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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

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Fire Shark / Same! Same! Same! (鮫!鮫!鮫) - Arcade, Genesis (1990)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

American Genesis Cover

Japanese Mega Drive Cover

Fire Shark is the vastly improved sequel to Flying Shark. The most common complaint of Flying Shark was that your plane was too weak in its default state and takes too long to get powered up. This has been fixed, and then some. Taking a hint from Truxton, Fire Shark gives you a 3-way spread shot as your normal, weakest, attack. From there, your weapons get much stronger, so strong in fact, that it actually becomes somewhat unbalanced.

The setting is pretty much identical Flying Shark. Your plane flies over many exotic locales such as jungles, deserts, frozen landscapes, neon-encrusted cities, and deep valleys. Every so often, your plane flies over a generic enemy base, but most of the levels are pretty colorful for a realistic shooter. The bosses are the standard gigantic war machines or battleships, of course.

Where Fire Shark truly shines is the amount of power given to you. As usual, the weapons are colored coded - the default Blue spread, the Green piercing laser, and the Red flame-thrower, which of which can be upgraded. The fully powered-up Blue spread is terrifying attack usually reserved for bosses that covers half the screen in your bullets. That's right, now your enemies are the ones dodging bullet curtains. The Green pierce shoots long, green shots in a diamond formation, but it lacks the horizontal width of the other weapons. Fully upgraded, it completely wrecks through the bosses.

By far the most impressive weapon is the red flame-thrower. In its weakest state, it starts off looking similar to the blue laser from Truxton until you power it up. Instead of gaining homing capabilities like the laser, the flame-thrower simply doubles in power and number of fire streams. At full power, the flame-throwers move and destroy everything in front, behind, and to the sides of your plane. This weapon makes short work of bosses and completely destroys any popcorn enemies before they can even come onscreen. Once you have this weapon, the only challenge left in Fire Shark is dodging enemy bullets and the occasional tougher foe.

Fire Shark received a port to the Genesis shortly after it was released in arcades. The port added a harder difficulty and stays very true to the arcade version. Unfortunately, the Genesis had problems processing so much action on screen at once, leading to immense amounts of flickering everywhere, as well as slowdown. This is particularly bad with the flame-thrower. It's not bad, but there are much better shooters on the Genesis, so Fire Shark was largely ignored. The Japanese title is Same! Same! Same!, which means "Shark! Shark! Shark!". This is mostly likely a reference to the classic World War II movie Tora! Tora! Tora! ("Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!")

Like Twin Cobra, there are a few different versions of this game in the arcades. The initial Japanese release is only single player, and sends you back to a checkpoint if you die. Interestingly, if you take a hit, you can still moves around and shoot for a second while your plane flames out, though there's nothing you can do to prevent your inevitable death. A revised two-player version removes the checkpoints, but also gets rid of these cool death scenes, so you explode immediately like every other shooter. The North American version is based on the two player release.

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Fire Shark (Arcade)

Fire Shark (Arcade)



Screenshot Comparisons


Out Zone (アウトゾーン) - Arcade (1990)

Japanese Arcade Flyer

American Arcade Flyer

Out Zone is very different from most Toaplan shooters, as it is closer to Smash TV or Ikari Warriors than Truxton. It still feels and plays like a shmup, even if it is a bit unorthodox. The levels are in the shape of straight, vertical lines, and Toaplan-styled bosses and bullet patterns are present, along with some cameos of characters from previous games.

Out Zone's story involves an unnamed government sending in super spies to go in and destroy a terrorist army that has acquired powerful robot super weapons. The storyline and main character design for that matter closely resembles Metal Gear, even though Out Zone plays nothing like Konami's classic.

One of the defining features of Out Zone is its weapon system. There are two weapons, the 8-way pistol and the heavy shoulder blasters. The catch is that you can only change weapons by picking up a colored "C" icon. Knowing which weapon to have out when is very important, but sometimes you just simply have the wrong weapon out. Fortunately, change icons are common and appear enough to make this issue little more than a mere annoyance.

The 8-way pistol is your standard rapid-fire weapon found in most Smash TV style shooters. It is far more powerful than most peashooters that serve as basic weapons and can be powered up to shoot energy balls. Additionally, it can be upgraded through special pickups into other weapons, such as a flame-thrower. The shoulder blasters are the complete opposite. They make your character move slower, cannot be aimed, and only shoot forward in a 3-way spread. These shots are far more powerful than the 8-way pistol, but are not very good in twisting and turning hallways. They are however, ideal for taking out bosses.

Additionally, Out Zone features an energy bar. Note that this is an energy bar, not a health bar, since your character dies from one hit and is booted back to a checkpoint upon defeat. Moving too much and attacking too often depletes energy. Managing this bar is not too hard, due to energy pickups being very common and scattered all throughout levels.

There are five levels in Out Zone, each one having a huge robot boss at the end. These boss battles are very intense and one of the most exciting parts of the game. One interesting boss in particular uses a powerful laser to cut out pieces of the floor and causes it to drift away on a current of molten lava. The levels themselves are cramped and claustrophobic, and packed with enemies. There tends to be a bit of slowdown when too much action is onscreen at once. Fortunately, special bombs that destroy everything onscreen can eliminate enemies and slowdown by extension.

Out Zone also has cameo appearances by an enemy V formation from Flying Shark and ZIG from Zero Wing. The Flying Shark fighters protect you at seemingly random intervals until destroyed while ZIG periodically flies by and gives out bonus points if you can shoot him.

Out Zone never received a home console port, but this was partially because not very many systems could have handled it very well. Even the arcade version suffers from slowdown. Five different versions of Out Zone were released for the arcades, all of them having varying levels of difficulties. Even with Out Zone's obscurity, it received a sequel that is probably even less known than its predecessor was.

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Out Zone

Out Zone

Out Zone



Vimana (ヴィマナ) - Arcade (1991)

European Arcade Flyer

Vimana is one of Toaplan's most unique shooters. The level design is particularly creative, along with a unique charge shot and bombs. It gets its name from the Sanskrit word for "Flying Machine", described in Sanskrit Epics. The storyline involves a planet being attacked by seemingly indestructible alien forces that induce fear and insanity to all that oppose them. The last hope for this planet is the Vimana Warriors, two ships that are empowered by the Hindu god Ganesha to defend against the aliens and restore peace to the galaxy.

The Vimana warriors are the player one and player two ships, each equipped with a shot that charges in the shape of a V. Once the shot is released, the V shape explodes forth in an arc, hitting almost everything in front of it. This sounds like it would be a very powerful weapon, but this leads to Vimana's main problem - none of your attacks ever do enough damage. Even the weakest enemies will take more than a few hits to destroy, even if your weapon is fully powered up. Bombs are similarly underwhelming, consisting of seven balls of light that rotate around your ship and guard you from shots. Once an enemy comes onto screen, a light ball will jump out from the group and crash into the enemy, likely destroying or heavily damaging it. Unlike in Fire Shark, where you can pick up new weapons, Vimana does not offer any weapons other than standard shots, charge shots, and bombs.

Vimana has some bits of creativity in its levels. One in particular has moving enemy searchlights, which will fire hard to dodge bullets if it spots you. An interesting boss fires from the bottom of the screen as opposed to the top. Vimana also attempts to squeeze around 50 enemy bullets on screen at once, making it feel like a sort of prototype bullet hell shooter.

Vimana was never ported to any home systems, but like Out Zone it would not have really fit onto any of them very well. The music was done by Toshiaki Tomizawa, who would later go on to make soundtracks for Fixeight, another Toaplan shooter and many of Cave's games, including Dodonpachi, Progear, Guwange, and ESP Ra. De..

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Vimana

Vimana



<<< 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

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