Review – Sol Cresta

Welp, Platinum Games sure did have a somewhat unusual year, to say the least. Sure, there was the release of the long-awaited (though, in my honest opinion, somewhat disappointing) Bayonetta 3, but there was also Babylon’s Fall, a truly mind-boggling release from a company that should have known better. But those games weren’t the only releases by the company in 2022. There was a bullet hell shooter as well, one that’s also a revival of a dormant franchise. Furthermore, it was published by Platinum themselves. Sol Cresta is one of the most bizarre releases of the year, not only because of everything I have just mentioned, but also because a ton of people didn’t even notice it actually came out this year.

Sol Cresta Visuals

Excessively pixelated, even on a high resolution.

Sol Cresta is actually the seventh game in the Terra Cresta series, a previously dormant bullet hell franchise, mostly exclusive to Japanese consoles and cabinets. The last game was released a whopping twenty-five years ago, for the Sega Saturn of all damn systems. It’s part of a brand new initiative from Platinum dubbed “Neo-Classic Arcade”, with the objective of bringing older arcade franchises from defunct developers/publishers back to life. In other words, Platinum is doing their own Dotemu schtick. As a retro gaming enthusiast, I can’t help but feel like this is a commendable initiative. You can clearly notice the folks at Platinum love this franchise and wanted to bring it back to life.

You can’t help but feel excited about Sol Cresta even before playing it. Its director? Hideki Kamiya. Its lead designer? Hiromu Nakazono, the same behind Astral Chain. Yuji Nakao (Bayonetta 3) served as the game’s producer. Finally, the composer behind the soundtrack is none other than the legendary Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage, ActRaiser, Shenmue, and many, many more works). An all-star team working to bring this bullet hell shooter back to life. Expectations were somewhat high, despite the unusually expensive price tag, especially when considering most shooters are sold for really small prices.

Sol Cresta Power-ups

Despite the many power-ups and features, you can still get by just by holding down the rapid fire button.

In terms of its mechanics, Sol Cresta is equal parts simplistic and complex. It only has two attack buttons: one for single shots and one for rapid fire. When you grow up with games like this, you know that rapid fire is the way to go, but that would mean ignoring half of what makes this game differentiate itself from the competition. Upon racking up enough points and filling up a bar located on the right corner of the screen, you are then allowed to unleash special attacks by performing tradition fighting game button combinations, such as “down-front-attack” or “full circle-attack”. Needless to say, in a game where movement is even more important than the shots you’re firing, this mechanic felt utterly useless. The other main gameplay element in Sol Cresta felt a lot more important and useful, however.

Sol Cresta Commands

Why would I want to perform the Hadouken button combination on a bullet-hell shooter?

After collecting a few F-shaped icons, you unlock addition ships that hover around you. The more icons you collect, the more formations you unlock. You can position these ships in an L-shape, resulting in a massive diagonal blast; you can position both ships in front of your main ship and turn your shots into screen-clearing flame bursts, etc. Unlike the useless super attacks from the previous paragraph, changing your formation is quick, simple to perform, and actually adds a layer of strategy to the overall gameplay. That being said… if you just want to hold down the Y button and blast through everything like a traditional bullet-hell shooter, you can. It won’t be as interesting, though.

As for the rest, well, Sol Cresta just looks, plays and sounds like an arcade game from the mid-90s, with little in terms of interesting art designs or even an interesting soundtrack. The latter is possibly my most disappointing gripe with the game as a whole, because this might be the first time since ever where a Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack felt like it could have been composed by anyone else. I appreciate his commitment to even using the same FM soundchip as older arcade games in order to emulate the sound design of the day, but it just wasn’t interesting. Same as the visuals.

Sol Cresta Formations

Commands are lame. Formations are super cool.

Sol Cresta is not a bad bullet-hell shooter at all, but it’s far from being the most interesting I’ve played in a while. Unfortunately, its visuals and soundtrack did not wow me. While it had one very interesting gameplay feature, it wasn’t exactly a new one: other games in the franchise have had them in the past. It felt less of a modern revival of an arcade franchise and just a new version of a 90s title, which was locked in someone’s storage for the past twenty-five years. Considering its much more expensive price tag when compared to other retro shooters, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed as well. Again, it’s far from being a bad shooter, but you can get better stuff for cheaper.


Graphics: 6.5

It runs phenomenally well, but the visuals themselves didn’t outright impress me, considering the studio behind it.

Gameplay: 7.5

The interesting formation mechanics are confusing at first, given how the game gives no explanations whatsoever about them, but are a genius idea for a bullet hell shooter, adding a layer of strategy rarely seen in games like this. Other elements, like the button combinations, however, feel unnecessary as hell.

Sound: 6.0

For a Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack, I did expect a bit more from it. It’s not bad, but it feels somewhat restrained, if that makes any sense. It feels like anyone else could have composed it and I wouldn’t have noticed the difference at all.

Fun Factor: 6.5

Sol Cresta is a fine bullet hell shooter, but one that doesn’t reinvent the wheel that much, be it in terms of presentation or mechanics. I do feel it’s a bit disappointing considering its developers, composer, and overall price tag, which is much higher than your average bullet hell.

Final Verdict: 6.5

Sol Cresta is available now on PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Intel i7-12700H, 16GB RAM, RTX 3060 6GB.