Played through Strike Gunner STG [Super Famicom].
The most endearing part of this game (which was released in 1992) is that it’s set in the ‘distant’ year of 2008. The developers thought that, by then, we’d be fighting aliens on the moon with our high-tech spacecraft, instead of fighting each other on the internet with our high tech cell-phones.
Even on easy mode with 9 lives per credit, this game still smoked me over and over again until I found the best loadout for each stage. That’s where the novelty in Strike Gunner lies: the pre-level weapon select. It allows you to choose a special weapon at the start of each stage, but locks you into your choice permanently and disables that option once the stage is cleared. The downside here is that you can easily ruin a run by choosing an ineffective weapon against a difficult boss, but the strategy introduced by this system makes for a memorable shoot-em-up.
My first impressions of this title were admittedly lackluster, given that the game-assets began as bland forests and military vehicles - but that quickly changed as everything evolved into imaginative alien aircraft, planets, and space-stations. The sound design struck my fancy, too, with the Super Nintendo’s signature bass-heavy explosion effects. The controls were smooth, the upgrades were fun, and the tunnel-run finale cemented a satisfying playthrough overall. Strike Gunner really went above and beyond my expectations.