Tagged: shmup

A challenge to my readers

Dear readers,

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

A memory of Blazing Star (NeoGeo)

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

Things I love about… Lords of Thunder (TurboGrafx-CD)

I have a new year’s resolution: write more posts for the blog. And to achieve that I’m going to write shorter posts. I really outdid myself with my last post, and I think it partly explains why I’ve not been around. So with that said, let’s keep it brief(er than usual) here! Despite being busy these past weeks, I have somehow managed to play a crapton of games this Christmas/New Year break, including paying my old friend, Lords of Thunder, a long overdue visit. I’ve loved Lords of Thunder ever since it came out on the Wii’s Virtual Console service in 2008. After my Wii stopped working normally several years ago, I’d not been back to it. After some experimentation I was able to successfully initiate a Wii U transfer, which rescued my VC games and (to my surprise) all the save data too. That wasn’t the only surprise though – I was completely unprepared for the frankly incredible loading screen that accompanies a Wii to Wii U move.

Anyway, one of the first games I redownloaded on the Wii U was Lords of Thunder. As the title of this post states, I love it, and you’re about to read just some of the things I love about it. Continue reading

Soukyugurentai (Saturn) – an underrated classic

Soukyugurentai (aka Terra Diver) happens to be one of my all-time favourite games. Originally a 1996 Japan-only arcade shoot ’em up developed by Raizing, it was later ported to the Sega Saturn. Why do I love it so? Simply put, Soukyugurentai looks, sounds and plays like a dream. The gameplay is fast and furious, but not brainless; the game requires strategy and thought to master. Your ship handles great, with fluid and responsive controls. Last but not least, Soukyugurentai feels uniquely cinematic, with a dramatic musical score by Hitoshi Sakimoto and a striking visual style that holds up wonderfully to this day. Continue reading

Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus (Saturn) – is this biological or mechanical warfare?

It’s been a while, readers. But I’m back. That’s right, the PhD is over. Submitted and awaiting viva! Throughout these past few months, I haven’t stopped playing games entirely. Still, my enjoyment of life in general has increased dramatically now, and that extends to games too. After listening to a recent Retronauts episode about the Gradius series, I decided to dust off my copy of the expansively named Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus for the trusty Sega Saturn. I’d always been curious, so why not try these spin-offs of a beloved series?

Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a collection of three arcade games, namely Salamander, Life Force, and Salamander 2. The former two, which I’ll cover first, are variations on the same basic game released within a year of one another in 1986-7. Salamander 2, by comparison, released almost ten years later in 1996, and is a more modern iteration on the series formula. These games all riff on similar level themes, bosses and structure, many of these themselves nabbed from the Gradius series. For instance, every game alternates between horizontal and vertical scrolling stages, and contains a mix of biological and sci-fi themed stages. Continue reading