Sunday, 27 October 2013

Mame Hidden Gems - G is for... (Pt2)

Last time out was the turn of Vertical Scrolling Shooters, this time out the theme goes by the pithy title: Other Shooters

How do I come up with these things...?

First up, Galactic Storm released by Taito in 1991.

Good old fashioned fly into the screen the shoot everything that moves action in this one.

Despite shades of Space Harrier, Starfox, Galaxy Force 2 and the likes, the great sprite-scaling 3D effects and some neat original level design help to keep things fresh - and the oddly laid back soundtrack give the whole thing an atmosphere all it's own.

Not a lot more to say than that really, it's just a hell of a lot of fun and, if you can resist spamming the coin button, a pretty intense challenge.

Next up is Gundhara, a shooter in the Ikari Wariors/Commando vein.

This 1995 effort comes from Banpresto, a company whose name I've seen a surprising amount while compiling these posts.

The game gives you a choice of two guys who play pretty much identically. Having chosen from either Jerry or Jinn you press on, ever upwards, shooting everything and everyone with pause only given to rescue the occasional brat tied inexplicably to an oil barrel - I have to admit though, there is something incredibly annoying about these little twerps and if you can resist 'accidentally' gunning them down then you're a better person than me.

There's a simple but effective directional fire mechanic to give you the edge in your quest.
You fire whichever way you happen to be facing, but if you hold down the button it locks the direction of fire allowing you to strafe in any direction.

There's a neat levelling power up system too. Picking up different weapons swaps them out, picking up the same weapon you already hold increases it's power.

There's also a couple of great looking vehicle elements in the game, in one you ride a motorbike and in another you pilot a mech. They both serve to break up the standard gameplay very nicely.

There's a lot going on in Gundhara but it manages to balance it all into a challenging and fun experience without ever seeming to take itself entirely seriously - and that's something that should always be applauded.

A couple of h.shmups to round things up, firstly - Gigandes.

Gigandes comes from a company call East Technology, of whom I have never heard. It also comes from 1989.

It is not the prettiest of games. The sprites are well drawn but the backgrounds fit in the vast range between empty and slightly less empty.

However the hook with Gigandes, like so many of the best shooters, is the power up system.

This time it's all about multiple weapons.
Your tiny spherical craft can equip up to four weapons at a time all of which can be powered-up individually - which, in itself, is nothing new.
Uniquely, in Gigandes each of these weapons is attached to an individual side of the ship - top, bottom, front, and back - and each fires in the corresponding direction.
The weapon will be attached to which ever side of your craft you ram into the icon with, this applies to choosing which weapon is affected by the power-up icon.

Unlike just about every shooter ever, getting killed does not rob you of your accumulated weapons.
You start each new level with just a simple cannon, no matter what you had equipped at the end of the previous one, but soon you'll be firing in every direction of the screen at once - that the game still remains a significant challenge despite this a great achievement.

Whether you have full compliment of weaponry or just the starting cannon pressing the second button allows the weapons section of the ship can be rotated, one section at a time, about the bot of the craft. This ensures that you can always have your most powerful gun pointed at the meanest looking bad guy. There's even a secondary function whereby holding the button moves whichever weapon is attached to the bottom to pivot 45 degrees - basically it can point south, south-west, or south-east.

As I mentioned when recommending Guardian Force previously, directional fire can sometimes be redundant in isolation. But as with that game, Gigandes has the level design and enemy attack pattern to ensure you are tapping away as furiously at B to rotate button as you are at A to fire.

Last up, the answer to what made the dinosaurs extinct, Genshi-Tou 1930's.

This one comes courtesy of SNK and, like Gigandes, comes from 1989.
Also like Gigandes is a power-up system that involves rotation, although this time it is of the more usual 'pod' design.
I never know quite what the correct name is for these things. In R-Type I always called it the 'Force', in Gradius I believe it's referred to as 'Option'. Is there a standard generic term?
Anyway, in this excellently atmospheric game you pilot a biplane to a Jurassic park style island and gun down everything you find there.

My game was in Japanese so if there is anything more subtle going on it was lost on me.

The pod style power-up is rotated around your ship with the second button. The type of shot fired changing depends on where you position it.
Position it out front and you get a more powerful supplement to you standard gun, position it underneath your plane and you get a spreadshot fired towards the ground, out back it will drop mines and placed up above it will give you the spreadshot again, only fired upwards.

The need for such a range of fire modes becomes apparent very quickly. You are attacked from the ground by land based dinosaurs who jump to try and hit your plane. They are accompanied by cavemen who will grab onto your plane entertainingly if you get too close - A little joystick jiggling is required toshake them off.
Additionally, as you move further into the game, the levels begin to scroll in various directions, further necessitating the need to adjust the direction of fire accordingly.

For '89 this game is a stunner, great sprites, massive bosses, fun effects and interactions, it all comes together under the original premise to create an experience that should not be missed.

#Retrogaming $Gaming #Arcade #Mame