Alien shooters on Mega Drive
Following the release of Xeno Crisis on the Mega Drive last month Retro Faith has been playing a lot of shooters for Sega’s 16-bit beast. The Mega Drive has a lot of alien inspired shooters and we take a look at a select few you should check out yourself. These are all playable on Mega Drive Classics available on most modern platforms.
Alien Soldier was released in 1995 as the Mega Drive was heading into its twilight years. Developed by Treasure, of Gunstar Heroes fame, this hard as nails shooter is one of, if not the, best looking games on the console. You are a lone warrior up against an army. Each of the stages is short and the game focuses on boss battles.
There is the lack of a two player mode but this is understandable given how much this title must be pushing the Mega Drive hardware. The pixel art is gorgeous and despite its difficulty you will want to see more of the game to marvel at the huge sprites. The complex weapon system does take a little getting used to but this is a highly polished title that deserves a play through.
Alien Storm was released early in the consoles lifecycle and was ported from the arcade. The scrolling action combines shooting with melee attacks and mixes up several shooter genres. The main game is side scrolling with side quests involving first person shooting and on rails combat. Switching between the gameplay types helps break up the action.
Although it will seem dated now this is a classic Mega Drive title that has a cult following. It is usually confused with Alien Syndrome but the two titles are unrelated. The controls are tight and the graphics decent. It is let down by weak sound and bland levels that become repetitive despite the multiple genres on offer.
Bio-Hazard Battle is a side-scrolling shooter released in 1992. It came out during a time when many high quality shmups were hitting the console. It was hard for space shooters to stand out and this one has fallen by the wayside in recent times. This is unfair as this title boasts smooth gameplay, a tough challenge and a versatile power up system.
There are eight stages in total and each features a different theme. The amount of scenery spread about is noticeable but you will not be harmed by it. Each obstacle creates a different route offering options to the player. The fast gameplay is impressive and the thumping soundtrack has that classic Sega feel. Certainly a gem that should be experienced.
Space Harrier II was a launch title for the Mega Drive and boasts impressive pseudo 3D graphics. The sprite scaling definitely shows an early Mega Drive audience what the system was capable of. The added digitised speech makes the most of the sound chip and the music is fondly remembered by fans.
While technically impressive, the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. Obvious comparisons are drawn to the iconic arcade original and this fails to live up to that in many ways. The controls are clunky and not responsive given the fast paced nature of the game. Despite its faults this is still a classic with beautiful pixel art and fun action.
Vectorman is another late release coming in 1995. Developer Blue Sky got the best out of the aging Mega Drive hardware and created a visual style that would not look out of place on a Saturn or PlayStation. The titular Vectorman boasts 23 individually moving sprites. The level of complexity in the animation and pixel art is some of the best on the Mega Drive.
The gameplay is also excellent. Vectorman controls well and you can shoot in eight directions and use his double jump. The levels are a little bland in places but this is understandable given the graphics. This one should be played by every Sega fan and truly is one of their lost gems. You will not regret giving this and its sequel a bash.