Davidson! The biggest new feature in the gameplay is the dodge (button B). Combining this with a direction triggers an escape roll in the desired direction. "C" is still assigned to weapons of mass destruction, and D allows to change character. When one is in melee, our hero uses a dagger to kill his enemies. Saurus also added the "vulcan-fix", which means that holding the fire button allows you to shoot in the same direction while moving. The pace is a little more speedy than in Mercs, the game is also much more gore and bloody, but there's still various bonuses and food to regain life. Shock Troopers manages to dominate its old rival, which had yet set the bar very high back in 1990.
Shock Troopers 95 93 Mercs
Shock Troopers commits the crime of lèse-majesté to surpass Mercs, which itself managed the feat of surpassing Commando and Ikari Warriors in their time. While the title of Capcom had a staggering realization for a Run'n'Gun of 1990, Saurus' one does not demerit, although it impresses relatively less in its era. Against all odds, it wins due to its exceptional video-ludic qualities and not its looks, sublimating what the Mercs was seven years earlier, by using its excellent basics.