Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Archive for the ‘Shooter’ Category

Bleed Out Sakuretsu

Posted by Tracy Poff on April 5, 2015

I don’t believe I’ve written about any remotely popular games for at least two years… and I’m not about to change that. But I am writing about a good game, at least: Bleed Out Sakuretsu, a vertically scrolling shooter for the Sharp X68000, by Gold Cats Project.

Bleed Out Sakuretsu - title

First: yes, the title screen says ‘sakuretu’. But the common romanization of this game’s title seems to be ‘sakuretsu’, and as goes TOSEC, so goes my nation.

Bleed Out Sakuretsu - ingame

Bleed Out Sakuretsu has a powerup system reminiscent of Gradius. As you continue scoring points, you can purchase a shot upgrade, a barrier, or other, even more powerful powerups. The opposition is a variety of ships, small shots, and guided missiles.

Bleed Out Sakuretsu - boss

The boss sprays out bullets danmaku-style, and periodically fires a pair of front-facing lasers. You’ve got to deal with this while avoiding guided missiles, and since you are destroyed in one shot (unless you buy a barrier), this, like the rest of the level, provides a good challenge.

Here, an unfortunate revelation: the boss is, as far as I can tell, invulnerable, because the available version of Bleed Out Sakuretsu is a trial edition, and I can find no evidence that any full version was ever created. I would love to hear otherwise, if anyone has better information on old doujin games than I do, because it’s a very fun game.

It’s hard to do a shooter justice with just words and screenshots. The video above shows (I believe) the entire game, which should give a much better picture of it.

If you like shooters, I’d say Bleed Out Sakuretsu is worth a try. It’s only about two minutes long, but it’s fun, and I believe there’s a place for brief games, too.

The Touhou series looms largest on the doujin shooter landscape, of course, but there’s a huge and fascinating variety of games (of all genres) stretching back decades, which I think could use some more attention from the English-speaking web. I’ll probably be looking at a few more doujin games in coming weeks, so I’ll try to shine a light on whichever titles catch my eye. Maybe there will be some hidden gems, or maybe just hidden failures. We’ll see what comes.

Posted in 1996, Full Review, Good, Vertical Scrolling Shooter, X68000 | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Archery

Posted by Tracy Poff on April 19, 2014

Today, a look at a game I’ve just added to MobyGames: Archery by Brian Blankenship.

archery_000

Archery is a very simple shooting game. A target descends along the right side of the screen, and you have to push the spacebar at the right moment to let fly your arrow, with the aim of hitting the target as near the center as possible.

archery_003

You get three shots (in a row) from each of five different starting locations, and shots that hit closer to the center score more points. You can play alone (for high scores, one assumes), against another player, or against the computer.

archery_013

Interestingly, if you play against the computer, the computer can get a high score, too. Embarrassingly, the computer seems to be rather better at this game than I am.

The author, Brian Blankenship, wrote this game in 1985. On December 31, 2013, he posted the BASIC source code to the game on SourceForge. He posted a few comments on abandonware sites around the net. Here’s what he had to say:

I am honored to find sites like this still showing this game from so long ago. I wrote this while bored, waiting to be laid off from a law firm that was splitting up. I was playing “Track and Field” occasionally at arcades, and could barely make it to the archery part, which inspired me to make this game.

Yes, it is very lame by today’s standards, and in hindsight I could have made a lot of improvements. I tinkered with it while it held my interest, and released it to a few BBS’s in the Indianapolis, IN area. Had no idea it would see somewhat large distribution.

Even if Archery is “lame by today’s standards”, I found it to be quite a fun (though simple) game. I imagine it’d be worth playing with a friend, at least for a few matches.

Posted in 1985, Action, Archery, Decent, DOS, Freeware, Full Review, Shooter | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: DragonStrike

Posted by Tracy Poff on October 13, 2008

DragonStrike is a fantasy shoot-em-up set in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Universe, developed by Westwood Associates and published in July 1992 by Pony Canyon.

When the game opens, you select the type of dragon to play (Bronze, Silver, or Gold), each of which has different attributes (speed and armor) and attacks (each dragon has two). Having selected the type of dragon to play, you are presented with a map, with icons for each mission you undertake.

As far as I can tell, the missions must be completed in order, so the map only serves as a progress indicator. Despite there being only twelve icons, the description on MobyGames indicates that there are more than twelve missions, though I didn’t advance far enough to see if this was true.

On to the main event, then. For the first mission, we are instructed:

You first mission is to engage three white dragon scouts.

May your ambition propel you to victory.

The first thing to note about this game is that the controls are rather different from shooters like Abadox or 1943; it rather reminds me of Zone 66, a later freeform shooter for DOS. Rather than the d-pad moving your dragon, left and right turn you, and you always fly forward and a constant rate. Up and down cause you to rise or lower in the air, which is necessary for attacking some enemies. Note, though, that when you are low in the air, obstacles on the ground (like the trees in the above screencap) will harm you, while you can fly right over them when you’re higher up.

The white dragon scouts shown above are not the only enemies, although in the first level the other enemies (catapults and archers) are land-based. Once you defeat the enemy dragons, the mission is complete, and you are free to fly off the top of the map to continue to the next mission.

The next mission is to destroy a fleet of ships and a kraken. The first part proceeds basically the same way the first mission did: destroy the boats and either destroy the other enemies or avoid their attacks. After this first part is complete, though, we see the first boss, the kraken.

It is only vulnerable from below, but a few well-placed attacks will take care of it. I found that it was possible to get into the right position, then just hold left to fly in circles, which was enough to avoid its attacks, and fire off a shot every time I came around.

The next level is a swamp, and we’re instructed to slay the black dragon which lies therein. I didn’t bother to go beyond this point, since the game seems to be pretty much the same thing with different graphics for each mission.

I have only one major issue with this game. My dragon initially fires two attacks, side by side, which will miss smaller enemies if you’re attacking straight on. Since the dragon moves constantly and you must avoid enemy fire, that can make it a little difficult to aim–it can be necessary to come around several times before you get the aiming right, though that might be mitigated by a bit of practice.

Despite the issue with aiming, I think the game is fairly well done. It might get boring after a while, but for the few minutes I played, it seemed pretty enjoyable. The fantasy setting was a nice change from the usual sci-fi settings of shooters. The graphics weren’t too bad for an NES game, though the music leaves much to be desired.

Overall, I’d say the game is worth a shot. There are some better shooters, but if you’re looking for a change, DragonStrike won’t disappoint you.

Posted in Decent, First Impressions, Freeform Shooter, NES | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: Zombie Nation

Posted by Tracy Poff on March 24, 2008

This time a shoot-em-up, Zombie Nation, known in Japan as Abarenbou Tengu.

The plot of Zombie Nation is odd, and I doubt that it matters. You’re a flying samurai head, and you are apparently charged with rescuing America, the population of which has been turned into zombies. Maybe.

There were lasers scattered liberally throughout the level which reduced me to one life unit, so I died quite often at first. You have only one life, and limited continues, each of which returns you to the beginning of the level. Therefore I relied on save states to explore.

It seems that you are meant to rescue people who will occasionally fly out of buildings and things as you destroy them. Collecting four such people allows you to have more shots on the screen at a time, and eventually allows you to use a special attack which targets the whole screen. The first level culminates in a battle against the Statue of Liberty, which seems to have become a medusa at some point.

Abarenbou Tengu is rather different. In a stunning display of needless changes in localisation, the samurai head you play as in Zombie Nation is not present in the Japanese version. Instead, you play as a tengu head. The Statue of Liberty, too, was changed in localisation: in the Japanese version, it was not a medusa, and was red besides.

I played further on Abarenbou Tengu than Zombie Nation, so I do not know how things changed after the first boss, but I do have to wonder how they might have changed the second boss:

Perhaps it’s better not to know. Still, despite the odd localisation and initial difficulty, Zombie Nation is a pretty good game. Certainly worth wasting a few minutes on.

Posted in 1990, First Impressions, Good, Horizontal Scrolling Shooter, NES | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Abadox: The Deadly Inner War

Posted by Tracy Poff on December 8, 2006

A shooter this time, and a pretty good one, at that.

Since this game incorporates powerups, you begin, as in most similar games, with nothing but a pathetic little pea-shooter and no armor, moving very slowly indeed.

I had quite a bit of difficulty dodging the shots from the–very bizarre–enemies at first, but then I got a speed powerup and a couple of options and the dodging was no longer necessary.

After progressing through a level that looked like it was made of worms, or possibly intestines, and fighting enemies like flying mouths and eyeballs, I reached the first boss: some sort of skeletal dog with bits of flesh still clinging to it.

This boss just jumps around a bit while releasing a few shots, so it was no problem to kill. After defeating this boss, we proceed to the second level, which is rather like the first except in much closer quarters and with various obstacles which required dodging. At the end of this level was the second boss, a face made of intestines, with its eyes floating about in front of it.

This boss, too, was no trouble to beat, although it did destroy my options. However, after destroying this boss, the game changed from a horizontal scroller to a vertical scroller–which scrolled from bottom to top, just to make it more confusing.

I died a bit into this level, since I had no options and some enemies are only half-destroyed by a shot. This game is much better than most of the others I’ve tried. I liked Super R-Type for the SNES better, but this is also a pretty good example of the genre. Worth playing.

Posted in 1989, Full Review, Good, Horizontal Scrolling Shooter, NES | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

First Impressions: Tasac

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

Tasac is a vertical scrolling shooter by Sachen, and it sucks.

Tasac_01

The title screen looks pretty cool, so one might expect the game to have decent graphics, or something. Most of your in-game time is spent in a position like this one:

Tasac_04

There’s no real challenge in this part, except that the laser-like weapon you start with sucks, and the upgrades suck even more. When you get to the end, the boss appears.

Tasac_07

But you can’t kill it yet. In fact, you can fly right over it. Why is the boss there before you’re able to interact with it? I don’t know. But the game carries on just as if the boss weren’t there. In fact, it carries on the same way even once you can fight the boss–the random enemies keep appearing, there’s just a boss on the screen at the same time.

Tasac_09

Although the boss shoots a pretty large number of projectiles at you, they’re not hard to dodge. If the weapon weren’t so stupidly slow and hard to use, they boss wouldn’t be even slightly difficult. As it is, the boss just takes a little longer than it ought to.

The second level was just like the first. I think that the boss was slightly rounder, but I don’t really care to recall.

Verdict: Pointless. It’s just a below average vertical scroller.

Posted in 1992, Bad, First Impressions, NES, Vertical Scrolling Shooter | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

First Impressions: 1944

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

It’s a pirate version of 1943:

1944_01

The only change that I noted between this and 1943 is that holding down the fire button, rather than charging the weapon, yields a very fast auto-fire. Otherwise, identical:

1944_08

Verdict: Play 1943 instead.

Posted in First Impressions, NES, Pirate Game, Vertical Scrolling Shooter | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

First Impressions: 1943 – The Battle of Midway

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

An excellent conversion of Capcom’s vertical scrolling shooter:

1943 - The Battle of Midway (U) [!]_01

This one has more features than its predecessor, such as the ability to configure your plane before you start:

1943 - The Battle of Midway (U) [!]_02

Also, when you start, it tells you briefly what your target is. In the first level, it’s Rikaku, the Japanese Heavy Cruiser:

1943 - The Battle of Midway (U) [!]_03

As is 1942, you’re piloting a P-38, which you can improve as you play by picking up better weapons and energy bonuses. The gameplay is the same, too: fire at the enemy planes (and ships) while avoiding being hit:

1943 - The Battle of Midway (U) [!]_04

At the end of the level, you fight Rikaku, which is heavily armed:

1943 - The Battle of Midway (U) [!]_08

If you win, you move on to the next level. There are a total of 24 levels in the NES version, as compared to 16 in the arcade version.

Verdict: 1943 has excellent sound, good graphics, smooth controls, and addictive gameplay. Definitely worth playing.

Posted in 1988, First Impressions, Good, NES, Vertical Scrolling Shooter | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

First Impressions: 1942

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

The famous vertical scrolling shooter:

1942 (U) [!]_01

It’s not too bad. You control the plane, which moves pretty smoothly, and shoot the enemies. A rather basic idea, but workable:

1942 (U) [!]_04

Unfortunately, this one just doesn’t measure up to its sequel, 1943. I can’t show it in a screenshot, but the sound was annoying–there was a beeping sort of sound going on while playing. The graphics, too, aren’t as good as in 1943.

Verdict: Play 1943 instead.

Posted in 1986, Decent, First Impressions, NES, Vertical Scrolling Shooter | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »