Reviews Archive

Run and Gun Games


Run N' Gun games, some of the most intense, exciting, and just plain difficult games out there, masses of enemies, explosions, big guns and even bigger giant robot/monster boss battles are the order of the day here. Strangely enough after I set out to make this feature I found it difficult to pin down a clear definition of the genre anywhere, everyone seems to disagree on what does and doesn't constitute a Run N' Gun, so after a while I realised that I was going to have to try to work out a clear criteria myself based on what's generally agreed on. My criteria are as follows - must have multi-directional firing, must have a higher emphasis on shooting than platforming, must have an element of powering up and improving weapons, must have a fairly linear level structure with no backtracking, there can be a very small element of puzzle solving but it must be non-intrusive and must not disrupt the flow of the game. Phew! what a load of pointless rules, oh well lets get on to the games.

  batman and robin on genesis Adventures of Batman and Robin
batman and robin on megadrive
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  This game really throws you into the deep end from the get go, with tons of enemies from every direction attempting to pummel you whilst others open fire on you from safe spots, so expect to die a good few times before you get the general hang of it and start to progress through the levels. What levels they are though! with easily some of the most attractive graphics and effects on the system, the music does a great job of raising the adrenaline level too. I will admit that it can feel a little lacking in variety early on but I'd keep with it just to see all the set pieces and intense sections later on.  
alien soldier megadrive
Alien Soldier
alient soldier genesis
  1 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  This game is pretty much action packed boss battle after boss battle with only a small modicum of shooting between, it has a fantastic way of keeping you on your toes by giving you a powerful dash move that decimates the bosses in a few hits, but can only be used when you're unharmed (which forces you to be extra careful during the between boss sections). One thing I really like about this game (outside of the huge set-pieces and epic bosses) is that it absolutely inundates you with all the control features you could ever want.  
  atomic runner arcade game Atomic Runner
atomic runner genesis
  1 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  What a unique and likeable game this is. It's like any other run n' gun game, except here the screen has an automatic scroll to force you to keep moving and think fast. I personally find the small, detailed graphics quite endearing and the music is excellent too, it has one of those infectiously toe-tapping beats that drills into your skull.  
  contra on nes Contra/Probotector/Gryzor
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - NES  
  Definitely the most important run and gun game ever made, and the first in the long line of classic Contra games. Many of the genre staples were pioneered here, such as the excellent, responsive control method with multi-directional firing, the genius weapon power-ups such as the fantastic spread shot, and the all important 2-player co-op feature. Most importantly though the game is quite simply loads of brainless, action packed fun.  
  contra iii on snes Contra III
probotector on snes
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - SNES  
  Great update that not only worked on making everything bigger and better but also tried to iron out some of the little annoyances present in earlier incarnations. You now have two weapon slots, so you don't have to put all your eggs in one basket only to die and lose everything at once, and there's a bomb to get you out of the tight situations that always seem to occur. The game is a little short at only 6 stages, and the top down mode 7 levels haven't dated particularly well, but when this originally came out there was nothing else quite like it, and its impact cannot be understated.  
  contra hard corps Contra: Hard Corps
probotector on megadrive
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  Hard Corps is quite simply Contra taken to absolute excess, it's more intense, faster and harder then most other Contra games, and as it's name infers it's pretty much aimed squarely at the most hardcore of the Contra audience out there. Hard Corps works on, and improves everything which made Contra III excellent, there's loads more levels (many of which are updates of Contra III classics), loads of characters, tons of different weapons, and even a plotline with multiple endings joining the whole thing together. Quite possibly the greatest, most complete Contra game ever made.  
  cyber lip Cyber Lip
cyber lip on neo geo
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - Neo Geo  
  One thing I find with run n' gun games is that there's usually one weapon in the game that's pretty much the one you want to collect and stick with (such as the spread gun in Contra), not so with Cyber Lip though as each weapon is balanced out extremely well with pros and cons meaning that to play well you'll have to keep switching between weapons for different occasions. The gameplay here is very Metal Slug flavoured, there's some cool voice samples, and the game has a cool emphasis on climbing and hanging in many of the level designs.  
  demolition man on genesis Demolition Man
demolition man on megadrive
  1 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  A surprisingly fun, and action packed license game. Demolition Man has it's fair share of impressive set pieces from the get go (such as jumping out of helicopters on bungee cords and escaping from explosions), the graphics are respectable, and there's some notable high quality voiceover work and sound effects. Avoid the SNES version though as it controls like a brick, has slowdown, and has muffled sound.  
  dinosaurs for hire on genesis Dinosaurs For Hire
dynosaurs for hire on megadrive
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  There are certainly a few better run n' gun games out there but you could honestly do a lot worse than checking out Dinosaurs for Hire, with it's nice 2 player mode, cool boss battles, and solid run n' gun gameplay. One unique thing of note is the useful melee attack that helps to deal with enemies if they get too close. Solid co-op entertainment.  
  earthworm jim on snes Earthworm Jim
earthworm jim on genesis
  1 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega CD, SNES, MD  
  Earthworm Jim is a remarkably likeable game with impressive graphics, music, and a great sense of humour. It never stops throwing new ideas at you from start to finish with the run n gun stages interspersed with a variety of different gameplay sections, ranging from races to bungee battles!  
Atari ST
Atari VCS
Commodore 64
Game Boy
Master System
Mega Drive
Neo Geo
PC Engine
ZX Spectrum