I have a distinct memory of playing Raiden II when I was younger, and loving the hell out of it. There’s something immediately fun and nostalgic about playing a classic top down shmup. This is why that memory of Raiden II stays with me to this very day, and also what led to my interest in Shoot 1UP.
An indie title from developer Mommys Best Games, Shoot 1UP is very much in the vain of the Raiden series, in that it’s full of the top-down goodness that has kept this genre prominent (and more importantly, fun) for so many years. However, the game adds in a unique, and dare I say brilliant, mechanic that really differentiates it from the multitude of other similarly designed titles.
This mechanic revolves around the idea that, in place of building up a reserve store of lives to fall back on should you fall in combat, the game instead grants you any 1UPs you earn as active ships to aid your cause. In other words, for every new life you get, a new ship appears on your screen immediately. Should you be successful enough, you can take up a nice chunk (30 ships worth) of the screen with your squadron. Not to mention, the game supports Co-Op play, upping the total ship count to 60 on screen at once, chugging away at your enemies. And the great design doesn’t stop there.
Along with the ability to amass an army of fighters, the game also adds a layer of complex strategical maneuvering. Basically, you have the option to spread your ships out across the map, or pull them all in for a single line of attack. There is positive and negative strategic value for both of these options. When spread out, your ships cover more area with their fire, and eliminate more enemies. You also gain the ability to launch a beam of energy at your foes, great for tackling bosses. However, the downside is that dodging incoming ships and fire is much more difficult when in a wider formation. Should you choose to keep your squad close together, you will lose the ability to use the beam attack, but will ensure the survival of more units.
Graphically, the game exudes classic charm. In the same way that Mega Man 9‘s retro visuals can still look pretty damn good, so too do Shoot 1UP‘s. The level design in particular is also surprisingly interesting, albeit a little crowded with stuff to look at. The basic enemy ship designs are generally pretty solid, if not too varied or detailed. However, when it comes to boss designs, this game is awesome. Every single boss battle is interesting and fun to look at – which is pretty rare in shooters these days. However, since the firepower upgrades are nearly non-existent, it’s tough not to grow tired of the basic fire animations.
Another interesting design choice is the ability to choose your path at certain times in the game. Mostly, this consists of simple commands such as “Continue Ahead” or “Go Back”, which plays out exactly as you’d expect. At other intervals, you’ll receive the option to free roam. While that concept is a bit deceiving (you can’t exactly fly wherever you want), you do switch to a diagonal-focused combat scenario. It’s a refreshing break from the typical straightforward path of top down shooters, and it fits well.
I think Shoot 1UP is a fine addition to the genre, something that we don’t see nearly enough of nowadays. Sure, it has a paper thin story (something about flagella and almost naked women decorating a level, I’m pretty sure), but for this genre, that neither comes as a surprise, nor particularly as a fault.
Games like this are meant to be played, enjoyed, and played again. The only real problem I have with Shoot 1UP is how quickly it’s over. In total, there are only six levels. But for something this cheap ($1!), you’re definitely getting your moneys worth and more. I hope to see this expanded on in the future.
Gamer Limit gives Shoot 1UP an 8.5/10