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Konami Shoot-em-ups

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Force Gear - hidden in Tokimeki Memorial - PC Engine Super CD (1994)

Title Screen

Konami's Tokimeki Memorial is largely recognized as popularizing the dating-sim genre, but it also had a number of cool mini-games, such as Final Fantasy-style RPG battles and a Twinbee Time Attack mode. Although the game was also released for the Super Famicom, Saturn and PlayStation, the original PC Engine version has a bonus game not found in any other version - Force Gear.

Force Gear is a short side-scrolling shooter that blends Hudson's Star Soldier with Konami's Gradius series. Many of the enemies are the same, including large versions of the Big Core and tiny versions of the spinning orb boss from Gradius II. The power-ups are the same orange orbs, giant-sized, and even the font is the same. However, the action is a bit different from standard Gradius games. You play as a transforming mech which can fire multi-directional shots when fully upgraded. After firing for a few seconds, you'll also unleash a powerful laser blast. Like Star Soldier, the backgrounds are filled with destructible tiles, which is important when playing for score. The action is fast paced, and your mech is technically invincible up until the final boss, where you can be killed if you're not careful.

Force Gear

Although it's short, it's an extremely cool, well designed game. The stage starts with your mech fighting alongside several other ships, before transforming into a jet and jumping into hyperspace. The rest of your squadron is taken out, and you're left fighting the rest of the stage alone. When you reach the level boss, you fight it for a few seconds before a huge tentacle comes out of the side of the screen and skewers it, before jumping into view and commencing attack. The same device was used in the first level of Salamander 2, where you begin fighting the Golem (the one-eyed brain thing from the first level of Salamander / Life Force) before it's eaten by a huge snake thing. Konami obviously put a lot of effort into what's actually little more than a demo - one has to wonder if this was a larger product that was simply scaled back into a hidden mini-game, or simply something the programmers did in their free time. Info to unlock it can be found here.

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Force Gear (PC Engine Super CD)

Force Gear (PC Engine Super CD)

Force Gear (PC Engine Super CD)


Other Konami Games with Shooting Segments

Konami also released tons of other games with shooting levels. Here are a few of the more notable ones.

Wai Wai World, released in 1987 for the Famicom, is essentially a huge letter love letter to Konami, by Konami. It's largely a side-scrolling game, with some adventure elements, where you start playing as Konami Man or Konami Girl, but can eventually rescue (and play as) Simon Belmont from Castlevania, Goemon from Goemon, Fuu from Getsu Fūma Den, Mikey from The Goonies, a walking Moai head from Gradius, and Kong from King Kong 2. However, near the end of the game, there's a big, long overhead shooting stage that starts out in Twinbee land before heading into space and defeating enemies out of Gradius and Life Force. It's a two player game, and in the shooting segments, players can either be the Vic Viper or Twinbee.

The sequel, Wai Wai World 2, released in 1990, is a much better game. Characters this time include an original guy named Rickle, along with Simon, Goemon and Fuu, but also Upa from Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa and Bill from Contra. Again, there are a number of shooting segments, including a few stages where you fly as Rickle on a jet. More interesting are two overhead Twinbee stages, which look like Twinbee 3 but plays like the first Twinbee, as well as a 3D bonus stage. Further to the end of the the game are three side-scrolling stages similar to Gradius. The goofy enemies - notably the silly Moai heads and super-deformed ships - ring a bit more closely to Parodius. The third stage is a an assault on a gigantic Big Core (the recurring boss in the first Gradius), similar to the third stage of R-Type. The password system is also based off of Quarth. In addition to the shooter mini-games, there's a sliding block puzzle, a racing game, and a segment based off of Frogger. Amusingly, the second player ship in the Gradius sections is actually the Metarion, the ship from Gradius 2 for the MSX.

Yume Penguin Monogatari is a funny little Famicom game where you play as a fat little penguin who needs to lose weight to get back with his sweetheart. The enemies all toss food, which makes you fatter, while killing them yields diet drinks, which makes you leaner (and eventually, more powerful.) There are a few side-scrolling shooter segments where you ride in a pink little airplane.

Rocket Knight Adventures was Konami's attempt to create a furry mascot via Sparkster, an armor-wearing opossum who wears a jet pack and wields a sword. Although the jet pack is usually activated to bounce around the stages, there are a few levels where you activate it for the whole level. The first game, Rocket Knight Adventures for the Genesis, features a couple side-scrolling levels, which even includes several mini-bosses which look like Gradius enemies. The SNES sequel, Sparkster, also features an overhead shooter level.

Wai Wai World (Famicom)

Rocket Knight Adventures (Genesis)



Airforce Delta Strike

Airforce Delta (known as Deadly Skies in Europe) is a jet combat simulator very similar to Namco's Ace Combat series. They've appeared on several platforms, but the most notable is Airforce Delta Strike. for the PlayStation 2. Even though they're completely different from normal shooters, someone on the development team must've had huge amounts of love for the old classics, because there are over a dozen different classic ships hidden in the game, each rendered in full 3D. It takes a lot of effort to unlock them (or, alternatively, download a save game) but they do look really cool.

Jerry Mouse (Ajax)

Vic Viper (Gradius)



Yu-Gi-Oh!

Konami also snuck a few shooter references into its Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. In addition to the Vic Viper (the card is simply called "Gradius") and its options, additional cards including the Blue Thunder T-45 from Thunder Cross, the Flintlock (and its attachment) from XEXEX, and a Space Mambo.

Blue Thunder T-45



Related Articles


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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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