Yesterday (Boxing Day 2015), an event was held in Akihabara, Japan known as Transition 2015, which showcased some shoot 'em up games for the PC market. While the Android and iOS mobile markets get the most attention, the event was designed to get Japanese developers more interested in spreading the shmup love to the PC master race. In attendance was Triangle Service, who had an exciting announcement: Shmups skill test was coming soon to Steam.
|Wish I was there|
If those names don't mean anything to you, allow me to illuminate. Triangle Service is a very small boutique developer specialising in old-school arcade gaming, notably for their retro style shoot 'em ups that eschew the modern curtain-style bullet-hell gameplay for a more traditional style of shooter. They were notably the last developer to score a third party development license from Sega (catalog code T-479), and the 'company,' if you can call it that, consists of only one man - Toshiaki Fujino.
|The man, the myth, the legend.|
After disappointing sales in the arcade market for his second game, Trizeal, which was also his first attempt at a polygonal shooter, Fujino was preparing to call it quits. It seemed as if his former bosses at Konami were right; no one was interested in the kinds of games he wanted to make. However, he still had a burning desire to see (what he thought would be) his last game on store shelves as a physical release - a last hurrah for the end of Triangle Services. He went about self-publishing Trizeal on Dreamcast, with some assistance from Sega. He also wrote a heartfelt SOS letter to Dreamcast fans around the world to help make Trizeal a great success, with the aim of paying off his remaining debts.
|Trizeal may not be the prettiest shooter, but it has an undeniable charm|
that draws you in if you let it.
The Dreamcast community answered the call, and despite being released very late in the Dreamcast's lifespan (2005), the small production run of Trizeal sold out and Triangle Service made enough profit to live and fight another day. Not only did we get what I think is a fantastic little game, for those who pre-ordered the limited edition, we also got a nattty bandanna as part of the deal too.
|Bandanna's are cool (just like bow ties)|
Triangle Service followed up their success with a new NAOMI arcade title ~ Shooting Love 2007 ~ that would be a compilation of two games: Exzeal, the sequel to Trizeal, and the aforementioned Shmups skills test. The latter, as the name suggests, is a collection of mini games designed to test different shooting game skills, such as accuracy, dexterity, dodging, and hit-box targeting. The game then calculates your "gamer age" based on your performance, much like those brain training games that were popular a few years back. It has a kind of Warioware-style vibe to it and a similar sense of humour, with lots of references to great shoot-em-ups from the 80's and 90's. One of the boss battle is against an old 80's style arcade cabinet, and there is a challenge where you need to shoot empty cans into a floating recycling bin by ricocheting them off your bullets. I have a fondness for the game, even though the version I have is heavy with Japanese text that I don't understand.
|Your skills are assessed using six different metrics, |
but don't ask me what they are, I have no idea.
Rumours at the time suggested that Fujino was gearing up to publish Shooting Love 2007 on Dreamcast for the system's 10th Anniversary on 27th November 2008. It was to be released as a big thank you to the community that kept his struggling business afloat. However, Sega was scaling back their GD-ROM publishing at the time and the game never materialised. Those of you who own an Xbox 360 would get to experience the game as Shooting Love 200X, which also featured a remix of Trizeal, plus an additional endless shooter Minus Zero.
|My copy of Shooting Love 2007. I'm currently ranked 24th on the internet rankings|
If you're a die hard Sega loyalist like me, who never bought into the PSWii60 generation because you were still sulking about Sega leaving the party, then you're in luck. At least one half of the Shooting Love we never got on Dreamcast will soon be heading to Steam on PC. I for one can't wait to finally get to play the game, especially since it will probably include the English translation from the 360 port and I'll finally get to understand what's going on.
|As far as I can tell, no other western media has picked this up yet, so we could have an exclusive today on The Dreamcast Junkyard (Look ma! I'm a real journalist!)|
Also, if you missed them like I did, two other games in the Zeal series were released on Steam earlier in the year and are currently available right now as we speak - XIIZeal and ΔZeal ("Twelve Zeal" and "Delta Zeal" respectively). You can even purchase both in a bundle. Maybe one day in the near future we'll get to see a port of Exzeal too.
|Can't wait to play this either. I'm off to reboot in my Windows partition. |
Might be there a while, don't wait up.