noiseredux vs.

Posted on Apr 23rd 2010 at 12:58:28 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under GBA, Shmups

The recent acquisition of my Hori Fighting Stick has gotten me in a very arcadey kind of mood. I've been going through various genres that I tend to associate with the feel of an arcade stick. That being said, don't be shocked if the Game Boy Player Land blog becomes a bit flooded with these sort of random rundowns of stray games. First up: Shmups.

Now I should note that different people tend to classify genres differently. It tends to be a personal thing. Shmup, or slang for "shoot 'em up" (as anyone who frequents this website is well aware) is described by the all-knowing Wikipedia as a game in which "the player controls a lone character, often a spacecraft  or aircraft, shooting large numbers of enemies while dodging their attacks." This is actually exactly how I tend to think of Shmups. Others consider something like Contra to be part of the genre. But in my head -- no spaceship, no Shmup. Contra and the likes are Run-N-Guns, which many consider to be a sub-genre of Shmups, but again -- no spaceship, man. So to me those two genres are millions of miles apart. That's just me.

Also, I think it's important to point out that this is not meant to be any sort of comprehensive list, or Best Of, or anything like that. Ultimately, it just touches upon games that I've actually had experience with.

Gradius Galaxies seems like a good place to start. I mean look, right there in the title... it says Gradius, so it must be good. Right? Well, sadly that's just not the case. Sadly, Galaxies has a lot going for it, but manages to drop the ball. The graphics are certainly top-notch, but the huge downfall is the control. Unfortunately, control is pretty much the most important aspect of whether a Shmup will be playable or not. And Gradius Galaxies is damn-near unplayable as far as I'm concerned. You see, the ship is terribly terribly slow. I mean really slow. I mean if you're at the top of the screen and you hold the down button expect to really wait a while to make it to the bottom of the screen. In a genre that prides itself on pandemonium, this kind of snail's-pace just doesn't cut it. 

Invader seems to be a somewhat overlooked GBA exclusive from 2002. And it's pretty much everything I want out of a Shmup. It's brightly colored with crazy robotic bugs and explosions. It's got lots of power-ups, a fantastic ambient-techno soundtrack and vocoder voices. It's really hard, but not infuriating. This is a game I cannot praise enough. Though it's rare that I see it mentioned when discussing GBA Shmups, ultimately I think it will earn a certain cult-status. In my eyes it's like the Ikaruga of the Game Boy Advance.

Iridion II tends to be the first game anybody ever mentions when discussing Shmups released for the Game Boy Advance. And with good reason. In reality Iridion II -- which is somewhat confusingly the sequel to Iridion 3D -- is a fantastic game. It's got a great control scheme, and stunningly innovative graphics. To be fair, this game and Invader are certainly a tough call as far as which is my favorite GBA Shmup. I've actually never played Iridion 3D but from what I can tell it portrays its ship from an over-the-shoulder perspective like Space Harrier or Star Fox. Though those are two games I love, I generally flock more towards traditional vertical or horizontal shooters.

R-Type III: The Third Lightning is such a frustrating release to me. Take a look at those pictures and you can see that this is a game with gorgeous graphics. They certainly are on par, and maybe surpass the SNES version. However my major plight with this game -- and it's the same problem I had with the previous Game Boy and Game Boy Color R-Type games -- is that the ship is just too big for the screen which results in incredibly difficult maneuvering. Your ship is just so long that it works as a detriment, making even simple movements result in crashing into something. This is a real letdown considering just how great the game looks. I've heard that some fans really love the Game Boy releases, so who know; maybe this game is for you. But I just couldn't get over this flaw in any of the Game Boy entries in the series.

Besides these, there's a supposedly near-perfect port of the SNES classic Phalanx that I would love to track down. Similarly there's the Japan-only release of Darius R which I'd love to get my hands on. But you tell me, what GBA Shmups am I missing out on? And more importantly, which should I avoid?

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hmm, I actually didn't mind Gradius on GBA
I haven't played any of them, but Invaders looks pretty cool.  I don't see a copy on ebay though, and nothing shows up in the past 90 day search.  Must be pretty rare.
@blcklblskt: Invader is apparently pretty rare. I had a hell of a time finding a copy myself. I've actually never seen it on ebay, which is pretty strange. I'm guessing it had a rather small print run.
Hmm. Digital Press lists Invader as having "?" for rarity. It also mentions that although there was a supposed US release, the only copies that have ever surfaced were European ones. Wow. Perhaps this game is a lot more rare than I even knew! Maybe my Ikaruga comparison is even more apt!
Don't forget Darius and Phalanx!

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