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Heavy machine gun!
Flyer Title Year Description Screenshot
Cadash arcade flyer.jpg Cadash 1989 An early co-op "Arcade-RPG". Combines platforming with some light typical RPG elements sprinkled about. Characters are different classes, can level up, find and buy items, and two classes (Wizard and Priest(ess?)) can cast spells. The most annoying thing is probably the timer. Protip: If you need to, have one player play as the Priest, as she has a spell that can add extra time and also cast protection spells to reduce damage.
Received a somewhat improved Turbografx port and an inferior Megadrive port (the latter of which doesn't come recommended, but the former is pretty good). The TG16 port lacks continues, which might make the Arcade version preferable, as this ramps up the difficulty to annoying levels.
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BlackTigerFlyer.jpg Black Tiger 1987 Cool platformer by Capcom, it is full of secrets and tricks everywhere. BlackTigerScreenshot.png
BubbleMemoriesFlyer.jpg Bubble Bobble / Bubble Bobble 2 / Bubble Memories 1986 / 1994 / 1995 The classic Taito platformer where you control those cute dinos who trap the enemies inside bubbles, which must be headbutted. It could very well be called it's own subgenre, as stages are all single screen and you must defeat all enemies to proceed. BubbleBobble2Screenshot.png
Elevator Action Returns arcade flyer.jpg Elevator Action Returns 1994 This game is similar to the original but is faster paced and has more action. You can move faster, jump longer distances, you have a life bar and also find different weapons. There are also lots of different types of enemies this time, and the game features 3 characters from which to choose from. ElevatorActionReturnsScreenshot.png
Ghouls flyer.jpg Ghouls 'n Ghosts 1988 This sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins has a few improvements over the original, including more weapons, a new "Magic Armor" to charge your weapon to deal extra damage with weapon-specific bonus effects (like lightning, shields, and even a temporary clone who fights alongside you), and the ability to fire directly above and below. This series is synonymous with soul-crushing difficulty and levels that require your senses at their most alert, and this game is no slouch in that department. Expect swarms of monsters, badass bosses, and tricks and traps abound as everything is out to kill you.
Ported accurately to 16-bit consoles and has an alternate variation on Sega Master System. The SMS version gives the game a few minor RPG elements which, despite the aesthetics taking a hit, makes it still pretty cool and worth playing.
If you beat this game, you -might- be ready to take on the first arcade game, which is even harder.
Geostorm.jpg Gunforce 2 / Geo Storm 1994 A precursor to the entire Metal Slug franchise, from a lot of the same crew. Includes special weapons and a power-up that makes your character go crazy, tons of vehicles, and hot babes to rescue. Gunforce 2.png
JoeMacFlyer.jpg Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja 1991 Classic Data East platformer, you control two cavemen who must rescue their village's girls, who were all kidnapped by those ugly neanderthals. You can knock enemies and use them to defeat other enemies.

No ninjas to be found here, sadly.

JoeMacReturnsFlyer.jpg Joe & Mac Returns 1994 Nice sequel, which plays more like Bubble Bobble. JoeMacReturnsScreenshot.png
KarnovFlyer.jpg Karnov 1987 Data East's mascot debut, you control everyone's favorite Russian who must retrieve pieces of a treasure map. You can shoot fire and carry various items to help on your journey, among them a retractable ladder. KarnovScreenshot.png
MagicSwordFlyer.jpg Magic Sword: Heroic Fantasy 1990 Conan was all the shit back then, so it's no wonder many barbarian games appeared. Magic Sword has our hero climbing a HUGE tower to take on an evil wizard. Along the way you can find other characters who will help you on your quest. MagicSwordScreenshot.png
MagicianLordFlyer.jpg Magician Lord 1990 Play with the titular Magician Lord, who must cross various amazingly detailed stages to retrieve magical books which were stolen by the evil Gal Agiese, master of poor english spelling! You can collect magical orbs which transform you into different forms. MagicianLordScreenshot.png
Mslugx 1.jpg Metal Slug X 1999 Don't let the 'X' fool you, it's Metal Slug 2 remastered. Metal Slug X patches up a lot of problems to the original game, making this one strong entry into the series. Introduces several new weapons, vehicles and enemy types, with a new common enemy. There's also character transformations which turn you into a slow walking mummy or even obese! The Metal Slug series is known for its humor and amazing sprite work, where nearly everything has its own unique animation.
The original MS is still worth a shot, but X is when it started getting REALLY kickass.

Even though this version was completely redone in a new engine, it's still VERY similar to MS2 and some people argue that the original MS2 is better paced and doesn't spoil the main enemies (and plot twist) by introducing them too soon as X does. You can get the slowdowns on the original MS2 to a minimal by pairing the fan-fixed MS2 Turbo version with a 200% overclock (via emulator options, but also on real hardware).

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Metal Slug 3.png Metal Slug 3 2000 Metal Slug 3 was SNK's last Metal Slug title before going bankrupt. Despite this, the game is a love letter to its fans and the pinnacle of the run 'n gun genre. 3 adds a huge amount of new vehicles and a branched path system. The final level is arguably the best stage in a run 'n gun action game, ever, taking as long as all of the other levels combined. It also has a shmup portions that make for an even more varied gameplay. MetalSlug3Screenshot.png
Mystic Warriors arcade flyer.jpg Mystic Warriors: Wrath of the Ninjas 1993 Sunset Riders' spiritual sequel. What it adds to the previous game are: 5 selectable characters (each with unique traits), melee attacks, items that kill all enemies on-screen. Mystic Warriors arcade screenshot.png
Outfoxies.jpg The Outfoxies 1994 KILL YOUR ENEMY BY ANY MEANS. In this violent arena platformer, you are one of several professional assassins who have all been secretly hired to kill each other, by the conniving Mr. Acme. You fight the other assassins in one-on-one battles, each taking place in highly destructible stages with lots of guns and other weapons scattered about, like a prototype Super Smash Bros. The levels are a lot bigger than they look, and in many cases you can access new areas when parts of the stage get destroyed. The playable characters are varied and interesting, including a chimp in a tuxedo, a scientist in a high-tech wheelchair, a twin brother and sister, and guy with metal arms. Outfoxies1.png
RastanFlyer.jpg Rastan / Rastan Saga 1987 Conan: The Game, except without the Conan license. Beat the shit of monsters, collect power-ups and beat the shit of more monsters. It got a sequel which is ugly as fuck, so stay away from that. RastanScreenshot.png
Strider arcade flyer.png Strider 1989 "I shall raise the city up to the sky and rid the earth of all creatures. I will create a race to fill the new earth. All sons of old gods, die!" Strider arcade screenshot.png
Ssriders flyer.jpg Sunset Riders 1991 "Draw, Pilgrim!"
Oh.. what's that? Your first western was Red Dead Redemption? You don't know SHIT about SHIT. This was the game that separated the boys from the men. Sunset Riders is an Old West-style game with action packed levels across two planes of combat, with sections on foot and horseback. All of which makes for a fucking amazing 4-player, rip-roaring hootenanny. Are you ready for some pow-wow, Gringo?
The only good port for this is on the SNES, stay away from the Genesis one.
TokiFlyer.jpg Toki 1989 Super amazing game, your girlfriend was kidnapped by a fucking floating hand and you got turned into a monkey by this crazy wizard, so it is time to settle the score. You attack by spitting balls, and can find many power-ups which give you more power or boost your defense. TokiScreenshot.png
TrioThePunchFlyer.jpg Trio The Punch: Never Forget Me... 1989 "CRUETY!"

Mere words cannot describe the utter crazy mindfuck madness that is this game. You gotta see it for yourself!

Moomesa flyer.jpg Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa 1992 A much easier and more cartoony spin on Sunset Riders, now with Cowboys. Some key differences are that you have a 3-hit life bar instead of 1, you can charge like a bull and use special attacks, and bosses are bigger and badder! MooMesaScreenshot.png
Wonder Boy arcade flyer.jpg Wonder Boy 1986 Challenging platformer made by a once-young company called WestOne. You've got to go fast and eat lots of food to keep your vitality meter full, but you die in one hit, so you also have to stay alert (especially in boss fights). To somewhat counter this, you can find stone axes to throw at foes, a skateboard to go faster (and take a free hit), and an invincibility item. Beware though, as harmful items also exist, one of which is an insta-kill on you. Collect all of the lost dolls in the stages to access an extra set of levels. Has run-and-gun aspects, but is far more heavy on platforming and careful jumping than shooting everything.
Had a port to the Sega Master System which added extra levels and was also ported to the NES as Adventure Island. AI continued the islander run-n'-jumping of the original, while the WB series went in more of an medieval RPG-angle with WB2 onward.
Has nothing to do with the Tenacious D song (maybe).
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Wonder Boy in Monster Land arcade flyer.jpg Wonder Boy in Monster Land 1987 WestOne's attempt at combining arcade action with adventure and minor RPG elements. Expect hidden secrets, puzzling levels, magical spells and equipment, topped off with strategic boss fights. Aesthetics and level design were made to take arcades out of their "repetitive" nature and give the player the sensation of a grand quest. It pulls it off pretty well for an early experiment by a fledgling company, but it does have its weaknesses (some bosses can be cheap as fuck, the level design can sometimes be a dick, and that goddamn timer).
Ported to the Turbografx-16/PC Engine as Bikkuriman World (with modified graphics), but it's the only port that lets you continue. The Sega Master System port is pretty accurate, but won't let you continue! However, it did manage to kickstart the popular SMS edits of Turma de Monica.
A direct sequel to this can be found in the Sega Master System masterpiece, "Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap" (itself later ported to the Turbografx-16 as "Dragon's Curse" with some minor differences).
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Wonder Boy in Monster Lair arcade flyer.jpg Wonder Boy in Monster Lair 1988 Wonder Boy's second and last foray into traditional platforming. Has a few minor aspects borrowed from the Adventure Island series, but also takes aspects from other genres, such as run-and-guns (the way certain weapons work and their attack patterns) and horizontal shmups (the flying levels and bosses). Had an inferior port to the Sega Megadrive. The Turbo-CD port, simply called "Monster Lair" is more accurate and has better music. Wonder Boy in Monster Lair arcade screenshot.png