39. Swiv (Amiga)
Elbows at standby for the race to be the chopper. Consolation for the jeep? Writing 'nob' with your tracks in the cornfield.
38. Delta (C64)
Delta was the right game, in the right place, at the right time. Just as arcade shooters had moved on to provide arrays of extra weapons and power-ups, Delta brought these into the home. An amazing soundtrack and 32 fantastical, alien-infested worlds combined in a game that oozes atmosphere from every pixel.
37. Gorf (Arcade)
It’s ugly, the collision detection is almost non-existent, it’s sloppily coded and the gameplay is merely a rehash of other, more worthy games. But no game before, and few since, has made me go “What the fuck!?” in quite the same way as the Laser Attack level in Gorf.
36. Gunhed (PC Engine)
The first of Hudson’s much loved Star Soldier series. Proved that you didn’t have to loiter in your local arcade for your super-fast scrolly blaster kicks.
35. Viewpoint (Neo Geo)
Coming on like Zaxxon’s younger, hipper brother, Viewpoint looks and feels like Isometrics Without Tears. Until you realise how paralysingly bastard-hard it is. Beautiful, glossy graphics, strangely effective housey-funky choons, bosses that Treasure would be proud of… Such a shame it cost about 850 quid.
34. Vanguard ( Arcade)
Wonderfully weird across-up-down-diagonal shooter that took Scramble’s nerve-jangling fuel consumption to a more risk-reward level. A pixel-precise dive into the energy tank cues in that maddening, cycling little riff and you’re off – hunted becomes hunter, thrillingly bashing into the baddies. Four, multi-directional fire buttons to mash the holy living shite out of, too.
33. Drop Zone (Atari 8-Bit)
Control is all important in a shooter. Without well refined control, you don't stand a chance. To take the finesse of the control from Defender/Stargate and package that into a single joystick and button takes genius. Archer Maclean is a genius. Defender and Stargate are classics. Dropzone does a damned good job of encapsulating both of them into a single game. That’s why it’s a classic, too.
32. Bangai-O (Dreamcast)
Little guy, big explosions. Really fucking huge explosions. Fortune favours the reckless player who takes them all on for the biggest and baddest smart-bomb ever. We love you, Treasure.
31. Phoenix ( Arcade)
I only have to think about the sound the eggy birds make when they split apart, and I can smell the chip-fat and feel the tension as the time for the post-lunchtime dash back to school grows closer.
30. Juno First ( Arcade)
Gameplay over graphics here. Bright, luminous pyro-visuals and techno-pulsing sound combine to make this a true in-the-zone blast. What would pop out if Robotron fathered a vertical shooter.
29. Radiant Silvergun (Strn)
The first popular shooter to cater so well to the varying skills of all gamers. Treasure's main accomplishment is in layering the difficulty - the casual player could wander up to it in an arcade, stick in a couple of credits and hammer buttons until he eventually (and inevitably) got his arse handed to him on a plate. But, as the first game to introduce the concept of 'chaining', it also appealed to the Japanese virtuoso gamers, allowing them to dodge, weave and selectively ignore enemies in search of a wider goal, while racking up frankly obscene scores off a single credit. No matter that this concept of showmanship was later refined in Ikaruga - whether you play on the arcade board or the enhanced Saturn version, you're staring into a genuine chunk of shooter legend. Five sweaty thumbs-up.
And in reverse order...
50 to 40 - Oooh the suspense.
39 to 29 - Wow, if only we had Paul Ross to present.
28 to 18 - Time for a cup of tea in the break?
17 to 6 - Nearly there, so you get just a bit more meat.
5 - Into the legends...
4 - Is this the Bobby Moore to no.1's Paul Gascoigne?
3 - 3-2-1 quipped Ted Rogers. He wasn't wrong.
2 - We argued and agonised for months over this list - we really did.
1 - But of the number one slot, there was never any doubt.
Disagree with our selections? - Be wrong in the Forum!