You let me down. I posted almost two weeks ago about a cool shoot ’em up called Blazing Star – that’s Blazing Star by the way and not Blazin’ Squad, a frequent misnomer in my house. Anyway, I explicitly mentioned I had Blazing Star on Switch. And yet not one person piped up in the comments to warn me about… Caravan mode. That’s right, it’s thanks to your negligence that I’m in a mess of trouble! For the lucky ones who don’t know, caravan mode is a five minute only score attack mode included in every NeoGeo re-release put out by Hamster, complete with online leaderboards.
After I completed that post, I decided to take a quick peek at the high score modes Hamster included. That “quick peek” soon became an arresting diversion, swiftly followed by addiction and then obsession. And now look where we are.
All I can say is I hope you’re satisfied. I do not feel I should bear responsibility for this tragic turn of events. Even so, reluctantly, I must beg for your help. Can any from among you put an end to this madness? Are there any willing to take on the caravan challenge, and de-throne my score?
Yours five minutely (and no I can’t pause),
Adrian, aka Maya
Like many teens, I did the whole rock band thing. In the mid 2000s, I was in bands, writing and performing my very own terrible music, and spending a lot of time in dingy urban rehearsal studios. It was in one of these rehearsal studios that I encountered a classic shooter of yore, Blazing Star. At the time I didn’t make register its name – it was simply one of four games available to play for 20p on a NeoGeo arcade cabinet. It was the first 2D shooter I’d every played on an arcade cabinet, so it really stood out to me. The arcades I went to were host to lightgun games, Dance Dance Revolution and networked racing games that cost £1 at a minimum – whereas this NeoGeo cab was something completely different at a fraction of the cost. Continue reading
Reputed to be one of Treasure’s best games and one of the most ambitious shmups of all time, Gradius V is the stuff of legend. Expensive and difficult to track down on its native PS2, thanks to the PS3’s online store it is finally within easy reach for PS3 owners. And at a cheap price too! Having sunk my teeth into it at long last, I’m happy to say that in my opinion this game’s glowing reputation is justified.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Gradius V is the way it shakes up the conventions of the traditional 2D shooter genre. When I wrote about Shienryu on PS1 in my most recent shmup review, I concluded that it was competent in all areas but inspired in none. Gradius V is similarly competent, retaining the tried and true gameplay mechanics of the Gradius series, but this fifth entry is also incredibly inspired, adding puzzle elements into a genre that is generally much more taxing on your thumbs than your brain. Continue reading
I’ll begin with a confession: I have only seen the credits to this game once, and only after nine hours, yes nine hours of total play. On easy. Difficulty be damned, it’s a fine game – a doggedly old school shooter that is vastly out of sync with the direction the shmup genre went in during the late 90s (a path it’s still treading) – towards FAST, FRANTIC, BULLET-HELL ACTION. Instead R-Type Delta continues and builds on the tradition of its predecessors with an all-together slower, more considered, and ultimately much more tense experience as a result.
Delta is the Playstation 1 reboot of the R-Type series and the first console exclusive of the series. Of course, the early R-Types are the best known: the original was a defining moment in shmup history, becoming enormously influential for environments that are ever-ready to kill you, as well as the memorable floating invincible buddy you drag along beside you and have limited yet highly strategic control over. Continue reading