Sophstar Review thumbnail

Sophstar Review

A vertical shmup with oodles of ships

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS5 on 👩‍🚀

Sophstar is also available for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch

Sophstar is rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB

There is a long history of classic vertical shoot 'em ups so let's see how Sophstar ranks along games like Raiden, 1943 Kai, and Gunbird.

│ Like you, Video Chums despises clickbait so you won't find any divisive content or articles that fuel the console wars here. 🧯

Sophstar screenshot 1
The story of my life, am I right?

Meet Soph

Sophstar stars Soph; hence the name, I guess. She has the ability to teleport yet no memories about how she came into existence so she ventures forth on a quest of truth in order to discover who she is and what she's capable of. The following campaign consists of 8 stages complete with the occasional story sequence in between and it's satisfying to watch everything unfold, especially with the retro-inspired visuals and suitable soundtrack. Thankfully, it's a rather intuitive shoot 'em up to control so let's move on to the gameplay. v1d30chumz 35-172-230-154

Arcade shooting

As you soar around the lengthy levels of Sophstar, you can unleash a main attack as well as a special move with a gauge that recharges over time. You can also slow down to 2 different speeds in order to weave through clouds of projectiles easier and there's a teleportation ability as well. However, I rarely used it because you can escape every situation unscathed by good old fashioned dodging. This actually disappointed me a bit seeing as it's a missed opportunity. In other words, if there were moments that forced you to teleport then that would have made the mechanic much more meaningful. With that being said, it still offers fine vertical shoot 'em up gameplay. 🚀

Sophstar screenshot 2
These score-chasing extra modes sure get frantic!

A whole arsenal of ships

Now that we know the gameplay is tight and generally easy-to-follow, where Sophstar goes above and beyond is in its variety of ships that you can pilot. In total, there are 9 ships and each one has its own primary and secondary weapon as well as a distinct teleport manoeuvre. I had an absolute blast experimenting with what each ship is capable of before settling on a few that I thoroughly enjoyed. I actually like that there's no clear winner and changing your ship before each run helps mix up the gameplay substantially. 😄

Chase high scores

Another aspect that I enjoyed is Sophstar's scoring mechanics where you increase a multiplier and then snag score items from defeated enemies that rapidly diminish in value so you better grab them fast! Plus, you can put your skills to the test in a huge variety of modes including Arcade Mode with its 8 stages complete with enjoyable boss fights at the end of each, Cadet School which features 60 challenges that you can earn grades on, and a few more modes that allow you to rank on online leaderboards such as Score Attack, Timed Challenge, and Endless Mode. If you're good enough, you might even attempt Ultimate Mode, too. 💪

The engine needs a slight tune-up

Finally, there are a couple of additional annoying aspects that I'd like to discuss. First, the majority of each stage merely involves shooting at enemies that pop in and although many of them have unique patterns and tricky attacks, it more often than not feels like an uncoordinated assault. There is the odd moment when your skills are tested in unique ways such as when the walls close in or you have to face a tough mid-boss but these parts are simply not enough to make each stage memorable and consistently attention-grabbing.

Another frustrating element is when enemies launch surprise attacks and end your life without you even standing a chance to avoid it. For example, one boss will rapidly and unexpectedly slide right to where you're positioned with no warning whatsoever and when you're positioned underneath it to get a few more shots in, it can be super-irritating to abruptly perish in the middle of the action. 😳

Sophstar screenshot 3
The walls are closing in but I think I can survive...

Sophstar is a good vertical shmup that's bursting with many unique controllable ships so it makes for quite a varied and fulfilling arcade shooting experience. It may have rather generic stages but its overall sense of non-stop action still puts it on my recommended list.

  • + Solid shoot 'em up action with tight controls and rewarding score mechanics
  • + Huge variety of ships to pilot
  • + Enjoyable challenges and extra modes
  • - For the most part, enemy formations and stage designs are unmemorable
  • - Teleport mechanic is underutilized
  • - Certain surprise attacks are irritating
7.3 out of 10
Gameplay video for Sophstar thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Sophstar
Capcom Shoot 'em Ups Trivia

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