Tag Archives: arcade games

SNK Essentials: Ozma Wars

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.

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SNK Essentials: World 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 TriangleWorld 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!

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SNK Essentials: Bermuda Triangle

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!

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SNK Essentials: Alpha Mission

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.

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SNK 40th Anniversary Collection: (Almost) Perfect Preservation

As the years advance and old gaming hardware and media gets more expensive, harder to find and even more difficult to maintain, the matter of gaming preservation is of increasing importance.

I’ve previously talked about how emulation and ROM archives have an important role to play in all this — in spite of interference from certain quarters — but of arguably greater importance are companies’ own efforts to preserve their respective histories and portfolios.

I picked up the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection for Nintendo Switch recently, and I’ll be covering the individual games in it over the next indefinite period of time in an “SNK Essentials” column (and perhaps some videos) — but today, I wanted to talk about this package as a whole, what it gets right, and what I wish it had done slightly better.

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Atari ST A to Z: Xenon

The Bitmap Brothers were a force to be reckoned with in the 16-bit computer era.

Across a wide variety of different game styles, they demonstrated their absolute mastery over not only the technical aspects of programming for these popular home computers, but also how to make a thoroughly enjoyable game, too.

Although relatively straightforward by modern standards, the original Xenon remains a great time, and is absolutely worth checking out if you’re a fan of classic vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari A to Z Flashback: Black Widow

I don’t like spiders. I do, however, absolutely LOVE Black Widow, a delightful vector-based twin-stick shooter.

In Black Widow, you play a spider trying to defend their web from all manner of incoming creepy crawlies. And, unfortunately, it seems that they are sick and tired of you doing your spidery thing, and as such are more than capable of taking you out with a single, fatal touch.

Fortunately, you aren’t just any spider. You are the Black Widow, a laser-spitting spider of doom, the kind of thing that you really wouldn’t want to find under your toilet seat when you wake up in the middle of the night to go for a dump…

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.