Horizon Shift isn't just a great shoot'em up, it's a genuinely new shoot'em up.
Following a shaky last attempt, tiny British SHMUP specialist Flump Studios (try saying that five times quickly) are back with a vengeance. Lean, muscular and exceptionally hectic, Horizon Shift uses a simple yet revolutionary idea to blend Tempest, Space Invaders and bullet hell into something completely fresh and exciting. With so many 'me-too' attempts clogging up Steam's virtual shelves, it sticks out like my sore thumbs.
Speaking of which, it's also seriously tough in a satisfying technical kind of way. Hence why the review is a week late.
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Developer: Siter Skain Circle
Localisation: Nyu Media
If you're a fan of scrolling arcade shoot 'em ups (which we'll now correctly refer to as SHMUPs), then Nyu Media are about to make you very happy indeed. Following years of fan demand and a successful Kickstarter campaign, a triumvirate of legendary Japanese doujin titles have now been localised for Western audiences.
Collaborative indie studio Siter Skain laboured over a trilogy of exceptional shooters over the course of eleven years: Kamui, RefleX and ALLTYNEX Second. Taking their inspiration from Raystorm and other arcade classics, they created a balanced, gorgeous and responsive trilogy that quickly earned themselves a strong following and unassailable reputation. Nyu Media have now put in a shift to localise the dialogue, add native controller support and finally let us get our hands on these intense little gems.
If gameplay is king, Siter Skain are the power behind the throne.
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Epic indie shooter Serious Sam: Double D will be making its way to XBLA on February 20th, Mommy's Best Games confirmed today, costing a mere 800 Microsoft Points. The new XXL Edition contains numerous improvements and additions compared to the 9/10 original: including but not limited to a cooperative mode, 30 new guns, more missions and extra enemies.
Considering that we trotted out a 9/10 score in our Serious Sam: Double D review, you should definitely be very excited about this. It's utterly bonkers.Click here to read more...
Developers: Digital Reality, Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
There aren't many games in which an anthropomorphic bison explains how he blackmailed a cancer-suffering rape victim to help him go time-travelling on a spree of murderous vengeance. Then again, Grasshopper Manufacture aren't your usual band of games developers. Their sweeping designs, combined with Digital Reality's impressive execution, have created a modern shoot 'em up that tries to be a little bit different.
Well, they've certainly succeeded.
Sine Mora attempts to bring a number of things to the genre. SHMUPs are classic games, often considered niche titles, thumb-blisteringly difficult, and predicated on a spirit of score chasing, evasive manoeuvring, and hardcore bragging rights.Click here to read more...
As Jon has said countless times before, Deathsmiles Deluxe is easily one of the best Shoot ‘Em Ups on the Xbox 360 - if not the best - and is the definitive edition of Cave’s arcade classic. There's never been a better time to get stuck in, either, as Play have just dropped their price by a couple of quid to under £8. Cheers, Syzable.
Today’s daily deal on Steam gives us a rather entertaining Shoot ‘Em Up with a twist, and with the 50% reduction in the usual price you can get it for less than the price of a pint. A port of the PSP Mini release that emerged last year, this SHMUP with tower defence elements sees you control The Guardian of Earth against waves of alien invaders. Reports suggest it is genuinely entertaining game with quite a few comical moments, and the unlockable challenge modes breathe extra life into the title after the main game is done. For the price, I’d say it was definitely worth a look. Act fast if you’re interested though, as the deal expires at 6pm today.
The Hut and Zavvi (the gloopy, amorphous entity that they are) tend to be the best places to grab Deathsmiles Deluxe, and they've done it again. This is the definitive edition of Cave's arcade classic and easily one of the best Shoot 'Em Ups on the Xbox 360. Perfect controls, bags of replayability and eyepopping visuals make for a seriously epic package. There's a case to be made that the infinite continues and lack of unlockables were a missed opportunity... but frankly, you should give this one a go and get involved immediately.
When it comes to dredging up a venerable old shooter from yesteryear, the term "spoiled for choice" is a bit of an understatement. Zapping aliens was one of the very first things we wanted to use computers for, and every console has offered dozens, if not hundreds, of scrolling SHMUPS to choose from. To qualify for our Blast From The Past series, a game has to offer something a little different and set a trend that future games were destined to follow, and with this in mind, the choice suddenly became clear.
Back in the heady year of 1995, Eclipse Productions unleashed a freeware title that completely shattered the mold. Tyrian "exceeded" its creators' wildest dreams, becoming a truly iconic space shooter and a standard bearer for the genre itself. And it was on the PC to boot.
Before we continue, it's important to point out that you really ought to be playing Tyrian right now, not reading about it! Good Old Games are offering an improved downloadable version - with extra content and Windows 7 compatibility - for the bargain price of absolutely free.Click here to continue reading our Blast From The Past while Tyrian 2000 is downloading!
Indie outfit Charlie's Games are hard at work on Irukandji 2: the sequel to the critically-acclaimed and visually impressive PC/Mac shooter. Apparently the project started life as a testing app for their current project, Scoregasm, which is set for imminent release. In an effort to get some bug reports, testing and user feedback, Charlie has released the first level of Irukandji 2 as a free download. The file contains executables for Windows, OSX and Linux - so quite frankly, you have no excuse to download it, try it out and let the developers know what you make of the experience.
Get it here. Be sure to note that you can change the resolution by tinkering around with a .txt file!
Rather than traditional keyboard inputs, Irukandji 2 features extremely responsive mouse controls that make grazing past bullets for bonus points an absolute breeze. Quite frankly, I may actually have trouble getting used to twinsticks again.
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Developer: G Rev
Publisher: G Rev
Revamped, lazy ports of classic shooters infest Xbox Live Arcade like a bad rash... but every once in a while, a brand new SHMUP (that's shoot 'em up for those who like to pronounce their words separately) hits the service and makes us take notice. One such example was Konami's Hard Corps: Uprising that threw a number of exciting innovations at the run & gun formula, but Strania takes the opposite tack by focusing on the core fundamentals.
Responsiveness. Player empowerment. And mecha.
For the sake of advancing the text-based storyline (that's buried deep within the tutorial menu), the forces of Strania have to repel an evil invasion by clambering into honking great mechs and taking to the skies. It's a scrolling shooter in the style of Raystorm and Einhander; tasking you with defeating waves of enemies, dodging inordinate amounts of incoming firepower and occasionally facing off against huge mechanical bosses. As well as your enemies, you'll also need to content with environmental hazards such as rotating lasers and tight passages.
It's all standard SHMUP fare, but Strania: The Stella Machina handles everything extremely well. Manoeuvrability is the key to success for any wannabe arcade classic, and the mechs handle with pixel-perfect speed and responsiveness that's neither twitchy nor cumbersome. While very difficult on the default settings, it's never cheap - and empowers you with the speed and firepower to get the job done. If you die, it's because you screwed up, not because your mech wasn't fast enough to get out of the firing line.Click here to continue reading our Strania: The Stella Machina review >>
Deathsmiles Deluxe is easily one of the best Shoot ‘Em Ups on the Xbox 360 - if not the best - and is the definitive edition of Cave’s arcade classic. Responsive controls, bags of replayability and eyepopping visuals make for a seriously epic package. There’s a case to be made that the infinite continues and lack of unlockables were a missed opportunity… but frankly, you should give this one a go and get involved.
Developer: Jason Rohrer
Inside A Star-Filled Sky hails from the quite remarkable and intensely worrying mind of veteran Indie architect Jason Rohrer. His work includes the hybrid freeform adventure Sleep Is Death, but at first glance, this latest effort seems to be distinctly out of character. In fact, it appears to be mainstream.
The WASD keys guide a small, randomly-generated creature around sprawling mazes whilst the mouse allows firepower to be independently targeted. Just like nearly every other 2D shooter on the market. The art design and music is both soothing and deeply attractive, but after a minute or two, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it hasn't managed to rise above the majority of its peers that glut the crowded genre.
And then everything clicks as you undergo a genuinely startling revelation. Inside A Star-Filled Sky is is a truly infinite game... because every enemy, powerup and even the player character is a procedurally-generated level in itself.
Click here to discover the definition of an infinite game...
Deathsmiles Deluxe is the definitive edition of Cave's arcade classic and easily one of the best Shoot 'Em Ups on the Xbox 360. Perfect controls, bags of replayability and eyepopping visuals make for a seriously epic package. There's a case to be made that the infinite continues and lack of unlockables were a missed opportunity... but frankly, you should give this one a go and get involved immediately.