Octurbo: Blazing Lazers

Hey, it's the first episode of that thing I just threatened to do.

Blazing Lazers, also known by its punchier Japanese title of Gunhed, is a shoot 'em up from Compile and widely considered to be one of the best, if not the best, shmups on the TG-16. Considering every third game for the system was a shoot 'em up that seems like high praise indeed, but then it's only to be expected from Compile. Those guys knew what they were doing with this particular genre.

I couldn't really go on with a TurboGrafx-16 feature without highlighting a game from its most populous genre, but as we'll see in just a moment there's a few (mostly self-evident) issues pertaining to crafting a screenshot LP of a shoot 'em up.

What the Blue Blazing Lazers iz Going On?

Welcome to Blazing Lazers! Love the puce green and hot pink blueprint, very late 80s/early 90s.
So problem number one with Shmup LPs is that you don't capture the sense of speed from this part of the game. Each stage begins with your little ship guy (Gunhed?) speeding into the enemy zone and slowing down to a reasonable speed so they can carefully blow everything up.
I'm almost immediately beset with power-ups of various letters, numbers and colors. Those purple things seem to be upgrades, but I just collect everything I see. Probably not the wisest recourse, but I'm getting a little overstimulated to think straight.
So now my bullets do this. Time to call down the lightning! (What is this, Raiden?)
Yet all too soon I find myself collecting a numerical power-up and downgrading (lateral-grading?) to a double-shot. Screw this, I'm going to find out how to get my lazers back.
Yeah! Look at this shit snake around. This game's awesome!
I picked up another thing and my newly green lazer now seeks out enemies to conquer. Now I don't even have to aim. This is luxury.
I tried to cap this mid-boss encounter (those various holes had bullet-shooting red turrets in them), but the green lazer killed the entire thing in two hits. Oops. Real shaken up about that.
I've discovered what two other collectibles do: S doodads give me these nifty horizontal shields and M gewgaws give me little option guys.
Isn't that cute? My option has his own little red lazer. It's mostly lost in the hot screen-clearing death I've got going on right now, but every little helps.
Problem number 2 with capping shoot 'em ups is that there's so much flickering sprites that I barely snagged half of my damage output here. There's supposed to be four lazers arcing up the screen.
So this is the real first boss. He's one of those "physical presence" kind of attackers, where you need to steer your ship around to avoid it colliding into you. Both wings are separate from the... thorax, so I got rid of those first. You know what happens to a giant metal space butterfly when it gets struck with green homing lightning plasma?
The first area gets cleared is what. This feels a little short, so I'm going to continue a bit further.
Lots of space scaffolding. This can't be too tough
Don't worry, that's not me exploding, I just finally discovered that there's a bomb button. I won't be going down that easily.
"Continue for game over" is right. Therein lies issue number 3: It's hard to pick a moment to screencap a game when a thousand things are shooting at you.

Blazing Lazers really is a lot of fun. It's not particularly challenging, since lives and power-ups are being tossed liberally in your direction, but I imagine there's a difficulty curve in place to take care of that. Like my gaming hero Shinya "Kacho" Arino I'm absolutely awful at shoot 'em ups, so I don't think I'll be playing much more of this. I can certainly recognize the craft put into it, though. I imagine this helped set the precedent that continued to the much loved Dreamcast/Touhou era of shooters that cap out your offensive abilities early to let you concentrate on simply avoiding enemy projectiles with your tiny, vulnerable hitbox.

Good stuff, but I've expounded on at least four reasons why I don't ever intend to cover these games for TurboMento-12. Moving on.

< Back to Octurbo

Posted by Video_Game_King

I think the numbered power-up system is a staple of Compile's, since I remember it prominently from the criminally underappreciated Aleste games.

Edited by Mento

@video_game_king: I'll say they're criminally underappreciated. The Space Megaforce and Power Strike pages were positively barren until I came along and padded them out with a bunch of random BS.

But yeah, shoot 'em ups are like speedruns and fighter game tournaments for me: I can only really appreciate them from the outside as a spectator. Really kind of humbling.

(Also, this is probably just me, but every time I hear "Aleste" I think of Lenneth saying "Nibelung Valesti". I'm not even sure if it's pronounced the same way.)

Posted by Video_Game_King
Edited by Mento

@video_game_king: Ah, so like "Gradius" and "gladius" then. It would be easier to figure these pronunciations out if they just spelt stuff right.