Retro Game of the Day! Steel Gunner 2
Steel Gunner 2 by Namco, released in the arcade in 1991.
The mid to late 1980s were a relatively quiet time for the once-explosive shooting genre - for one reason or another they never became hugely popular (likely due to large expensive cabinets, persnickety hardware, and relatively one-dimensional gameplay that felt very "hands-off" in a lot of ways). Therefore, when a decent-budget shooter did appear on the scene, it was all the rage. Witness the enormous success of a groundbreaking game such as Taito's Operation Wolf, and follow-ups like Revolution X and Terminator 2 by Midway.
Thus, when the original Steel Gunner blasted onto the arcade scene, it did receive a welcome reception between it's trendy sci-fi theme and "destroy any and everything" attitude which was rather downplayed in other games of the sort.
I had never noticed the first one, but when SG2 showed up at the local arcade, "hmm another gun game, guess I will give it a shot.." I was floored! Fast action, explosive weaponry, tons of color, this was the new standard by which I would measure this type of game. It was a 2P as well (a necessity at that point) and absolutely a blast to play with a friend. The gameplay was speedy and relentless, unlike the slow-plodding gameplay of conventional shooters SG2 was fast and wild, throwing you at all manner of environments; rushing through buildings, dashing across cities, blasting over the water..
In hindsight I've since crossed paths with the original Steel Gunner and appreciated it as an appetite-whetter for the chaos that would come, and the sequel definitely amped all the elements up a level. This was a wonderful blaster from beginning to end, and marks a time in Namco's history when they started to realize there was room for them to dominate the genre with ease.
Want to win ANY Free App of your choice for your iPhone, care of Headcase Games? (LINK)