Gawkman gives the run down on his favorite scrolling shooting games of all time. HIS OPINION IS SUPERIOR TO YOURS, FOR HE IS GAWKMAN! SHUTTUP!
Am I probably the only guy on here that ever liked shooters? When I say shooters, I mean like shoot-em-ups where you flew a plane or spaceship or helicopter or something around (non-platform) and you had three primary objectives:
1. DESTROY EVERYTHING! 2. DON'T GET DESTROYED! 3. PICK UP POWER-UPS/WEAPONS SO YOU CAN DESTROY MORE STUFF!!!
The beauty. The simplicity. The purity. In this game genre, the men were seperated from the boys. In this kind of game, you can't readily practice a particular game and get good at it. You either have it, or you do not. Speed-of-light reflexes, calm intensity, pinpoint precision and perfection are just a taste of the raw gaming substance that is required for survival (yes, that's right: survival... not success). These were the true quarter-munchers before the brawl style games like Double Dragon, TMNT: The Arcade Game and The Simpsons came along.
An example of some of the popular ones were the Gradius and the R-Type series. You may remember others like Afterburner or 1943. There have been many throughout the years; you could probably consider the very first space shooter to be either Space Invaders or Asteroids. Boy, they have come a long way. And throughout the years, I think I'm settling on what I would consider to be my all-time favorites. Here they are*.
10. R-Type 3 (SNES) - "Hurray for the floating KILL THINGY!"
Just an all-around coolass game. This game has the R-Type feel, but is a lot faster paced. The need to memorize when enemies appear and strategize how to avoid them is lessened, thus increasing the "Rawwwwrrr" factor. The stages are a lot more colorful and stray from the "scroll right-to-left, always, all the time" standard on occasion. There are a few weapon variations on the floating KILL BALL that accompanies your ship (that you are practically defenseless without, I might add). Not an easy game, but by all means a lot more possible and less frustrating than R-Type 2.
9. Super Xevious 3d (PS) - "I still don't know how to pronounce the name."
If you ever played the original Xevious out on arcade, this game is a 3d re-release of it. They did a damn good job of taking the original Xevious "feel", and beefing it up in a spiffy 3d engine, yet still maintaining the overhead scrolling feel. It worked. Oh, and the bosses are cool.
8. Gradius 3 (SNES) - "Gradius++"
This was one of the first shooters to hit the Super Nintendo when it first came out. Konomi did itself proud with a solid shooter with creative bosses, fun and non-repitious stages, cool weapons, and excellent, smooth, clean graphics. It also blew the crap out of it's predessors, Gradius, Gradius 2, Nemesis, and uh... Gradius 1. Yeah.
Things that suck? The curse of limited continues. Some would consider this game setup to be "challenging". I consider it just plain MEAN.
Programmer Guy (in Japanese): Okay boss, do we want to give them limited continues or infinite?
Boss (in English but with Japanese accent): Stupid American! Give only 3 continues! We superior, our kids no need even use one continue! We generous!
*laughter that doesn't match their mouths*
7. Zanac (NES) - "Now you suck."
Think you have good reflexes? DO YA? Prepare to have your ego stripped from you in the form of (x >= 500) projectiles heading your way RIGHT NOW. Heading for the corner of the screen to evade, eh? *diabolical laughter* You chose poorly.
This is what I consider to be by far the hardest shooter game ever created. You can forget about the "get powerful and blow everything up that enters the screen before it has a chance to shoot me" method. There's only one goal in this game: survive till the end of the stage. Once you get a special weapon, savour the moment. You won't have it for long.
Zanac, a very straight-forward NES shooter still is one of my all-time favorites today. The music is catchy and memorable, and does a good job of making what would be monotonous stages actually have a "feel" to them. Even though you fight very similar enemies every stage, somehow you found yourself saying, "I love this level!" or "I HATE this level!"
Many a controllers were thrown while playing this game. Luckily they gave you unlimited continues. Unfortunately, that didn't matter after stage 10- you had to get through stage 10, 11, 12 on one continue... or you were sent back not only to the beginning of the level, but the beginning of level 10 (two levels back)! I actually beat it- one time. FYI: The ending sucks.
6. Space Megaforce (SNES) - "Overhead scroller bliss." Probably my overall favorite simple overhead scrolling shooter I've played. The levels are challenging and fun, but not impossible. The bosses just RULE. This is one of those games where you just gets this total adrenaline rush from being on your last life, pounding the hell out of a boss with everything you got, hoping you can deplete his gazillion jillion hit points before he again brings out the MEGA KILL WEAPON OF DEATH again and sends you back to the last "continue" point.
FUN FACT: I'm not sure if it was an upgraded gaming engine, or the same set of programmers or what, but I believe Space Mega Force was built on the same basic premise that "Zanac" was- the weapons system is very similar, and there are lots of "familar" things likes sounds and power up icons that make you think, "Wait, they had that in Zanac!" But I doubt you care.
5. Gyruss (arcade) - "Circle-o-lishious!" Everybody loves Gyruss. Your ship circles around the enemies in a trademark "behind the ship" view while listening to rather dramatic arrangement of a familiar tune that I've been trying to figure out what it was for years . A classical piece methinks (note: please EMAIL ME if you know what that song was taken from!).
Anyway, I'm sure we can all remember the days when we wanted to say that we managed to get all the way to Pluto (and of course, getting everyship on the challenge stages). But it didn't happen, now did it? Stupid asteroid/rock thingy flying out of nowhere!
4. Life Force (NES) - "Gradius.. with GUTS!" This came could quite easily be considered the most creative shooter ever. This game was made by Konami and sports the same gaming engine, weapon system (and ship really) as the Gradius series. The first variation from Gradius is that the game would alter between side scrolling and overhead scrolling. But the cool thing about this game is the setting: this game takes place entirely within a huge alien organism the size of a planet. You start out going down it's digestive tract, and the walls of evasion range from intestines to tissue and other graphic biological blah, and you fight a big brain at the end. And that's just the first stage.
At the time, the detail of the graphics was quite impressive. The stages were well designed and plain fun, it was challenging but not impossible, and the bosses were cool. The only real drawback of this game is that it only had 6 stages (too short), and the cursed limited continues (BOO ON YOU KONAMI! I DON'T WANT TO START OVER FROM THE BEGINNING). Luckily, the infamous Konami code works in this game, allowing you to start the game with more ships.
3. Twin Cobra - (Arcade/NES) - "All-eggs-in-one-basket artillary."
This game has probably been shown up a hundred times a hundred million ways, but it holds a lot of sentimental value for me personally, and I think it was partly responsible for spawning most of the ensuing overhead scrolling shooter genre. The weapons selection is basic, but very powerful, assuming you don't die and have to build it all back up from your Wimpy Initial Pea-Shooter (WIPS). You fly a helicopter in an overhead view blowing the hell out of really imaginative and fantastic variations on ground artillary. Also, I believe the bosses in the game were the founders of the "Dodge this, BITCH!" shooter concept that later became so prevalent among the difficult shooters. It was nothing but quarters and WIPS that ultimately got you far in this game once you were past level 2 when played in the arcade. Hope your rapid-fire button pushing hand is in good shape for this one.
2. Carrier Airwing (Arcade) - "Destroy! Destroy! DESTROY!"
I love this damn game. It is nothing but pure carnage. It has a hint of "1943" in it due to the fact that you can take more than one hit and it just detracts from your "fuel" supply. You get money for destroying bad guys, so there is incentive to blow the snot out of everything in sight, and with that money, you can buy more fuel, shields, and special weapons to blow the crap out of even more stuff to get more money in the next stage... turning into an addictive self-accelerating cycle that eventually results in you having no money (cuz it's spent in the machine). The bosses are intense, and the last boss I think is relatively the longest, craziest, most intense boss battle I've experienced out of ANY game genre.
You conventional weapon (aka "weapon that doesn't run out and you are always pressing") gets progressively stronger, and doesn't go away when you die.
1. The Guardian Legend (NES) - "Adventure and shoot-em-up... together at last."
Of course, my favorite. You know, this technically probably only qualifies as a "quasi-space-shooter", because you only spend half of your time in shoot-em-up mode. You see, the game is actually more of an adventure game. You walk screen to screen fighting mini-bosses and picking up cool new weapons and what would be the equivalent of heart containers. To go to the next area, you have to close all "gates" in the current area by jumping into them, going through an overhead shooter level and beating the boss at the end.
What's cool about this game is that you progressively get stronger- and the enemies get stronger. When you go through latter stages of the game, you take a serious beating, and you dish out a serious beating. So much fun! By the end of the game, you will have collected over TWENTY different special weapons to use as you wish, which use a general special weapons supply fund (think of them as MP).
You honestly could consider this game a combination between Zanac, Legend of Zelda, and Metroid. It's not hard to see why this game appeals to me so. I have not found a game like it yet.
FUN FACT: I believe that this game was also made by the same guys who made Zanac. Very familiar icons and sounds are all throughout the game. And if you didn't have a life meter and died instantly, it would almost be as difficult, too :)
1943 (arcade), Galaga (arcade), Tiger Heli (arcade), Xevious (arcade), Thunderforce 2 (Sega Genesis), R-Type 2 (SNES), Starfox (SNES), Galaxy Force (arcade), Gondomania (arcade), Time Pilot 84 (arcade),
*DISCLAIMER: Gawkman may not have owned a Sega Genesis, Sega Master System, Turbo Graphix 16, Game Cube, PS2, X-Box, Neo Geo, Commodore 64, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Boy, Sega Dreamcast, Sega CD, and a whole bunch of other gaming systems that probably had really cool shooters. Stupid mom not letting me get all the systems...