Truxton by Toaplan - originally Tatsujin in Japan (hmm, if you are going to change the name, why not change it to something that sounds descriptive?), released to arcades in 1988 and, I believe we saw a release for the Sega Genesis in 1990 (damn what wikipedia says!)Like their bros at Compile, Toaplan were known for producing popular shooters during these days - mind you, shooters being one of the dominant genres at the time (not hard to see why!) Unlike Compile, Toaplan were probably known for making their games a little more punishingly difficult than most (in this reviewer's opinion, at least!)
The game closely followed the Raiden template - pick up 3 different weapons, beef them up accordingly, (you could only hold one at at time!) and save a bomb for when things got really hairy. The bomb was an iconic screen-filling skull, an impressive graphic effect at the time which related to the player that you were raining down some serious hurt to your on-screen nemesis. Nemesiseses.
As mentioned, Truxton was not an easy game. It starts off fair enough, with small volleys of enemies (Nemesisisissis!) engaging you in light battle, and they throw you a couple of speed-ups (necessity in this game) and POWs to get you going. Hang onto them - if you die, you lose your arms, and when this happens anywhere beyond the beginning of the game, you are put at an extreme tactical disadvantage for the rest of your journey. The game will start assaulting you with plenty of relentlessly aggressive foes; each death throws you back to a distant checkpoint. Truxton is not a game for those lacking a steel will and hearty determination.
I can see why the game might not have caught too much wind beneath its sails upon release, for the reasons mentioned above. But what did push it forward was its graphics - the game is well-polished and very good looking. There is a large variety of well-designed enemies, each with their own little characteristic animations, all itching for a chance to take you down. The game might not be cheery and happy looking, but the detail and designs are all spot on. In it's day, Truxton was a fiiiine piece 'a ass.I'll still recommend this shooter for any so-called "ace pilot" looking to sharpen his shooty skills - the gameplay and aesthetics hold up, even if the bizarrely goofy carnival music can be a little off-putting at times (why?) Toaplan are a reasonable developer who knew what they were doing - pay some respct!