Squaresoft (these days known as Square-Enix) sure diversified itself after first leaving Nintendo. Even though their name is associated with some of the finest RPGs ever made, they set out to prove that they were anything but a one trick pony. During the Playstation 1 years alone, they released a modern-day themed RPG, a survival horror game (which was a sequel to said modern-day themed RPG), and no less than 5 fighting games (with only 4 of them making it to U.S. shores). The early years of the PS2 era saw them release everything from beat-em-ups, to racing games, and even a pro-wrestling game. If anything could demonstrate how far off the beaten path Square had gone, it’s this side-scrolling PS1 shooter. Other than a few key flaws, it isn’t a bad first effort, considering this came from the guys who made Secret of Mana and Romancing Saga.

It’s the future, and the Earth is at war with the moon. The Earth is controlled by an oppressive regime, and the people of the moon fight back by sending fighters known as Einhander to Earth on suicide missions. You play as one of these fighters. You land on Earth tearing things up. Before long, you question the nature of the war and of your superiors. No need to be concerned about the story in these types of games. There is a whole bunch of things that need to be shot to pieces, and you’re the one to do it. You are armed with a machine gun, and a manipulator arm. The latter helps players pick up gunpods, which serve as the game’s power ups. There are several different types if gunpods, such as missile launchers, cannons, and even a saber. Even though the game is classic 2-d action, the graphics and set pieces are done in gorgeous 3-d, and they even contain destructible elements. The soundtrack excels as well, containing a mix of techno and electronica.

Unfortunately, the game is short in length, even if it is challenging. The lack of a two-player mode also hurts the game a bit. Even so, Einhander proves that Square is just as good at making side-scrolling shooters as they are at making RPGs. It’s already available on the PSN store in Japan, so hopefully it won’t be long before we see it on the PSN over here.