Fast Striker 1.5
Last Hope Pink Bullets
Radirgy (a.k.a. Radily)
Shikigami no Shiro 2
Zero Gunner 2
Border Down is a horizontal shmup by G-Rev with the occassional bit of vertical scroll. It gets its name from the 3 "borders" that exist on each level, like alternate realities. At the start you can choose which border to assault. Choosing lower borders gives you less lives and more insane bullet patterns to get through, but give higher score potential. If you die within a level, you "border down" (if possible) to a lower border but the difficulty drops. At the start of each level you can then choose to go back up to a higher border if you milked the boss properly or a lower border if you are a nutter.
Chaos Field is a boss rush game, set vertically, by Milestone. Your choice of three ships feature standard attacks including a normal shot and a swipe which cancels bullets. In a tight spot, you can switch to the "Chaos Field" which gives a couple of seconds of invincibility and locks the field for twelve seconds, but gameplay is also more frantic and dangerous. Impacts remove chunks of energy before losing a life.
Drill is an unreleased vertical shmup by a group of French indie developers. It never got beyond the demo stage, but you can download the demo for free to try on your Dreamcast. Gameplay is interesting:
A (tap) = shot and fast move,
A (hold) = shot and slow move
B (hold) = drill (decreasing) and slow move
A+B (hold) = drill (increasing) and NO move
Dux is a horiztonally scrolling shmup by HUCAST.net, although you can play it vertically via an option if you fancy. Much of it takes place inside areas set out by walled barriers which must be navigated safely and there's a movable force shield. So yes, it's a little bit like R-Type.
Using the shield to destroy bullets builds up the Hyper Soak meter, which can then be used to attact/soak bullets as an alternative type of smart bomb. Bullets soaked can be comboed if you are fast. The graphics are colourful and designed with VGA in mind, with some cool trance tunes in the background.
Fast Striker 1.5
Fast Striker is a vertical shooter by NG: DEV.TEAM which has a little Cave bullet-hell feel to it. However, it fill the whole 4:3 screen area. Tapping fires a spread of bullets while holding fires a laser. Bonus pick-ups will move towards you when you are not firing the laser. Some sections require you to shoot behind you with a different button.
Gigawing is a vertically scrolling 4:3 shmup with a steampunk aeroplane look and feel. The main feature is the reflect attack which when activated will send bullets back the other way, which can be used effectively to destroy bosses and survive large bullet swarms. This attack takes a few seconds to recharge so timing is critical, as well as taking a fraction of a second to activate initially after pressing the button. Power-ups can be grabbed to increase weapon effectiveness.
Gigawing 2 is another vertically scrolling 4:3 shmup. Instead of the 5 ships accessible in the original, there are 10 to choose from (with some to be unlocked) differing in firepower, bullet spread, and speed. A similar medal score multiplier structure as the original makes high scores very high, with combo being reset at the start of each level or after loss of life.
Gunbird 2 is a vertical shmup by Psiyko. Towns, villages and
castles are rendered in a cartoon style and are populated by little sprites running around as the action takes place above. There are many difficulty levels to choose from, so you'll find one to suit.
Ikaruga is a vertically scrolling shmup by Treasure. It has a colour switching hook whereby choosing the same colour as an enemy, either black or white, allows you to absorb their associated bullets to power up homing shot. Choosing the opposite colour while allow your normal shot to destroy them more quickly but makes you vulnerable. At first this is quite easy to follow, but after a while there are many of both colours on screen and finding a pattern through the seemingly chaotic environment is key.
Karous is a vertically scrolling shmup from Milestone. It has a cell-shaded look, but contains very little colour. Power-ups can be sword-swiped to change their type, thus you have control over the levelling process. Swiping bullets also builds the shield bomb meter which makes you invincible for a short period but also sucks up bullets for the same meter, thus you could use it again immediately it runs out if you are careful on the timing.
Last Hope is a horizontally scrolling shmup by NG: DEV.TEAM, which stylistically owes a debt to the likes of R-Type, Pulstar and Last Resort. The graphics are superbly done, with stunning pre-rendered backdrops and some seriously good-looking, old-school sprites in the foreground. The music is fantastic – a banging mixture of spaced out, ambient dance excellence. You can shoot stuff and move a remote drone around you.
Last Hope: Pink Bullets
Due to feedback from players about Last Hope, a Pink Bullets version was released which made it easier to pick out the bullets that can kill you from the shrapnel that can't. This turned a sub-par shooter into a fun but still challenging shmup.
Mars Matrix is a vertical shmup by Takumi. The first level is pretty tame. Come the second level, the firepower intensifies until the whole screen is full of deadly blue blobs, all going in different directions and all going at different speeds. Excellent, but daunting for newcomers. Your craft is equipped with a standard laser, fired by continual taps of the firebutton - nothing new here. The 'piercing cannon', a very powerful short-range attack, is fired with less frequent taps of the firebutton, which will allow the cannon to charge.
Psyvariar 2 is a vertical shmup by Skonec. It is by far my favourite shooter on any platform. You use the Buzz system to scrape your mecha against bullets etc. Buzzing raises your level gauge at a speed dependent on the type / colour of thing being scraped - buzz the wrong thing and it will reduce your gauge speed. Once it is full, you level-up and for a brief moment, you are invincible. If you think quickly in certain situations, you can level-up again before losing your shield, displayed by a rapidly shrinking circle around you. Therefore, compared to most other shmups, there is far less shooting and far more hooning about trying to chase bullets around the screen.
Radiry is a vertical shmup my Milestone. It's cel-shaded visuals appear to have lead many to dismiss it, but whilst they are basic, they are functional in that you'll only ever feel that a loss of life was your own fault due to the ease of identifying each object. The main shot is a standard shooting attack for destroying enemies, but here it takes a backseat to the sword and ABSNET barrier. Enemies drop blue tokens that fill the blue ABSNET gauge which is filled more quickly when using the sword rather than the main shot. Using the sword means getting up close to attacking enemies but it is this risk/reward mechanic that is key to achieving monster scores.
Shikigami No Shiro 2
Shikigami No Shiro 2 is a vertically scrolling shmup by Alfa System. Here, the hook is the Tension Bonus. You are rewarded with a score multiplier the closer you get to enemies or enemy fire. The hit box for each character, where they need to be damaged in order to lose a life, is dead centre, so bullets, enemies and scenery can be ‘buzzed’ for the maximum reward of an x8 multiplier. Buzzing not only increases score, but also player firepower; the colour, sound and velocity of the main shot and character aura are altered adding a passionate intensity to the wanton destruction.
Sturmwind is a horizontal shmup from Duranik. It started life as an Atari Jaguar game but ended up on the Dreamcast. It is sensationally good looking, with fully animated pre-rendered backgrounds and many lovely graphical effects. You start the game with a choice of 3 weapons being a Vulcan type that’s heavily inspired by Axelay in that you can spread the fire around your craft by holding or releasing the fire button. A wider spread / wave style shot and the good old green laser style shot. Each can be fired forwards or backwards thanks to a quick tap on the weapon direction button which soon becomes a necessary part of the game play mechanics.
Triggerheart Exelica is a vertical shmup by Warashi. After a few levels the screen is swamped with closely packed enemies that refuse to die. The only way to make it through to the end is to understand how to use the Anchor Unit. This locks on to ground units for quicker dispatch, or grabs hold of airbourne units either as a shield to fling into other enemies for more damage. Grabbing large craft takes longer, but deal out more damage (or defence time).
Trizeal is a vertical shmup by Triangle Service. High scores are achieved by collecting bonus items dropped by destroyed enemies. These can be chained to give big bonuses (1000 points a item), but missing any bonus items drops the combo score back down to its starting level of 10 points. Weapon power can each be upgraded individually by collecting power-ups to a maximum of five levels. The power-ups apply to the weapon currently activated, so to balance the power of each weapon switch weapon types accordingly.
Under Defeat is a vertical shmup from G.Rev. Since the player controls a helicopter with some degree of rotational movement, comparisons with Psikyo's Zero Gunner 2 are inevitable, but ultimately, pretty wide of the mark once the game has actually been experienced since both games share little else in common. A more appropriate comparison would be with Toaplan's helicopter-based shooters of the 1980s such as Tiger Heli and Twin Cobra since G.Rev have also gone for a similar militaristic feel and realism for Under Defeat.
Zero Gunner 2
Zero Gunner 2 is a vertical AND horizontal (and diagonal!) shmup by Psikyo. After destroying certain enemy crafts a power-up icon, or Energy Bomb icon, will be dropped. Obviously, the power-up increases the firepower of the craft. The Energy Icon adds power to the vertical bar on the left hand side of the screen. Fill the bar, and another energy bomb will be at your disposal.
We hope you enjoyed our round-up of the Dreamcast shmups. Please click the links in the list at the top to read the reviews and sign in to post comments below.
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