Ozma Wars isn’t the only very early SNK title to feature in the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection — we also have an unusual fixed shooter from a year later: Sasuke vs. Commander.
Like Ozma Wars before it, Sasuke vs. Commander is another game of possible “firsts” in gaming — and also a game that doesn’t get much acknowledgement today, thanks to a lack of home ports until it got a PlayStation minis release for PS3, PSP and Vita in 2011.
SASUKE READ ON FOR LEARN MORE. YES SHOGUN.
Continue reading SNK Essentials: Sasuke vs. Commander
Well now. Here’s one that doesn’t get talked about all that much: one of SNK’s earliest games, and a title believed to be the second ever fixed shoot ’em up, after Taito’s genre-defining classic Space Invaders.
In fact, Ozma Wars, developed by Logitec (no, not that one) and published by SNK in 1979, ran on the same Taito 8080 hardware that powered Space Invaders, was available as a conversion kit for Space Invaders machines, and even made use of the same coloured overlay on its black and white display to bring a bit of vibrancy to the visuals.
What’s more, it provides a thoroughly interesting early shoot ’em up experience that is markedly distinct from Taito’s title. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading SNK Essentials: Ozma Wars
The loose “trilogy” of vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups from SNK’s early days that began with Alpha Mission and Bermuda Triangle finally concludes with 1987’s World Wars.
Sometimes erroneously described as a reskin of Bermuda Triangle, World Wars offers an interesting blend between the gameplay elements of its two predecessors, and manages to carve out an identity for itself as an enjoyable, addictive shoot ’em up in its own right in the process.
Alpha mission start! Launch all ZIG!
Continue reading SNK Essentials: World Wars
A couple of years after Alpha Mission, SNK put out a follow-up of sorts — if not a direct sequel. (That would show up in the Neo Geo era!)
That game was Bermuda Triangle, and much like Alpha Mission before it, it’s a very creative and unusual take on a genre that, even as early as 1987, was heavily saturated with very similar titles of varying quality.
In order to stand out in such a situation, you need to do something distinctive — even unique. And, well, there are definitely a number of features in Bermuda Triangle that I haven’t seen attempted since!
Continue reading SNK Essentials: Bermuda Triangle
SNK is primarily known for its fighting games these days, but in its earlier years it was known for a number of solid (and influential) shoot ’em ups.
While Alpha Mission (also known as ASO: Armored Scrum Object in Japan) isn’t the company’s first shoot ’em up by any means, it is an important one and forms the first in a loose “trilogy” of titles that we’ll explore over the course of the next few articles.
Drawing inspiration from Western RPGs, of all things, this is a fun but challenging vertically scrolling shoot ’em up that any fan of the genre owes it to themselves to become intimately acquainted with.
Continue reading SNK Essentials: Alpha Mission
“Modern retro” games have been fashionable for a while now, but anyone who’s been around the block knows that making an authentically retro-feeling experience is more than just adopting a pixel art/chiptune aesthetic and calling it a day.
No; a truly authentic-feeling “modern retro” game needs to not only capture the look and sound of titles from classic platforms, it also needs to recapture the feel — and while doing so, take into account some more modern conventions to create a satisfying experience for the 21st century gamer.
I can think of no game that has nailed this better than Devil Engine, the new release from Dangen Entertainment. And if you’re a shoot ’em up fan, you are going to want to be all over this masterpiece.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Devil Engine
As we’ve discussed on numerous previous occasions, the shoot ’em up genre is a lot more diverse than you might think.
Over the years, we’ve seen this initially straightforward genre blossom into something that encompasses a wide variety of distinct mechanics: the precise navigation of danmaku games, the pattern recognition and twitch reflexes of twin-stick shooters, the emphasis on memorisation and “risk versus reward” of Gradius-style games and plenty more besides.
One of the most interesting ways in which developers have experimented with the genre as a whole is through combining it with other genres. To date we’ve seen attempts to blend it with fighting games (such as the Suguri series), platform games (such as Rabi-Ribi) and even puzzle games. Murasaki, a 2014 release from Japanese doujin circle Katatema, falls into the latter category.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Murasaki