Reviewed by Malc

A shooter's a shooter right? I mean, they've all got miniscule spaceships, huge bosses, and that's it right? Nah, course they aren't! Gate of Thunder is living proof that there's such a thing as a perfect shmup. You can't pin down exactly what it is, but the whole package reeks of playability.

Enough hyperbole, and get on with it! Erm, ok. 'Gate', as it is affectionately monickered, is from the RED stable. A house that gave us Soldier Blade, amongst many others. Unlike so many other RED games, it was a horizontally scrolling beastie and came on one of those shiny CD things. It featured some quite 'rocky', but nevertheless individual soundtracks, which helped elevate the whole experience into a true brain-numbing carry-on when blasted out loud. The 5th stage (Crown) has a track which I actually copied off for listening to later, its that good.

Sorry, I had to mention the music first, it's one of the games highlights - and was much better than that of the follow-up, Lords of Thunder. Not to say Lord's music is bad, its just a mite too samey and 'heavy' for me:) Anyway if you've ever played another RED game you'll know the remarkable fluidity and pace of the gameplay: fast, furious and never unfair, and the graphic style is similar - lots of parallax and simple, yet effective sprites and bosses. We've seen better graphics since its release in '92, but they still impress: the sheer amount of enemies and bullets onscreen, quite an achievement for what is essentially an 8-bit machine at heart!

Shooter fans will recognise elements from the fabulous Thunderforce series - similar weapon pickups, boss design and overall 'look'.

Right, before you have a peek at the pics (of which there are quite a few), if you can be arsed press your mouse's left bollock HERE for a gif animation of the opening sequence (around 140k, I can't be bothered looking)

Stop the bus mate!!! GATE revisited! Yes, you can't stay away from a good game for long, the 'Postman' (that's Roger's handle by the way) has finished it (YAY!) so here's a few more pics and an END SEQUENCE.

SCORE: 10/10 (and it bloody deserves it too)

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Level 1, wheeching through motherships and blasting bits off them. Here you will gather some powerups and learn how to use them in one of the games easier stages (well it is level 1)

About to reach the boss of Level 1, you are assaulted by numerous larger ships, firing homing missiles.

First level boss has a combined laser/ missile attack, and is despatched with ease. Not the best designed in the world, they get better I assure you!

One of many level 2 sub-bosses, with a dangerous zoomy laser which homes in. Nice claustrophobic level this....

... with girders jumping out of the background, attempting to flatten you and your ship into wee pulpy metal fleshy bits

Level 2 boss, with shooty rings and a HORRIBLE right angle laser which changes direction and homes in. Not very friendly.

Level 3: the mine... with falling masonry and...

...fiery gobbets of lava-type stuff.

Never a dull moment, none of that pausing while the machine dregs up some more baddies carry-on. End of level boss, very Thunderforcish, with attacks coming from all angles. Only one wee bits is hittable here, and it doesn't get exposed for long.

Gratuitous pic of Level 4 sub-boss.

Menaced by midgie-like* ships all around. *'midgies' are small scalp-eating gnat insects that are a common bane of the bald and thin-haired during twilight hours in Scotland. Itchy wee annoying buggers they are.

2 nanoseconds later I was mince. Hard sub-boss - Tip: don't try and take screensrabs when fighting this one;)

Nasty robot type boss, splits up when you hit it a few times, with some SUPER-fast laser bullets to avoid.

My favourite level (5), with some great graphics: Snakes, bitey worms and an underwater section.

Here being a bitey worm in action, with two waspy-ships. I wish I knew the proper name of them.

I'd forgotten how bad I was at this game - all my credits used up, and only on the second half of level 5 - some underwater enemies have some great octopussy-like animation.

THIS is where Malky died. And where the pics stopped. Fortunately the Postman (no, not the postman, Roger the Postman. His second name's Post ok? I wouldn't let MY postman in the house. Greasy blighter) . Yes, this is where the Postman sent me the final bits! Nice one, over to you, Roger. »»The main part of level 5 boss, a giant water/slug/monster thing. The head shoots at you while bubbles pop up from underneath (not too difficult, if you ask me.)

Large Missiles, obviously.

(© Minimalist Captions, 1998)

Level 6 boss. He looks very cool, with gun-hands and a drill-head, but doesn't really do very much. Just dodge the handgun, wait for the exploding shot to go off, and then aim for the midsection. This guy takes precision and patience, as there is only one chance to get to the middle without getting hit by both guns.

Later sub-bosses get as hard as the main ones, with not very much room to dodge. Shades of Thunderforce 3 here...

There's quite a few 1-ups scattered throughout Gate, but they're always in hard to get places. Yes, you can imagine what's happening here... spinning discs... foolhardy player... :)

The final boss. The orbs shoot homing energyballs at you while the middle flashes before firing. Take out the green discs, they are your priority.

After the discs are gone, aim for the middle. The attack patterns change, and he shoots a bouncing star scattershot at you. Let your reflexes take over and do your best to avoid them. C'est Fini!!!

(Here's another chance to look at the END SEQUENCE again)


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie