Originally released in Japan as Gunhed, Blazing Lazers was one of the most heavily featured titles in the original TurboGrafx-16 adverts, and with very good reason. Considering the age of the title (it was originally released in 1989!), it's nothing short of stunning and remains one of the best shooters on the system.
Graphically, it's in the same league as Super Star Soldier and Soldier Blade (some people even group Gunhed in the same series as these classic shooters). It has bold, colourful sprites and some extremely detailed, fast scrolling backgrounds. The PC Engine was famously able to display more on-screen sprites than any other console of its time and this is certainly showcased here - the screen is packed with enemies at times. The boss sprites look a little weedy compared to more recent 2D shooters, but they pack a fair degree of challenge which more than makes up for this. The sound is great too, with some suitably pumping music and high-quality voice samples. Again, at the time of release this was something of a revelation.
While the weapons system looks a bit dated today, it nevertheless offers a wide range of attack options and players will find themselves experimenting with all the choices as they fight their way through the game.
Debate still rages about which shooter is the best. Many fans feel that the aforementioned Super Star Soldier improves on Gunhed, others feel the opposite. Whatever viewpoint you might have, there's no denying that Gunhed stands out as one of the finest shooters money can buy and ranks as a truly essential download.
I pulled out Blazing Lazers last night in bed on my old TurboExpress just to see how it held up (it being the TurboExpress as much as this game). It all came back to me and I beat the game on normal difficulty without any continues. The game has a lot of things going for it, and I'm thrilled to report it holds up wonderfully. Its got a great difficulty ramp up, beautiful use of color, many memorable bosses (often more than 1 per stage) and a much more customizable weapon set than I had remembered. Also avoiding/destroying certain power ups will cause them to become instant-revives. This along with the method of bomb collection with involves changing/improving your secondary weapon, causes you to both switch things up and adds some strategy to your game. Or more to the point, you learn to stockpile both lives and instant-revives for the brutal final level.
I can say this certainly holds up better than both Star Soldier and Super Star Soldier in terms of presentation, though you wouldn't go wrong with any of the three.
A solid 9/10.
In my opinion, the best shmup brought out by Compile and the best shmup of all time.
Like Lasafrog said, I really enjoy the graphics and weapons in this game. It's very addictive, as well.
Scratch that, it's just the best shmup by compile. And I agree with rhythmheavanfan and lasafrog, the game is crazy addictive.
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