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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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MSX Shooters

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Miscellaneous

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Ajax (エー・ジャックス) / Typhoon - Arcade, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, DOS, X68000 (1987)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

This is a strange game. It's almost like Konami wanted to make an arcade version of Falsion, but only got halfway done before they realized that it wouldn't be done in time, or something, so they stuck in several stages from fairly non-descript shooter to pad it out. Take note of the intro, wherein a jet fighter dramatically takes off from an aircraft carrier. Then, in the first stage...you're piloting helicopters? Huh?

Well, five of the game's eight stages are overhead, piloting these helicopters. Like Xevious and Twinbee, you use your guns for air-based targets, and bombs for ground-based targets. There are a couple of main power-ups, including a Vulcan cannon for spread shots, a multi-directional laser, and a regular laser, into addition to more powerful bombs. Some of the enemies feel a bit like they belong in Contra, especially with the multiple blinking red weak points. It almost feels like they tried to tie them in a little, especially since the game starts off flying over various places on Earth, before flying over a blood red sea and fighting what appear to be aliens.

Three of the stages are 3D, and here's where you actually control that jet. They're very brief and feel more like bonus stages than actual levels, but they're kinda cool nonetheless. The scaling is neat, although the effects are put to shame by Sega's Super Scaler games like After Burner. The levels themselves are cool, though, The first 3D stage has you dive bombing from the upper limits of the atmosphere down to attack an enemy aircraft carrier on the surface. If you don't destroy it quickly enough, you'll kamikaze right into it - although you still have to start the stage over. The second 3D stage takes place in a canyon, and the third is a brief sortie against the alien base orbiting Earth. The game is known as Typhoon in Europe, which switches around the order of the stages. The first stage in this version is the first 3D stage from Ajax, so the cinema of the jet taking off makes a little bit more sense.

Ajax apparently never left much of an impression. Due to the checkpoint-based resurrection system and limited credits - an unfortunate element in many Konami arcade games of the time, such as Haunted Castle and both Contras - it's quite difficult, and outside of the 3D stages, the music and some cool boss designs, there's little remarkable about it.

There was an NES/FC port planned at one point, which never came to fruition. It was ported to several home computers though, including the Sharp X68000, IBM PC, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. The X68000 one is the only one that does it justice, largely because the machine was fairly also powerful, and also because it was the only port done by Konami themselves.

The DOS version uses 16 color EGA graphics and actually plays pretty decently. It doesn't look that great, but it's better than the other versions, although the PC speaker music is painful. Both the guns and bombs are set to rapid fire, but the enemies also attack more relentlessly than even the arcade version, making it even more difficult. The rest of the computer versions are based off of Typhoon and thus use that game's altered level order, with the Commodore 64 versions coming out on top. They can't quite pull of the 3D stages, but still don't look too bad. The Amstrad and ZX Spectrum versions are basically identical to each other, and both are hampered by slower speed and obvious graphic disadvantages.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Designer:

Yoshiki Okamoto

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical
Shoot-'em-Up: Other

Themes:

Space Combat


Ajax (Arcade)

Ajax (Arcade)

Ajax (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots

Comparison Screenshots


Battlantis - Arcade (1987)

Title Screen

A Space Invaders clone themed on ancient civilizations. The title is a portmanteau of Battle for Atlantis. You play as a warrior on top of a battlement, firing on groups of advancing enemies from below. The blocks (technically called "merlons") act much like shields. When any enemy reaches the tower, it climbs up and kill you. The UFOs have now become little men pushing carts which yield power-ups when destroyed. Each level also brings brand new enemy formations, and there are plenty of huge boss monsters too. The blasting sound effect appears to have been grabbed straight from Space Invaders, and even the music sounds like an arranged version of the "alien creeping" noise. It's all a pretty cool reimagining of the concept, all things considered.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical

Themes:

Space Combat


Battlantis (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


MX 5000 / Flak Attack - Arcade (1987)

Title Screen

This rather unremarkable overhead shooter forces you attack ground and air-based targets using machine guns and missiles. The game keeps a tally on each type of target killed, and when maxed out, will upgrade that weapon. Your machine upgrades to a standard laser, then eventually a double laser; your bombs upgrade to spread three at a time, then five. Too bad it takes too long to fully charge up, and it resets when you die. Some of the boss designs are okay looking, plus the game lets you fly around the screen Time Pilot-style during these battles, but otherwise everything feels very pedestrian. It was never ported to any other platform.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical

Themes:

Space Combat


MX 5000 (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


Quarth (クオース) / Block Hole - Arcade, MSX2, PC98, Sharp X68000, Famicom, Game Boy, Mobile phone, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, Wii Virtual Console, 3DS eShop (1989)

American Game Boy Cover

Japanese Arcade Flyer

Quarth is a fun little shooter/puzzle hybrid. You control a little ship at the bottom of the screen, as blocks fall from the top, sort of like Tetris in reverse. Your ship shoots tiny blocks, one by one, to complete the shapes and turn them into rectangles, at which point they disappear. Creating bigger rectangles not only yields more points, but the game pauses briefly while they're being cleared, allowing you to work on other parts of the screen. You can also take out multiple blocks by creating an even larger rectangle around them. There are also occasionally colored blocks which, when completed, will clear the entire screen. Naturally, once they hit the line at the bottom of the screen, your ship is destroyed and the game is over. It doesn't seem too hard, but if you're too quick on the trigger finger, or just try to clear blocks haphazardly, you might end up in a situation where there's simply isn't enough time to create a full rectangle.

Quarth (Arcade)

The arcade release, also known as the slightly clever Block Hole in some territories, features a single ship and a two player mode where the screen is divided in half, and each tries to outdo the other. The Famicom and MSX2 releases have more ships (two in the NES, four in the MSX2), and have an additional two player mode where players must work cooperatively to fight against the onslaught of bricks. The MSX2 version looks a bit better but the scrolling is a bit choppier. The Game Boy version - the only one to see release in North America, strangely enough - offers six different ship but only the arcade two player mode, which is naturally only playable via a Link Cable. However, only the arcade version has the silly intro cinematic, which is a harrowing account of the blocks flying through the space, and the only starships that can stop them.

Quarth also shows up on the Konami GB Collection Vol. 4 in Europe, although it was renamed Block Game for some reason. Additionally, it's a bonus game in the Ganbare Goemon game for the DS, except your ship is the Goemon Impact, a giant robot with the face of the main character. It also uses the dual screens for an extra tall playing field.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Puzzle
Shoot-'em-Up: Other

Themes:

Falling Blocks


Quarth (Arcade)

Quarth (Arcade)

Quarth (Game Boy)

Quarth (Famicom)


Comparison Screenshots


Thunder Cross - Arcade, PlayStation 2 (1988)

American Arcade Flyer

Salamander / Life Force is often considered the sister series of Gradius, mostly because it uses the same ships and Life Force used the same power-up system. However, Thunder Cross is actually a bit closer to Gradius, at least in design. Story-wise, it even takes place in the same universe, although the enemy this time is the evil Black Impulse as opposed to the Bacterion Empire. It's basically like Konami took the enemy designs and patterns, changed up the graphical style a bit, used a different power-up system, and then you'd have Thunder Cross. You'll recognize a lot of same bad guys, who fly in the same waves, and leave behind power-up orbs if all of them are killed. Most of these orbs default to S for "Speed Up", of course, but if you wait a few seconds, it'll cycle to different letters, including a powerful "V"ulcan cannon, homing "B"oomerangs, and a "T"win Laser, which actually fires both forward and behind. Some will also drop Option orbs, which create a little invincible pod to double, triple, or quadruple your firepower. Once you get four Options, there are also three "special" weapons that appear, which includes a Flamethrower (so very awesome), a Macro Laser and Napalm bombs. Unlike the original Gradius games, this little orbs fly in a vertical formation, and can be positioned closer or farther from your ship by holding down the secondary button. This type of option clustering was later reintroduced into the Gradius series in Gradius III. (Although the Blue Thunder T-45 doesn't technically show up in any other Konami shooters, Hikaru and Akane from Gokujou Parodius have similar weapons, and the Option/Multiple ship in Sexy Parodius can morph into the ship, sharing its arsenal.)

Of course, there are some pretty significant differences from Gradius too. The game does not utilize checkpoints, instead resurrecting you right where you died, and there are no bomb/missile weapons either. The background designs, while occasionally utilizing similar styles - especially apparent in the final stage - are often drastically different, taking place above typical shooter landscapes like cities, and usually featuring lots of multiplane scrolling. Much like Salamander, it also features two player simultaneous play. The music is composed by some of the same folks as Gradius III, so the soundtrack has a very similar feel.

Even though it's a pretty quality game, Thunder Cross has largely been forgotten, probably because Konami neglected to port it to the NES. Its only true home port was for the PlayStation 2 by Hamster, as part of its Oretachi Geesen budget line-up, which also included other Konami games like Akumajou Dracula (Haunted Castle) and Contra. It includes a mini CD with the soundtrack, as well as a mini DVD with a quick video. The port itself is basically just a hacked, lousy version of MAME ported to the PS2, with blurry graphics and no options whatsoever.

Incidentally, there are two different versions of the game. The secondary version is heavily dumbed down, as it removes the rapid fire, and all secondary weapons except for the Vulcan. You always have two Options at all times, but you can't reposition them. Instead, you have a limited quantity bombs, dubbed "Lil' Baby", which are really just the same as the Napalm explosions. The level order is different too. It's heavily dumbed down and a much worse game. Some have speculated that this is version for release outside of Japan, but there appears to be ROM sets for an English version that's the same as the Japanese one, so it's a bit of a mystery.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Horizontal

Themes:

Space Combat


Thunder Cross (Arcade)

Thunder Cross (Arcade)

Thunder Cross (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


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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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