Monday, 22 April 2013

S - Shooting Supremos! My Top 10 Shoot 'Em Up Games

Zapp, Pow! Kersplat! Nothing beats shooting a few bad-ass aliens, monsters and nutcase flying robots now and then, and this just so happens to be one of my favourite genre's in the  video game library. With typical invasion/save the universe storylines, a massive armory of weapons and the odd's stack against you, shoot 'em up's are generally fast, loud and above all, friggin' hard! I have included all types of shooty games in this list, from scrollers to gallery to first-person, although I have never been a big fan of the latter. Here is my top 10 of shooting games!
Giant space chameleon eh? Just another day at the office 
#10 Xenon 2: Megablast - An Amiga classic, this made the headlines for it's theme tune, the club hit by dance outfit Bomb the Bass with the track 'Megablast'. The vertical scrolling shooter, Xenon 2 was great to look at, had various ways to progress and a fine 'shop' of weaponry to power up your ship to the max, making it look ridiculous in the process. Tough, but very rewarding to conquer with a host of organic inspired foes, and with that top drawer music streaming from the PAULA chip, it was a brill game to play.

#9 Tie Fighter - More of a Star Wars simulation than a shooter, I still put this keyboard hammering PC marvel in this list. You are a new recruit to the Galactic Empire, and you go through all the training and progression up the ranks with training missions and rebel attacks piloting the various Tie Fighter craft seen in the films. Engrossing and detailed, it's so fun to play a bad guy shooting down the rebel scum. Faithful to the Star Wars universe and with loads of little references, this for me was far better than it's sequel and while it may be a complex game to play, it's very gratifying for the fans ans non-fan alike.

#8 Quake - The happy memories of playing special levels Painkeep and DM4 on multiplayer, this FPS made it's mark with me. The single player missions are fine and challenging enough, but it's the rapid pace and ferocity of the multiplayer levels that really brings Quake into high regard. With wonderful textures, lighting and accuracy for it's time, it is one of the best FPS's still today for me. It's sequel was also pretty good, but didn't better this. Some manically nutty weapons too; like the chain thunderbolt gun from Painkeep, and a perfect progression to follow up to the likes of Doom and Wolfenstein.

#7 Blood Money - With a choice of craft for each level, all with different characteristics and weapons, this scrolling shooter has a extra dimension to the horizontal and vertical actions. Destroying an enemy is not enough; you have to position yourself to collect the cash that falls from them, and then use this cash for upgrades by visiting one of the shops during the level. Slower paced then most other shoot em up's, this has the brain ticking for advancement which adds a degree of strategy and has some finest music ever off an Amiga game.

Vic had a heavy approach to weeding the garden
#6 Gradius III - The Vic Viper, a classy name for a space-fighter at the best of times, the forth game in the the Gradius series with it's ten levels of alien blasting franticness. With a few stages that move away from the side-scrolling, a customisable weapons set-up for the ship and of course with nails-hard difficultly, G3 is one of the all time greats and impossible to ignore it's impact on the genre as a whole; along with R-Type (#2) paving the way for many a modern scrolling shooter.

#5 Vastar - Yup, this again, the first video game I ever played. I still say this must have inspired Halo in parts, the rocket-man you control just looks so familiar. What I really admire about this looking back is the combination of laser/shield that the player has to manage, making for a more complex game than merely shoot-all and see. While the visuals have not aged well, the on-screen enemies are still fresh and fun. Spiky Balls, flying drills, two-headed orange dragons... ahh back in the day... 

#4 Point Blank - Cartoon splat-em-up that has just got so much appeal and quirkiness, one of the very best light gun gallery games of the previous generation. Difficult but forgiving, it's bright, fun and addictive; Point Blank just puts a grin on your face with it's style and design. It's also takes the violence out of shooting a gun, which is another appealing quality. Shame it's not easy to play on today's technology in the home. Oh well.

#3 Starfox (Starwing) - The groundbreaking Super FX title for the Snes, this Star Wars-esc battle to save a galaxy from the evil telekinetic Andross has got lots of charm. It's polygon graphics may not look brilliant today, but made for an intense and intricate game at the time, and rather awe-inspiring also. The characters are memorable, the ships design is classic, the boss enemies threatening and the levels take you deep into a space war that really makes it feel imposing. The epic soundtrack matches up with this theme superbly and the whole package is a must for the Sci-fi fan in every aspect. 

#2 R-Type - I have already mentioned this as the winner of my most difficult list, so whilst it is as hard as a cubed quadratic equation, it's still got a style and presentation that does not fail to catch the eye and ear. The looming bio-organic bosses have a terror about them, the action is light-speed fast and the inclusion of the 'Force' is the difference maker. It's a weapon system that gave scope and depth to the game, as your pinpoint actions are vital to survive the onslaught. An excellent game, one of the very best space shooters.

Realistic scaling doesn't get in the way of a mean boss fight
#1 UN Squadron - Known as Area 88 in Japan, this brings together all the best factors of what makes a great scrolling shooter; a choice of pilots from difference strengths to match your skill-set, and large selection of aircraft all based off real-life machines save for one, 'super' aircraft. The arsenal of weapons is extensive, some with very specific uses for certain encounters, and the array of enemies is first class too, many based of real aircraft and vehicles. With large, seemingly impossible bosses, great environments, differing levels and choice of which stages you want to play that fits the needs of the campaign, UN Squadron for me is the shoot em' up that has it all. Oh, and did I mention the A-plus visuals, SFX and exciting soundtrack? A very fine, high-quality game, and all in the name of keeping the peace. Of course.

Fizzz... bang! Oops, looks like its game over for this list of my top 10 shoot 'em up's, but have no fear as we get re-spawn tomorrow with another entry to the a to z challenge. T is for tie-in's, and it's my second 5 up and 5 down list, some of the very best and very worst video games based off films. It doesn't take a genius to work out that one of the worst is a game, based off a film, which is based off a game in the first place! Why did they bother!


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