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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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Trigon (トライゴン) / Lightning Fighters - Arcade (1990)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

American Arcade Flyer

Similar to Ajax, this is another largely generic overhead shooter, although graphically it feels like a rip-off of Seibu Kaihatsu's Raiden. It offers a two player mode, with an extra catch - there are special power-ups that can only be obtained when playing with someone else. These weapons are saddled in the middle of your fighters, strung together with lasers, and fires off a variety of super powered weapons. The problem is, both players need to survive in order to keep using it. If one of them dies, the weapon falls off. One other slightly notable aspect is the way the levels flow straight into each other after boss fights, giving the appearance of one big, long, continuous stage - sorta like Gradius, but without any intermission segments. The game also utilizes two cool bomb-type power-ups - one is a huge laser saber, the other is a flame dragon that flies around the screen.

Gradius Gaiden

Apparently Konami felt this was cool enough that they took this ship and its powers, modified it a bit, giant-sized it, and included it in the Boss Rush stage of Gradius Gaiden. Other than this bit of trivia, it's an enjoyable if not particularly noteworthy shooter, with some excellent music, of course. There aren't any console ports of it either.

Like some other Konami shooters, there are a few differences between the Japanese game (Trigon) and the World versions (Lightning Fighters). Trigon sends you back to a checkpoint when you die, while Lightning Fighters resurrects you immediately. Trigon also has an extra weapon, similar to the two-player orbs, except it can be found in single player. It was removed from Lightning Fighters, for some reason. The digitized speech names for the special weapons are also different.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical

Themes:

Space Combat


Trigon (Arcade)

Trigon (Arcade)

Trigon (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


Thunder Cross II - Arcade (1991)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

The sequel to Thunder Cross is pretty much more of the same, with another seven levels of action, along with some slightly enhanced graphics and better sound. It has some pretty cool bosses, like what appears to be a robotic version of Medusa, along with a robotic chameleon. The ending reveals some of their goofy names, including Ragamuffin for that Medusa robot, along with such winners as "Brookrans, Works", "Laze, Zoguylum", and "Sproutes, Layber".

The penultimate foe almost resembles a Gradius final boss, in that it's a big orb that sits in the middle of the room, but this one actually fights back with reflecting lasers and bouncing bullets. One stage is an asteroid field - pretty typical for shooters - except the off-screen boss at the end of the stage is firing huge laser blasts, half the size of the screen, and the only real way to avoid them is by using the gigantic rocks as cover. Another forgotten, quality game, which never received any ports whatsoever. The only aggravating part is that they stuck in the normal blaster in the orb power-up cycling, making it possible to downgrade your current weapon if you're not careful. Unfortunately there are no console ports.

Fun fact: the composer, Metal Yuuki (AKA Mikio Saiyou), was once employed by Tecmo. Two of the songs in Thunder Cross - "Dog Fight III" and "Kartas Part 2" - are actually "sequels" to tracks from two shooters he previously worked on, Super Star Force and Strato Fighter (AKA Raiga). Other games he worked on included Ninja Gaiden (the arcade version) and Akumajou Dracula X (PC Engine). He likes to make the FM synth sound as close as possible to electric guitars, giving it a heavy metal feel similar to Technosoft's Thunder Force.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Vertical

Themes:

Space Combat


Thunder Force II (Arcade)

Thunder Force II (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


XEXEX (ゼクセクス) / Orius - Arcade, PSP (1993)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

Perhaps the pride and joy of Konami's shooter lineup, XEXEX is so mind bogglingly gorgeous that it's incredible that it was released way back in 1991. Each of the game's seven stages are gorgeously detailed, with a unique theme and incredible technical effects to go along with it.

The first stage takes place in some kind of crystal planet, with a hypnotic green background. The second stage is filled with colored orbs, sort of like those molecule diagrams from science classes, which break apart from the scenery, spin around, and try to crash into your ship. The third stage is against the pink backdrop of an alien planet, with floating islands with suspended water, and a small moon rotating in the background. The fourth stage is a biological nightmare, with walls that shift and creep back and forth. This would later form the basis for several other stages in the Gradius games. The fifth stage looks like a virtual reality simulator, with the level boss using a shield that has a polygonal portrait of head, which speaks with some kind of garbled language. The sixth stage continues with your ship jumping in and out of hyperspace, fighting enemies along the way. The seventh stage starts off against the backdrop of a galaxy, until the background is bent to the side - an insanely cool effect - as you're warped into the entrance of the final battle cruiser.

The action itself feels heavily influenced by R-Type. Your ship has one of several weapons (at least, in the Japanese version - more on that later), but it also has a floating orb attachment. When the orb is separated from the ship, it flies around and attacks enemies, and your ship can auto-fire its primary weapon. As the orb becomes more powerful, it crows more tentacles, naturally making it more dangerous. When the orb is attached to the ship, it can be used to charged a power shot, which shoots out a huge, electrified tentacle that reaches across the screen. Again, the more powerful the orb, the more tentacles - up to four - will be used. The main weapons consists of the Photon Beam, a standard laser; the Ground Laser, which shoots downward and moves across the surface, similar a weapon from R-Type; the Spiral Laser, which has tremendous width; the Homing Laser fires in a single laser forward, as well as two other beams that bend upward and downward; and the Shadow Laser, one of the coolest, which is a standard laser that creates a damaging shadow as your move your ship up and down.

The story involves you piloting a ship called the Flintlock, to save the blue haired princess of the planet E-Square, from a rather effeminate looking evil lord. Each stage is punctuated with a cutscene of the princess crying for help as she's tortured and begins to lose clothing - not unlike Artemis from Namco's Phelios - or the lip-stick wearing, bad guy taunting you. In the ending, the Flintlock sends the orb back through the atmosphere of the planet, where it morphs into a naked fairy for some reason, and then leads into the end credits, which features goofy, super deformed versions of the staff bouncing around the screen. It ends with an uplifting message - "We continue to produce the games you love." The bootup screen has a similar message - "Our dreams come true." It really seems like this was a true labor of love for Konami.

Of course, in keeping with the R-Type / Gradius tradition, XEXEX is incredibly difficult. In the Japanese version, the Flintlock can only take a single hit before dying, sending you back to the most recent checkpoint. After dying, your shattered ship reassembles into a single whole and begins a new life, which is a throwaway effect that looks remarkably cool. The difficulty ramps up by the third stage, and doesn't let up all the way to the end, making it particularly brutal, especially since there aren't any shield power-ups, or anything absorb enemy bullets.

The World version, however, switches things up quite a bit. You only have a single life, but the Flintlock can take multiple hits, indicated by an energy bar at the top of the screen. When it runs out, the ship explodes, and you need to continue, but you'll resurrect right where you left off. In other words, the checkpoint system is completely gone. This might seem like it would make things less frustrating - and it does - but they also hacked out almost the entire weapon system. You only get the standard laser, which can be upgraded a few levels, and homing missiles, and that's it. Furthermore, the rapid fire functionality is completely gone, making many of the bosses a total chore. It might be worth mucking around the World version if you can't beat the Japanese one, but it's clearly the inferior game. The World version also features text in English - although the voiceovers are still in Japanese - and actual titles for the levels. In the Japanese version, each level just begins with the text "CHARGE THE ENEMY".

Ganbare Goemon 2

The problem with XEXEX's technical achievements is that it was simply just too intensive to be ported to any of the 16-bit consoles without drastically downgrading it. By the time the Saturn and PlayStation came along, the game was four years old, and probably a bit too old to be ported, even though it still would've looked incredible. For years, the closest thing anyone got was a minigame stage in Ganbare Goemon 2 for the Super Famicom, where you could play a variation of the second stage in a small window. Even this scaled back version featured tons of slowdown. Hamster actually planned to release this for the PlayStation 2 as part of the Oretachi Geesen Zoku release line, much like Thunder Force,, but it got cancelled somewhere along the line. Instead, Konami released it themselves, for the first time, on the Salamander Portable collection for the PSP in 2007. It's more or less arcade perfect, including options for pixel perfect ratios or an upscaled, stretched display to fit the whole screen. It uses the Japanese version of the game, thankfully, although some kind of save game functionality, like the Gradius Collection for the PSP, would've been nice.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Horizontal

Themes:

Space Combat


XEXEX (Arcade)

XEXEX (Arcade)

XEXEX (Arcade)

XEXEX (Arcade)

XEXEX (Arcade)

XEXEX (Arcade)

XEXEX (Arcade)


Additional Screenshots


Tobe! Polystars - Arcade (1997)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

The Panasonic M2 system was meant to be the successor to the 3DO, although that didn't quite pan out. While the home system was never released, it was converted into an arcade board, which Konami developed a few games for. Some notable titles include Battle Tryst, a 3D fighting game with a few well known Konami characters like Richter Belmont from Castlevania, and Pastel from the Twinbee games, and an overhead shooter called Tobe! Polystars ("tobe" means "fly!".) The M2 wasn't a bad piece of hardware, and most seem to detail the 3D quality as being as bit better than the original PlayStation. Still, Tobe! Polystars latches onto the low tech qualitiy early 3D to create an intentionally blocky game world, hence the "poly" (for "polygon") in its title.

Tobe! Polystars

Although not directly related to Twinbee, Polystars looks a lot like it, with lots of bright, pastel graphics. It also plays just like it - you can fire both bullets in the air, and bombs on the ground - although the slightly skewed perspective makes it feel a bit more like Raystorm. The cloud/bell power system is gone, though, replaced with a more traditional weapon system.

By all accounts, it's a fairly decent game, although since it was never ported, and MAME currently does not support M2 emulation, so the only way to actually play it is with an actual arcade board. You can read more about it at NFG Games, which is where these screenshots were taken from.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Konami

Publisher:

Konami

Genre:

Shoot-'em-Up: Other

Themes:

Contemporary: Urban


Tobe! Polystars (Arcade)

Tobe! Polystars (Arcade)

Tobe! Polystars (Arcade)


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1979-1983 Arcade Shooters

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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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