Hey there, friend. Remember when I said shooters were tough to write about? It wasn’t that long ago – it was here, in fact.
If I’ve learned anything surprising about my tastes this year, it’s that I’m actually way more into shooters than I thought. Personally, I blame Blast Processing, the totally real thing that very much exists in the heart of the Sega Genesis platform, fueling this desire I have to blow things up real nice. Playing Contra so early in the week probably had something to do with it, derailing my plans to cover a broader spectrum of the Genesis library, like that one licensed platformer that you really like. Instead I just spent a lot of my week shooting at things while listening to that awesome 16 bit bass.
Here are some highlights.
Target Earth is an interesting one because it shares a lineage with the SNES’ Cybernator, both being from the Assault Suit series in Japan. If nothing else, that’s very clear brand messaging, since you are in a mech and assaulting things. Though it actually has modern features like load outs and regenerating health, it is a ball-crushingly difficult game, made only possible via the rather obscure cheats that no one in their right mind would have figured out back then. In related news, today marked my first time ever beating Target Earth. Thanks GameFAQs.
“VISUALSHOCK! SPEEDSHOCK! SOUNDSHOCK! NOW IS TIME TO THE 68000 HEART ON FIRE!”
If that start screen message doesn’t make you want to kick the world in the face with bullets, then you have no soul.
Alien Soldier is another Sega Channel gem and one that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while. It’s a legit contender for one of my favorite games ever; a chaotic speedrunning boss rush that never ever lets up. My favorite boss fight in particular involves flying backwards at several hundred miles per hour while being pursued by a 30-foot-tall robot horse that hates you. You know, as opposed to the kind that just wants to be fed a giant robot carrot.
I could type a lot here about how Zero Wing is actually a really good shooter overshadowed by its reputation, but really, all anyone cares about is that picture above. Because memes.
Yeah, the evening took a weird turn. At the very least, we can finally say that I’ve covered a Stallone game after all of these months and months of teasing it. Rambo III is like Mercs if Mercs wasn’t as good, but with the addition of sweet headbands and human growth hormone. Look, it’s got exploding dungeons and you can down a tank with a bow and arrow. That’s got to count for something.
The story of Compile as a developer is one that I wanted write years ago, mostly unknown to Western audiences and told primarily via their work in the shooter genre. Of those games, M.U.S.H.A. may be the very best; a stylish and well-polished romp that feels like it was way ahead of its time in 1990. Of all the games listed here, it’s the both the easiest to recommend and the hardest to find, though cheaper reproduction cartridges do exist.
That stands for Metallic Uniframe Super Hybrid Armor, by the way. I’m sure you already knew that.