1996 Sega Saturn

The 'missing link' between Thunderforce 4 and 5..?! Hyper Duel was an arcade shooter released by Technosoft in 1994 a couple of years after their Thunderforce AC arcade game (basically a remixed version of Megadrive/Genesis classic Thunderforce 3). The Saturn version is, to say the least, something of a rarity nowadays (it took me a good two and a half years to track down my copy) but in my opinion it was definitely worth it! Borrowing elements from Darius Gaiden (huge anime style bosses), Macross (transforming spaceship-robots) and Technosoft's own Thunderforce series (fast paced side-scrolling shmupping laced with hordes of fast moving enemies and fast-moving bullets from all directions!) Hyper Duel is a quality blaster and no mistake! OK.. we are clearly in 'old school' 2D shooter territory here.. the 'feel' and graphic style of the game certainly reminds me a lot of the Thunderforce games as well as Red company's classic shooters Gate of Thunder and Lords of Thunder on the PC Engine Duo which is definitely no bad thing. The Saturn version contains both the original arcade version as well as a graphically souped-up Saturn remix (a very welcome feature - other developers take note!). Players can choose from one of three different ships all with alternative and original weaponry, and players can transform their fighter from spaceship to mech-style robot on the fly at any time in a manner similar, but far superior to that seen in Macross. Another notable feature is the ability to pick up 'intelligent' multiples - little fighters and robots that fight alongside you locking onto enemies with their guns and even taking hits and sacrificing themselves for you! Eight long levels and some very tough stages and end of level bosses should provide a decent challenge as long as you play on normal difficulty setting and don't opt for the soft 'easy mode'. And among Saturn collectors this game is highly prized so if you ever see it at a decent price I'd recommend picking it up!

(Below) Choose your craft - red, blue or gold.. (right) a nice robot
render.. the presentation, like that of Thunderforce 5, is great.

The game starts off in space above a huge space fleet (this is the graphically-enhanced 'Saturn'
mode) before descending to earth and finally back into orbit for the final showdown (below right)


Above (left) you can see your little friendly multiples here blasting away at the enemy for you... a very neat feature.
(Middle-right) Anime style bosses from mecha to huge space octupi are on the menu for your delecation..