Top Five Master System Shoot-em-ups

Shoot ’em ups have long been one of my favourite genres and one that I probably own most examples of. The fact that my recent ‘Top Five MegaDrive Shmups‘ post has been my most popular yet indicates I’m not alone! I also seem to have sparked a craze for compiling shmup lists, with all and sundry now apparently listing their own favourites, including my friend Graeme (Jdanddiet) here! So, continuing the theme, I thought I’d return to my first console, and here’s my choices:

Games-Related Top Fives Disclaimer: I’ve traditionally stuck to the games I know and love so far, and these game-related top fives reflect that. One of the purposes of this blog is diversify my gaming experiences, to play games I haven’t played before, so I will do new game-related top fives in a few years to see how different they are!

5. Cloud Master (1989)

Cloud Master
I never really had much interest in this one due to the average scores it seemed to get in reviews, but when I actually played it, I discovered that I (at least) really liked it! One of the reasons for this could be the highly varied and imaginative enemies, which seem to be straight out the Fantasy Zone school of weirdness, but it’s got nice graphics, including some fantastic sprites and it’s just really enjoyable to play too.

4. Astro Warrior (1986)

Astro Warrior
I think this was originally a pack-in game on a combi-cartridge with Hang-On or Pit Pot. It did get a standalone release as well though, and it deserved it – it’s a cracking little game! It reminds me of a kind of cross between Cresta’s Moon and Terra and the power-ups increase the size of your ship a bit like those games too. I love these early space-based shooters and Astro Warrior is a great example. It might be a bit
short but it’s great fun while it lasts.

3. Fantasy Zone 2 (1987)

Fantasy Zone 2
Yes, the first game is a top blaster but this sequel just does everything a little bit better in my view. I’m pretty sure it was the first Fantasy Zone game I played too. Happily, the hyper-cute enemies and super-colourful backdrops from the first game return and if anything, they’re even more garish here! In fact, the whole game concept is mostly unchanged. But hey, it’s all part of the charm of playing a Fantasy Zone game, huh? Simple, addictive, and very challenging.

2. R-Type (1987)

R-Type
Many people’s bet for number one, I’m sure! Few shooters have become as iconic or proved as influential as this one, and this conversion of Irem’s all-time great is an outstanding one for sure. It has a few issues such as some sprite flicker but I don’t think anyone could really have expected any more from the humble Master System and they even found the space to cram in an extra level here too!

1. Power Strike (1988)

Power Strike
Perhaps better know as Aleste to some, this was one of the first games I got for my Master System and I’ve still got it now! It really is a technical marvel too – there can be dozens of sprites on the screen at once and there’s no slowdown or flicker, and it has very fast scrolling at time. Graphical achievements aside, this is a top-notch vertical scroller and still one of the best I’ve played. In fact, one of the only ones I’ve played that’s better is another game in the series on the SNES! Gorgeous, loud, challenging, and addictive – what more could you ask?

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Simon Lethbridge

Hello. :) I'm a 38 year old nerd from England, and I like lots of stuff, including retro video games, movies, sci-fi, and anime. This is the place where I will blabber on about them! At the very least, it will give me an excuse to try games/films that I keep putting off. Hope you like reading it! :)