Project S-11

Some games just don’t have a strong marketing campaign. Paired with a terrible name and terrible cover art, Project S-11 was developed by Paragon 5 and published by Sunsoft in 2001 for the Game Boy Color. The vertical shoot ’em up was regarded as one of the respectable shooters on the GBC. Would it pass my test or does the game stink like its name and artwork?

Project S-11 opens up by telling you that you are part of a top-secret project called S-11. You must penetrate the enemies’ defenses and deliver vitally important tactical information to your defensive bases. Battle against over 20 unique alien forces and destroy the alien homeworld to save the planet. Good luck pilot…

Yikes, let’s get this point out of the way. The cover art for Project S-11 is atrocious. It’s terrible and looks like a very cheap game. This cover art might be the top 10 worst cover arts in the history of video games sitting at the table with Mega Man. What were they thinking when they named this game and when they approved the cover art for the game? Back in 2001, kids were still choosing their games based on covers and I’m sure this game sold like shit because of this cover. It looks like an art project where you cut out different colors of construction paper and glue them together to make a picture for your parents when you are in fifth grade.

At least this game has decent albeit brief scenes where you are in a control room or a briefing room that looks much better and looks like a little bit of effort went into it. After your commander gives you a pep talk he sends you on your way in the secret ship of S-11. The ship is just as ugly as the cover art and the graphics burn my eyes and just scream cheap. I’m sorry, I know this is for the Game Boy Color so there are limitations in what the developers can do but I’ve played shooters on the original Game Boy that look better.

You’ll take good ole’ S-11 on eight different missions spanning space, jungles, oceans, arctic zones, and more as you deliver the vital info while taking out the aliens. The first level is called Ekans Desert…wait isn’t that a Pokemon? Does this take place in the Pokemon universe?! Okay, probably not…So the game is very ugly but does it play well?

Yes, most of the time. You’ll have your selection of numerous weapons to help take down the aliens. Some alien ships drop power-ups, I think it’s just random so you better hope you have good luck that day. Some levels I breezed through with power-ups, while others I died because I didn’t see a single power-up. Let’s talk about the weapons that come in this game. I don’t know their official names so I’ll just give them nicknames as I discuss them. I think there are five weapons to choose from and I liked the orange laser one as it was the strongest followed by the frozen penis head gun that shot penis heads in five different directions. A third weapon that I call the “pizza pisser” because it looks like a pizza when you pick it up and shoots like a weak piss stream as it gets less and less powerful the more you hold it down before it dribbles back onto your ship. This weapon can be effective when you have enemies beneath you but other than those three weapons there was a purple frisbee disc gun and a torpedo gun that sucked.

I made it through the first four missions with some luck but once I hit mission five I started to get my butt kicked. One thing I’ll praise is the cool side screen on the right-hand side that shows your armor, number of bombs, and ships you have left. I like that this game isn’t one hit one kill, but you’ll be able to take five to ten shots before dying. You’ll need that armor too because this game can get cheap and unforgiving. When you are low on health your ship starts to smoke which I thought was cool.

The reason why I say the game gets cheap is the bosses. There’s a mid-boss halfway through the level who is generally easy but then there were a few end level bosses that were cheap as they shoved your ship into the corner as they rammed forward giving you almost no space to fly. If they touched you your health would deplete to almost nothing making it very difficult to beat them without serious maneuvers. My best strategy in defeating all bosses was saving my bombs for them. You can shoot a bomb that will have a large explosion for about three seconds that continues to damage any ships that fly through it. These bombs are hard to come by and you usually only have two but they were much needed for killing bosses.

Once you defeat the final boss you are rewarded with a screen of a guy giving a thumbs up and says something like “good job, you saved the world”. The final level was surprisingly easy for me with the final boss being one of the easier fights. I hated that when you died your ship’s power-ups are taken away making you a dead duck in the water.

Thankfully I never saw this game as a kid but even then, I probably wouldn’t have asked my dad for it because it looks terrible.

Project S-11 is plagued by an ugly game box, ugly graphics, and a terrible name. There is some fun but I’d rather spend it playing countless other Game Boy and Game Boy Color games to pass the time. Unless you love shooters, I’d pass on this one.

Project S-11 scores a 6.1 out of 10.

Do you remember when Project S-11 first came out? What was your favorite weapon? Was it the frozen penis head or the pizza pisser? Have you ever heard of this game? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!

If you’d like to own a copy of Project S-11, you can purchase a used copy of it for SNES from eBay for around $30.

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