Tag Archives: shoot ’em up

Atari A to Z Flashback: Quadrun

It’s fun times four with Quadrun, which is one of the rarer Atari 2600 games thanks to its original status as a mail order-only game for Atari Club members.

It’s a shame this didn’t get a wider release, because it’s an intriguing, unusual, experimental and rather fun game once you get your head around its core mechanics, which see you moving around four distinct quadrants of a playfield to dispatch enemies and rescue “Runts” from the dreaded electric toaster grids.

Check it out in the video below, and please subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

Galaxian: The Thinking Man’s Fixed Shooter

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.

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Evercade A to Z: Solaris

With how long the Atari 2600 stuck around — and its position in the early days of the games business — it’s no surprise that games from its latter days bear little to no resemblance to its launch titles.

There are few games in which this is more apparent than Solaris, the official follow-up to Star Raiders on the 2600. But not the sequel to Star Raiders on the Atari 8-bit; that was just called Star Raiders II. Also, just to confuse matters, both Star Raiders II and Solaris were originally intended to be licensed games based on the movie The Last Starfighter, but for one (mostly Tramiel-shaped) reason or another, neither ever happened.

Fortunately, we can still enjoy Solaris for ourselves today. Check out my writeup for more thoughts, enjoy the video below and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Blazing Lazers: Pew Pew PC Engine

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.

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Atari ST A to Z: Zoltar

Mandarin Software’s STOS marketed itself as “The Game Creator”, but really it was a lot more than that — it was a whole programming language based on the conventions of BASIC, meaning you could do a wide variety of things with it.

One of the showcase titles included with the STOS package was Zoltar, a simple shoot ’em up that tasked you with taking down pre-scripted waves of aliens as they swooped, bobbed and weaved around the screen. As a game, it’s not great, but it’s a good showcase of what STOS is capable of — particularly as it includes a fully functional built-in level editor!

Check it out — and hear about my lost ST game ZAPP — in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Dragon Spirit: The New Legend – In Case of Emergency, Use Dragon

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

Atari A to Z Flashback: Missile Command

It’s time for another one of those games that shows up on Atari Flashback Classics several times! This time around, it’s Missile Command putting in its second appearance.

The 2600 version of Missile Command is actually a really solid port of the game, albeit lacking some of the features like the satellites and planes. Most importantly, though, it plays well, looks authentic and is monstrously addictive.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z

Solaris: The 2600’s Finest Hour

The humble Atari 2600 had an astonishingly long lifespan, being officially produced between 1977 and 1992. As you might expect, this means there’s an equally astonishing difference between the very first games for it and those which came out later in its lifespan.

Solaris by Doug Neubauer came out in 1986, putting it towards the latter end of that lifespan. To date it remains one of the very finest games on the Atari 2600 from technological, gameplay and design standpoints — although not one that gets talked about all that much. And all this makes it a title well worth checking out even if you don’t normally “do” Atari games.

Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to try it for yourself, since it appears on the Atari Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look!

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short;Play: Satazius Next

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!

Atari A to Z Flashback: Millipede

Millipede may look like Centipede, but it’s considerably more chaotic and frantic than its predecessor.

Rather impressively, the Atari 2600 version, while not quite capturing the visual style of the arcade original, manages to keep pace with the game’s iconic chaos, providing a challenging and enormously addictive arcade blaster for the platform. In fact, some consider Millipede to be among the 2600’s finest games.

Want to see what it’s all about? Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Atari A to Z