Missile Dancer
Image: Terarin Games

Like so many Japanese gamers, Terarin Games' Junichi Terayama grew up with Nintendo. "The first video game I played was Xevious on the Famicom. However, I didn't have a Famicom as a kid; I was playing it at my friend's house." Despite the lack of unrestricted access to the machine, the impact on Terayama was immense, starting what would become a lifelong obsession with shmups. "After a while, I bought PC Engine and Mega Drive / Genesis. After that, I played shmups all the time."

Terayama has just released his second Switch game on the Japanese eShop, Missile Dancer, which follows in the footsteps of Gemini Arms – but he's not actually a games developer by trade. "I'm a cybersecurity engineer," he tells us. "I wanted to teach programming skills to young people. I thought that if I teach programming through video game development, many young people will enjoy it. So, I started learning video game development by myself about 5 years ago. Video game development is my private work. I am working full-time on cybersecurity now."

Terayama may be taking his first steps in the Switch marketplace, but he's been creating his own games for some time. Gemini Arms and Missile Dancer are both available on PC, as is the free-to-play Image Striker. He's chosen to focus his output exclusively on the genre which he holds most dear; while many people assume that shoot 'em ups are relatively basic in terms of mechanics, creating one which is truly satisfying is a stern challenge. "Shmups have a simple mechanism," he explains. "But making good shmups is difficult. That's why I think it's interesting to create good shmups. As a player, we can play it in a short time and feel refreshed. In addition, it is rewarding to improve skills by playing it many times."

The reaction to the games he has released so far has emboldened Terayama to continue with his coding efforts, despite the fact that his full-time job takes up so much of his attention. "Both of them have received good reactions. The first work, Gemini Arms, is a side-scrolling shmup specialized for reflective lasers. The second work, Missile Dancer, is a vertical scroll shmup specialized for lock-on missiles. Focusing on one weapon is what made these games unique."

Missile Dancer, in particular, is a fun fusion of titles like Raystorm and Soukrugurentai / Terra Driver, two titles which use a similar lock-on attack mechanic. "Missile Dancer is also inspired by After Burner II," Terayama adds. "Other shmups which I like are R-Type, Image Fight, Gradius, Darius, Dragon Spirit, and so on."

Terayama reveals that he's bringing its games to Switch because getting noticed on PC is becoming increasingly difficult. "Many video games are released on PCs every day, so it's difficult for users to find my work. Maybe many people will pay attention to my work by releasing it on Switch." He's a massive fan of Nintendo's hybrid console, too, and says it fits with his current working lifestyle, as well as how he wants his own games to be played. "It can be played both at home and outside. My games are 'casual' in style, so I want users to carry them around and play with their friends."

At present, Missile Dancer and Gemini Arms are both exclusive to Japan, but Terayama reveals there are plans afoot to publish them both in the west; sadly, Image Striker won't be coming to Switch (for now, at least) as he's focused on creating new experiences. "I am making new vertical scrolling shmup as my next title. This is a standard shmup influenced by Star Force, ZANAC, and so on."