Steel Empire (Empire of Steel in Europe) is a side-scrolling shooting game for the Mega Drive/Genesis video game system. The player can choose to fly the Striker Plane or the Z-01 Zeppelin to combat enemy fighters through seven progressively harder levels, each containing a boss character at the end, which must be defeated in order to advance to the next level. The levels also feature less powerful mini-bosses, which appear about halfway through a level.
Steel Empire is notable amongst shooter games for its unique aesthetic designs. Mostly low-tech in nature, the game's environments are heavily stylized, with a steampunk theme to the technology. Steam power, propeller-based aircraft, and dirigibles play a large role in the makeup of the game's graphics.
Koutetsu Teikoku is a Japanese title developed by HOT-B, brought to the U.S. in 1992 by Acclaim's label Flying Edge Software for the Sega Genesis under the name Steel Empire (or The Steel Empire). Also released in Europe as Empire of Steel. A remake featuring technical upgrades saw the light in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance in Japan and Europe.
It is the age of steel, Mammoth battleships cruise the skies. Armored locomotives carry cannons the size of railway cars. Invincible fortresses float on air...and military might rules the day. The Motorhead Empire has conquered and enslaved most of the world.
Only one hope remains... The Republic of Silverhead. Their Z-01 Zeppelin flying ship launches lethal aerial-mines. Their Striker airplane fires armor piercing missiles. Their Lightning Bomb will reduce Motorhead's flame-shooting juggernauts to crumbling hunks of burning metal.
Enter a future that might have been. It's time to wage the war of the Steel Empire!
Steel Empire is a fast-paced scrolling shooter. Gameplay is linear in that the player is restricted to flying in only one direction, and the player will meet enemies in a predesignated order. However, unlike many scrolling shooters, Steel Empire allows players to fire from behind as well as ahead.
Ammunition is unlimited and players have the ability to collect level powerups, which increase their firepower strength from level one to level 20. These and other powerups may be collected by flying into them.
Players are given a certain number of "lives" and "continues". If a player loses a life, his craft simply reappears where it was destroyed. If the player loses all of his lives, then he must spend a "continue" and restart at the beginning of the level. Firepower level data is retained however throughout the course of the game. When all continues are expended, the game is over.
Power-ups take the form of small, floating circular-shaped icons containing the following:
- B: Extra Lightning Bomb. This powerful bomb, when launched, will annihalate every minor enemy on the screen, and cause much damage to the larger ones.
- O: Pair of mini-ships that stay next to you, allowing a wider range of fire. They will remain with you until you lose a life.
- Heart: Small filling of the "vital" bar.
- L ((Ex) - on the U.S. version): Level points. Collecting these will raise your firepower level up to a maximum of 20.
- S: Adds 1,000 points to the player's score.
- 1-UP: Extra life
Power-ups can be obtained by blasting enemies. Some may be found just floating around. Blasting a mini-airship yields six power-ups, usually "L" or "S".
1. Mine City of Rahl
Rahl is the leading mine city of the Silverhead Republic and is under attack. If the Motorhead Empire seizes control of this city, the war is then pretty much in their favor.
The stage takes place above a long railway that tunnels through small mountains. Enemies include small planes with flapping wings, railway cars armed with guns, and windmills that launch themselves into the air firing missiles. A large airship will occasionally fly overhead to paradrop enemy tanks onto the railroad.
2. Liedengel Caverns
Stage two takes place in a dimly-lit, underground mine, where enemies are easily concealed in the darkness. The mini-boss is the Tunnel Tank, a mining vehicle equipped with a large lamp. It fires missiles and bullets from its upper frame. After defeating the mini boss suddenly, an explosion takes place, and a plume of flame erupts behind the player's craft; the electrical arcs have ignited a pocket of volatile gas. The screen scrolls leftward while the player must navigate narrow, winding caverns for about two minutes. There are some health powerups to be found . Upon emerging from the collapsing cavern, the player faces the boss of the stage, a large mining vehicle equipped with many guns. The vehicle, called the Mole Tank, moves along the bottom of the screen.
3. Sky District Zektor
Stage three begins high in the clouds, with the Empire's Floating Fortress looming far off in the background. The mini-boss of this stage is exactly the same ship as the mini-boss of level one. This time this ship is armed with a new weapon- homing missile. Soon after, the player flies over the Floating Fortress. The fortress is a large brick castle, covered with cannons above, and held in the sky by massive propellers beneath. Each of these elements can be destroyed, often yielding powerups. Following the fortress, the player must face the Aero Gunship Class I, an enormous, multi-sectional enemy that takes the form of a gigantic airship
4. Gardandi Beach
The beach is the frontline of the Motorhead Empire This stage is littered with enemies, many of which are cleverly disguised as rocks and other land features.
Halfway through the stage, the player must battle the Sea Skimmer, a large, green futuristic ship armed with many rotating gun turrets.
The boss of this stage is the Naviair Submarine, a large submarine with immense firepower. As the battle begins, missiles shoot upward from the sea. The player must avoid these while attacking the periscope, which is the only visible part of the submarine. Upon destroying the periscope, the submarine reveals itself and attacks from one of three gun turrets on its top. The submarine will periodically retreat to the depths of the sea to launch more missiles. When two of the turrets are destroyed, the submarine attacks in flight
5. Dama City
Dama City is the Capital of the Motorhead Empire.
Enemy planes attack in droves as the player enters the city. This continues until the screen scrolls upward, and the player is bombarded by flying pods careening toward the player's ship from all directions.
At the end of the stage, the player must face not one, but two gigantic airships as seen in stage three.
6. Germburn Fortress
Deep beneath Dama City is the legendary Germburn Fortress, seat of Motorhead's Emperor.
The stage begins in a mountainous region in which the player is bombarded with many onsloughts of enemies from all directions. Soon thereafter, the screen scrolls diagonally upward, as the player is attacked by mountainside cannons and more flying enemies.
7. Lunar Space
The giant bullet you followed is in fact a starship, which has a series of voilent attacks, utilizing most of the weapons encountered in the game. It will even open a door to release a drove of minor enemies. Before it is destroyed however, it will retreat off-screen to recover. The player must face it three times before it is fully defeated.