Reviews Archive
  ikari warriors on amiga Ikari Warriors
ikari warriors
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - Amiga, Amstrad  
  Definitely one of the seminal releases for the genre. Ikari Warriors is a classic 2-player co-op shooter from SNK which added to the classic Commando formula by allowing you to steal enemy tanks and go on a rampage. The game is probably the title which most people fondly remember when thinking of top down shooters, and it still holds up pretty well even now with its big explosions and fun co-op multiplayer features.  
  jackal on nes Jackal
jackal on famicom
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - NES  
  Another great Konami game for the NES. Jackal is a nice 2-player shmup which, on top of the usual shooting gameplay has you bombing prison camps and rescuing POW's, it was one of the earliest of the really polished (controls and gameplay) of the top down shooters on NES.  
  mercs on megadrive Mercs
mercs on genesis
  1 Player  
  Stand out versions - Mega Drive  
  Mercs was always a pretty good shmup in the arcades, but when it came out on the Mega Drive the porters (Sega themselves) went to town on the title and added many new improvements, including a whole new original game which was actually better than the arcade game! Original mode has all new level layouts, and contains a ton of adventuring aspects, you can rescue new characters with new abilities as the game progresses (which you can swap between on the fly), and each character can gain health and weapon upgrades too. The only lamentable thing about the Mega Drive version is that it lacks the multiplayer support of the arcade game.  
  the ninja Ninja, The/Ninja Princess
ninja princess
  1 Player  
  Stand out version - Master System  
  Here's Sega's early release for the genre, arriving in the arcades the same year as Capcom's more famous Commando. For quite an early release The Ninja (originally known as Ninja Princess and starring a female protagonist in its arcade form) actually has a few new ideas, unlike Commando you get power-ups (speed-up, and shot power), there's a nice amount of variation in the stages, you can fire upwards whilst moving in other directions, and you get a neat "disappear" move (press both buttons at once) that gives you a split second chance to dodge projectiles. The game is an early classic for its time, and the SMS version was an excellent port of the game.  
  pocky and pocky on snes Pocky and Rocky
pocky & rocky
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - SNES  
  Pocky and Rocky is a really nicely realised top down shmup with brilliant art design and lots of character. The cutesy graphics belie the games frenetic, hardcore, and action packed gameplay, which has you filing the screens with bullets (or magic cards to be more specific) and diving out of the way of hazards using the useful dodge move. This is actually the 2nd game in the series as the little known first was an arcade game released only in the home for PC-Engine and MSX2.  
  pocky and rocky 2 Pocky and Rocky 2
pocky n' rocky 2
  2 Player  
  Stand out versions - SNES  
  The sumptuous graphics and impressive presentation are some of the first things that really hit you when you start playing the Pocky and Rocky games, they just ooze quality, and this sequel looks even better than the others. Here we have a slightly more accessible title than the first, with the difficulty brought down a notch, and more emphasis on shops and multiple routes.  
  rambo 3 on megadrive Rambo 3
rambo 3 on genesis
  1 Player  
  Stand out version - Mega Drive  
  One of the earliest games ever released for the Mega Drive, Rambo 3 managed to stand out with its well judged action and differing play styles. The game has you alternating between linear action stages, rescue-the-hostages/defuse bombs stages, and behind-character view 3rd person boss fights, the plethora of different weapons, such as a knife, explosive arrows, and timed bombs mean that you've always got a lot of options, and shooting one second and running away from multiple planted bombs the next can get pretty exciting.  
  shock troopers Shock Troopers shock troopers on neo geo  
  2 Player  
  Stand Out Version - Neo Geo  
  The Shock Troopers games are definitely some of the most impressively crafted and fun top down shooters ever created, think massive explosions, big guns, and even bigger bosses. The game can get pretty intense at times, but the fluid, accurate controls (with excellent retreat firing and dodge buttons) help to keep the level of on-screen action always bearable even at it's most hectic.  
  shock trooper 2nd squad Shock Troopers 2nd Squad shock troopers 2 on neo geo  
  2 Player  
  Stand out Version - Neo Geo  
  Shock Troopers 2 carries on the exceptional quality of it's predecessor and really builds on it, with better graphics and some awesome new command-able vehicles from the get go. This would've been what Metal Slug would've been like if it was in top down perspective.  
  twinkle tale on megadrive Twinkle Tale
twinkle tale on genesis
  1 Player  
  Stand out version - Mega Drive  
  A pretty nice, classy shmup released only in Japan for the Mega Drive. Twinkle Tale plays very nicely and gives you the ability to swap between 3 weapons in game to choose the best tactics. The levels are full of environmental hazards which need to be dodged and the bosses are impressive. All in all a very solid and enjoyable title.  
  victory road on amstrad Victory Road
victory road arcade game
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - Amstrad  
  The sequel to Ikari Warriors was an absolutely huge departure for the series, instead of fighting an army through the jungle you were now in outer space fighting aliens. Overall it has to be said that it was a bit of a disappointing sequel for fans of the original, but it's still a fun game, and some of the new destructive weapons (such as the flamethrower) are more than welcome additions. Very few ports ended up being made of the game and most were pretty awful, luckily one decent conversion made it through to the Amstrad.  
  zombies ate my neighbours Zombies Ate My Neighbours/Zombies
zombies on snes
  2 Player  
  Stand out version - SNES  
  I game full to the brim with style, humour, and personality. Zombies Ate My Neighbours takes the gameplay style from older shooters like Alien Syndrome and runs with it, essentially being a save-the-hostages shooter, but with huge numbers of different weapons and monster types (all with different weaknesses) that add a level of strategy and resource management to the proceedings, with players required to be careful not to waste weapons and items they made need later. When you've fully grasped the mechanics it definitely becomes one of the deeper titles in the genre.  

Honourable Mentions


Alien Breed - Amiga

Ashura/Secret Commando/Rambo - Master System

Bloody Wolf - PC Engine/TG16

Heavy Barrel - NES

Iron Tank - NES

Kiki Kakai/Pocky and Rocky 0 - PC Engine/TG16

Marauder - Amstrad, Spectrum

Time Soldiers - Master System

Atari ST
Atari VCS
Commodore 64
Game Boy
Master System
Mega Drive
Neo Geo
PC Engine
ZX Spectrum