PS Shooting

Back in the day, magazines like EGM and GamePro were so bad at reporting (and still are) that the average reader or game player was convinced nothing in the shooting genre existed outside of Einhander, R-Type Delta, and G. Darius (let alone the horizontal shooting type). Diversity on the Internet was lacking almost as much; most "shmup fans" were just fans of the Saturn hardware. Big media favored PlayStation-based horizontal shooters, the Internet favored Saturn-based vertical shooters, and both did a real "bang-up job" in misrepresenting the genre as a whole. BADCP, however, has always been about the genre as a whole. Tips & Tricks, GameFan, and Gamer's Republic all did a better job, but unfortunately lacked mass popularity and influence. Even though we make fun of scene sensations like Radiant Silvergun and Einhander, we do actually play multi-platform, and always have. Some shooters on it are favored, but as a whole the genre has gone misrepresented on the PlayStation hardware. Like we did with DreamCast shooters before, we felt it was necessary to represent PlayStation shooters from different angles than typically presented. Featured are shooters designed, optimized, and/or remade specifically for the PlayStation hardware.

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Gradius Gaiden
One of the most iconic shooters on the PlayStation hardware, this one is a shoe-in for most fans of the genre just from its 8-bit origins. From personal experience, I can definitely say that its reputation precedes it; the game took me years to obtain, with many failed attempts and lost bouts with ridiculous auction pricing along the way (no PSP back then). Three years later and $40.00 cheaper, I finally got the game by going to Japan. Being on tour worked-out well in this situation because I had a chance to buy the game without bidding, and at a reasonable price. It was bittersweet (my console was back home), but upon arrival back I finally experienced what Eight Rooks spoke so highly of.


They say "good things come to those who wait," and with all I went through to get it, this literally couldn't be more fitting for Gradius Gaiden. Whether or not it's the first 3-D Gradius is still debated, but there is no question that the game's really good. It has that distinct design from the series' roots, made epic with the potential of the then-new PlayStation hardware. Simultaneous two-player is a reprieve from past single-player monotony, the four selectable ships and various weapons are familiar Konami fare, and the screen-filling bosses look cool and sleek. Mind-blowing effects immerse you with thunderous avalanches, chaotic black holes, and elaborate pyrotechnics. It didn't evolve, however, beyond cheap "off-screen Konami shot deaths" and rigid re-spawning (innate to the series since its inception).


Thunder Force V: Perfect System
TecnoSoft / Working Designs]

The second oldest shooting series on the PlayStation hardware (dating back to 1983), "Perfect System" was (thankfully) added to the game's title as an indicator of changes made in transition from the Saturn hardware. TecnoSoft doesn't make a lot of games, but you can see an emphasis on perfection in the scale of TFVPS! It's said there's "beauty in simplicity," and this rings true for the Gauntlet (your simple, yet masterfully-designed and detailed craft). The best shooting games have cool muzzle flash effects, and your ship's has a 90's movie look rivaled by few. The visuals are supreme, but big media reporting would deceive the masses into thinking otherwise (and have apparently succeeded)...


It's no wonder TFVPS is so underrated; the influence of print media like Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine was negatively inconsistent. Their September 1998 preview praises an "all new" game with "3D graphics only possible on the current home systems for most of its enemies, Bosses and backgrounds," that "packs a visual punch" in "living up to its legacy in terms of great gameplay and reputation for state-of-the-art graphics" and "eye-popping visuals everyone has come to expect." But that preview lifts you up so you can fall in the October 1998 review. Reviewer Mark MacDonald claims the graphics "remain unchanged," that "polygonal enemies, including Bosses, often appear blocky and out of place against the simple 2D backgrounds," that "other enemies look plain or pixelated." Say what?


3-D backgrounds in the preview turned 2-D in the review? Visuals packing a punch turned ugly? And how could graphics be unchanged from Saturn to PlayStation when even OPM's own preview describes transparency use (an effect the Saturn was incapable of, thus making it a change)? The list goes on, and the only thing worse than these inconsistencies was the expected "Eye&handurr" drop at the end. Absolute garbage 3/5 review, considering his 4/5 review of G. Darius; GD enemies and bosses may have slightly more complex models, and in both games they animate equally nice, but the models in TFVPS aren't far-off at all, and are more complex in design (a draw completely dodged). Other visual strengths they ducked were spectacular boss entrance/death sequences and stage hue/boss color changes in the added Time Attack mode.


In an October 1998 GamePro, some turd reviewer ("Boba Fatt") rates the visuals a measly 3.0/5.0, citing that "the highly-detailed graphics create a cluttered screen making it difficult to locate potential threats, so your success relies more on memorization than on skill." Some parts involve memory, others require skill, but he completely leaves out the emergence of visible background enemies, incoming threat warning indicators, or pre-fight boss weapon inventory display. Nor did he mention the complexity of the Gradius option-inspired CRAW system and how it keeps the screen clean. What an abysmal review. I don't care how high R-Type Delta, Einhander, and G. Darius are held above Thunder Force V: Perfect System; it's still one of my favorite shooters on the hardware, and I'll always believe that it's incredibly underrated.


G. Darius
[Taito / THQ]

Darius is another long-running series with history behind it (dating back to 1986). G. Darius got surprisingly positive reception (despite its aquatic life-based theme), and together with Einhander and R-Type Delta, was made a benchmark status by big media. The difference between the three was that G. Darius actually deserved it. And you can see why; it has the appeal of a casual fishing game, but with titanic bosses, lively backgrounds, devastating beam attacks, and fishing poles in the form of Capture Balls (that look more like bobbers). Taito has always delivered quality, and I'm glad I own G. Darius, but it's a sweet/sour affair.


Sweet/sour because it's less about the game itself and more about it being used as leverage against other titles in the genre that are just as good (if not better). Catching fish in a shooting game is oddly innovative, but the acquired firepower disappoints when compared to Options in GG or CRAW in TFVPS. In the same (October 1998) issue of OPM, Mark MacDonald fails to mention the dynamic of the CRAW system in TFVPS, but he makes painstaking effort to describe the alternate capture attacks in reviewing GD. Adding insult to injury, he completely ignores TFVPS being nonlinear, yet praises GD for its "number of both levels (15) and Bosses (28!)," and "five different endings." Left out were any sort of audio comparisons (TFVPS's heavy soundtrack is like a blazing hail of fire-tipped arrows).


Yes, GD is a unique, nonlinear shooting experience (which is great), but his "put-one-down-so-the-other-can-be-up" approach is suspiciously unfair. And this is part of the reason it can be a controversial title in the genre; big media seemed to love G. Darius, but is it held as high by anyone else with interest in shooters? I like it and own it, but the design isn't particularly good, and there really aren't that many cool bosses. Your Silver Hawk ship isn't as sleek as the Gauntlet from TFVPS, or as stacked as Taito's own R-Gray from RayStorm, but it's also not clunky like the the R-Type Delta ships. Furthermore, their description of the backgrounds is lame; they say nothing about trains bustling through underwater tunnels, or a distant Saturn being destroyed by a boss beam.


G. Darius Ver. 2

G. Darius reception in Japan must have been as good as it was in America, because a second version of it was released in Japanese arcades. Rarity makes detailing cosmetic changes (if any) difficult, but an added Beginner mode and some gameplay changes (involving invincibility power-ups and enemy capture) have been universally-detailed. Surprisingly, GamePro not only acknowledged the game in their January 1998 issue, but attempted to provide "power-up rank" details. Delivering to a wider audience is always good, and the Beginner mode did just that for anyone who happened to miss the original. Catch them fish!


R-Type Delta
[Irem / Ascii / Agetec]

This game is quite possibly the most overrated shooter on the PlayStation hardware. Alongside Einhander, big media designated it to be the benchmark by which to judge and trash other shooters. Hey, EGM says it's the best, so it must be the best! Right? No. True, R-Type Delta is visually impressive, the design is good, the audio is fitting, and the gameplay is epic in scale. However, it's just not fun. Let the elitist insults fly, but video games are games, and games are supposed to be enjoyable. I could have tolerated the clunky ship designs and impractical weapons if the game was more enjoyable (difficulty level isn't applicable to the Bydo empire).


I can nearly 1CC a lot of shooters, but saving progress couldn't even help me on this one, nor could Jason Wilson's in-depth Tips & Tricks magazine guide. Aside from the guide itself, he did put it best when he described it back then as "what Irem is capable of now." I thought this was accurate not just because he's one of the true few who deserve respect, but because every piece of RTD shows what underdog Irem was capable of. They weren't as big as other developers, so what they did with the game was a feat. Their accomplishment could have been more appreciated, however, had it been more approachable. Then again, why do anything to appeal to a wider audience when EGM had it all covered even before a US release? Speaking of the US release, omitting the dumb-looking "Power Armor" would've been great; it looks bad.


Space Invaders Anniversary

Space Invaders isn't just the most iconic shooting series on the PlayStation hardware, but in video games, period. Like G. Darius Ver. 2, this is a title I have little experience with (be it by choice or chance), but deserves mention just based on its legacy alone. With Space Invaders Anniversary, Taito utilized PlayStation hardware capacity to deliver a host of titles that range from the old and familiar to the odd and unfamiliar. There's literally something for everyone; unfamiliar oddities for all the fans, and the familiar oldies for everyone else. This is the kind of game that stays busy all the time because it appeals to such a large audience!


Space Invaders X
[Taito / Activision]

It's always hard to approach remaking a timeless classic because no matter how well it's done, it will most likely always live in the shadow of the original. This is especially true in an age where anything pixelated is fashionable. The approach was completely different than Space Invaders Anniversary, and props to Activision for it! They chose a more focused look for the game than abstract, and it looks pretty good. The fresh design breathes new life into the classic series. Some may say more could have been put into it, some say enough was put into it, and some may not care either way. But to fans of Taito's pioneer shooting series, the game could be another welcome addition of simple fun!


[Taito / Working Designs]

RayStorm was the first PlayStation hardware shooter I got, and it's still a favorite. Not just because I favor vertical shooters, but because it was a colossal sequel to the underrated Galactic Attack. That association apparently made it guilty in GamePro's hesitant review. It's ironic how "Scary Larry" said RS's soundtrack
"tries to impress but comes up short," because that's an accurate description of how he reviewed it. He claims "the gameplay is dated," and that "gamers expecting anything more than Gradius flipped sideways will probably want to rent this one just for the weekend." This is ridiculous on several levels.


First, lock-on weapons in Gradius? Second, Bombs in Gradius? Third, Gradius without environmental hazards? It's hard to understand because it makes no sense. Another thing he failed to mention was the destructible environments, which is baffling because I can't recall many shooters at the time that had this. Why was it so hard to credit? If it was due to space constraints, then why did the area for the RS review have to be so small and pathetic? Six full-page action and driving game reviews, but a single shooting game can't get a full-page review? What happened to variety? Not one of the mediocre action or driving games could have been subbed-out with a shooting game they scored better? RS is "arcade-perfect," so then why wasn't scored accordingly? This is a prime example of their "arcade-perfect" double-standard.


The "arcade-perfect" double-standard is when titles are rated poorly for being "not arcade-perfect," yet "arcade-perfect" titles are still rated poorly. By the "arcade-perfect" logic, if a game is rated poorly because it is "not arcade-perfect," then shouldn't one that is be rated accordingly because it is "arcade-perfect?" True, he praised the graphics for being "a step above the others with multi-layered background targets and cool transparency effects," and even said it's "worth a look," but it doesn't count for much when the reader sees the game was obviously not "good-enough" to get a full-page review (or even a half-page review, for that matter). Michael Hobbs of Gamers' Republic, however, did the game justice in the January 2001 issue, and it was in a review for a different game!


He mentions RayStorm in a RayCrisis review as a "favorite shooter" of his for "mostly aesthetic reasons" that include "mechanical design" and its "great polygonal interpretation of the overhead shooter." He went on to compliment the gameplay for being "solid, complete with a Panzer-like lock-on system," and that is "was a two player game." He admits that even with the solid gameplay, the mechanical design is "a Taito strength," and that "the look of the game" ultimately kept him "playing till the end." This is how it's done. He managed to completely decimate the dedicated "Scary Larry" review of RayStorm while reviewing its sequel, RayCrisis. He did so by acknowledging not just the solid gameplay, but Taito's masterful design (seen in every tank, turret, submarine, enemy ship, and transforming craft you see).


RayStorm Extra
[Taito / Working Designs]

With the "arcade-perfect" double-standard, "arcade-perfect" titles are judged not by being "arcade-perfect," but by included extras. Even by that (double) standard, "Scary Larry" never acknowledged the incredible value of the package; the home version includes not just RayStorm, but the additional, previously-unreleased version, RayStorm Extra. He probably didn't play enough to address it, which sucks because they reader would have no idea there are actually two full games on the disc. RayStorm Extra still has all the cool muzzle flash, splashy effects, explosive chaos, and cool design of RayStorm, but with notable changes and additions.


Visual enhancements include different background hues, new boss colors, and even more spectacular explosions. Easy examples of this are the first stage (midday in RS, sunset in RSE) and its spider-like boss (blue in RS, orange in RSE). RSE also seems more approachable than RS by my own experience; even though the American version's instruction manual confirms increased difficulty and new enemies, I still wonder if it was a misprint because I die more in RS than RSE. New boss attacks have also been reported in RSE (which could also be why it's considered harder). There's even a revealing new ending and remixed soundtrack! These are some of the many reasons why RayStorm deserved a full-page review.


RayCrisis: Series Termination
/ Working Designs]
A big fan of RayStorm, the sheer intensity of RayCrisis blew me away, but GameFan's July 2000 coverage of it shocked me.
Their review wasn't all that positive, but still not all that bad. What's the difference between the way GameFan conducted an unfavorable shooter review and the way other magazines did? Presentation and fact. Even though only one of their four reviews was positive, GameFan gave RayCrisis not just an incredibly well-designed, factual full-page review, but a spot in their "viewpoint" section, as well. If they can dedicate a full page to even an unfavorable shooting game as an unpopular magazine, why can't others do so as popular media?


I may not agree with GF's unfavorable reviews of RC, but they are based on fact and parallels that make sense. Editor Eggo admits in his review that "it's got graphics that are pretty amazing by PlayStation standards," with "explosions galore, massive bosses, and enough rotation and grandeur to leave your head spinning," but that it "suffers from a heavy reliance on the lock-on" and "a condition" of sudden death "hot zone" areas. There really are a ton of background targets, and with as cool as the primary gun is, and as much as flash-deaths occur, it's not hard to see where he's coming from. Editor Kodomo had the best to say, citing that "with massive robots walking the land below you, as smaller ships circle and shoot, you are forced to think on 2 levels (Xevious style) and still react to everything thrown at you." Well-put!


One similarity the editors Fury and Eggo's reviews share is mention of Terra Diver, and with good reason. Though I don't agree with Fury that the lock-on system was implemented better in Terra Diver, I do agree with Eggo that it's one hell of a game. He was probably referring to the Saturn version, but if there's any other shooter on the PlayStation hardware to match RayCrisis, it's definitely the "yellow" Terra Diver upgrade. However, I was wondering how Fury had arrived at his conclusion that the lock-on system was better implemented in Terra Diver; true, the full-range lock-on in TD allows for easier rear-enemy attacking, but its slow and unorthodox control has a steep learning curve. It's not easy attacking rear enemies with the lock-on missiles in RC, but its fixed reticle makes for quick and orthodox ease of use.


RayCrisis Special
/ Working Designs]
Why aren't the additional versions of RayStorm and RayCrisis acknowledged? Even in GameFan there was no mention of RayCrisis Special. Surprising, considering all the enhancements. The visual changes are like RayStorm Extra; RayCrisis Special
includes different background hues and new boss colors. Examples of this are similar, too (midday stages become sunset ones, etc). Even though you can't continue at all, and it doesn't let you choose the stage order as in RS, RCS is definitely more approachable because the power-ups released from defeated bosses make it easier. Another big change is that your score decreases if encroachment reaches %100.


Mobile Light Force 2
[Taito / XS Games

I can remember seeing this game as an expensive import behind glass. That, of course, was before its budget American release years later. Religious controversy was apparently a concern, as the Japanese title was changed from Shikigami No Shiro (literally, "Castle of the Gods") to Mobile Light Force 2 (to the dismay of fans). A knockoffCharlie's Angels cover and story-related omissions added insult to injury, and fans were outraged. I couldn't have cared less. The game's unlikely boy hero, Shinto priest, and unorthodox attacks were fresh ideas, but the design and story were never really that great, anyway. The idiot with a cigarette dangling from his mouth is dumb, and a lot of the bosses are fugly.


Psyvariar -Medium Unit-
/ Skonec / Success]

I can still remember when I first discovered this game my first trip to Akihabara. The place was packed, but nobody was playing it! Just from the demo, the game looked cool as hell, and I couldn't figure out why nobody was playing it! So, I figured I'd give it a try. I was not disappointed at all. I fell in love with it because of the cool ship design and flashy lightning effects. Hitting the joystick back and forth was a unique approach to powering-up, and combined with "Scratching" from Mobile Light Force 2, everything just gelled well with this game. Skonec made Taito look good with Psyvariar -Medium Unit-, which is a lot more than "Triangle Service" did with XII Stag. Cool title, cool game!


Psyvariar ~Revision~
[Taito / Skonec
/ Success]

The PlayStation hardware is sort of like a who's-who of Taito-branded shooters, and since Psyvariar is among the better, it was a pleasant surprise when I found it had an upgrade. Psyvariar ~Revision~ kinda flew under the radar for me, but when I finally bought the game, it was more of everything that made Psyvariar -Medium Unit- great. The clever quid-pro s
piraling technique that increases speed and shot power makes a return; moving normally, your ship is slower with a spread shot, while rapidly "wiggling" back and forth spirals your ship faster, into the concentrated Rolling Shot. It's unique because you're always weighing if the power of the Rolling Shot is worth the risk in each unique situation. Wreck!


This revised version includes some cool additions like additional modes and hidden stages. The added replay mode is a nod to fans from the old-school who play shooters for high scores; there's only two stages and no continuing (like RayCrisis Special), but the player can choose what stages to play, and there's a replay recording of the highest score run that rolls before each stage. This is an excellent feature that more shooters could have had; it gives players the chance to not only see their mistakes and get better, but also the play styles of others. Accessing the hidden stages is determined by your ship's level. This essentially encourages the player to get better at scratching to get higher and higher "Buzz" scores to level-up high-enough for hidden stages that require higher levels to unlock.


Branching paths and hidden stages give even players who aren't interested in high-scoring many reasons to come back play the game (since it's impossible to play through it entirely in one sitting). The stages are similar to Night Raid in design, and while probably not as "abstract," some probably criticize it for being too "basic." But the designs serve their purpose fine because the stages really aren't that long, anyway. They're not quite as detailed as Mobile Light Force 2 or RayStorm, but there are some cool parts in the stages. The replay mode is, of course, one-player, but did we mention the rest of the game is two-player madness? Manic shooting goodness! The awesome music is catchy and couldn't fit the game better. Taito was wise to brand this series; who wouldn't want their name on a game this good?


XII Stag
[Taito / Triangle Service]
What the hell is this game even called? What in God's name? "Twelve Stag," I've heard. Dumb title for a game that a better title could have made look a little better. If the PlayStation hardware is like a "who's-who" of Taito shooters, and Psyvariar is among the superior, XII Stag is among the inferior. I've never seen Western magazines like EGM feature XII Stag, but something gives me the feeling that its slow pace, clunky design, minimal effects, OK weapons, and unforgiving collision would have them sold. Present is a similar system to Psyvariar, but still, something is lacking. I've seen some high prices for this game, and while some may think it's justified, I don't. Bargain-only buy for me if I ever find it cheap...


Terra Diver Special:
"Mustard's Last Stand"
[Eighting / Raizing / Data East / Hamster]

This game is one of the best shooters not just on the hardware, but in the genre. It was originally on Saturn hardware in arcades, and went straight to home with the greatest of ease.
The Saturn hardware had yet another exclusive, uprising shooter; that is, until a PlayStation version was decided on. Nothing could probably get brainwashed "Saturn-only-hate-PlayStation" guys to embrace it, but fans of the genre have many reasons to get this "yellow" version. Just like with Thunder Force V: Perfect System, handsome PlayStation additions make it a must-own even for owners of the Saturn original.


What could possibly make such an exceptional shooter even better? Making it "Special" for the PlayStation hardware by including additional craft, bosses, modes, cinematic sequences, and voice-overs. Joining Red, Green, and Blue is Yellow (piloted by a stoic bad-ass, one-man army fighting invading enemy forces to the death). (Un)lucky for him, a new stage and boss were also added to keep things (UN)fair. However, they did make the game more approachable by including three difficulty settings to choose from. New cleared-stage cinematic sequences were even added, as well as voice-overs. The game also has an incredibly compelling, epic soundtrack that is among (if not) the best in the genre. Eighting/Raizing made a quality Saturn hardware shooter even better on the PlayStation hardware.


Night Raid

Takumi did an incredible job on Giga Wing with Capcom's CPS-II hardware, and made Giga Wing 2 the perfect shooter with the DreamCast hardware, so seeing they developed Night Raid on Taito's PlayStation-compatible G-Net hardware was surprising. I came, I saw, I bought. This purchase was instant; I knew if I passed on it, I wouldn't get another chance to buy it at a reasonable price for a long, long time. The theme is set in a not-so-distant oppressive, dark future described so clearly in songs of hard-core legends Earth Crisis. Speaking of music, the audio in Night Raid is some of the best on the hardware; some tracks rev so hard you'll open up a pit on the spot, while the slower ones will make you slo-mo(sh).


Its eclectic backgrounds and soundtrack combine with frenetic gameplay in a synergy that makes NR the most furious shooting experience on PlayStation hardware, period. Only the Psyvariar titles come close to the epic manic mayhem in Night Raid. Takumi is known for bullet-heavy shooting of the manic breed, and this outing carries-on the tradition perfectly with similar gameplay flow. There are bullets everywhere, and even though there is no "scratching" technique, you do have the incredibly destructive Hug Launcher at your disposal. Contrary to what its name may imply, it's so devastating that it renders your ship invincible as it ricochets from enemy to enemy, nullifying bullets while leaving chaos in its wake. It gives you a sense of empowerment unlike any other shooter on the hardware.


Then you got a unique, inverse scoring system that works like a scale, forcing you to choose a side to stick with for making the high or low score table. In Takumi math fashion, scoring is taken to astronomical lengths the human mind can barely comprehend. In Takumi design fashion, your craft is sleek, mysterious, and ominous as it mows down legion upon legion of enemies. NR gets criticism for its enemy design, but they really don't look bad at all, and it's not like you get to see them all that long, anyway! The bosses are all screen-filling mechanical monstrosities, and fit the dimly-lit, futuristic theme perfectly. The vibrant shot patterns look cool, and are a breeze to evade (thanks to precise, responsive control). There are even no collision deaths! Absolutely one of the best shooters on the hardware.


[G Artist / Sony
This game is one of the taboo titles of the shooting genre. Self-proclaimed "hard-core gamers" have done their best to bury Philosoma into the fractures of time simply over camera angles. Self-proclaimed "purists" have claimed that it's not a "true" shooter because its camera angles aren't exclusively vertical and/or horizontal. Ultimately, though, there is flying, there is shooting, there are bombs, there are enemies, and there are bosses, which makes it a shooting game. Camera angles unorthodox to the genre don't change that fact. I knew a longtime shooting game player who recommend this title and spoke very highly of it when addressing the genre. If you can handle the taboo, you might like it as much as him...


Tenkomori Shooting
Ask EightOne about this one; I've only ever seen this expensive rarity once. If you're a Treasure fan, you'll need to put down that heavy cash to complete your collection. If you like shooting variety, it could be worth the price. Even though he's no longer with us, this game would definitely be near the top of EightOne's PlayStation shooter list, so it had to be included just based on that factor alone. He says the game is an absolute blast, so if it is for him, it might be for you, too! It might be a blast for me, too, if I can either play his, or find it for a reasonable price. Still, though, some would say that the sheer variety in TS warrants the high price.


Project X2
[Team 17 / Ocean / Acclaim / Capcom
Previous member EightOne got me this one because he was surprised I had never knew or played the Capcom-branded shooter. I couldn't believe I didn't know about it; one of the only Capcom-branded titles I missed. Capcom had very little in the way of shooting for the PlayStation hardware, so it was a surprise to see they snapped-up Project X2.
Instead of doing polygonal evolution of classic Capcom IPs like 1942 for the 32-bit era, they picked-up a shooter not developed in-house. It's hard to tell exactly why, but they might have made the decision based upon the game's obvious (orb helpers and horizontal/vertical gameplay mix) inspiration from Konami classic Salamander . Or was it the visual polish?


The graphics in PX2 look incredible for the time, so it could have very well been visual polish. The game's mechanical enemies and bosses alike are intricately detailed, with impressive design. The three player ships are designed similarly, but a tacky, forced rotating animation keeps them from being as impressive as they could be. Had this been omitted, the player ships would look as great as the opposition; the design really isn't bad at all. The backgrounds are just as nice, and would have hit their stride if it weren't for foreground hazards. This game is a perfect example of foreground hazards that should have either been left out or made smaller; with the large craft sizes, the screen becomes so cluttered that there's little to no time for enemy dispatching. It's sad to see.


Adding to the clutter are weak shots and/or tough enemies; nearly everything in the game just takes way too long to destroy. There are a lot of weapons, and even though most of them look cool (with nice effects), it always seems that far too little damage is being done. Even the highly-favorable privilege of being able to keep them after continuing doesn't help much. A game that looks this cool shouldn't be this exhaustive. It's not even that the control is that bad, it's just that these issues combine with sound sync and collision issues that could have used more work. I'm forgiving, but there's no denying the music is headache-inducing. The game has some really nice 2-D backgrounds, though, and a cool password system for revisiting them! PX2 isn't a terrible game, it just lacks in execution (which is a crying shame).


[SquareSoft / Sony]

Aside from its ridiculous name and expected reception, Einhander is infamous because of its post-Nintendo 64-cancellation development. Square's sudden "exclusive" move to the PlayStation not only defined "lowest of the low," but also "the bottom line." Which is what makes Einhander all the more odd. If they were so concerned with "the bottom line," then why would they invest in development for a barely-profitable genre? Their later dabbling in the lucrative fighting genre was one thing, but an RPG maker doing a shooter? Despite its acclaimed design, gameplay, and graphics, Einhander ultimately raises questions as to the real reasons behind Square's hasty PlayStation lock-in.


Galaga: Destination Earth
[Namco / Hasbro]

This re-envisioned classic can be likened to taboo shooter Philosoma. Though not quite as drastic, it also features changing viewpoints that similarly cause brain aneurysms in the domes of "shmup" scenesters everywhere. Apparently a shooter deserves to be in genre limbo if it doesn't fit the mold, so this one fits the same stigma. It's not a sports game (no flying baseballs, footballs, etc.), it's not an RPG (no endless text boxes or bad hairdos), it's not a racer (no drifting or 4-wheeling), it's not a puzzler (no masonry here), and it's definitely not a fighter (different types of fireball), so that makes it a shooter (ship armadas, lasers, explosions). Enjoy.


Xevious 3D/G

This is probably the least appealing shooter on the PlayStation hardware. Namco created appealing fighters with the Soul and Tekken series, but the 32-bit debut of Xevious was less appealing. Magazines like GamePro credit the series for "introducing" the background enemy and/or lock-on system to the genre, but even if it did, does Xevious 3D/G+ stand a chance on the same hardware next to RayStorm or RayCrisis? Props to Namco for (then) next-gen changes to a series heavily rooted in nostalgia, and for designing the game by nostalgia, but it just seemed like it lacked the appeal of other shooters (even Einhander) on the hardware.


Xevious 3D/G+

Not sure if it was a limited run, but I rarely (if ever) saw Xevious 3D/G+. Maybe I saw it once next to RayStorm in a bargain bin (hey, at that time everyone was too busy playing games that took time over skill). I'm more interested in the game now then I was back then, but that's not saying much (considering I'd buy every game on this list before it). The Solva-whatever ship still looks pretty lame and archaic. Even for the time, X3D/G+ craft design just fails to impress me; I hear Night Raid get crapped-on for "uninspired enemies and stages," yet X3D/G+ is rarely (if ever) mentioned.
The best definitely wasn't saved for last, but then again, I'm biased; fans of the series should show their pride and get it!

The End
The PlayStation endured a lot of criticism then (and still does now) in regards to shooting games, but has stood the test of time well by representing the genre well in sheer variety. The PlayStation hardware is home to shooters of all breeds, from technical and slow (R-Type Delta) to blazing and manic (Night Raid), and everything in between (Galaga: Destination Earth). For fans of the genre, there's great shooting experiences to be had. For fans of the hardware, it's gaming bliss! For wanna-be big media reviewers, it's something they can never understand...

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