50 greatest shooters ever bang
They'll be waiting to cheer
Your life re-lived

50. Armalyte (C64)

Think of what made a great scrolling shooter in the late ‘80s. Then take all of those ideas and put them into one home shooter. That's Armalyte for you. Challenging difficulty; fairness in retaining weapons when you die; stunning smooth graphics; masses of upgradeable weaponry; a choice of super weapons; big nasty bosses; a two player co-op mode… The full set.



49. 1942 (Arcade)

What other game has got a built in “I’m thirsty!” button?



48. Gyruss (Arcade)

With Time Pilot, Konami designer Yoshiki Okamoto had the world rotating about the ship. For his next game, the ship rotated about the world. Why fight on one plane when you can do it through 360 degrees? All of Gyruss’ peerless twitchiness comes from the enemy being able to appear from anywhere on the screen and attack from all depths and directions.



47. Matrix (VIC-20)

Big, bold and beautiful hi-speed blasting 8-bit heaven chunky style.



46. Einhander (PS1)

There's this chilling moment on the Blade Runner-esque first level where a giant billboard reveals a corpse in a gas-mask – to a huge, quasi-operatic soundtrack. This is what happens when Square accidentally put their considerable resources into a beautifully polished horizontal shooter, rather than yet another iteration of Final Friggin’ Fantasy.



45. Encounter (C64)

Imagine Battlezone on speed. Paul Woakes did.



44. Mad Planets (Arcade)

The gaming equivalent of rubbing your tummy with one hand while patting your head with the other. On a rollercoaster. On drugs.



43. Pulstar (Neo-Geo)

R-Type Squared.



42. Battle Squadron (Amiga)

Mouse-controlled bullet-dodging never felt so good. Except when your power-up-thieving partner missed the 'Level Entry' sign and you had to go round all over again.



41. Thunderforce IV (MD)

The Thunderforce games were a departure from the previous generation’s side-scrollers like R-Type, and a step towards true Shooter Zen. There’s no buggering around trying to remember when and where a particular event was due to happen. All you needed for this series was ninja reactions. There are some incredibly difficult moments – partly because they were so distractingly breathtaking for the time. When you see the first level boss on Thunderforce IV leap out of the water from nowhere, you will die. It's beautiful and harsh. But fair. Nothing else needed.



40. Side Arms (Arcade)

You are a robot. You fly through the air with the greatest of ease, but with no blue dungarees. You shoot things with a reasonably innovative two-way shooting system. There is nothing piddly in this game - all the sprites are large and chunky, and while they don't explode particularly satisfyingly, you won't care because they'll kill you if you spend too long gawping. Such a shame it’s marred by a sudden death syndrome - when you die, there is plainly just not enough time to get to safety before you stop being invincible. It’s all too easy to lose all your lives in quick succession, and end up kicking something.



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!

They'll be waiting to cheer


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