Whether they're static shooters or shmups, the Switch is full of old-school arcade fun so here's what I think about 8 action-packed titles.
Jetboard Joust Review Switch ★★★★☆
If you have fond memories of Defender and wonder what it would be like as a roguelike then you'll want to check out Jetboard Joust.
As a fan of classic arcade shooters, playing Jetboard Joust immediately reminded me of Defender with its horizontally looping stages that have you swap direction as you hunt down alien invaders. With that being said, Jetboard Joust adds many elements to this tried and true formula with the most notable of which being the joust button which makes your character lunge forward and doing so can devastate a whole line of enemies if you time and aim it correctly. On top of that, there's an assortment of cool weapons to collect and upgrade so earning currency as you play will pay off in the shop between stages. To earn more cash, there's an optional challenge at the end of each stage and upon beating it, you can unlock a vault which may contain a supremely useful upgrade such as letting you stock more jousts. I absolutely loved working my way through the branching paths while amassing a wealth of upgrades so definitely check this out.
Although it has another Williams arcade game in its title, Jetboard Joust brings the spirit of Defender back in a brilliant roguelike setup.Jetboard Joust gameplay video →
Binarystar Infinity Review Switch ★★★★☆
If you're in the mood for a truly retro experience then the deceptively simple shoot 'em up Binarystar Infinity is here and it's a real treat.
As a more traditional shoot 'em up, Binarystar Infinity presents a minimal aesthetic and simple gameplay to match where all you do is move your ship, shoot, and collect power-ups. What makes Binarystar Infinity great is its fine-tuned stages that feature unique and challenging level design. When you factor in the variety of weapons and difficult bosses that are super-satisfying to topple, you're left with a well-done and intuitive shmup that'll appeal to fans of the genre. Oh, and it feels awesome whenever you acquire a few satellite orbs that double as shields. Also, if you have a gaming chum who enjoys old-school shoot 'em ups as well then you can play with them via 2 player co-op mode which is integrated seamlessly. There are also boss rush and survival modes if you manage to complete the 8 stages.
In the end, if you enjoy simple and challenging shoot 'em ups then you'll have a blast with Binarystar Infinity in all its minimalist glory.Binarystar Infinity gameplay video →
Barrage Fantasia Review Switch ★★★☆☆
Not all old-school shmups present steep challenges and Barrage Fantasia is definitely one such title that more casual gamers may enjoy.
Barrage Fantasia really captured my attention with its appealing visuals and vertical gameplay which reminded me of the Dreamcast era. Upon playing it, I became mildly disappointed at how easy it is although it does have some nifty mechanics. Besides flying and shooting, you can also slow down to focus your movement and unleash a special bomb attack if you happen to have any in stock and they recharge over time, too. You can also combine the shoot and slow-down buttons to increase your firepower which is quite helpful. I also liked the fact that you can swap out various parts before beginning your run so you can optimize your ship to your play style. Other than that, Barrage Fantasia is a short and unchallenging shoot 'em up that acts as a decent palette cleanser between more substantial games.
If you enjoy shoot 'em ups but aren't a hardcore fan of the genre then you might appreciate what Barrage Fantasia has in store for you.Barrage Fantasia gameplay video →
Switch 'N' Shoot Review Switch ★★★☆☆
Games definitely don't get much simpler than ones that are played with 1 button yet Switch 'N' Shoot offers some surprising twists.
To put it as simply as possible, Switch 'N' Shoot has you tap a button to fire a projectile and whenever you do, you change direction along the horizontal line that your ship moves. That's right; you don't even control it with the D-pad. Therefore, the challenge relies on your ability to time your shots perfectly to shoot the incoming enemies while not accidentally flying into any that happen to land beside you. This is much trickier than it sounds because the playfield loops and your ship moves fast so you really have to concentrate. Additionally, there's an awesome power-up system that can turn you into an unstoppable alien-killing machine but only if you don't miss picking any up because if you do, your power will decrease. Although it can be a very fun game, I find it too frustrating and repetitive to play more than a few minutes at a time. That being said, once you have a particularly successful run, it's extremely rewarding stuff!
Switch 'N' Shoot is the perfect example of an enjoyable bite-sized game as you'll have a lot of fun with it but only in short bursts.Switch 'N' Shoot gameplay video →
Space Warrior Review Switch ★★★☆☆
Some arcade-style shoot 'em ups are more cinematic than others and with that in mind, here's the very cool-looking Space Warrior.
Yes, Space Warrior has fantastic visuals for an indie shmup on Switch. Watching hulking spacecrafts and fleets of ships soar in the background is certainly fetching. As you play, you'll also occasionally get some dialogue that pops up but to be honest, I mostly skipped these so I could dive back into the action. Speaking of which, Space Warrior has you automatically shoot while 3 of the face buttons correspond to unique power-ups that you can deploy whenever you collect 3 items of the same colour. This is a nifty concept for sure so it's too bad that the core gameplay is as slow-paced and tedious as it is. Don't get me wrong; Space Warrior does a lot right but once you fly through the same kind of segments over and over again while facing little challenge, it does become rather tiresome. On the plus side, you can level-up, unlock and upgrade ships, and deploy useful boosts before launching by spending some earned currency.
Space Warrior may look great but at its core, it's a fairly standard shmup that doesn't offer enough variety or much of a challenge.Space Warrior gameplay video →
Skyland Rush - Air Raid Attack Review Switch ★★☆☆☆
Although many shmups strive to bring back the good old days, some try to have modern appeal and Skyland Rush is one such game.
Skyland Rush has you play as Zenya who's a little lady with a lot of firepower. Of course, you automatically shoot while dodging hazards and enemy fire. The stages feel like 2D platforming levels as there's a lot of colourful scenery and many of the enemies hover around the environment. Although this sounds promising, the vast majority of the time you'll spend in these levels can be described as monotonous at best. Between segments that basically feel the same and portions where literally nothing happens, it's hard not to get bored as you play. To make matters worse, the levels are exceptionally lengthy which just goes to prove that longer games aren't necessarily better. Anyway, as you play, you'll rescue little pink fellows, gather coins, and unlock medals after completing challenges. You can also buy upgrades which are far too expensive and you have to earn certain medal thresholds to unlock further levels which is a bummer.
It's perplexing who Skyland Rush - Air Raid Attack was made for but I can definitely say that it doesn't cater to shoot 'em up fans.Skyland Rush - Air Raid Attack gameplay video →
Toon Shooters 2: The Freelancers Review Switch ★★★☆☆
You may not have heard of Toon Shooters but here's a sequel and it's a pretty good shooter that you can buy with pocket change.
To be frank, I didn't expect much from Toon Shooters 2: The Freelancers due to its surprisingly low price tag but upon booting it up and playing it, I was impressed with what it has to offer. It may not have the most challenging or intricate stage designs but it does offer solid and consistently enjoyable shooting action that you can play with up to 4 players. Believe it or not, it even has online multiplayer and leaderboards. The core gameplay basically has you fly around as you automatically shoot and you can tap a button to unleash a special attack that has limited stock. Between levels, you can purchase upgrades, swap your character, and equip a couple of satellite weapons and I found doing so to be the most enjoyable part of the gameplay as it's rewarding to create a powerful concoction.
Toon Shooters 2: The Freelancers isn't the most challenging shoot 'em up but it is densely-packed with rewarding content.Toon Shooters 2: The Freelancers gameplay video →
Arcade Archives: Omega Fighter Review Switch ★★★☆☆
UPL had some interesting arcade games in their time and Omega Fighter is a fairly solid shmup that genre fans may have overlooked.
Omega Fighter originally released in arcades back in 1989 and for its time, it's a mostly standard shoot 'em up although it has a very clever premise where the levels are actually portions of a massive space vessel that you can see fall apart as you blast away at enemy fleets and turrets. You play it by merely using 2 buttons: 1 to shoot and the other to deploy items. Upon collecting an item, it attaches to your ship and you can either use it as a shield or consume it to slow down time or clear the screen. There are 2 weapons that can be powered up as well in the form of a wide shot and a focused ion laser. The scoring system is pretty cool, too, because defeating enemies up-close grants more points and increases a multiplier gauge which can spawn power-ups. Another nifty feature is that you can play cooperatively with a chum. The core gameplay may be generic stuff but all of these supplementary features make it a solid shmup nonetheless.
As a fun classic arcade shooter, I'm happy to say that Omega Fighter will fit in nicely with my expansive collection of retro shmups.Arcade Archives: Omega Fighter gameplay video → More Arcade Archives games