Kenta Cho’s shoot ’em ups can be a bit of an acquired taste, but let yourself get wrapped up in them and you’ll have a whole lot of fun.
A great way to do that is to have a play around with Wii title Blast Works, which is an adaptation of Cho’s game Tumiki Fighters — and also includes several of Cho’s games as unlockable extras. It’s a satisfying game with some thoroughly unusual mechanics in its own right — then once you’ve mastered it you can build your own with some of the most comprehensive editing tools you’ll ever see on console!
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is the reason I bought an Xbox 360. The beautifully clear visuals really sold “HD” to me, and thus it was that game, more than any other, that brought me into the high-definition age.
I held off playing the Wii game Geometry Wars Galaxies for quite some time, at least partly because I thought the game might lose some impact in standard definition. I was very much wrong, and now I am regretting not having played this much sooner!
I have a soft spot for Microdeal’s Goldrunner. It was one of the first games I played on the Atari ST, and while it’s monstrously difficult and quite annoying at times, there’s something about it that kept me coming back for more.
It was likely a combination of things: the impressive performance, the excellent Rob Hubbard music, the sampled speech repeatedly bidding you “Welcome” even when you’d been playing for hours… it all combined to make one of the best Atari ST games out there, and a game I still enjoy a fair bit today.
First, there was Menace. Now, Psygnosis presents… a DMA Design game. BLOOD MONEY!
Thus ran the intro to Blood Money, spiritual successor to DMA Design’s excellent 16-bit shooter Menace, and a game that draws heavy inspiration from a variety of its contemporaries. It’s a good game with a few glaring issues that hold it back from true greatness — but it’s worth a play or two, particularly if you can bring a friend along for the ride!
Although X-Out is considered to be one of the best shoot ’em ups on the Atari ST, I didn’t rate it all that much from a modern perspective; I think console-style shoot ’em ups have spoiled me!
Its sequel Z-Out is another matter, however; despite being a pretty shameless clone of R-Type, this is a much more enjoyable horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up when played today — it even has R-Type’s iconic monstrous difficulty!
The all-time classic shoot ’em ups of days gone by can typically be found in the arcades and on home consoles — devices with specialist hardware than can handle speedy scrolling and flinging masses of sprites around the screen at once.
But don’t for one second think that there aren’t great shoot ’em ups designed for classic home computers, too. Because there are some fabulous ones out there — and Tyrian is one of the very best, particularly if you crave something with a little more depth and long-term appeal than a standard arcade-style affair. Best of all, it’s free these days, too.
The games that people consider to be “the best of all time” vary considerably according to what platforms they’ve spent the most time with — and nowhere is that more apparent than in the shoot ’em up genre.
X-Out (pronounced “cross out”) is supposedly one of the best ever shoot ’em ups for 8- and 16-bit home computers — and for sure, it has its impressive elements. But can it stand up to the heavy hitters of the console sector? You already know the answer to that, but let’s give it a go anyway.
Can you smell the Gun.Smoke? Infogrames certainly can in this vertically scrolling blastathon for Atari ST.
Wanted is actually a very competent shoot ’em up that does some interesting things that are a bit different from other, similar games on the ST. Perhaps most notably, it’s cowboy-themed, which was a rather unusual sight at the time — and still is today, to a certain extent.
Screaming Wings for Atari 8-bit was an excellent clone of Capcom’s arcade classic 1942, complete with loop-the-loops, a Lockheed Lightning under the player’s control and some satisfying gameplay.
Screaming Wings for Atari ST, meanwhile, is probably one of the worst shoot ’em ups on the system, since it abandoned almost everything that made the 8-bit version good and instead produced a steaming pile of pap whose only real redeeming feature is its use of digitised sound effects.
Opinions vary greatly as to which PC Engine shoot ’em up is the best — largely because there are so many of the damn things. I most certainly am not complaining.
Most people can agree that Hudson Soft’s excellent Soldier Blade is near the top of the rankings, though, thanks to its high-speed action, its satisfying power-up systems and its excellent music. It’s also highly accessible to shoot ’em up newcomers, so if you suck at the more intense titles — like I do — then this is a great title to cut your teeth on.