Shoot ’em up or Shmups (first and last time I will use that phrase) are a genre that I never much played as a kid but really enjoy now as an adult. I played the shoot ’em up style games in arcades like Lifeforce and Gradius but my problem was that I sucked at them and my games would be over in a couple min and a quarter seemingly wasted. As an adult, I can now play games in this genre in the comfort of my own home on more powerful consoles set on perpetual free play! Shoot ’em up games are tailor made for continuous playing/re-playing to gain momentum and master your enemies movements so you can blast them before they even get on the screen. With that said, I am happy to anoint Blazing Lazers as one of my favorite shooters of all time.
Blazing Lazers is an extremely addictive shoot ’em up game for the TurboGrafx-16, a console that was known for the quantity and quality of their shooters. Released as a launch title in 1989, Blazing Lazers is fast paced, awesome sounding and looking title that I’m convinced would have sold more consoles than Keith Courage if bundled with the system, but 2D platformers were all the rage at the time. There are so many aspects of Blazing Lazers that set it apart from other shooters. My favorites in no order are:
- Music – Memorable and fitting for the style of game. High energy soundtrack that never gets boring and gives the player ear worms for days.
- Graphics – The game looks good but most importantly for a next-gen shooter trying to make a name for itself….no slow down! NES shooters were plagued with slow down during chaotic moments but Blazing Lazers suffers no such fate. There is a LOT going on during any given screen and the game keeps up with it at all times.
- Power-ups – The power ups come fast and frequent. There are four different types of shots to increase your firepower with and on top of that you can gain additional power -ups such as homing missiles, shields, multi-bodies and full fire. The key to success is knowing which firepower and power-up combinations are most effective for each level and avoid getting other firepower/power-ups once you reach the maximum effectiveness. Avoiding these power-ups becomes a challenge on par with avoiding enemy fire.
In spite of all the power-ups, the game is still difficult and fairly long. Blazing Lazers offers 9 levels of intensity and many levels contain a mini-boss in addition to the main boss. I’ve been able to get to level 7 thanks to 1-ups and 4 continues the game provides but there is no saving of progress so you’ll need a good hour or so to blast through the game in one sitting. I can’t say enough good things about Blazing Lazers and apparently Kanye West agrees as he called out Blazing Lazers as his favorite TurboGrafx-16 game, for what that’s worth.
Currently in my collection: game in case, manual