Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Volume 1 Steam Review

The Toaplan Shoot ‘Em Up Vol. 1 contains four games that can be purchased together or individually.

This includes the vertical shooters Twin Cobra and Truxton, the vertical run and gun action game Out Zone, and the horizontal shooter Zero Wing.

Newcomer Bitwave Games has done a fantastic job bringing each title to Steam with virtually no input lag and super smooth performance.

In fact, purists may argue that some of the games work a little too well. The Steam version of Twin Cobra is noticeably faster than the M2-developed Switch port, making an already complicated game even more difficult. Fortunately, Bitwave has included a host of additional options to help players master each title.

In addition to the now-standard rewind feature, you can create dozens and dozens of save states, including ten quick saves that can be assigned to function keys for instant recall. This is perfect for when you want to practice and perfect specific sections, including the different phases of boss fights.

Speaking of practicing, there is also a dedicated practice mode that players can customize with different settings such as starting weapons, number of cycles, and upgrades.

Another really useful feature is the ability to show the hitbox of your ship, and that of enemies and incoming bullets. You can also make your hitbox smaller if you want to make games a bit easier, without messing with enemy waves and bullet patterns.

Even the borders around the game screen can be adjusted to provide feedback on how to play and what all the power-ups do.

With multiple difficulty options, different regional variations, plus a host of visual and assist features, it’s clear that Bitwave Games has put a lot of love and care into making each title as engaging and accessible as possible.

As far as actual games go, the stylish action shooter Out Zone is my personal favourite, largely thanks to a gradually depleting energy bar that requires constant recharging lest it power down and die. It creates a fantastic sense of pace and urgency, forcing you to throw caution to the wind and blast through each level at breakneck speeds. With enemy bullets also capable of killing you in one hit, players will need to be at their best level to succeed.

Twin Cobra is even more relentless, despite a comparatively slower and more deliberate pace. The oldest game in the collection (originally released in 1987), Twin Cobra is a military shooter where your attack helicopter must take down enemy targets on land, air, and sea. It may seem basic by today’s standards, but the meaty explosions, brutal difficulty, and great music make it an incredibly addictive experience that still holds up.

Truxton is another excellent effort, taking a close second to Out Zone in this collection. It’s the perfect blend of style and substance, with gorgeous visuals, spectacular bosses, fantastic stage design, and just the right level of difficulty. It doesn’t seem particularly unique or innovative at first glance, but the way you slowly progress after each reset gives it a truly addictive quality.

Despite generally liking horizontal shooters better than their vertical counterparts (Gradius and R-Type were my introduction to the genre), Zero Wing is actually my least favorite game in the collection. It’s not a bad game, and I really like the tractor beam ability, which allows players to grab and drop enemy ships and bombs. Maybe it’s the slightly uneven sound effects that make it feel less satisfying than the other games in the collection, or the fact that I played it last, having gotten hooked on the other games.

I would still recommend buying Zero Wing as part of the bundle rather than skipping it and buying the games individually, especially if you like good music, solid action, and a large number of levels.

The Toaplan Shoot ‘Em Up Vol. 1 is a fine collection of historically significant handles that stand the test of time.

While M2 Shottriggers rightfully receives praise for its work on genre classics, Bitwave has done an excellent job bringing these Toaplan gems to PC. Let’s cross our fingers for a follow-up collection featuring the likes of Flying Shark, Batsugun, and Dogyuun.


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