Reviews Archive

3rd Generation Shoot-em-ups


This feature is concentrating on all of the most noteworthy 8-bit traditional style scrolling shooters, I intend to cover tube shooters, arena shooters and rail shooters in their own specific features at a later date.

  abadox Abadox
abadox on nes
  1 player  
  Stand out 8-bit versions - NES.  
  Peculiar, biologically themed multi-directional shooter, that's a cross between Salamander (the overall design) and Sidearms (forward and reverse firing). A difficult game but rewarding.  
  aleste on msx Aleste
  1 player  
  Stand out 8-bit version - MSX 2  
  Great Compile shooter which was a much improved evolution of their previous NES game Zanac. An influential title, I also always liked the way that most of the power-ups could be used so well defensively as well as offensively. Try to go for the superior MSX version over the good, but very downgraded Master System game.  
  ano gaia Ano Gaia
ano gaia on spectrum
  1 player  
  Stand out 8-bit versions - ZX Spectrum  
  It may not look like much (few Speccy games did) but what it lacks in looks Ano more than makes up in supremely well designed levels, and a perfectly judged difficulty curve. Ano Gaia feels very much like a vertically scrolling sibling to Zynaps, having a similar style to the levels.  
  armalyte Armalyte
armalyte on c64
  2 player simultaneous  
  Stand out 8-bit versions - C64  
  Thalamus perfectly built on the groundwork laid down by R-Type with this superlative shooter, this time giving you pretty much total control over your "force pod" as pressing the space bar causes it to stay exactly wherever you leave it, which is handy as it means you can stay out of harms way while it does all the work  
  burai fighter Burai Fighter
burai fighter on nes
  1 Player  
  Stand out 8-bit versions - NES  
  Nice little game, with a ludicrously garish design that's quite fun and has excellent controls (when you're facing the correct direction, hold down the fire button to stay facing that way). The cramped, direction changing levels work well with the overall control and power-up design.  
  catalypse Catalypse
catalypse on c64
  1 Player  
  Stand out 8-bit versions - C64  
  Kind of like a companion piece to Armalyte in many ways. Taking inspiration from R-Type also, instead of building on the Force pod like Armalyte did, Catalypse works more on the idea of the "bits" (those things in R-Type that float above you that you can ram enemies with)  
  crisis force on nes Crisis Force
crisis force on famicom
  2 Player simultaneous  
  Stand out 8-bit version - N.E.S  
  Amazing graphics (with impressive parallax) awesome set-pieces, a fantastic weapon system where you can change between 3 different craft on the fly each with their own strengths, and a two player co-op mode. No exaggeration this could quite possibly be the best vertical shooter on any 8-bit format, it really is just that good.  
  delta on c64 Delta
delta on c64
  1 Player  
  Stand out 8-bit version - C64  

One of those shooters where you really must collect the power-ups early on (though thankfully you don't lose them when you die). Destroy the waves of enemies, then, depending on how many waves you've wiped out you get the option for that many power-ups (collectable blocks turn blue, but you can only pick up one per section) an influential old C64 classic.

  dragon spirit on nes Dragon Spirit
dragon spirit on famicom
  1 player  
  Stand out 8-bit version - N.E.S  
  Bandai really went town on the NES version of Dragon spirit, fantastic presentation, great music, cool bosses, even extra stages. The game play may not be the most original but it certainly ticks all the right boxes.  
  enforcer fullmetal megablaster Enforcer - Fullmetal Megablaster
enforcer on c64
  1 player  
  Stand out 8-bit versions - C64  
  Fantastic, frenetic blaster from the people who brought you Turrican and Katakis. Completely unbelievable graphics for the C64 (probably the best graphics for any C64 shooter ever). impressive bosses and a first rate styling.  
Atari ST
Atari VCS
Commodore 64
Game Boy
Master System
Mega Drive
Neo Geo
PC Engine
ZX Spectrum