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
Who doesn’t love a good shoot ’em up? And if you’re after some top-notch modern shoot ’em ups, you can’t go far wrong with Astro Port’s work.
Satazius Next is an update to the company’s popular Gradius homage Satazius, and features improved visuals, a new soundtrack and the same solid horizontal shooter action that the studio has become so known and loved for.
Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
Don’t you love it when an April Fool escalates into something that is actually rather excellent?
That’s what happened with Neptunia Shooter, a game that started as a joke by Idea Factory International — a joke that people responded particularly positively to, resulting in it becoming a real, actual thing.
And it’s good! Paying homage to a variety of classic shooters while maintaining its own unique identity, this is a challenging blastathon for Nep fans and shmup enthusiasts alike. Now howsabout a Switch version, Iffy?
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
Samurai Aces Episode III: Sengoku Cannon (“Sengoku Cannon” hereafter) is a game of farewells.
It bids a fond farewell to the Samurai Aces series, which is how Psikyo began as a developer. It waves goodbye to Psikyo’s run of arcade-centric shoot ’em ups, being designed specifically for the PSP platform. And, in some ways, as a title developed by X-Nauts after they took over Psikyo in 2002, it’s something of a sayounara to Psikyo themselves, too.
Some of the snobbier shoot ’em up fans out there would also argue that Sengoku Cannon also bids adieu to Psikyo-branded games being “good”, but I’ve actually found quite a lot to like about this curious, clunky shooter. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Samurai Aces Episode III: Sengoku Cannon – Blasting Goodbye
If there’s one thing that becomes clear from looking at Psikyo’s shoot ’em up output over the years, it’s that they love a sequel.
The Strikers 1945 series saw two sequels, for example: one which built on the original formula, and another which transplanted the action into the modern day. They all played fairly similarly to one another in terms of their core mechanics, though each with their own unique features to enjoy.
The Samurai Aces series shook things up a bit more with each new installment. So after the straightforward, no-nonsense, enjoyable fun of the original Samurai Aces, we come to the second episode: Tengai. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Tengai: The Return of the Samurai Aces
It’s always fascinating to see a developer’s first game, because it often represents a combination of the new company’s staff bringing their past experience to the table and an attempt for that new company to truly define themselves as something unique.
Psikyo kicked off a prolific few years of shoot ’em ups with Samurai Aces (also known as Sengoku Ace: Tengai Episode I), originally released to arcades in 1993. As the company’s first game, it certainly helps set the mould for their subsequent games, but it remains a solid shoot ’em up in its own right, and can easily be experienced today as part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo compilation for Nintendo Switch.
A lot of that is probably down to the fact that it was designed by Shin Nakamura of Aero Fighters fame, so Psikyo was always set up to get a good start. But let’s take a closer look anyway, and see what makes this game truly tick.
Continue reading Samurai Aces: A Strong Debut
Anyone interested in collecting video games has doubtless run into the issue of certain titles from previous console generations commanding astronomical prices.
There are numerous reasons this might happen — perhaps the game had a very limited print run; perhaps it only came out in certain territories or perhaps it had problems with distribution when it was current.
One such example is Zero Gunner 2 for the Dreamcast, which, at the time of writing, is going for anywhere between £100 and £200 on eBay. Fortunately, there’s a much cheaper way to get your hands on it today: the Switch version, which is available either on its own via the eShop, or as part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha collection. Let’s have a look!
Continue reading Zero Gunner 2-: Making a Classic Affordable