SCORE WARS: Galaga World Championship

Consider yourself a top Galaga player? Then you only have till March 1 to qualify for a chance to be flown over to Score Wars (in Sante Fe, New Mexico) by Meow Wolf to compete for the $10,000 top prize!

So what are you waiting for, get on over to the Score Wars website now to register your high score!

source: Score Wars

 

Zero Gunner 2- Omnidirectional Mayhem On The Nintendo Switch

Zerodiv are on a roll with their Psikyo arcade conversions for the Switch. Their last effort, Gunbird proved so popular in the ausretrogamer office, we had to ban it during work hours! And it looks like Zero Gunner 2- is no exception to this rule – it is another classic shoot’em up that we will have to limit play time so work can be done around here.

Zero Gunner 2- (ZG2-) is a mouth-watering shmup that tests your flight and shooting mettle with a twist. What twist are we referring to? Well, ZG2- bucks the trend of being either a vertical or horizontal shooter by being best described as an omnidirectional shmup! This may put some noses out of joint with shmup traditionalists, but once you get the hang of it, it is damn cool. We found that this game suits the Switch’s handheld or tabletop mode perfectly. Actually, the game is awesome to play on a big widesceen TV too, but don’t expect the graphics to blow you away – they are functional, but you have to remember that this was a turn of the century shoot’em up that has now been spruced up for 2018.

Zero Gunner 2-’s gameplay is fast and furious. Since it is an omnidirectional shmup, enemies fly out from all over the screen at a rapid pace which ramps up the challenge considerably. Thankfully, you can decrease the difficulty to child-like, which we did. The control mechanic may also throw players off as you change directions you must also change direction of your firing. Unlike a twin-stick shooter, in ZG2- you must use the Y or A buttons to adjust your facing / firing direction, which can be disorienting until you get used to it. Having said that, the ZG2- control mechanic of changing your facing and firing direction is the hook, a point of difference for this game if you will. To survive and get further in this game, you must get to grips with changing directions quickly to dispatch all enemies coming at you. Some may think this as a gimmick, but we say it is a cool feature that sets Zero Gunner 2- apart from your traditional shooters.

Just like other shooters, you get a choice of gunships (three to be exact) which have standard auto-fire shots that are complimented by a special attack-shot which packs some punch! Your chosen gunship’s firepower can also be upgraded by collecting P-lettered tetrahedrons (P for Power!) which greatly help in dispatching enemies than the puny single-shot, thus ensuring steady progress.

The longevity of this game, which has 7 stages, is dictated by what you want out of it. If you want to play through each difficulty level (Very Hard is insane!) or if you are into chasing high scores or you just love having a blast with a mate in two player co-op mode, then this game is for you! If none of these interest you, look elsewhere, for everyone else starved of old school shmup action, GET TO DA CHOPPA NOW!

Price: AUD $9.99 – Nintendo Australia eShop
Available: January 25 2018

image source: Nintendo

Zero Gunner 2- was kindly provided by Zerodiv for this review.

 

Dimension Drive: A Blast With A Twist

Let’s get one thing straight, we are lucky to have Dimension Drive! Why lucky you may ask? Well, it goes something like this – 2Awesome Studio made up of two Dutch ex-space engineering indiedev decide to go the Kickstarter route to raise funds to produce Dimension Drive. The Kickstarter ends up being wildly successful and after much celebration, it was found that they had been trolled! Hearts were broken.

Alas, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, 2Awesome Studio weren’t going to give up on their dream of producing Dimension Drive for us mad shoot’em up gamers. Actually, 2Awesome Studio pulled off a Lazarus of Bethany of sorts with Dimension Drive! Released on PC, Mac, Linux and the Nintendo Switch, this intense space shmup is no ordinary vertical scrolling shooter, it challenges the player to fight across two battlefields on a single split-screen! Sounds nuts yeah? Not really, this unique teleportation mechanic makes the game stand out from other traditional shmups you may be used to playing on the Switch.

With the teleportation jump feature, the player can instantly dodge waves of bullets, reach secret areas and the best part, surprise enemies – PEW PEW PEW, take that! Play solo or turn it up to 11 pilots with a local co-op partner to give your enemies hell when you team up on one screen, or split up to grab as much loot as possible. Unlock and power up a variety of weapons like the Flak Shotgun – an overpowered beast that blasts ships to atoms at point blank range or the burning wall of space death streaming from the flame-thrower like Plasma Torch. Master advanced techniques like the Drift Drive that lets you dodge bullets in a split second or even flip into Reverse Drive to hit enemies when they least expect it. You fight through a richly detailed sci-fi adventure which unfolds the secrets of the Dimension Drives, allowing you to climb the global leaderboards in four different difficulty modes ranging from Normal (for a balanced challenge) to Insane if you like living in a world of pain!

Dimension Drive is an easy shmup game to recommend for Switch players looking for a fresh take on an old school genre. This game can be tough, but it’ll ultimately rewards those that persist. Get Dimension Drive for your Switch (it’s only $19.99AUD) and do not reconsider – you have come way too far to surrender now! Pew pew pew!

image source: 2Awesome Studio

 

Gunbird Review on Nintendo Switch: It’s Shmup-tastic!

If you are a long time shoot’em up fan, there is no doubt you would have come across Gunbird on other platforms (or in the arcade). If you have fond memories of Psikyo’s beautiful vertical shmup and are now in possession of a Nintendo Switch, we reckon it is time you reacquainted yourself with Gunbird.

Let’s start by saying that Zerodiv have done an absolute corker of a conversion on the Switch. Not only can you play Gunbird in landscape form, you can also turn your Switch 90 degrees and play it like it should be, in portrait /vertical goodness. If the label Psikyo sounds familiar, it may be due to their pedigree in games, one example being Aero Fighters 2 (Sonic Wings 2), which we absolutely love. Lucky for us (and you too!), Gunbird hits the shmup sweet spot by being up there with the aforementioned beauty.

The premise of the game doesn’t really matter, but for those that want the back story, Gunbird provides 5 protagonists, each one with their own special chosen craft. The story plays out in between levels and before boss fights, telling a tale of how the protagonists are trying to collect pieces of the Magic Mirror of Atra to make their wish. The antagonists are a group called The Trump, yep, you read that right, The Trump, who are lead by the fearless female, Rogue.

Just like all great vertical shoot’em ups, Gunbird has a plethora of power-ups to pick up to bling out your artillery to ridiculous levels and also bombs, which are in limited supply, so they should be saved for the awesome boss fights!

Gunbird can be played in single player or with a friend in co-op mode – which amps up the playability! The cut-scenes between stages are quite funny and add to the charm of this exquisite shmup.

Gunbird ticks all the right boxes for a shoot’em up and we are glad that it’s not one of those full-on bullet-hell type games, although you can dial up the difficulty for it to be one. This game caters for all skill levels, from monkey (yep, apparently monkeys  can’t play as well as a child) to rage-inducing hardness.

In conclusion, if you are into shoot’em ups, then Gunbird should be an instant buy. At AUD$9.99, it really is great value. Gunbird is an absolute 10/10 blast that should be in your Switch games library right now!

Gunbird was kindly provided by Zerodiv for this review.

Galencia Blasts Onto Your C64

Fire up your trusty Commodore 64 and grab Jason Aldred’s brilliant new shoot’em up Galencia.

For those that have been away on Mars and have just landed back on Earth, Galencia is a fast action shoot ’em up for the C64 in the mould of Galaga, but even better! Yes, it is that good that we reckon it is even better than Galaga – there, we said it.

Galencia features 50 action packed levels with asteroid fields, challenging stages, boss battles, ebb and flow difficulty curve and siren enemy with tractor beam for double ship action (Ed: oo’er!). The game includes gorgeous intro, launch and completion sequences, coupled with 6 unique SID chiptunes for your aural pleasure.

Blast-Off!

But wait, there is more! In-game options include:

  • Load, Save and Reset High Scores
  • Extensive CRT options including 3 levels of Starfield Brightness
  • 3 different Score Palettes
  • Tournament Mode
  • Music and Simultaneous Sound Effects or Sound Effects only
  • 3 selectable difficulty levels; and
  • Pause and Quit game options

There are many great people behind great games, just like the peeps that had a hand in creating Galencia. We can all thank these talented group of people for making such a wonderful and sublime game:

  • Jason Aldred: programming and graphics
  • Pulsebot: all music and some sound effects
  • Saul Cross: additional graphics and sound effects
  • Lobo: physical artwork including box and manual
  • Mark Hardisty: manual back cover illustration
  • Flemming Dupont: concept art
  • Jakob Chen-Voos: Protovison

Even the great Julian ‘Jaz’ Rignall gives his sizzling approval!

You can grab the digital version right now via itch.io for US$4.99 (which is an absolute steal!), or for the more traditionalists among us, Galencia will be available on physical media from Friday, November 17 via Protovision Games, just take a look at these tangible temptations:

  • Cassette (without box) €10.00 – comes on a green cassette with a j-card that can be flipped around for an alternative cover picture. The tape comes in a neon green jewel case (front side is fully transparent, only back is neon green).
  • Cassette (boxed) €30.00
  • Disk (boxed) €30.00
  • Cartridge (boxed) €40.00
  • Disk and Cartridge Special Edition (boxed) €50.00

All boxed editions of Galencia will come in a fully printed cardboard box with custom inlays to hold the disk, tape or cartridge, which will also include:

  • a full colour manual with 16 carefully designed pages (A5 sized),
  • Galencia coaster with a scratch free glass surface,
  • Bee key ring that can serve you as a trophy when you battle against vermin,
  • Big Galencia sticker that you can stick on your disk sleeve if you have the disk version; and
  • While stocks last – the first 200 boxed version orders will receive an additional small Galencia sticker!

With the Disk and Cartridge special edition, both physical media will be in the one box with all of the above inclusions, plus a space amulet that is much needed in higher levels of Galencia, as it has been reported to promote good fortune!

Oh yeah, the game works on both PAL and NTSC C64 computers, with all physical editions containing the tape and disk digital images. If you don’t have a C64, then emulation is fully supported through VICE.

So what are you waiting for, go and pilot the 1981 Galencia Fighter to restore order, before it’s too late!

The game is never over!

The eyes have it!

Credit where credit is due

Tough choice – will you grab Galencia on cart?

On disk?

Or on tape? The choice is yours (you can’t go wrong!)

Time to squash some bugs!

Go on, get blastin’

image source: Jason Aldred – Galencia HQ

 

SKYCURSER Is Coming Soon To Shoot Up Your Arcade

Who says that the arcade is dead? If you are sick of seeing redemption machines at your local amusement centre, then perhaps the new horizontal shoot’em up, SKYCURSER will draw you back for some good old fashion blasting!

Griffin Aerotech’s SKYCURSER takes players through some gorgeously drawn worlds in which they must battle mutant hordes to save the planet. SKYCURSER has a total of four missions with a reward scoring system that keeps things quite competitive.

The game runs on a platform called Airframe and its creators have also promised free game updates. A year ago, the Griffin Aerotech team expressed hopes that the open-source nature of Airframe would attract other independent designers to create games for arcade cabinets and controls. This means that operators could potentially swap several games on the same Airframe using only a USB stick, which brings back memories of swapping those good old Neo Geo MVS cartridges.

There’s a Pro (USD$700) and Deluxe (USD$1,200) version of the kitted game, each coming with necessary software and hardware while the Deluxe has additional conversion art. The game is also available in a dedicated arcade cabinet ready to hit the floor (USD$3,499). Conversion kits are expected to ship by June 2017. For information on purchasing the game in a dedicated cabinet, click here.

The arcade industry needs more of these good old fashioned arcade games, like SKYCURSER, to draw back the 80s and 90s kids (now adults) into arcade centres for them to have fun while introducing their own children to the kind of games they played at their age many moons ago.

image source: Griffin Aerotech

 

Retro Rich: R-Type High Score Record Holder

RetroRich_Rtype_HDRIf it’s one thing we know about Richard Evans (aka: Retro Rich), he is one dedicated gamer! We have been keeping an eye on Rich’s high score record attempts on Twin Galaxies, and we can now reveal that Rich has achieved (yet again!) another high score record, this time it’s on the awesome Irem shoot’em up, R-Type.

With a swag of Twin Galaxies high score records to his name, we thought we’d chat to Rich while he takes a breather from his next record attempt and ask how he found the R-Type arcade game and what was his regime to becoming a high score record holder on this great shmup. Strap yourself in and enjoy your R-9 flight!

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hey Rich, we heard that you got yourself the brilliant horizontal shoot’em up R-Type – why that game and what is it about R-Type that made you hunt it down?
Retro Rich [RR]: My first console was the Sega Master System, and one of the first games I got for it was R-Type. I remember playing it a lot even though I found it extremely difficult. I loved the gameplay and music. I know now that it was a pretty good conversion from the arcade game considering the technical limitations of the Master System. I really wasn’t very good at it! I think I only ever made it to Stage 4 back in those days. Once I got back into gaming and then into arcade collecting, I realised that I may be able to actually own the original R-Type arcade game – so my hunt began on the forums to see if I could get one.

ARG: How hard was it to find and then buy the game?
RR: Once I started looking on the forums, I discovered that the arcade board came in two main types. Quite often, the Irem golf game Major Title was converted to an R-Type by making numerous modifications to the circuit board and replacing the ROMs. There is even a way to make the same board run both R-Type and R-Type 2 with a selector – which is pretty cool! These boards are quite common and can go for quite a bit of money. However, I wasn’t interested in playing the second instalment and there was something alluring about owning the original Irem R-Type board rather than the conversion, so my search continued.

I posted in the wanted section of the UKvac forum and waited. After a week or two I was contacted by a collector who lives North-West of Birmingham, a good 3 hours drive from my place in the South-East of the UK. The seller had an original R-Type board in a Video Wizard JAMMA cab which he had thought about selling for the right price. He also had an R-Type marquee made for the cab which looked super cool! We negotiated a bit and settled on a price for the complete cabinet. I hired a van through a friend and set off that weekend to pick it up! I also decided to buy an original Sega Shinobi arcade board from him which I also picked up.

It took me a whole day driving and I called in a few favours, but it was well worth it! I was pretty lucky really. I got it for a really good price. The arcade board itself goes for a lot of money, and since I got this one I’ve seen them go for substantially more so I got a fantastic deal. The Video Wizard cabinet is really well made too, and he’d just had the monitor serviced so the picture is really good.

RType1

ARG: You have been busy lately breaking the Twin Galaxies high-score record for R-Type (Congratulations!) – how does one go about doing this? What was your regime?
RR: I was able to get to stage 4 on one life, but I knew I needed to do much better. R-Type, like a lot of games, has very little random elements to it. The stages behave the same, the enemies appear in the same place on the stages every time. The things which change are their rate and speed of fire as the game reacts to how well you’re doing and responds with faster enemy bullets, which makes it more difficult the better you are playing. However, learning the enemy patterns is the key to this game. Knowing where to be on the screen to destroy the enemies quickly and maximise your points while avoiding obstacles and other enemies, is what I began to learn.

I started studying other gameplay videos on YouTube to get tips. During this, I realised I’d managed to learn quite a few of the techniques myself at different points in the game, but I learned quite a few more by watching these videos. I point press quite a bit on the earlier stages in order to maximise my score.

I realised that learning to play the later stages on the arcade hardware was very time consuming. I found that I could easily do the earlier stages, but I had to do them all over again each time in order to practice a few minutes of the later ones. This was slowing my progress significantly, so I turned to MAME. I installed MAME and the R-Type ROM’s and bought myself an arcade stick. I was then able to use the save state feature within MAME to play to stage 4, save the state and then play stage 5 over and over to learn the patterns. Once I’d mastered stage 5, I did the same with stage 6. I played it so many times, learning the best way to get through the stages while maximising my points. Stage 6 is a good example of this, since the yellow enemies on this stage are worth 1000 points each, so it’s worth trying to destroy as many as possible rather than simply avoiding them.

To answer the other part of your question, I practised for 3 to 4 hours per night several nights a week around my other commitments.

RType2

ARG: How long did it take to get to a point where you were happy with your score?
RR:
I got R-Type in January 2016, so I have been practising since then! However, I’ve only been seriously going at it for the last month or two. Once I started using MAME my score improved by leaps and bounds. I won’t go into the details of my point pressing (the video is on Twin Galaxies for those interested), but I died strategically at certain points to play certain parts of the game over and over until down to one life. I then continued to play through further stages on that remaining life. This meant that there was little room for error. I lost count of the times I played for 20 minutes or more on the arcade game, only to have to start over again. That was very frustrating!

Currently I am able to play the game to stage 7 on one life.

RType3

ARG:  What is your plan going forward for R-Type (an even high score)?
RR: My plan now is to learn stage 7 of the game as it is extremely difficult. After that, I will learn stage 8. I’m giving myself a little break as I don’t want to burn out or get annoyed. One of the main things I’ve realised about trying to achieve high scores on games is that if you have a few bad games, stop playing. Come back to it another day, don’t keep going as you’ll only get annoyed and frustrated. It’s hard to walk away sometimes, but you have to really be strict with yourself as it doesn’t do you any good to continue when that happens.

My next personal goal is to complete the game on one credit. After that I intend to do it with one life. The game loops back to stage one again after the first completion, and then it goes all the way to stage 8 again. Once the second loop is complete, the game finishes which means there is a natural ending and therefore point pressing will start to play a major part to maximising the score.

I will begin working on this soon, as I want to keep up with the momentum I have. My current record score is not that high. I’ve seen videos of people achieving much higher scores on R-Type, both on original hardware and with MAME. They have simply not submitted their score to Twin Galaxies as I have. It’s a nice milestone to achieve the record, but I realise I still have a long way to go to become a truly great R-Type player.

RType4

ARG: Are you eyeing any other Twin Galaxies high score records you want to break or is that a secret?
RR: No secret at all *smiles* I think R-Type is going to keep me busy for some time yet, but after that I may start to learn Shinobi. I have a score on Twin Galaxies already, but it’s very low. Since I submitted that score, it raised awareness of the game and a guy called Jonathan Town has set a much higher score, which is great. I feel happy that I got him involved actually. It’s what competitive gaming is all about in my opinion. What’s the point in being the only score on the board and not trying to improve? Jonathan has given me loads of tips so I’m sure I can improve my score on Shinobi, although I’m not confident I will ever be as good as him. He is quite amazing at it!

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone else submits a higher score for R-Type. I’ve raised awareness of that game too, since the previous record was set in 1997 by Jason Wilson. He may well come back to reclaim his title, or maybe someone else will have a go. That’s why I need to seriously up my game so I can set an even higher score and remain on top!

As we leave Rich to rest his hands and fingers, we can’t help it think that this will not be the last time we see his name up in lights.

RType5