ArqadeHelp identifying a late 80s arcade shooter game
[+26] [7] raticulin
[2011-05-12 13:27:33]
[ identify-this-game arcade ]

I need help identifying an arcade game I played in the 80's.

This is the only game I have been addicted to in my life, and it would be awesome to show it in some emulator to my buddy who always played with me. I am not a gamer at all, so I don't know precisely all the terms etc, but I will try to describe the best I can. I have been searching for this game online for ages, but there is not a good way to search for it, all is too vague...Tried and but no name rings the bell.

Let's see:

  1. It's a multi-directional shooter, according to The player sees the scene from above. The spacecraft is always in the center of the screen, and you can turn it in any direction, so it can point at any degree. It shoots in the direction it is pointing, so it can shoot in any direction,

  2. The spacecraft has two weapons: a sort of laser/bullets, shot from both sides, and they go parallel to each other. And some guided missiles. When you hit a target with the bullets, if it not destroyed, the missiles acquire it, so the next missile will follow the target and possibly hit it.

  3. The spacecraft is shaped like an almond, quite round. Background is like some future land, with land and also constructions.

  4. Enemies are of many sorts, all are machines, some move and others are fixed to the ground. They shot different things at you I think. Some special enemies were a sort of buses that appeared always from behind shooting lots of missiles.

  5. In the end of each level, a very big enemy mothership would appear from behind you, and you had to face it, shoot bullets so you could acquire missle target and shoot missiles to kill it. The mothership would shoot lots of missiles at you that you had to avoid. Once the mothership was killed, the level was done, and your spacecraft would move itself some distance, in the direction you were when the mothership was killed. You could see the trace your spacecraft would leave in the air (like it was moving in slow motion).

  6. In a couple of levels, I think 2nd and then 9th or something, there was a small plane (yes, like a normal plane from 1940) that would cross the screen (bottom up direction), if you killed it you got an extra life. One of the times you would catch the plane when it was cruising above a river. You got also extra lifes by reaching X points, so usually you would get many lives until a certain level, where things get harder, and then start loosing them.

  7. Playing two good players, a game could last up to an hour. Player took turns to play, not possible to play both at the same time.


  1. I forgot to mention, this was played in an upright arcade machine, not pc or handheld device or anything. You had a stick to move the spacecraft and two buttons for laser/missile.

  2. It was definitively before 1990!

  3. Here some pics from some of the answers that look somehow similar: to thisThis has a similar background, imagine one like this but with much less green and more brown/grey Similar This looks pretty close actually! a little more futuristic buildings maybe, and a bit darker colors enter image description here This looks similar too, but mine has stuff from the future, not WW2 weapons. And a spacecraft, not a chopper, and always in the middle of screen. enter image description here A last examle, as the first one, would need darker ground, but looks similar.

Added the bounty, let's hope it helps...

thanks for all the upvotes guys, they will fund a bounty :)

FINAL EDIT: got the right answer, THANK YOU ALL!! This is fucking great :)

(4) +1 for the quite detailed description which is quite rare in the identify-this-game exercise... - LudoMC
With regards to the 2-player mode, do you remember if you could both play at the same time, or did you take it in turns once the other player lost a life? - jaminja
@jaminja, for sure I remember, I update the question with details. - raticulin
+1 -- if only all ITG questions were so detailed! - Glen Wheeler
(2) Those "big machines" where you insert a coin and start playing are called Arcade machines, or Coin-Operated Video-Games. The cabinets where you have to stand while playing are called "upright" (as opposed to "cocktail" and other specialized models, like those for driving games). - Denilson Sá
@Denilson, thanks for the info, I update the question accordingly - raticulin
This sure is a stumper. An important clarification: Could you actually shoot in any direction other then UP? The "multi-directional" part of the description is tripping me up, are we looking for a standard scrolling shmup? - Cory J
@Cory I updated point 1, is more clear now? - raticulin
Apparently one of the two last answers might be the one you're after, make sure to read them up and award your bounty. - Solivagant
+1 This is the only ITG I have ever up-voted. Not only is it very well written, but you obviously put a good deal of effort into the entire process as well. - Wipqozn
[+8] [2011-05-17 02:31:44] Murf [ACCEPTED]

I believe the Game you are talking about is time pilot '84

Oh that definitely looks and sounds like it's the one. No wonder I knew nothing of it, 1984. - Jeff Mercado
I had just come to the same conclusion myself from here - - Brian Wolfe
(1) My pleasure, I'm pretty sure MAME will do the trick, hope it lives up to your memories - Murf
yes, tried MAME and worked fine...I guess I'll spend some hours in this in the following months... :) - raticulin
I KNEW it was konami, was going to link that hg101 too... Thanks for solving the mystery! - Cory J
[+2] [2011-05-12 13:51:57] Matthew Read

This sounds like one of the Raiden [1] games, although they are from the 90s.

Raiden box art

I've never played Raiden, but your description reminded me of Demonstar (sequel to Raptor, which was based on Raiden). Demonstar screenshot:

enter image description here


It is not Raptor, that I can say, the spacecraft is different. I am at work now, later I will investigate Raiden ones...thank you indeed! - raticulin
@raticulin Yeah, the spacecraft definitely wasn't oval in Raptor or Demonstar. Raptor wasn't two-player, either, though Demonstar was. - Matthew Read
(3) Ohmigod, how did I make it this long without knowing there was a sequel to Raptor? I love that game! Thanks just for that! - eldarerathis
@eldarerathis IMO, Demonstar is nowhere near as good. It wasn't made by Apogee/ID Software/3D Realms either. - Matthew Read
@Matthew: Bleh, too bad. I still think I'll have to try to track down a copy, just for the sake of nostalgia. I always though Raptor was pretty great too, though, so it's a high standard to meet. Definitely one of my favorites (the other was Tyrian). - eldarerathis
@Matthew: I have been looking at Raiden. It is not any of these. Spacecraft are different, and you could move in any direction...but mostly, I am sure it was the 80s...Could not be 1990 when I was playing this. I'll edit the question with some more info...Thanks for the help. - raticulin
[+1] [2011-05-14 16:54:21] Nick

Was it ASO: Armored Scrum Object? It seems similar from the description (2p alternating, top-down, 1985 release) but I can't find many screenshots for some of the specific things you describe.

enter image description here

no it was not :(. But maybe it helps a little. Regarding the background, this is the one that looks most similar so far. The one I am looking for had much less green, and darker brown I think. - raticulin
@raticulin Is that the correct graphics quality? I'm trying to narrow down the dates a bit better. ASO has mid-80s graphics quality, whereas something like this is a late-80s quality (more colors, higher detail environments). - Nick
I am not 100% sure, but I would say it had more quality, along the lines you mention. - raticulin
[+1] [2011-05-16 20:21:58] cyphr

The name of the genre you're describing is "shmups" [1]. I found a large list of them that might have what you're looking for here:

For example, check out the entry for "Scramble Formation / Tokio". Something like that, maybe?


dude great page!! I went through the games that have snapshots, and although several reminded them of the one, it was not there. But I will use some pics from there to update the question, and as a last resort I'll go one by one through the ones with no pics... - raticulin
[0] [2011-05-16 22:48:38] Jeff Mercado

Last Mission [1] [1986]? <- (link has some video too) It's kinda hard finding screenshots but you can shoot all around in this one. This is the only game that I can remember of playing that you could do this.

gameplay screenshot gameplay screenshot


Oh poo, it got knocked into CW. :| - Jeff Mercado
The bounty can still be awarded! - SevenSidedDie
thanks for your answer, somebody else got it right! :) - raticulin
[0] [2011-05-15 21:52:50] Shadow Wizard

Any chance it's Galax [1]?

The year match, it's spaceships shooting other spaceships and sounds like what you described.

Galax screenshot

Galax screenshot


no way. The view is from the top, and you can see your own spacecraft always in the center of the screen. - raticulin
@raticulin OK, knew it's shot in the dark. - Shadow Wizard
[0] [2011-05-13 19:58:30] Dave DuPlantis

Some of the things you mention sound like Time Pilot [1], especially with the part about the trace your ship left in the air after you completed a level.

I can't find any images of the boss levels with giant planes, but I know they were there (at least for some eras). I might be able to get a poor image at home, I think I have this for MAME.

Time Pilot

However, that takes place exclusively in the air, so there are no buildings to see, and no enemies fixed in place. Also, the bullets are single bullets, not pairs.

Double bullets/lasers and guided missiles, with some flying enemies and some fixed enemies, make it sound more like Gradius [2]. Your ship didn't stay in the middle of the screen, but you could move it up, down, left, and right.

Gradius (original)


Dave, thanks for the reply. Unfortunately it's not any of them. - raticulin
@raticulin, I was afraid of that. Your question is very detailed and I've yet to recall a game that matches all of those details ... - Dave DuPlantis
@Dave: It appears you have the wrong version unfortunately. As pointed out by Murf, there's an '84 version. - Jeff Mercado
@Jeff, thanks for the update ... I rarely played the sequel and forgot all about it, but I'm glad someone came up with what seems to be the right game. - Dave DuPlantis
@Dave, man, I have just awarded the bounty, and now I see that the game you mentioned is the correct one??? but then pics and description you give its not totally right? The pics for sure are not right. I stil have some remaining point, I can award them to u if there is a way. Looks like you were at least near it. - raticulin
@raticulin, no worries ... Time Pilot and Time Pilot '84 are actually two completely separate games. The image above is from the original - not the correct answer - so I think you've marked the right answer and awarded the right bounty. Thanks for checking, though! - Dave DuPlantis