LimpingFish's Computer Obscurio Episode 5: Phalanx!


This week, our game is...

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SNES gamers may remember Phalanx as "The One With The Hillbilly Geezer On The Box", and while technically correct, they would actually be remembering a lesser Phalanx. While this 1992 Kemco* SNES port, of the original Sharp X68000 version, may be the pinnacle of Phalanx-related recall in the West, it's only because the superior original never made the journey. And while SNES Phalanx was decent enough in it's own right, the game lost some of it's sparkle in the transition from computer to console. Gone were the groovy intro sequence and sampled speech when collecting power-ups, while the graphics took a slight downgrade in colour and overall detail.

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Phalanx, developed and released by Zoom in 1991, is a classic example of the right way to make a horizontal shooter. It's difficult, without becoming annoying or unfair, and features cleverly designed enemy patterns and complex boss fights that require more from the player than quick reflexes. A number of weapon combinations, and a switchable ship speed, result in a pleasingly customizable play experience that still stands up today. Pleasing!

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History! Between 1989 and 1992, Zoom was primarily an X68000 developer. While almost all of their X68 titles would also appear on the SNES, they were, like Phalanx, port jobs handled by Kemco. A series of sports/puzzle games featuring their mascot "Dolucky" (a cartoon cat) would be Zoom's only original console output during this period. Later, Zero Divide, along with it's sequel, would prove Zoom's most notable contribution to the Playstation era, while the underrated Mr. Mosquito games on the PS2 would be among the developers last physical releases. Today, Zoom are primarily a Wiiware developer; a remake/port of the original X68000 version of Phalanx was released for Wiiware in 2009, but sadly remains only available in Japan. Boo!

Video! Watch in horror as my attempt to complete the first stage fails miserably, despite having set the game to "Easy" and increased my ship count!

Well, that brings us to the end of this week's Computo Obscurio. Thanks for watching/reading, and check back for another episode...soon!

*Footnote! Along with inflicting that hideous SNES box art upon the world, Kemco also saw fit to change the name of Phalanx's hero from "Riki Sanada" to..."Wink Baufield". Unfortunately, I'm not making that up.