PC shoot-‘em-ups are rubbish. It’s hardly a surprise, since there’s no market for them – the PC doesn’t have many arcade fans, and the games hardly ever have any punctuation in the titles, so they’d never sell. The rest of PCZ rather enjoys Star Monkey by Small Rockets, but Emu Zone thinks it’s crap, and can offer no greater demonstration in support of this view than Giga Wing.

A 1999 Capcom coin-op also converted to the Dreamcast, Giga Wing doesn’t look like all that much (it runs on CPS2 hardware, which is over seven years old now), but it’s one of the most important games in shoot-‘em-up (or “shmups”, as they’re known to aficionados) history. Shmups in the late 90s had become suffocated by the never-ending growth of powerups, to the extent where most games were ruined by a crippling imbalance between your powered-up ship and the normal one (ie, get killed once and your game was over, because without your accumulated powerups you had no chance).

With the invention of the “Reflect Force” (an unlimited-use recharging shield that bounced your enemies’ shots straight back at them, a variation of which has appeared in almost every shooter since), Giga Wing was able to restore that balance, creating a brutally hard but totally fair game which could flood the screen with hundreds of bullets yet always leave a skilled player a way through, even with the basic unpowered ship. It’s a glorious game, and the encryption was recently cracked to enable it to be played in the excellent multi-game emulator Nebula, so for the sake of a 12MB ROM download you don’t have to take Emu Zone’s word for it.

If you enjoy Giga Wing, Emulation Zone strongly recommends that you pop out and get the Dreamcast version, which sells for £4.99 or less nationwide. (And if you haven’t got a Dreamcast, the going rate for one of those is around 20 quid, so it’s still a lot cheaper than buying a single poor-quality PC shooter.) Not just for the “moral” reasons, but because the DC version is actually a substantially superior game, largely due to the addition of the all-important Score Attack mode, the game mode of champions. Use Nebula’s Giga Wing as a sort of playable demo, and prove that emulation actually generates money for the idiot software industry. The industry might not thank you for it, but your trigger finger, at least, will love you forever.


“Somebody open a window, it’s getting hot in here.”

A good time to panic.

Shame you dropped a smart bomb on her, you goon.





Oids (Atari ST/Mac, 1987/9)

After the insane carnage of Giga Wing, now for something a little more sedately paced, but no less intense. FTL’s Oids was a derivative of titles like Gravitar and Thrust, in which you had to rescue little android workers (the eponymous Oids) from the heavily-defended slave planetoids of  evil empire the Fiendish Biocretes (bit of a clue in the name, there), where they’re cruelly being turned into vending machines and household appliances. (No, really.) Oids was something of a cult almost from the day it was released, never achieving huge sales but creating a deeply devoted, and richly deserved, following.

It’s the only game Emulation Zone has ever gone to the trouble of using a construction kit for – creating five entire galaxies full of excellent planets, homebrew fans – and it even spawned an Atari ST emulator (called Echo) which was created for the sole purpose of playing Oids, since none of the existing emus at the time would run the game. Echo is obsolete now, but Oids runs beautifully in the best ST emu, SteemEngine, and it’s easily the best use any ST emulator could be put to.



(Left) Biocrete, where even the trees want you dead.


Emulation Zone is brought to you in association with the International World Of Stuart Foundation.