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Banshee

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Released: 1992

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Amiga 1200

Publisher: Core Design

Developer: Søren Hannibal

Submitted by: Phil Reeves

This 1992 Core Design shmup is a firm favourite of mine for several good reasons; not much else has come close to this steampunk inspired visual buffet of smooth animations and varied palettes. It is not without its faults, but a large amount of thought has even been placed into the level design.

Taking a genre, which by 1992 was well established and almost played-out, Core Design produced a shooter which did everything right. The player is placed in control of a propeller plane and assailed with a wide verity of enemies and large multipart bosses. Upgrades to your plane’s weapons are collected throughout the levels, with a choice of pickups to assist in each situation. This enables the player to use pertaining knowledge from previous plays to enable the best choice for the situation ahead; this level of strategy can be applied also to make the game more difficult as well.

As I mentioned, perhaps the design aspect of Banshee isn’t the most original, but what it lacks in this department, it makes up for in visual treats. I would compare the quality of the animation and pixel art to SNK’s Metal Slug series, with a heavy steampunk twist. I don’t think you can ever become tired at looking at such a varied and well animated game, even the level design meanders on a par with SWIV’s rolling environment.

Though Banshee has its good parts, the sound does suffer somewhat in comparison to what you see; but I’m not saying it’s awful. Frankly it is a tad shameful, but a noticeable issue, as the repetitive hammering of your own guns will begin to grate after the second level.  I’m not even going to talk about the background story, which was probably written in about ten minutes on the train into work.

Sufficed to say, the titular Banshee is a shmup doing everything right, but it cannot be endowed with an award in originality. Don’t let this put you off, as what Core took from the genre, they then produced their own effort with an amazing style.