Developing STARSHREDDERS has always been exciting as when we look back at the genre of Shoot ’em ups, there is a rich history of excellent titles, each excelling the scene, adding little changes to bring vibrance to the lineage.
Top down shooters like Space Invaders(Taito,1978) evolved into side-scrolling shooters like R-Type(Irem,1984) or Gradius(Konami,1985). Once 3D was introduced, Rail or fixed shooters like Star For 64(Nintendo,1997) or Panzer Dragoon(SEGA,1995) came to play whilst Bullets Hells like Shikigami No Shiro(Alfa System,2001) filled our screens with bullets!
This week we highlight a few side-scrolling shooters that we not only referenced at the start of our games development but also personal favourites when we were younger. We felt each brought a different style and variance visually and fundamentally but each also had captivating story-lines & engrossing worlds.
RayStorm(Taito, 1996) is a scrolling shooter developed by the Taito Corporation. Originally an arcade game in 1996, it was later ported to consoles (PlayStation & Sega Saturn) in 1997 and PC in 2001. It was revived in 2010 as RayStorm HD with improved visuals for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 in 2012.
The setting of RayStorm is one of conflict in the future where the rebellious forces of the Secilia Federation, a group of alien colonies attack other planets in the Orion system including Earth. Earth’s defences are taken down and The Star Federation, Earth’s governmental forces across other planets, is left in ruins.
Whilst in hiding The Barca Section, a secret research institute, combine tech from the Secilian ships to create “R-GRAY”, a sophisticated spacecraft, armed and ready for Earth’s final stand.
And you are armed!
The R-Grays were armed with a plasma cannon and a missile launcher but also two devastating special attacks. Seeing the various weapons that lock-on to multiple targets and firing off on all enemies is a visual spectacle whilst the “Special Attack,” initiated by pressing both action buttons, triggers a gigantic laser beam destroying all.
RayStorm is one of three “Ray” games, all featuring similar gameplay but it was RayStorm that was the first to use polygons instead of sprites.The PlayStation version received by American reviewers well due to its graphical style and cutting edge visual effects. During this time, scrolling shooters were known to be 2D so seeing this level of polish was received well.
Raystorm was released on iOS & Android and is a heap of fun! The touch screen controls work well with the game and the visuals are sweet so anyone wanting a slice of HD retro shooting, check it out!
R-Type Final was developed by Irem for the PlayStation 2 in 2003 for Japan and 2004 for the US/EU.
Whilst RayStorm caught flack for not having enough variety in weapons and ships, R-Type Final had a whopping 101 playable ships, including alternate versions of ships in previous R-Type games.
Enemies patterns were thought out whilst the 3D space gave life to other environmental obstacles to traverse. Big bosses took constant firing at but also tight manoeuvres as they took thinking and strategy to destroy. From 6-Way Homing Missiles, Split Lasers, Shotgun Lasers, Wave Cannons and more, players had a ton of weapons and ships to unlock, which was appreciated in those days for replayability.
R-Type Final followed the previous games storyline which showed a long war against the Bydo, the main antagonist in the R-Type series. You are sent to investigate the Bydo and their intentions in the space colonies. As you go through each level and discover more, you earn unlockables as “research” in the storyline which is a great immersive addition to the title. Levels are also littered with story briefs and information of the R-Type universe in the form of poetry.
R-Type Final was a marvel to play as it inherited the best things from its predecessors like unique enemy patterns, weapon variety and compelling story. This time round, it added the 3D world, filled with different camera perspectives, huge bosses and spectacular particles when firing away at an array of cool enemies.
Whilst seeing if there were any new HD versions available, we did notice R-Type 1 & 2 on iOS/Android for some classic side scrolling action! You can grab for a decent price for the PS2 systems so dust it off and get playing!
Einhänder(Square, 1997) was released in 1997 in Japan and 1998 in North America for the PlayStation. The creators were the amazing Square team, who at the time had a record of amazing titles that were story driven adventures set in dystopian futures.
Set in a fictional future, we witness a war between the Earth and the Moon. Selene, Moon’s forces send a one man fighter on a mission to invade Earth to gather reconnaissance and weapons.
The spacecraft that players could utilize was the “Einhänder“. Einhänder is German for a type of sword that is wielded with one hand & the ship here uses a single manipulator arm that controls a machine gun and Gunpods. Gunpods were collectables from destroying enemies which rewarded cannons, guided missiles, aircraft-sized lightsabers and other types of weapons.
The game was well received for its spectacular visuals at the time mixed with tight controls and difficulty that ramped well over time. The Electronic/Trance anthems perfectly accompanied the game with dynamic sound effects with every explosion. The music of the game was composed by Kenichiro Fukui and was published in Japan as a soundtrack album.
Einhänder was a personal favourite due to the games overall polish in all areas to create something new in the scrolling shooter sub-genre. It was “2.5D” in which camera angles would transition between beautiful 3D environments whilst keeping the player’s movement restricted to a two-dimensional plane. Great CGI moments between levels carried the story and showcased some amazing visuals.
When looking for a copy of Einhänder, you can get on the Playstation Network but unfortunately only in Japan.
Ebay does have a copy for a whopping $300 if you want a treat!
-Team Sharkbowl Games