Tag Archives: shoot ’em up

Shmup Essentials: Murasaki

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.

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Witchfu Wednesday: Patchouli Knowledge

Happy Halloween! What better way to celebrate than with some witchy waifu funtimes?

I had to think a bit for this one. I’ve encountered a few delightful witches over my gaming career, but I’ve also already written about a couple of them in detail — most notably Alice Kamishiro from Supipara and Metallia from The Witch and the Hundred Knight.

“Why not take a bit of a sidestep, then?” I thought. Why not take a look at a character I have little more than a passing familiarity with, but would like to know more about? That way I can call it research for a Cover Game feature I’ve been mulling over for a while. And I can also make at least one person on Twitter very happy in the process. (Hi, Kenji.) So, then; let’s learn about Patchouli Knowledge together.

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Atari ST A to Z: Eliminator

Today’s Atari ST game is a good example of the sort of technically impressive titles that came from the development company Hewson.

Probably best known for their impressive platformer Nebulus (known on some platforms in some regions as Tower Toppler), Hewson was a company that became renowned for its visually striking games, making use of a variety of techniques to provide the illusion of pushing the hardware “beyond its limits”.

Eliminator sees the company turning its hand to the quasi-3D effect of late ’80s racing games… and then layering a brutally challenging bit of shoot ’em up action atop it. I also have fond memories of it for admittedly strange and anecdotal reasons that are little to do with the game itself…

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Atari ST A to Z: Chase

Deep in the seventh galaxy of the Nebulus system, a lone warrior has been selected from thousands to perform an unenviable task: to save the beautiful Princess Chardonnay from the clutches of the evil Disgusmatrons.

Thus begins the rather overblown story to Mastertronic’s Chase, an Atari ST title shamelessly attempting to ride the coat-tails of the popular Star Wars arcade game with its transparent vector graphics and arcade-style thrills.

As with most titles from the era, the story was completely and utterly irrelevant… but that didn’t mean that the game experience itself was lacking. On the contrary, despite the game’s simplicity and its rather bare-bones presentation, Chase is an oddly addictive little affair I still enjoy booting up for the occasional blast-and-dodge session even today!

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Atari A to Z: Gorf

When is a Space Invaders rip-off not a Space Invaders rip-off? When it also rips off Galaxian and Gyruss!

No, that’s unfair to poor old Gorf, an arcade game by Bally Midway that was ported to Atari 8-Bit by Roklan Software. Gorf is an entertaining and enjoyable game in its own right that most certainly has its own identity — albeit perhaps not what was originally intended.

This began life as an adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, of all things, but was presumably adapted into what it eventually became after someone at Bally Midway figured that a game involving a 20-minute sequence slowly panning around a spaceship with nothing happening probably wouldn’t be that much fun. The end product was rather good… and bastard hard.

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Atari A to Z: Caverns of Mars

Happy Tuesday! While I prepare something more substantial for your reading pleasure later this evening, I invite you to enjoy the latest installment in my retro gaming side project.

The Atari 8-Bit is the first computer I used growing up, and it’s a platform I still very much enjoy busting out today. It’s somewhat lesser known than its contemporaries, the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum, but it has a great library of games and software.

Today we take a look at a classic (and influential) vertically scrolling shoot ’em up, Caverns of Mars. Enjoy!

NES Essentials: Arkista’s Ring

The game I’d like to talk about today is a prime example of why emulation and game preservation is important.

I’d never heard of it prior to my first encounter with it yesterday, when I was attracted by the box art I saw in my Launchbox library. No-one I’ve spoken to about it today has ever heard of it. I’ve found very little information about or discussion of it online, save for a few YouTube commenters on gameplay videos reminiscing about how much they enjoyed playing this game back in the day. And I’ve never seen it come up in articles about retro collections or “hidden gems of the NES library”.

The game I’m talking about is Arkista’s Ring, developed by Nihon Micom Kaihatsu (aka NMK), published by the American arm of Sammy Corporation (without crediting NMK) and released exclusively in North America in 1990.

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