Retro Review: “Truxton” (1989, Toaplan, Sega Genesis)
One of my all-time favorite genres is the scrolling shoot-em-up, commonly referred to as shmups. The feeling of drifting along, collecting power-ups and clearing everything in your path with a hail of gun-fire is an exhilarating experience. Being a fan of a genre, it’s always a pleasure to discover new classics that might’ve added a new component or paved the way for the genre. One such game is Truxton, developed by Toaplan for the arcades in 1988 and ported to the Genesis in 1989. This game introduced many to the almost masochistic gameplay seen in later titles of the shmup genre with its massive levels, attacks by 3 or more large enemies at once, erratic flying patterns of enemies that can appear from all sides, and the sheer amount of targets on screen at one time. Like most arcade games of the 80’s, the story is brief like it should be. An alien race is staging an all-out assault on the planet of Borogo aboard five massive asteroids. On the way, they destroy a Borogo cargo barge. The lone survivor of this attack hops in the remaining fighter craft and crashes their party by attacking one asteroid at a time before they can reach and destroy your home planet. The three types of firepower all have their own strengths and weaknesses; each is represented as a color. The first is the red power-up, or “Power Shot,” which is your starting weapon and an average powered spread-shot that shoots in three directions. The second is the blue “Thunder Laser” that can easily clear anything small that it touches and locks onto bigger enemies, but takes its time to do damage on them. This does allow for mobility while still inflicting damage. The last of them is a constant stream of lasers called the “Truxton Beam,” which will deal the most damage but does not spread, making you maneuver more than with the other weapons. Speed power-ups can also be obtained. The one tweak in the game is that you can pick up power icons, which when added up to multiples of five, will upgrade your current weapon. Your starter spread-shot that once shot in three directions is now shooting in six crossing directions to lay waste to all that crosses your path. As usual, you also get a bomb that clears the screen. However, this bomb clears the screen with the image of a giant skull. The game’s music is pretty diverse, ranging from mellow to almost power metal. It’s pretty awesome listening to two dueling solos as you’re unleashing hell on aliens. Overall, it complements the action well and keeps the pace going. If you’re a shmup fan, you probably already decided at the end of the second paragraph that you’d be adding this to your list of games to look for. But, if you’re new to the genre and enjoy a challenge with tense gameplay and a bit of strategy, Truxton is a must play.