Thursday, July 2, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Slap Fight

Slap Fight was released by Taito in 1986, a Toaplan-developed shooter (they are the "all your base" guys!) which - well to be honest, I am not entirely sure that it released in the States under that name, it might have been called Alcon. But Slap Fight sounds goofier so we'll stick with that.

Anyway, a relatively little-seen vertical shooter that plays like an advancement of Xevious mixed with the general Toaplan formula (Sky Shark) and a touch of Gradius thrown in for good measure. It works!

Your basic fly and shoot things game, avoiding the other ships and land units which are trying to blow you away (one hit kills, checkpoint deaths). The game seems to tread along at a slow pace, but you quickly realize that it's not going to be an easy go. The gimmick here is your powerup system, again they ripped the motif from Gradius somewhat - certain downed enemies will leave behind a star. Nab it and you're advancing a level in your powerup checklist (speedup maneuverability, sideguns, wing attachments, laserbeam, etc). Grab a bunch of gear and you'll get a considerably powered-up fighter, but mind that you'll also be an eaiser target to take down as well.

The game has a strange style, very unusual for this genre - you are flying a high-tech ship over what look like ancient ruins, and then tech sort of seems to creep in. I haven't got too far in this game (it's HARD!) but judging by the screens it looks like things likely get more cliche as you progress through the rounds.

Overall, Slap Fight is a good game, one that I'd recommend if you like this sort of thing. Vertical shmups of this nature are pretty dead for a long time now, and if you see them they are often bullet-hell extravaganza's riddled with quasi-hentai porn themes anyway. And you'll never see powerup systems like this anymore! This game is frustrating, but it is enjoyable. Worth the effort to seek out.

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