Release Date: November 1989
Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
I like a good, tight vertical scrolling shoot ’em up and that’s just what I got with Blazing Lazers. Known in Japan as Gunhed, it lost the anime tie-in when ported to the US. Luckily, what we got was a well balanced, sometimes difficult, great game. You are piloting the Gunhed Star Fighter and you’re up against the Dark Squadron. You have to fight through 9 areas of shooting and evading in order to put an end to the evil empire.
There are tons of powerups that shoot out from destroyed enemies and obstacles. When you see Roman numerals 1-4, you have the chance to replace or powerup your weapon. Number 1 is a shot that explodes on contact, shooting out more bullets on higher levels. Number 2 is a wave gun that gets bigger and allows more projectiles with each shot on higher levels. Number 3 is a lightning gun that changes patterns as you power up. Number 4 is a rotating ball that gets bigger and stronger with each new level.
I found myself gravitating toward weapons 2 and 3 during my playthrough. There are also side powerups that are important to survival. The H icon is for homing missiles, which add some more firepower on screen for you. The M icon is an option that does some extra shooting for you. The F icon powers up your current weapon. The S icon is a shield that protects you from a certain number of hits.
You can only have one side powerup going at a time and picking another will cancel your current. It took me awhile, but I finally settled on the shield being the best of the bunch, because you can easily get yourself in a bad position. Luckily, you can change the speed of your ship at will with the Select Button. There are 5 different speed settings that offer the tradeoff between quickness and maneuverability.
Some enemies drop a purple orb that will power your weapon up as you collect more and more of them. Bosses at the end of each level range from simple to slightly difficult. Area 9 is your obligatory boss rush and easily the most difficult level in the game. I totally time traveled my way through this one because I didn’t have time to become an expert, but if this was 1990, I would have played every day.
The graphics are great. There’s no flickering or slowdown. There are plenty of colors and detail.
Music is decent, but lost underneath the overpowering sound effects.
There are plenty of different combinations and levels of weapon for you to find your favorites.
You can earn extra lives by getting high scores. You need to learn enemy patterns in order to beat this one.
Fun Factor: 3.5
I was enjoying myself immensely. If you like vertical scrolling shooters, you’ll love this one.
Overall Grade: 3.2
Blazing Lazers earns a B+. It’s an excellent game and you really should play it. You won’t be disappointed.