Release Date: 2/19/1998 (Arcade, NeoGeo) 7/2013 (Android, iOS)
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Shoot-em-ups, Shmups, side-scrolling shooters, however, you want to call them — they had a grand place in the video game industry. While they may seem like a dying breed, they dominated the arcades and consoles leading up to PlayStation 2. R-Type, Raiden, 1943, Cotton, Ikaruga, Defender, and even Space Invaders, and various other shooters were household names. They are also some of the toughest games ever made. Only consisting of a few levels; these difficult pieces of art were what made you a hardcore gamer. Blazing Star was one of many, and it is now playable on mobile phones.
Blazing Star has only seven levels, but they are extremely brutal and most people won’t make it past the first one. The controls are simple enough — use your thumb to move the ship around while you fire your bullets, and use another button to cause your bullets to scatter around. It’s fairly simple, sometimes too simple, but it works. The game is hectic as you would expect and actually one of the harder bullet hell games I have played. As you move along the 3-4 minute levels you acquire points and also power-ups along the way. If you die you get a chance to recover your power-ups, but there’s so much going on on the screen that you will have a hard time gathering them all back up without dying again. Honestly, there’s more going on than I could keep track of, but it was a lot of fun.
The final level actually is just a really tough boss, but beating the game is quite satisfying and I have to say it looks good too. The sprites are bright and crisp on high-res phones and the only problem I had were the controls. They felt strange somehow, but I preferred a controller. I had to constantly lift my thumb and move it back because the ship didn’t follow my thumb where I wanted. The delay caused me to underperform, but this was fixed using an actual analog stick. I honestly can only recommend this game to hardcore shooter fans — casual lookers will immediately hate this game. There’s also nothing particularly memorable about Blazing Star that really sticks out, it feels average but average enough to be better than a bad shmup.