Tag Archives: shoot ’em up

SNK Essentials: Sasuke vs. Commander

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.

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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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Atari A to Z Flashback: Destroyer

As we’ve previously seen with Canyon Bomber, sometimes all you need to make an addictive, enjoyable game is a simple concept… and perhaps some gimmicky controls.

Such is the case with Destroyer, a game that featured some satisfyingly clunky physical controls on its original arcade release, which are obviously lost somewhat in this home translation. Interestingly, this never got a home port of its own prior to the release in Atari Flashback Classics; it was instead incorporated into the Atari 2600 port of Canyon Bomber, which was developed by David “Pitfall” Crane.

It’s a simple idea, but an effective one… and one that really does not like being captured at 30fps, so if you can’t see the depth charges for part of this video… uh, sorry! Such are the limitations of my hardware!

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.