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Blazing Lazers

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Released: 1989

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: PC Eng/Turbografx-16

Publisher: NEC

Developer: Hudson Soft / Compile

Blazing Lazers is one of those games that just goes with the PC Engine / Turbografx hardware. It’s not the best shoot-’em-up on the platform, but by virtue of arriving early in the system’s life and having far less competition in the Western market than it did in Japan, it’s become closely linked to the machine. It might sound like we’re doing the game down here, but it’s actually very good – another sterling example of Compile’s vertical shooting output, it has a lot in common with the Aleste games including that odd weapons system based on Roman numerals. The blazingly fast introduction and flashy weapons effects were a world away from what was possible on the humble NES, and proved that NEC’s machine could go toe-to-toe with Sega’s newer competitor, the Mega Drive.

The fact that the game is good shouldn’t be surprising given the heritage involved, but the Blazing Lazers title used in the US was not the original one. In Japan, the game is known as Gunhed and is a spin-off of the film of the same name, which itself was adapted from an entry into a Godzilla writing contest. With that in mind, the quality is a bit more surprising than it might otherwise have been – after all, licensed games don’t have the best reputation anywhere in the world. That’s the benefit of localisation sometimes, though – games that might not be given a second chance by many players can be a lot more appealing when stripped of context.