Way back at the start of the arcades there were endless clones of Space Invaders. Enemy ships up top, player ship at the bottom, move left or right and shoot everything. It worked for Galaxian and Galaga, plus a ton of long-forgotten games like Phoenix, and it kinda-sorta worked for Moon Cresta. Moon Cresta had a fairly cool gimmick in that instead of playing as a single ship you played as one in stages, getting progressively more powerful as they linked up if only you could stay alive and dock them properly. Moon Cresta wasn’t a classic but still managed to hold its place in the arcade until Galaga and Pac-Man muscled it out. Even so, it did well enough to get a few upgrades and a sequel in the form of Terra Cresta. That was way back in 1985, though, so it would make perfect sense to think the series was dead and buried. 36 years is a long time to go between sequels.
When Platinum announced Sol Cresta on April 1, 2020, nobody quite knew what to make of it. It seemed like an April Fool’s joke but if so it was delivered straight. This year saw another April 1 announcement, and this one came with a short gameplay clip showing off a hint of the ship docking mechanic. Today it’s finally time for a full reveal, though, so Sol Cresta got a proper trailer showing off the shooting action, formation flying, enemies and levels, and other little details. The gameplay revolves around using multiple ships flying either docked together in its primary mode or in formation for different patterns of firepower. It’s a free-form system that promises a huge amount of experimentation in the best way to soak a level of its points, and if done properly should mean that different players will come up with a good number of equally-effective tactics to get through the game. There’s a lot more information at the Sony blog (written by Creative Director Hideki Kamiya) and the Platinum blog (written by Game Director Takanori Sato), going over the genesis of Sol Cresta’s creation plus a more in-depth look at its docking and formation systems, both of which are great reading. Or at least give the video below a watch, and see what happens when 36 years pass by and that’s still nowhere near long enough to consider a series over.