REVIEW – SAR: Search and Rescue (PSN)

A Twin Stick Shooter Before Twin Stick Shooters

Originally released in 1989, Search and Rescue is a pretty violent and bloody game even by today’s standards.  While the gory visuals are certainly a highlight, the game doesn’t hold up well told due to a cumbersome control scheme.

Like P.O.W., Prehistoric Isle, and other classic SNK arcade games released on the PSN, Search and Rescue is compatible with both PS3 and PSP.  Two player co-op is supported but only on the PS3; ad-hoc isn’t compatible when played on the PSP.

Search and Rescue is basically a top-down Contra but with a level design system like Smash TV.  Playing as a space marine dude, your goal is to blast anything that moves while avoiding enemy fire.  Besides the typical shoot button, there is also the option to dodge, or roll, out of harm’s way.  This basically is a substitution for a jump button as it is possible to roll over gaps.

Like Contra, there are different weapons to kill aliens with, some boss battles, only takes about 15 minutes to complete the whole game, and has a one hit death system.  In all honesty, Search and Rescue would be a pretty fun game to play if it wasn’t for the dated control scheme.  Before the days of twin stick shooters, rotating 360 degrees involves tapping the shoulder button in the corresponding direction until the desired direction is lined up.  Obviously, the lack of speed and efficiency in this shooting control scheme will involve more frustrating deaths than intended.  But given that this game was originally designed to suck the quarters out of your pocket, this set up was most likely designed on purpose.  Too bad this PSN download wasn’t updated with an option to use a dual analog stick, or analog stick and face button combination when playing on the PSP, to control movement and aiming.  There is also a sense of strategy with gun fire as it is possible to charge shots as opposed to constantly shooting rapid fire.

Released years before Mortal Kombat and The House of the Dead, the gory visuals we probably something to see back when this game was released in the late 80’s.  But if you don’t mind struggling through the inefficient control scheme, SAR can provide an enjoyable short lived experience.

6.5/10

Not As Good As: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

Also Try: the other SNK Arcade Games on PSN

Wait For It: Geometry Wars 3 or Smash TV 2

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