Oh hey, what’s up? Thanks a lot for tuning into another episodeof ‘Let There Be Shooters’. Now, the majority of shooters take place ineither in space or up in the sky. So, what are those of us who are afraid ofheights supposed to do when it comes to shooters, cuz we want to enjoy them, right? Well, I got the answer for you. I’m gonna do things a little different thistime around, and I’m gonna showcase three ground-shooter games. So shooters that take place on the ground. I apologize, I’ve been having technicaldifficulties ever since a power outage last night, so please bear with me. So, the first ground-shooter that we’regonna cover is a classic. It’s a western. It’s by Capcom. It’s Gun.Smoke. In the ‘80s Capcom was known for releasingsome of the most insanely brutal arcade games out there. From the monster-plagued Ghosts ‘n Goblinsto the unforgiving Trojan, these arcades munched through quarters like Necrotizing Fasciitiseats through flesh. But quite possibly the most difficult of allwas a western shooter titled: Gun.Smoke. Not to be confused with the oldie TV showof the same name, Gun.Smoke slightly resembles another Capcom title, Commando, with the maindifference being that in Gun.Smoke the screen scrolls continuously like a vehicle drivenshooter such as 1942. In it, you play as an unnamed cowboy, up againsta ruthless family of murdering bandits–the Windgates. The game was different than most shooters,as you had the ability to fire your guns in multiple directions, filling numerous baddieswith hot lead. But damn, is this game relentless. Enemies and bullets come at you from all angles,and is one of the most, if not THE most difficult arcade game I’ve come across. It is simply punishing! Of course, it wasn’t long before Gun.Smokewas ported to the NES in 1988 and thankfully changed things up a bit from its arcade counterpart. The setting is in the town of Hicksville—youknow, that old western town that the Japanese envisioned the typical American cowboy frequented—wherea ruthless gang known as the Windgates rule over the good people with an iron fist. The townsfolk live in constant fear underthe tyrannical thumb of the Windgates, and resistance is futile. But then one day, the town’s saving graceappears as a bounty hunter named Billy Bob strolls into town with the sunset at his back. With a bounty to collect on each of the Windgate’sevil bosses’ heads, Billy Bob sets out to enforce justice and return peace to the besiegedpeople of Hicksville. Gun.Smoke begins by displaying the title foreach stage along with a wanted poster of the boss for that particular level, along withhis bounty. As a kid I always appreciated the detail putinto these characters’ faces on the wanted poster, with each bandit uglier than the last. Capcom always did have a knack for employingsome pretty colorful foes. Just like in the arcade original, the screenconstantly scrolls up, and Billy Bob can fire his gun to the left by pressing the B button,right by pressing A, and dead center by pressing both A and B at the same time. So, let’s get this out of the way rightnow. I highly recommend playing Gun.Smoke witha turbo controller otherwise “you’re gonna have a bad time”. While there are special weapons to purchasethroughout the game, some of which will undoubtedly save your ass on numerous occasions, yourbest weapon will always be the default with turbo fire. Let me explain. You come across certain townsfolk within eachstage selling you invaluable wares. These items can be purchased with your score,which is your currency in Gun.Smoke. Several weapons can be bought such as a shotgun,which fans pellets at the opposition, though
Several weapons can be bought such as a shotgun,which fans pellets at the opposition, though has very limited range; the Magnum, whichis a much more powerful version of the default gun and does a number on bosses; a smart bomb,which if equipped, kills everything on screen when you take a hit which would otherwisekill you. These are essentially extra lives. And then there’s the machine gun, whichis basically your default gun with rapid fire, hence the recommendation of a turbo controller. These special weapons require ammunition,which is dropped by the dead. Instead of relying on ammo for the machinegun, which is in my opinion, the most important weapon in the game, turbo fire has the sameeffect without limited bullets. While the other weapons are without a doubtuseful, rapid fire will be your best friend here. Unfortunately though, if you’re killed whilea special weapon is equipped, you will lose it and will have to repurchase it all overagain. Luckily, points are plentiful as enemies dropbags of money, and each kill nets you some cash. Other items are dropped as well such as boots,which increase your speed, rifles which increase firepower, and staples within the Capcom universein the form of yashichis. The red ones grant you an extra life, whilethe blue ones offer limited invincibility. And of course POWs, which obliterate everyenemy on screen sans bosses. There’s even a horse that you can ride whichincreases your walking speed and allows you to take three additional hits of damage. I recommend buying a horse during each stageas your faithful nag won’t carry over from level to level. Most of these items can be uncovered by shootingthe many barrels littered across the plains, but you’ll also come across cow skulls whichwill negatively affect Billy Bob, dropping his speed and firepower by one unit. But quite possibly the coolest items to locateare the wanted posters hidden in each stage. In order to even encounter the final bossof each level, the wanted poster which graces their ugly mug, must first be obtained, otherwise,the level will keep repeating in an endless loop until the invaluable parchment is inhand. As a kid, half of the fun for me was findingthese wanted posters like Easter eggs. Of course, I have their locations memorizednow, but back in the day I had such a blast looking for ‘em. Usually hidden near barrels, the seeminglyempty space where the posters are hidden will make the same sound your bullets make whenhitting a barrel. If you hear this sound, you know you’vestruck oil. There are also hidden yashichis which canbe uncovered in this same manner. But not to fear, if you’re unable to locatethe hidden wanted poster for that particular stage, you can always purchase one from thetownsfolk for a cool 20 Gs. Youch! Capcom was known for adding extra elementsto their arcade adaptations, and the hidden wanted posters in Gun.Smoke just may be myfavorite of the extras that were thrown into their numerous NES arcade-to-home ports. Since the NES version was scaled down to sixstages from the arcade original’s ten, this is a welcome nuance that adds a bit more challengeto an already skill-demanding game. The graphics are typical of early Capcom NESgames, and looks pretty good for a 1988 title. The music compliments the western motif splendidly,with Gun.Smoke’s instantly recognizable western twang of the first stage to the NativeAmerican theme which accompanies the genocide-driven massacre that is level three. * D.R.I.’s ‘Manifest Destiny’ plays * Even each boss has his own theme, with the Ninja’s anthem sounding like it came straightout of the Legend of Kage. The soundtrack has that early Mega Man andBionic Commando sound that I absolutely adore; during a time that I felt Capcom was at theirnear-peak in regards to making 8-bit music. And let’s not ignore the artwork. Why does Gun.Smoke have two different covers? This tame cover was the first one that I hadseen, and I had actually read several years ago that because the word “Bar” was inthe background, the artwork was swapped in
ago that because the word “Bar” was inthe background, the artwork was swapped in favor of this one—which is the better ofthe two anyway, yet what is this down here? Saloon? I honestly don’t know if this story is trueor not. Do you know why Capcom changed the cover art? Gun.Smoke, while not even close to the brutalitythat is its arcade brethren, is still a fairly challenging game, even more so with a regularcontroller. If you’ve yet to try this one out, I highlyrecommend it, as it is one of those NES games that I still pop in regularly—with my NESMax of course. The game is just a ton of fun, is challengingand is one of the best western-themed games I’ve ever played. Billy Bob is a badass, and has a lot of leadpoisoning to administer. So, Gun.Smoke is a classic! Surely the Sega Genesis— –doesn’t play second fiddle to anybody! What the hell is going on? It’s like some kind of black magic. Kind of like the magic found in ElementalMaster, a ground-shooter for the Sega Genesis made by the creators of the Thunder Forceseries. Let’s check it out. Many years ago, the good king Lorelei, withthe help of a young scholar named Junos, banished an evil group known as The Harvesters of Gyra,to the dark dungeons beneath the city, after an attempt to overthrow the kingdom. Using the power of the elements, Junos wasable to imprison the followers of Gyra, and peace was restored to the kingdom. Junos, confident that his liege had nothingto fear with the Gyra confined, left the kingdom to continue his schooling. But several years later…. LADEN: The Gyra! Now it’s time for me to put an end to yourevil ways. GYRA: Ha ha ha… you’re ambitious, butyou will never defeat me. LADEN: Enough talking. Let’s fight! GYRA: First I have a little surprise for you. Look at my face. LADEN: I can’t believe it! GYRA: Long time, no see, Laden. LADEN: Can you really be Roki? It’s impossible! GYRA: But it is true, Laden. Your brother, Roki entered another world andbecame a new man—Gyra, Lord of Darkness. LADEN: No! This can’t be true! GYRA: Join me. Let’s work together and we can conquer theworld. LADEN: You are a fool! GYRA: The only fools are those who try andstop me now. LADEN: Is this truly what has become of mybrother? GYRA: I have no time to waste on you. We will meet again… if you live that long. LADEN: Roki, please wait! GYRA: Ha ha ha ha ha…. King Lorelei’s heroic sorcerer, Aryaag hadbetrayed him, and liberated the Harvesters of Gyra. Lorelei’s strongest knight, Laden, discoversthat this traitor is actually his brother, Roki—and he must be stopped no matter thecost. Laden sets out on a quest to retrieve Junos’elemental powers to vanquish Gyra and become the Elemental Master. In 1990, Technosoft unleashed Elemental Masterin Japan for the Sega Mega Drive.
arcade machine wild west shootout In 1990, Technosoft unleashed Elemental Masterin Japan for the Sega Mega Drive.
In 1990, Technosoft unleashed Elemental Masterin Japan for the Sega Mega Drive. It wasn’t until three years later, publishedby Renovation, that Elemental Master arrived stateside amongst a plethora of shooters alreadyavailable for the Genesis. In the same vein as Technosoft’s earlierspace-shooter, Thunder Force III, you begin the game with the choice of selecting oneof four stages as your starting point. Each stage relinquishes a new weapon or “element”,to assist Laden on his crusade. Elemental Master scrolls upward automatically,just like Gun.Smoke, with the ability to fire both in front and behind you. The H.U.D. on the right displays Laden’shealth bar, with each hit of damage sustained draining one unit until death. Then it’s game over. Luckily, there are many power-ups to collectalong the way, including a crystal which encapsulates Laden in a protective shield, allowing forthree additional hits of damage; magic rocks that restore two units of health; a mirrorthat multiplies Laden by three, increasing his firepower; and the mysterious medicine,which adds an additional unit to Laden’s health bar. Unfortunately when you die and continue, yourlife bar reverts to its default length. Enemies attack from all sides of the screenrequiring quick reflexes and memorization. Knowing when and where enemies will appearis paramount in succeeding in Elemental Master, and even then the game can be brutally difficult. When Laden absorbs a hit, a small flash indicatesdamage has been taken, but oftentimes the action is so intense that it’s sometimesdifficult to discern that your player is even being hurt. On top of that, there is barely any graceperiod between hits like in most games, so that before you know it, a single enemy orenvironmental hazard can swiftly end your life. This can be frustrating, but eventually you’lljust have to get used to it. In addition to a multitude of blood-thirstymonsters hungry for flesh, the environments are littered with traps to avoid such as flamessprouting from the crevasses in the earth, pools of lava, and tight corridors to squeezethrough. And if you think Winnie the Pooh had a blusteryday, that ain’t shit compared to the howling gusts that you have to push through in thewind stage. But things get a lot more manageable onceyou begin obtaining the elemental powers. Like I mentioned before, finishing each ofthe first four stages rewards you with a new elemental weapon to select from. The wind power shoots three waves similarto the wave weapon in Thunder Force III. The earth power fires a slow and narrow projectile,but is extremely powerful and cuts through enemies and walls. The water power fires projectiles in frontand on both sides, and my favorite weapon in the game, the fire power shoots in threedifferent directions in a spread formation. In addition to regular projectiles, each elementcan be charged to unleash an ultimate element by holding down the fire button. “Are you kidding me? There’s no rapid fire?!” Calm your tits, Rewind. The rapid fire is very similar to the rapidfire mechanic employed by U.N. Squadron for the Super Nintendo. If you hold the fire button down you willshoot a short burst of rapid shots before they cease and begin to charge the ultimateelement meter. As if this game isn’t hard enough, the controlscheme makes it that much tougher. With only three buttons to utilize, two ofwhich fire in opposite directions, the third button cycles through the different elementsthat you’ve collected so far. Regardless of which control scheme you choose,this can be a royal pain in the ass. But hey, you just hafta make due. I actually used an SNES controller on theRetron 5 for this footage, and set the Y and B buttons as rapid front and back shots respectively,set the X and A buttons as my charge shots and the R button to cycle through my weapons. While this undoubtedly made the game muchmore playable, it still didn’t alleviate the immense difficulty that Elemental Masterhas to offer.
the immense difficulty that Elemental Masterhas to offer. I’m not kidding; this game is tough as nails. It’ll make you throw your controller infrustration, “Son of a bitch!” pull your hair out, and make you cry like a baby. With only five continues at your disposal,you’ll be restarting the game time and time again. You’ll eventually have the first four stagesdown in no time, but it isn’t until the fifth, sixth and seventh stages where you’llbe challenged unquestionably. The bosses can seem near impossible at times,such as this dragon from stage five. Even though I know exactly what he’s goingto do, I still can’t help but get hit at times. The key to becoming the Elemental Master isto not die. Simple, right? When you continue your health bar is reducedto its default, and even though you can grab more units throughout each stage, it’s notthe same as having your health bar at its max. Practice makes perfect and you’ll need alot of it to learn the patterns and weaknesses of each boss. Good luck! While Elemental Master does have the tendencyto seriously piss you off, it is at least a pretty game to look at. Technosoft is no slouch, and offers some sweetas hell anime-like cut-scenes, and the soundtrack kicks some serious ass as well, with the composerof Thunder Force III, Toshiharu Yamanishi, at the helm. “Listen to this!” Even a lot of the soundeffects are straight from Thunder Force III as well. That’s just freakin’ awesome! Even though Elemental Master can be extremelyfrustrating due to its unforgiving brutality, it is still an excellent game. Unfortunately, the game’s price is alsobrutal these days, so I would only recommend this one for serious shooter enthusiasts. But if you’re looking for a ground shooterwith great graphics, an excellent soundtrack and a harrowing challenge, then look no furtherthan Elemental Master. –and backdoor shenanigans. I mean, c’mon! Now, Nintendo has done some dirty deeds— –and should definitely get checked out at a VD clinic. But in the meantime, let’s take a look atFirepower 2000. In 1988 Tecmo released an arcade game calledSilkworm; a side-scrolling shooter in which you can select either a jeep or helicopterto wipe out an army of bad guys. This then inspired a game called SWIV, anacronym for: Special Weapons Intercept Vehicles. This vertically-scrolling shooter was releasedfor several consoles, including the Amiga and later on, the Game Boy Color, and alsoallows the player to choose between either a jeep or helicopter. It wasn’t long before an updated versionwas ported to the Super Nintendo—1992 to be exact—simply titled: Super SWIV; or Firepower2000 here in the States. Yeah, both names are kinda stupid, which probablydeterred players from trying it out. Big mistake. Developed by SCi Games and published by Sunsoft,Firepower 2000–no, not that shitty band Powerman 5000. Firepower 2000, allows you to, just like theaforementioned games, choose between a jeep or helicopter. Since this episode is showcasing ground-shooters,we’ll mainly focus on the jeep portion of the game. Not to mention I prefer using the jeep overthe helicopter, anyway. A secret underground race has stolen top-grademilitary weapons and vehicles from around the world with the intention of taking overthe entire planet. This group of terrorists have employed dronesand machines to pilot these stolen vehicles armed with weapons of mass destruction. It’s up to you to infiltrate the enemies’base and put an end to their nefarious plans of world domination. From the get-go the screen scrolls up automaticallywith aircrafts swooping in for the kill. The jeep is more like a tank, with a turretthat can rotate allowing you to fire in eight different directions. Aiming the turret and then holding the firebutton will lock it into place. This, in my opinion, is a huge advantage overthe helicopter, as the chopper can only fire straight ahead. The jeep has to avoid obstructions and obstacleson the ground, as opposed to the copter, which can fly unobstructed over everything, thoughit has to avoid airborne foes, who at times can be simply unforgiving. The jeep can drive under these same enemiesunscathed, but are still susceptible to their bullets. Yellow crates can be destroyed to reveal items,such as three different kinds of bombs and power-ups for a number of regular weapons. You always carry three default weapons intow: missiles, which are the quickest weapon, and once powered up shoots faster projectilesin a wider range. The plasma gun shoots a single stream of ammunitionand turns into a spread-shot after several power-ups have been collected, and the flamethrower, which has very limited range, but naturally packs a bigger punch than the othertwo. Later on in the game you can also collectother weapons such as the laser. These weapons can be powered up to a maximumof seven levels, and if you should perish, and believe me, you will—a lot, your weaponswill be downgraded by one level when you respawn. The first stage is littered with all kindsof obstacles impeding your path, so maneuvering around obstructions and enemies is key tosurvival. Memorization also plays a large role, as thescreen can scroll either to the left or right, and knowing the enemies’ location, not tomention knowing where the crates are stashed, is impertinent to staying alive. Stick to just one side of the screen—whichis easy to do when enemies basically paint you into a corner, can result in missing muchneed power-ups and items. Bubbles can be obtained, granting you invulnerabilityfor twelve seconds, or simply destroyed to ignite a smart bomb that clears the screenof baddies. The jeep is also able to jump short distances,but I found that I rarely used it, if ever, except on the volcano stage where you haveto jump over lava pits. The control scheme is a bit iffy in my opinion,with the bomb button set to A, while the fire button is set to Y. You really don’t ever want to release thefire button, so I end up holding the controller like this. Very uncomfortable. And using bombs is a MUST in this game, andwill save your bacon on numerous occasions. Your weapons can be cycled through using theshoulder buttons, which is perfect, but the pre-set control set-ups in the game, unfortunatelydoes not offer a better alternative for the bomb button’s location. Weak. The music is dark, atmospheric, ambient anddifferent. Not what we’ve grown accustomed to for ashooter, but it totally fits this game, and I love it! 25 years later and the music that can be pumpedout of the SNES still blows me away! The boss music is even heavily influencedby the original Terminator’s score. Just check this out: Now, the graphics aren’t spectacular–you know, nothing to get a stiffy over–but theydefinitely get the job done here. The main thing to take away from Firepower2000 is its difficulty. This game is BRUTAL! And to add insult to injury, there’s nocontinues. I find this unforgivable. Sure you earn extra lives by racking up highscores, but practicing against a certain boss, especially stage three’s bullshit boss,is a pain in the ass when you have to restart the game each and every time you get gameover. Thankfully, there are stage select codes,so these can be used in place of continues. Still. And selecting which vehicle you want to useor even selecting a two-player game is completely unintuitive, requiring you to access the optionmenu by pressing select sans prompt, and going from there. Ugh. It’s obvious these developers were moresuited for making games on PCs rather than video game consoles. But despite these annoyances and an intensedifficulty curve, Firepower 2000 is an absolute blast. The first two stages are epic in length, withroving vehicles to blast and trains to destroy, not to mention stationary structures to takedown. You even come across parts in certain stageswhere you’ll need to be transported into a boat, and even a jet that has to take downa gargantuan aircraft. It’s pretty intense. And get this. There’s hardly any slowdown whatsoever! On an SNES game! Definitely some brownie points earned there! And then there’s the option to play witha friend cooperatively. Player one assumes the role of jeep, whileplayer two navigates the helicopter. I can only imagine how fun this is, but unfortunately,I don’t know of anyone else who has played this game, and it’s not one of those shootersthat someone can just sit down with and get the hang of in one shot. It takes practice, dammit! The game isn’t too expensive these daysfor a Super Nintendo title, so I highly recommend it. There’s even a version that was releasedfor the Mega Drive in 1994 called Mega SWIV that has an additional stage, although theaudio and visuals aren’t up to par with the SNES version. It still looks great, though. Either way, if you live for challenging shootersthat keep you on your toes, Firepower 2000 will without a doubt satisfy that itch, andkeep you thoroughly enthralled. So those are three excellent ground-shootersthat you must check out if you’re a hardcore— –masochist! That game is freakin’ tough! And so is— OK, this is really weird. Every time I fade out I catch a glimpse ofpurgatory— –and I could definitely use a vacation. Anyway, thanks a lot for checking out thisepisode. Thanks a lot to that little– –Rewind Mikefor his cameo in this episode. If you want to check out some quality shit,make sure to watch his channel. And until next time, I will catch you all–