Yars’ Revenge is, it’s fair to say, one of the most well-known and respected Atari 2600 games out there.
Indeed, back in the day it was one of the platform’s best-selling games, being one of several examples from the 1981-1982 period that actually broke a million copies sold. This was, as you might imagine, a pretty big deal back in the early days of video gaming.
It’s enjoyed enduring popularity over the years for good reason. So with it being part of the Atari Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system, let’s take a closer look at what it’s all about.
Continue reading Yars’ Revenge: This Game Has Bugs
For quite some time — particularly during the crossover from the 8-bit to 16-bit home computer and console eras — shoot ’em ups were regarded as the “dumb” side of gaming; critics often thought we could “do better”.
These days, of course, the more discerning gamers among us will, of course, be able to recognise that 1) there are a wide variety of different types of shoot ’em up out there, many of which are intricately designed works of mechanical artistry, and 2) they’re absolutely not as mindless as some people might like to make them out to be. And, moreover, they haven’t been for a long time.
Not sure about that? Look back on Namco’s Galaxian, originally released to arcades in 1979 and ported to a wide variety of platforms over the following years. The version we’re primarily concerned with today is the Famicom version from 1984, which you can now enjoy worldwide as part of the Namco Museum Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system.
Continue reading Galaxian: The Thinking Man’s Fixed Shooter
If you love a good shoot ’em up, you should find yourself some means of playing games for the PC Engine/Turbografx-16 (just “PC Engine” hereafter for simplicity’s sake). Konami’s PC Engine Mini is a great choice, as you’ll know if you’ve enjoyed our podcast episode on the subject.
Core to the PC Engine’s library of smashing shooters is Compile’s lineup of excellent blastathons, including three installments in the Star Soldier series, as well as spin-off title Blazing Lazers. It’s the latter we’ll be taking a look at today.
First released in 1989, Blazing Lazers remains one of the most popular, well-regarded games on the platform even today. So strap yourself in, grab that joypad and rev up your itchy trigger finger — we’re going in.
Continue reading Blazing Lazers: Pew Pew PC Engine
The shoot ’em up genre is, it’s fair to say, fairly dominated by spaceships. It makes sense — a sci-fi tale allows for pretty much unbridled creativity, taking the player on a journey through the stars into the great unknown, battling off hordes of unimaginable horrors from many light years away.
But the fantasy genre is ripe for exploiting in this way, too; much like the more outlandish side of sci-fi, a lot of fantasy has never seemed too concerned with respecting the usual laws of physics, time and space. And as such there’s no good reason why we couldn’t have just as satisfying a time blasting our way through a fantasy tale as we could if we were behind the controls of some sort of comically overpowered spaceship.
Namco evidently felt this way back in 1987 when they released the fantasy-themed vertically scrolling shoot ’em up Dragon Spirit to the arcades. And then they remembered it was still a very good idea a couple of years later when they released quasi-sequel Dragon Spirit: The New Legend for Famicom in 1989, with a North American NES version following in 1990. And this 8-bit home console version can now be enjoyed by a whole new audience today, thanks to its inclusion on the Namco Museum Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Dragon Spirit: The New Legend – In Case of Emergency, Use Dragon
The mechanical genre that we refer to as “shoot ’em up” actually covers a number of different gameplay styles. And, as with everything else in this world, it displays distinct fashions and trends as the years go by.
Back in the early days of gaming, the fixed shooter was king. Then we moved into the beginning of the horizontally and vertically scrolling age, the former of which in particular flourished throughout the 16-bit home console age. The rise of polygons brought with it a shift to “2.5D”, where 3D graphics were combined with 2D gameplay for added spectacle. And today, many — though not all — shooters focus on the elaborate choreography of the “bullet hell” or danmaku subgenre.
This is an oversimplification, of course, but the fact remains that we see fewer shooters in the style of those from the late 16-bit and early 32-bit eras than we used to. Which is why Rigid Force Redux, a recent Nintendo Switch and Xbox One release from German developer com8com1 Software, was such a pleasure to explore.
Continue reading Rigid Force Redux: An R-Type By Any Other Name
Namco really were trailblazers back in the early days of gaming; so many of their titles were true pioneers.
Much of the vertically scrolling shoot ’em up genre as it exists today owes a lot to 1983’s Xevious, for example. Xevious established or at least popularised genre conventions such as making use of different weapons for different targets, regular confrontations with powerful enemies and dynamic difficulty scaling.
Namco’s port to the Famicom became one of the system’s first “killer apps”, selling a mighty 1.26 million copies — and it still plays great today. And wouldn’t you know it? You can play that 8-bit console version on the Evercade retro gaming system thanks to the Namco Museum Collection 1 cartridge. Let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Xevious: Are You Devious Enough?
One of the great things about the Evercade retro gaming handheld is its unofficial mission to bring a variety of overlooked, underappreciated or unlocalised retro gaming titles to a worldwide audience.
The publishing partners who have signed up to distribute their games on the platform are seemingly more than happy to jump on board with this philosophy too — and this is especially evident with the two Namco Museum Collection cartridges, which not only provide the classics we expect to always see on such compilations like Pac-Man and Dig-Dug, but also some lesser-known titles, some of which never officially left Japan on their original platforms.
Part of the reason for this is the Evercade’s initial focus on retro home consoles, whereas Namco’s own Namco Museum releases have historically tended to focus on the arcade side of things. And so, we come to Star Luster, a 1985 release for the Famicom that never came West. Until now!
Continue reading Star Luster: Namco Does Star Raiders
So it seems that “strip ’em up” is a thing now. I am neither surprised nor particularly upset about this, given that Kaneko’s classic erotic Qix-alike Gals Panic also spawned its own subgenre; it’s just amusing to see this sort of thing happen in the modern day.
For the unfamiliar, the strip ’em up, previously seen here on MoeGamer in the form of Deep Space Waifu (and in a tangentially different form in Crawlco Block Knockers) is a take on the shoot ’em up — or, more broadly, arcade game — formula in which you not only blast enemies, you also, through engaging with the game’s specific mechanics, find some means of disrobing the (usually anime-style) young lady in the background. Success provides titties; failure provides frustration.
Which brings us to Waifu Uncovered, product of the delightfully named One Hand Free Studios, and a game that, rather pleasingly, isn’t just a clone of Deep Space Waifu. Let’s take a closer look!
Mild NSFW stuff ahead!
Continue reading Waifu Uncovered: Return of the Strip ‘Em Up
Speak to anyone familiar with Psikyo’s work, and doubtless Gunbird 2 will come up sooner rather than later.
It’s probably one of the most fondly regarded entries in the company’s back catalogue, and for various reasons. Not only is it a solid shoot ’em up in its own right, but it also had an excellent Dreamcast release in collaboration with Capcom, featuring Morrigan from Darkstalkers as a guest character.
The Nintendo Switch version that comes as part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo collection sadly lacks this latter aspect — presumably due to licensing issues — but otherwise allows a whole new audience to enjoy this classic blaster. Let’s take a look!
Continue reading Gunbird 2: Peak Psikyo
In conversation with casual shoot ’em up fans I’m acquainted with, I’ve come to learn that Gunbird is one of Psikyo’s most fondly regarded series.
It’s not hard to see why, either. Although the first Gunbird game predates many of Psikyo’s other works, it features a lot of their most appealing elements. We have the multiple endings and strong replayability of Samurai Aces. We have the strong degree of physicality of the Strikers series. We have the overblown narratives of Sol Divide and Dragon Blaze. And the whole thing is topped off with a ton of ’90s anime charm.
Sounds like a recipe for success to me. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Gunbird: The ’90s Anime Shoot ‘Em Up