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Konami Shoot-em-ups

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1979-1983 Arcade Shooters

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1983-1985 Arcade Shooters

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1987-1988 Arcade Shooters

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1990-1997 Arcade Shooters

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MSX Shooters

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Famicom/SNES Shooters

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Miscellaneous

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Gyruss (ジャイラス) - Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, NES, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, Windows, XBLA (1983)

American Arcade Flyer

American NES Flyer

American Atari 2600 Flyer

Gyruss, one of Konami's more popular games in the early 80s, is a "tube shooter" similar to Atari's Tempest, although it also borrows heavily from Namco's Galaga. The viewpoint rests behind the player's ship, which travels along a circle on the playing field. Enemies pop out in waves and fly towards the end of the tunnel, floating until they strike back at the player. Naturally, your job is to kill them all before moving on to the next stage.

It's an impressive bit of technology for 1983, since it uses sprite graphics rather than vectors like Tempest. It's also notable for its fast paced arrangement of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, one of the first - and best - uses of music in an arcade game. But unfortunately, Gyruss is stunted by some poor control issues. Tempest eschewed the traditional joystick in favor of a control knob, which made sense given the circular movement. Gyruss isn't that smart, though, and the result is rather confusing. Left moves left, and right moves right, of course, but all of those directions are relative based on where you are in the circle. When holding in any direction, your ship will get stuck at the 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock or 9 o'clock positions, requiring that you change direction on the joystick. You can switch over quadrants smoothly with practice, but it's still far from ideal.

Gyruss was actually the brainchild of Yoshiki Okamoto, who also created Time Pilot. He later quit Konami and joined up with Capcom, where he went to develop Final Fight, and more importantly, Street Fighter II. He later formed Game Republic, which is mostly known for the laughable PS2 launch title Genji: Days of the Blade. Quite an accomplished career!

Ports for Gyruss appeared on for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, NES, Game Boy Advance and Xbox 360. The Atari 2600 isn't too bad despite its choppiness, and manages to keep in a simplistic version of the theme song. The Atari 5200/8-bit version is a bit improved from this one, with more defined graphics, smoother action and better sound. The ColecoVision version is roughly on par with the Atari 8-bit versions, but the best is the Commodore 64, which has smooth gameplay and excellent music.

Gyruss (NES)

The NES port, released for the Famicom Disk System in 1987, and in cartridge format for the NES in 1988, is great refined, and plays more like a sequel than a port. Changes include improved graphics, better music (which sounds a bit different between the NES cartridge and Famicom disk versions, due to the FM synth hardware in the latter), extra songs, a powerful super blaster weapon that has limited charges, new enemies, several extra stages (you travel through all of the solar system, including Pluto and the Sun, as opposed to simply starting from Neptune), an ending sequence (which is more expanded in the Famicom version), "chance" stages after each planet that allows for bonuses, mini-bosses in certain stages (which are usually just orbs that hover at the end of the tunnel), and larger bosses at the end of each planet. The bosses add much more variety, but they occasionally prove to be a bit of a pain due to the lack of depth perception.

Gyruss is also a hidden mini-game in the PSOne/Saturn travesty Contra: Legacy of War. On the surface, it actually looks and plays alright - it's based somewhat on the NES version, complete with its improved controls, super blaster weapons, and bosses. It's a bit condensed, seeing how there's a boss after every stage instead of every three stages. For some reason, though, even the smallest enemies take several hits to kill. It's easier once you get the twin blasters, but it still almost ruins the game, especially if you get hit too many times and your weapon's downgraded.

Konami Arcade Game Collection (GBA)

The Konami Arcade Advanced Collection has a port of Gyruss which scales down the action to fit the small screen, and fits the status bar on the side. If you input the Konami Code, you play a retrofitted version that includes three new levels at the beginning - Zone X, Y, and Z. These take place in a warp and are actually quite difficult, but once you beat them and get to the "real" game, you get to keep the twin blasters indefinitely. The Xbox 360 version features an option for updated graphics, which only look okay, but also has a new remix of the theme song which is pretty decent. Its theme music has shown up remixed in various Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution games.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Yoshiki Okamoto

Genre:

Themes:


Gyruss (Arcade)

Gyruss (Arcade)

Gyruss (NES)

Gyruss (NES)

Contra: Legacy of War (PlayStation)


Comparison Screenshots


Time Pilot - Arcade, Commodore 64, Atari 2600, ColecoVision, MSX, SNES, PlayStation, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, XBLA, Windows, Nintendo DS (1984)

American Arcade Flyer

European MSX Cover

One of Konami's better known early shooters, Time Pilot is a bit like an arena shooter like Robotron 2084. As a time-traveling jet fighter, you must destroy all the enemies in the sky, which loops infinitely in all directions. Once you've killed enough, as indicated by a meter at the bottom of the screen, then you fight a boss before warping to the next time period. You begin in 1910 AD, moving to 1940, 1970, 1984, and then finally 2001, which must've seemed so far in the future back when this was made in 1984. For the most part, the only real difference between the eras are the color of the backgrounds and the enemy sprites (going from biplanes to helicopters to jets), although they all attack the same. In the final stage of 2001, though, the sky is dark black, the clouds looks more like rocks, and all of the enemies are UFOs. How foreboding. After defeating this stage, the game then loops. Certain enemies will eject from their planes, and picking them up will yield extra points.

The big thing that sets this apart from Robotron 2084 is you can only shoot in the direction your ship is facing. Although you can only move in eight directions, your ship turns smoothly when changing angles, allowing you to spray shots of machine gun fire at enemies. It takes awhile to get used, since you turn so slowly, but once you master it, it's a fun little game.

Time Pilot

Its simplicity made for some decent ports, developed for the Commodore 64, Colecovision, MSX, and Atari 2600. In the modern era, Time Pilot shows up on the Konami Arcade Classics for the PSOne, Konami Arcade Advanced for the Game Boy Advance, Konami Classics Series: Arcade Hits for the Nintendo DS, Oretachi Geesen Zoku Vol. 4 for the PlayStation 2, and as a standalone title on the Xbox Live Arcade. The MSX version also shows up for the PSOne and Saturn as part of the Konami MSX Antiques line. Most of these are straight emulations, but the GBA version has an enhanced mode, activated via the Konami code, which adds in rapid fire and an extra futuristic stage before the game loops. It also changes the year "2001" to the more nebulous "20XX". The Xbox 360 version offers an option for slightly improved graphics as well.

Additionally, Time Pilot is hidden as a bonus game in Ganbare Goemon: Boku ga Dancer ni Natta Wake, the fourth Goemon title for the Super Famicom. It's a mini-game which can only be accessed after 100% completion. Many of the other Goemon SFC titles had shooter themed mini-games - the first has the first level of Gradius, while the second has the second level of XEXEX. This time, however, it contains the whole game, with improved graphics. It's still not gorgeous looking, but it's a nice bonus.

There's also a spiritual successor to Time Pilot released in 2007 for the DS called Time Ace, developed by Trainwreck Studios. The concept is the same - fly through various time periods shooting stuff - but it's a 3D shooter with a behind-the-back viewpoint. Some levels have freeform arenas but others are on rails. It's not a terribly good game.

Quick Info:

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Publisher:

Designer:

  • Yoshiki Okamoto

Genre:

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Time Pilot (Arcade)

Time Pilot (Arcade)

Time Pilot (Arcade)

Time Pilot (Arcade)


Comparison Screenshots


Time Pilot '84: Further Into Unknown World - Arcade (1984)

European Arcade Flyer

Time Pilot '84 ditches the concept of its predecessor - that you're piloting a jet through time, obviously - and just sets everything in the future. There are actual background graphics this time, but the only visual difference between the stages are the color palette changes. The action is mostly the same, except you now have missiles in addition to your machine gun. Some enemies can only be destroyed by missiles, which require that you get up close for a second or two to lock-on, and then fire. There are also hidden sections in each area that yield extra points. It's more difficult and considerably more obscure - it was never ported, and never appeared on any compilations, either.

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Time Pilot '84 (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


Finalizer: Super Transformation - Arcade (1985)

Title Screen

In Finalizer: Super Transformation, apparently you're flying around the globe, as you soar over terrain that looks like it was cradled from a map. It starts off over Cuba and Florida, but the rest of the game doesn't actually label the locations, and soon it just seems like the tiles are thrown together randomly. You can get a few power-ups that can stop time or temporarily turn you invincible, but you can also turn into a giant mech with improved firepower. The mech also has a shield, armed with the second button, that can absorb a single hit before becoming unarmed. However, you can technically use the shield as often as you like. It's pretty typical for Konami's other early shooters - average but not really noteworthy.

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Finalizer (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


Scooter Shooter - Arcade (1985)

Title Screen

This is a weird one - Scooter Shooter is a split screen competitive shoot-em-up. Two players start on the opposite end of a playing field, each racing towards the center. Getting hit by an enemy will rob them of a life and delay them for a few seconds. Whichever player reaches the goal first will gain some extra power-ups. When both players arrive, the split screen disappears, and both players fly around an area, trying to deplete each other's energy. The actual scooters are invincible and can absorb shots, while the human characters can take damage. Each stage usually has a few segments where the scrolling stops and little orbs appear randomly around the screen, sort of like some of the pre-boss segments in the Gradius games. It's certainly unique, if nothing else, although playing against the computer is pretty dull.

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Scooter Shooter (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
1979-1983 Arcade Shooters

Page 2:
1983-1985 Arcade Shooters

Page 3:
1987-1988 Arcade Shooters

Page 4:
1990-1997 Arcade Shooters

Page 5:
MSX Shooters

Page 6:
Famicom/SNES Shooters

Page 7:
Miscellaneous

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