If you're a fan of retro games and you love your shoot 'em ups, you should check out Toaplan Arcade Shoot 'Em Up Collection Vol.2.
As the name suggests, it's the second in a set of revivals from classic Toaplan games as they work with Bitwave Games to get them on Steam. They all come with various enhancements thanks to emulation along with Linux and Steam Deck support. If you played Volume 1, you will know what to expect as it's more of the same goodness here.
The games included are:
- Hellfire: Toaplan's first side-scrolling shooter, known for its blazing graphics and strategic gameplay. Save the galaxy by burning aliens to ashes with the ultimate firepower!
- Slap Fight (AKA Alcon): A brain-melting vertical shooter with gauge-based power-ups that'll get your blood pumping!
- Fire Shark: Set the skies ablaze and endure white-knuckle shmup action in this no-nonsense aerial trial! Fly solo or play in co-op.
- Flying Shark (AKA Sky Shark): A military shmup adventure with destructive power-ups, stunning graphics, and evil enemy forces to destroy!
What makes these great, is that they haven't just slapped on a nice menu with an emulated game. They went the full mile to ensure they work well on modern systems with all sorts of enhancements including:
- Minimal Input Lag: Emulation, input processing, and rendering all complete on the same frame.
- Online leaderboards for Single Credit, No Assist, and Assisted plays.
- Instrument panels with extra gameplay information and artwork.
- Rewind the game between 10-18 minutes, depending on the action.
- Experience the game in Mirror Mode.
- Assist Features such as auto-fire at multiple rates.
- Very Easy Mode: Lower the difficulty to breeze through the adventure.
- Rotate the gameplay in 90-degree increments.
- Choose between Raw Input on Windows or Steam Input.
- Hone your skills in the ultra-customizable practice mode.
Thanks to a key to each being sent over by Embracer Freemode, I've been attempting to play them through. Key word here is attempting, because wow — they're certainly difficult. I don't know if my reaction time has just gotten slower, or if game design has just changed a lot but I really struggled with these. They can be quite fast, and the limited space really adds to the challenge. Thankfully, the ability to slow down time at any point (or speed it up) at the touch of a button is a really useful feature.
Being able to rewind whenever you want is also my absolute favourite feature, and something I made great use of. Every time you think you're doing well, and you're having a good run, there's just that one stray bullet that comes along to annihilate you. However, they do include various accessibility assist options too that you can enable whenever you feel like it including auto fire that you can tweak in "button presses per second", the ability to auto dodge fire and enemies, give yourself health so it's not instant death, make your hitbox smaller and showing your hitbox on-screen.
I've not encountered any issues, they all work beautifully and they feel perfectly at home on Steam Deck too. Performance is perfect, and the controls feel great too. I've no doubt they will get Steam Deck Verified sometime soon because of how great they run.
While I didn't get quite the nostalgia hit as I did from Volume 1, which included my favourite Zero Wing, these are all still great shoot 'em ups to pick up. The detail in the artwork in these games is still often unmatched by newer generation shoot 'em ups, they just don't often have the same kind of charm.
The attention to detail to not only bring these games back to life, but to make them more playable and accessible than ever is to be truly commended here. This is how you do it! I hope to see a lot more developers go back through their older games like this, as too many end up getting lost with no easy way to get them so Toaplan and Bitwave are doing some truly great work here for game preservation.
If you think you have what it takes to beat these classics the store links are below: