Reviews Archive

Top Down Shooters


This feature is concentrating on all of the most noteworthy top down shooters, scrolling games with a birds-eye view, multi-directional firing, and a high emphasis on pure unadulterated shooting action.

  alien breed 2 Alien Breed 2
alien breed on amiga
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - Amiga  
  Excellent shooter which includes some great action, other nice inclusions such as shops, and, like its predecessor before it, has an atmosphere full of tension and unease permeating it. Getting stuck in a corner with low ammo and masses of aliens coming towards you is never a good feeling!  
  alien breed tower assault Alien Breed Tower Assault
alien breed tower assault on amiga 1200
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - Amiga  
  An improvement over it's earlier incarnations, Tower Assault added a much more set-piece focused design as well as improved graphics and presentation, all the best elements still remained such as the adventuring style shops for upgrading weaponry and the great 2-player co-op mode.  
  alien syndrome Alien Syndrome
alien syndrome on amiga
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - Amiga  
  Nice save-the-hostages style shmup from Sega which has you running through corridors shooting aliens and searching for survivors. Alien Syndrome was quite an influential arcade game for the time, and the excellently designed, gruesome bosses are never short of inspiration.  
  chaos engine Chaos Engine, The/Soldiers of Fortune
soldiers of fortune on genesis
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - Amiga, Mega Drive  
  Adding some well implemented adventuring elements into the mix was a great idea for the Chaos Engine, with the game giving you loads of incentive to search every nook and cranny of the stages in an effort to get hold of those elusive (and often much needed) upgrades. The two player mode is also especially compulsive stuff.  
  commando on atari st Commando
commando on nes
  1 Player  
  Stand out versions - Atari ST, NES  
  The game that pretty much kicked off and popularised the whole genre. Commando is a little bit simple in concept and theme compared to later games (you're essentially just a soldier running through the stages shooting and throwing grenades) but it undeniably has some timeless gameplay with it's pure, uncomplicated action.  
  crack down on megadrive Crack Down
crack down on genesis
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  Shooter from Sega based on exploring the environments, shooting bad guys and disarming bombs. Some nice elements include the ability to cling to the walls (which give it a mild stealth feeling), and the fact that its multiplayer is split screen, meaning that unlike most games of the genre 2 players can actually go their separate ways to explore and cover ground faster.  
  firemen on snes Firemen, The
the firemen on super famicom
  1 Player  
  Stand out Version - SNES  
  Take your average shooter and replace all the enemies with spreading fire and malfunctioning robots, and you've probably got a pretty good idea of what The Firemen is all about. The levels here are always full of interesting new takes on established gameplay mechanics, the game is full of charm, and the whole thing is a lot of fun. Definitely a bit of an under-appreciated classic.  
  gain ground on megadrive Gain Ground
gain ground on genesis
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - Mega Drive, TG-16  
  Gain Ground is a unique game which fuses top down shooting action with strategy elements. Each level requires you to either kill all the enemies, or get all of your characters to the exit, as the game progresses you get access to a variety of characters each with differing strengths and weaknesses. The large numbers of characters actually give the game a mild Pokemon style collecting feel to it as you really want to find as many of the characters as you can to see what they can do, and build up a huge team.  
  gauntlet on atari st Gauntlet
gauntlet on master system
  4 Players (ST) 2 Players (MS)  
  Stand out version - Atari ST, Master System  
  Another oldie that along with Commando really kick started the genre. At it's heart Gauntlet is an addictive maze game, you run through the levels shooting at the monsters and searching for the exit whilst solving a few simple puzzles along the way. The game's biggest strength has to be its compulsive multiplayer co-op features, which were loads of fun to play in a group and were pretty much unrivalled at the time.  
  granada on megadrive Granada granada on genesis  
  1 Player  
  Stand Out Version - Mega Drive  
  Nice set-piece levels, great weapons (such as an over the top cannon which pushes you back every time you use it) and power-ups (you can collect option-like little machines that follow you around and fire at the enemy) all help to raise Granada above many of the other shmups out there.  
  gremlins 2 on nintendo Gremlins 2
gremlins 2 on nes
  1 Player  
  Stand out version - NES  
  Anyone who's spent any time on the site probably knows that I love this game, it's a brilliant fusion of shmup and platforming styles which works really well, with you shooting at the multitudes of enemies one second, and doing daring leaps across moving platforms the next. Add some simplified adventuring elements into the mix and you have what I feel is a classic NES game.  
  guerilla war on arcade Guerilla War
guerilla war on nes
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - NES  
  Probably the best classic style top down shooter on the NES. Its got a bit of everything really, impressive graphics, controllable vehicles, great action, and 2 player co-op. Best of all though its not hampered by the unresponsive controls found in many of the top down shmups found on NES (Ikari Warriors and Commando I'm looking at you) with Guerilla War you always feel like you can turn on a dime, and are totally in control.  
Atari ST
Atari VCS
Commodore 64
Game Boy
Master System
Mega Drive
Neo Geo
PC Engine
ZX Spectrum