<div class=header> <div class=headerrow> <div class=headercell> <div class=headerlogo> <p class=image><a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent"><img src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/logo/hg101logo.png" alt="Logo by MP83"></a></p> </div> <div class=headerad> <script type="text/javascript"><!-- google_ad_client = "pub-5230184257141993"; /* HG101 */ google_ad_slot = "4961941287"; google_ad_width = 728; google_ad_height = 90; //--> </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> </script> </div> </div> </div> <div class=headerrow> <div class=headercell> <div class=headermenu> <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/alpha.htm" target="_parent">Articles</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/features.htm" target="_parent">Features</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/books.htm" target="_parent">Books</a> | <a href="http://blog.hardcoregaming101.net" target="_parent">Blog</a> | <a href="http://hg101.proboards.com/" target="_parent">Forums</a> | <a href="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/about.htm" target="_parent">About</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hardcore-Gaming-101/109837535712670" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/facebook.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/HG_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/twitter.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://ask.fm/hg_101" target="_blank"><img alt=" " src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/askfm.png"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.patreon.com/hg101" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/supportsmalla.png"></a> </div> <div class=searchbox> <form action="http://www.google.com/cse" id="cse-search-box" target="_parent"> <div> <input type="hidden" name="cx" value="partner-pub-5230184257141993:xfg3mydy24k"> <input type="hidden" name="ie" value="ISO-8859-1"> <input type="text" name="q" size="30"> <input type="submit" name="sa" value="Search"> </div> </form> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.google.com/coop/cse/brand?form=cse-search-box&amp;lang=en"></script> </div> </div> </div> </div>

<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Performan
Tiger Heli
Slap Fight / ALCON

Page 2:
Flying Shark / Hishouzame
Twin Cobra / Kyuukyoku Tiger
Truxton / Tatsujin

Page 3:
Hellfire
Twin Hawk / Daisenpuu
Zero Wing

Page 4:
Fire Shark
Out Zone
Vimana

Page 5:
Dogyuun
Truxton 2 / Tatsujin Ou
Fixeight

Page 6:
V-Five / Grind Stormer
Batsugun
Twin Cobra 2

Back to the Index


by Nick Zverloff - February 5, 2011

Toaplan (東亜プラン) was one of the most prolific developers of shooters during its golden age. While many of their earlier games were not published under their name - usually represented by Taito or Romstar on the title screen - they're quite notable for a number of releases, including Tiger-Heli, Twin Cobra, Hellfire, Truxton, Zero Wing (perhaps their most infamous), and Batsugun. While the company was dissolved in 1994, its former employees spread out to found several other companies, including Gazelle, Takumi, Raizing and Cave.

Toaplan's shooters have several distinguishing factors - long levels, huge bosses, difficult gameplay, and really good music. Most of them, with the exception of two, are vertically scrolling. Many of their titles fit into small subseries, like the Tiger series, the Shark series, Truxton and Outzone, as well as many others which don't fit into anything. That being said, they share share similarities in style - Truxton plays very similarly to Twin Cobra, despite utilizing a sci-fi theme rather than a militaristic one. While many of their earlier games may seem pretty basic compared to modern shooters, with fairly typical visual themes and limited weaponry, they were still quite influential, and are still playable today with the proper mindset. Most of their earlier titles received computer and console ports. However, as the years went on, a number of them remained only in the arcades, despite their improvements. While MAME can technically play all of their games, many are without sound.


Performan (パフォーマン) - Arcade (1985)

Title Screen

Arcade Instructions

Performan was Toaplan's first shooter, and it's certainly not what one would expect from them, especially when looking at some of their later games. It's actually a strange, overhead shooter much like Robotron. The star is the titular Performan, a native in a jungle that wears a huge mask, who's being stalked by a squadron of drill-wielding robots. He must stop them using balls of energy, his ability to dig underground, and bombs that are set up in every level. He can also go into Power Mode by shooting ghosts that randomly appear, which turns him green and invincible for a short time.

Needless to say, Performan is a very weird, very hard game. There are 99 levels and the game loops endlessly, as typical of most early arcade games. The main problem with Performan is that he's far too weak to survive for long. He can't move quickly, his shots are slow, and he can only have one shot on screen at a time, which can easily be dodged. The bombs are an easy way to get rid of two or maybe three at a time, but this usually requires setup, which takes a bit time, and by which point you're like to be killed.

Performan

The levels are usually wide open. However, one of the best parts of Performan is the ability to dig. It literally adds another dimension to an otherwise flat game. The tunnels are narrow and only appear if you (or an enemy drill) make them. The tunnels even stay where they are if you lose a life. Making and navigating the passages is the key to victory and can turn the tides on otherwise impossible scenarios. Digging underground can help bypass walls, but it leaves holes for enemy drills to use. The drills can dig their own holes too, but it slows them down while they're digging. Ghosts move very fast and are hard to hit.

Even though Performan is rather flawed, it can still be quite fun. The graphics are good for 1985 and the music is decent enough. Luring enemies close to a bomb, narrowly escaping, and blowing them all up can be satisfying, and wrecking enemies in Power Mode is fun, assuming you can hit one of those damn ghosts.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Designer:

  • Takano-san

Genre:

Themes:


Performan

Performan

Performan


Tiger-Heli (タイガーヘリ) - Arcade, NES, PlayStation (1985)

American NES Cover

Japanese Famicom Cover

Tiger-Heli is the first game in Toaplan's Tiger trilogy, consisting of Tiger Heli, Twin Cobra, and Twin Hawk. Twin Cobra received its own sequel as well, developed by Takumi after Toaplan went out of business. While Twin Hawk and Twin Cobra are generally regarded as good games, Tiger Heli hasn't aged particularly well.

In Tiger Heli, you play as a helicopter equipped with a very weak gun, up to two bombs, and destructible satellites. The bombs are displayed on the actual helicopter sprite, a bit of creativity that makes it stand out. The bombs themselves detonate when fired or when enemy bullets hit them, sometimes annoyingly clearing the screen when you don't need to. It doesn't help that the controls are choppy and sometimes unresponsive. It's also a very short game, only four levels long and it loops to a higher difficulty after the end.

The graphics and sound in Tiger-Heli are weird, to say the least. The water has these strange, unnecessary white lines all around it, making it look like a swimming pool. When bombs blow up, they leave spinning ovals everywhere that look like confetti. For some reason, floating docks are gray and made out stone. Forests are bunches of shaded green triangles and squares that are lumped together. The effect makes Tiger-Heli look very surreal, especially next to similar games of the era. For no reason other than to be a jerk, you can blow up people's houses in Tiger-Heli. This can be completely understandable, given the frustrating controls and bombs going off when you do not want them to.

Tiger-Heli received an NES port that was infamous for its poor quality. While the arcade version was only a bit below average, the NES version makes it look the best game ever. The strange, yet cool graphics are gone and replaced with horrible, low-resolution backgrounds. One level was so lazily put together that it consists of a simple gray background with occasional black and yellow lines. This port was handled by Micronics, a company infamous for a lot of terrible early arcade to console ports such as Toaplan Trad, 1942, Ghosts 'n Goblins and Athena. Even though Tiger-Heli may not be a great or well-designed game, it did start a series and series sometimes a few installments are needed to get things going. It was also ported to the PlayStation in 1996 and published by Banpresto as part of the Toaplan Shooting Battle Volume 1 release. In addition to display options, it also features an arranged soundtrack, but otherwise it's pretty much the same as the arcade version.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Tiger-Heli (Arcade)

Tiger-Heli (Arcade)

Tiger-Heli (Arcade)


Screenshot Comparisons


Toaplan Shooting Battle Intro


Slap Fight (スラップファイト) / ALCON - Arcade, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Mega Drive, TV Game (1986)

Commodore 64 Cover

Mega Drive Cover

Slap Fight or ALCON ("Allied League of Cosmic Nations") is a very influential game, and is credited with having inspired bullet dodging in many modern manic shooters. Unlike in games like Dodonpachi or Giga Wing, Slap Fight's enemy fire is small, fast moving, and are colored dark red. They really more resemble Battle Garegga's bullets, as they even tend to be hard to see and blend in with the background.

Slap Fight's story takes place in the year 2059, and mankind has colonized on a planet called Theon. Aliens that had chased colonists out of previous planets before are trying to chase humanity out once more, so the Allied League of Cosmic Nations sends in a SW475, the playable ship, to stop the aliens from attacking. The most notable feature of this ship is its ability to adapt to situations and change shape.

The story ties into Slap Fight's upgrade bar, which was inspired by Gradius but is slightly different. The upgrades are Speed Up, Shot, Side Shot, Power Wing, Bomb, Laser, Homing Missile, and Shield. The Speed Up is one of the most useful, because even at full speed, enemy bullets move faster than your ship. This gives Slap Fight a somewhat methodical feel to it, as enemies will always shoot in choreographed places. Shot is the default weapon, and a very piddling attack with a short range. Side Shot is a strange, and more original attack that puts guns on the side of your ship that fire 90 degrees of your normal shot.

The second part of the upgrade bar hold the more powerful attacks, but all of them except Shield triples your hitbox size upon use. Power Wing drastically improves your firepower, and may be used up to three times, adding on satellites that clutch onto the new wings. Unfortunately, the satellites are destroyed with one hit and are not actually very useful. Bomb turns your normal shots into powerful bombs that explode directly in front of your ship. Much like the Laser and Double in Gradius, Bomb is mutually exclusive with most of the other weapons. Note that when used with Power Wing, you get to shoot three bombs at once every time. This is incredibly powerful and can make Slap Fight feel easier than it actually is.

Laser, as expected from most shoot-'em-ups, offers a very powerful attack that only shoots in front. Homing Missile shoots slow moving missiles that home in on enemies. Shield gives a force field that makes the ship invulnerable for around 25 seconds. Most power-ups temporarily turn you invulnerable and put you in the center of the screen when used. This can be good to get out of a tight spot, but it can also lead to some cheap deaths.

When Slap Fight was taking notes on Gradius, it also mimicked some of its flaws. If you die in a checkpoint where none of the enemies give out upgrade stars, you're basically screwed.

Slap Fight was ported to many home computers with varying degrees of playability. The ZX Spectrum version is a mess. The colors are all in black and white, the sound is terrible, the enemies and their attacks are hard to see, and the low resolution screen makes it hard to tell what is even going on. The Amstrad and Commodore 64 ports are at least more playable.

Slap Fight MD is an enhanced remake of Slap Fight, released only for the Japanese Mega Drive. It features both the original game and a completely revamped version on the same cartridge. Slap Fight MD has an arranged soundtrack, but it's a lot more high pitched and annoying than the original soundtrack. The graphics are also enhanced, but they are still pretty basic, even for the Mega Drive. "Special Mode" features new levels, new bosses, a new soundtrack, and some tweaked gameplay mechanics. Whenever you use an upgrade on your ship that alters its hitbox, a huge explosion that heavily damages all enemies and destroys all bullets on screen accompanies it. The new soundtrack exclusive to the "Special Mode" was composed by Yuzo Koshiro, famous for composing the music of Sorcerian, Streets of Rage, and Actraiser. It's definitely the best version, but like many Mega Drive shooters, it's quite pricey.

There is also a separate release of Slap Fight on Taito Nostalgia 2, a standalone plug-and-play TV game. In addition to a decent arcade replication, it also features an extra mode called "Slap Fight Tiger", where you can play as the helicopter from Tiger-Heli. The weapons have been changed, and some enemies have been changed to resemble foes from Space Invaders.

Slap Fight (Mega Drive)

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Slap Fight (Arcade)

Slap Fight (Arcade)

Slap Fight (Arcade)

Slap Fight (Arcade)


Screenshot Comparisons


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Performan
Tiger Heli
Slap Fight / ALCON

Page 2:
Flying Shark / Hishouzame
Twin Cobra / Kyuukyoku Tiger
Truxton / Tatsujin

Page 3:
Hellfire
Twin Hawk / Daisenpuu
Zero Wing

Page 4:
Fire Shark
Out Zone
Vimana

Page 5:
Dogyuun
Truxton 2 / Tatsujin Ou
Fixeight

Page 6:
V-Five / Grind Stormer
Batsugun
Twin Cobra 2

Back to the Index