The Tokyo Game Show is always good for a cheeky shmup announcement or two and with this year’s – all-digital – edition taking place from the 24th-27th of September, it seemed odds on that we’d have a pretty solid month of news to discuss.
No one, however, could have predicted the slew of announcements and releases September drowned us in and even without TGS 2020, it would have been a pretty phenomenal month. If you’re planning on reading this whole round-up start to finish, I might advise filling your glass and making yourself comfortable before you start, because we’ve got a lot to get through.
Gemini Arms – First up we had the western release of Terarin Games‘ unique hori Gemini Arms. Featuring a combination of standard hori firing and twin stick mechanics, this short but sweet offering has been available on the Japanese eShop for months but on the 1st was made available to gamers everywhere.
Sky Jaguar 2 – Do you remember Sky Jaguar 1? No? That’s okay, nor does anybody it seems, but no matter, because shmups don’t usually rely on a knowledge of their predecessors to be understood and Sky Jaguar 2 from Vikalb is unlikely to be an exception. Also releasing on the 1st of the month, this double whammy of releases provided a pretty clear indicator of how the month was going to go.
Waifu Uncovered – On the 2nd Eastasiasoft revealed they’d paired up with Funbox Media to offer a physical version of their NSFW vertizontal Waifu Uncovered. Made available on the 20th, this does not seem to be a limited release and, at the time of writing, the game had made its way to #5 in Amazon’s new releases rankings.
Takotan – Eastasiasoft brought us more shmup news on the 9th by releasing their octopus themed cute-em-up Takotan on the eShop. There was a little confusion surrounding this one at release but it does seem to be just a renaming of the previosuly delayed title Octonaut.
Gemini Wing – ACA – much more on them later – dropped another vert on the eShop on the 10th, this time in the form of 1987’s Gemini Wing. Developed by Tecmo, this one has some unusual mechanics and, while it’s maybe not a bonafide classic, is another useful addition to their ever expanding lineup.
Space Elite Force I and II – From QUByte Interactive Space Force Elite will look very familiar – maybe a little too familiar – to anyone who enjoyed the excellent Steredenn. Both games dropped on the eShop on the 15th and are available for a very low price.
Aleste Collection – On the 16th, we got the first of the really big pieces of news in the form of M2‘s announcement that they would be bringing an Aleste Collection to the Switch on the 24th of December this year. The collection itself was initially revealed to include four titles: Aleste, GG Aleste, GG Aleste II and Power Strike II. GG, as you may or may not know, refers to Sega’s GameGear and, as part of a collector’s edition, a GameGear Micro is a highly unique inclusion.
But that was not all! M2 teased more information would be provided at TGS 2020 and they were as good as their word, announcing on the 26th that there would be a fifth game added to the collection: GG Aleste 3 – a brand new Aleste game developed by M2 themselves and running with GameGear specs. All in all, a very exciting development and the game itself and its collector’s edition are available for pre-purchase on PlayAsia now (because, of course, this is so far Japan-only).
Astro Aqua Kitty – The original Aqua Kitty UDX saw you defending your undersea milk mines from aquatic foes and was very well-received upon its release. On the 17th Tikipod’s sequel was introduced during Nintendo Life’s Indie Showcase and the developers have since described the title as being an action RPG shoot-em-up. Quite what that means, we’re not exactly sure, but given their pedigree, we’re willing to trust them.
Earth Defense Force – Another ACA title, this 1991 Jaleco hori dropped on the 17th and tasks you with defending the (in case you hadn’t guessed from the title) earth from the Agima Empire.
Freedom Finger – Busy day the 17th. Super Rare Games also chose it as the day to open pre-orders for their physical of highly praised comedy hori Freedom Finger. Wide Right Games applied some serious production values to this one with a professional voice cast and a soundtrack from a bunch of rocking indie bands. Sales for this one were much anticipated and if you’re looking for a copy now, scouring Ebay may already be your only option.
Andros Dunos 2 – Pixelheart included flyers featuring Andros Dunos 2 in copies of their excellent Shmup Collection — a massive surprise to almost everyone who opened them. Since that release, however, it had been radio silence until at the Impact Direct on the 22nd we got our first look at how this surprise title is coming along. And it looks to be coming along very nicely, thank you very much.
Cotton Reboot – We’ve known for a long time that a Cotton reboot was both being made and coming to Switch. On the 23rd, however, got a date – the 25th of Feb – and a real good look at both the newly worked visuals and the original game.
ACA at TGS – Arcade Archives went all out for the Tokyo Game Show announcing on the first day that they would reveal no less than eighteen titles over the course of the show. Three of those turned out to be shmups with Gradius III being saved for the final reveal slot following earlier reveals for Thunder Dragon and Rabio Lepus. Dates are rarely given for these ACA titles but watch out for them appearing in the not too distant future.
Deathsmiles I & II – It was way back at TGS 2019 when Cave and City Connection first announced Deathsmiles I & II would be coming to ‘consoles’. Given the Switch’s increasingly pre-eminent position as a home to shmups big and small, it always seemed likely Nintendo’s hybrid would be one of those consoles. But you never know… Or at least, you never know until City Connection directly state that Switch will be one of those consoles, which is precisely what they did on the 26th. Key art was shared and a 2021 release announced for the second Cave port to Switch – following on from last year’s excellent M2 helmed ESP Ra.De.
Shoot 1UP DX – Allowing you to control up to 30 ships at the same time, Shoot 1UP DX from Mommys Best Games was announced to be coming to Switch on the 28th. With a release date of the 15th Oct it won’t be long before you can try out this singular title.
Jetboard Joust – Fusing classic arcade shmups and modern roguelikes, Jetboard Joust was announced by Freedom! Games on the 28th. This is a follow-up to Skateboard Joust, a title that originally came out on the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 etc more than three decades ago. Release is scheduled for 2021.
So, there we go. A packed month by any standards and some real standouts in the form of Deathsmiles and the Aleste Collection.
We do actually have one more announcement and it is that, unfortunately, due to other commitments, this roundshmup will be going on hiatus for a few months. That, of course, won’t slow the avalanche of announcements we keep seeing and I might recommend Twitter as an easy place to keep track of the news and releases until we return. It’s been a pleasure doing this for the Switch Effect and, hopefully, it won’t be too long before the roundshmups return…
List of Upcoming Shmups on Nintendo Switch:
Raiden – Hyper Gods – Squadron 51 – Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo – Illvelo Swamp – Darius Cozmic Revelation – Wings of the Asteria – Proto Corgi – Project Starship X – Twin Cobra – Truxton II – Flying Shark – Graze Counter – Cotton Reboot – R-Type Final 2 – Horgihugh – Full Blast 2 – Dark Gravity – Andros Dunos 2 – Crimzon Clover – Space Invaders Forever – Aleste Collection – Deathsmiles I & II – Shoot 1UP DX – Jetboard Joust – Thunder Dragon – Rabio Lepus – Gradius III – Astro Aqua Kitty