As someone who has been videogaming for thirty years or so I cut my teeth on all kinds of games including a healthy batch of what we affectionately refer to as “schmups” which is short hand for “shoot ’em ups.” A shoot ’em up is typically you in a spaceship or some other flying vehicle against hordes of enemies in crazy situations. It’s amazing I didn’t suffer an embolism or have a pile of broken game controllers playing a lot of those games. I never was a schmup champion by a mile but let’s face it: A good schmup is going to make you grit your teeth and crack a sweat. That’s all part of the experience.
In more recent times, I’ve been troubled to see a number of genres disappear entirely whether it be strategic tactical shooters or space ship sims or schmups. I’m thrilled to see at least the independents take a stab at resurrecting these genres that should never have been allowed to go by the wayside in the first place.
Along with a resurrection of 2D gaming in general that has gone past just the Indies that I’m thrilled about, we now see a resurgence attempt on schumps with a game like this and I’m happy to tell you that schmup fans will have much to rejoice in here with Syder Arcade.
Syder Arcade originally released in March 2012 and became a sleeper hit in short order. Since that time Studio Evil has kept updating the game and working on it and their work has paid off. Growing fan support and clamor and a quality level of product and features has given this game a second debut of sorts by being brought out on a major platform like Steam.
If you have see the trailers and promo videos for this it’s obvious the developers are sending all kinds of love messages to veteran schmup fans from back in the day and they deliver the goods. If you haven’t heard of this game until now then I’m happy to bring you some good news.
The developer’s product list and features speaks for itself in terms of the developers’ intent, attitude, and plans for continued support of this title:
Killing zombies never gets old, but some times you just need a break.
Get back to some serious Old-School gaming with Syder Arcade!
A love letter to Amiga the games of the 90′, no coins, no upgrade grinding, just your tenacity and a motherload of alien invaders.
Syder Arcade is a free scrolling, multi directional shoot ’em up, an uncompromised old-school experience, furious, challenging, straightforward. This game will bring you back in time, when bulky starships were cool and games were about player skill and swearing madly at your computer.
Shooting. This is a no brainer
Dying. Also pretty hard not to do
6 Campaign levels – all filled with space, guns and imminent death
1 Survival mode level. Good luck
2 opposite directions. 3 dimensions is for suckers
3 player starships with more on the way
4 difficulty levels. That means trouble ahead
At least 3 huge capital ships and 1 giant bug-ship. Big is relative, but yeah its big
Skill-based badges to improve your high scores – remember when scores mattered? We do
Online leaderboards. Show off to your friends, while they’re still friends
20 different retro graphic flavors. C64, ZX Spectrum, Amiga HAM and many others – dibs on a cabinet version next!
5 Tons of nostalgia and 16 of Old-School…with a pinch of salt
Amiga-style soundtrack makes the Caleco so jealous
Zombie free. We assume
They keep adding features and updating the game as well so even that impressive list is not set in stone.
You can choose any number of old school presets for a full retro experience as stated in the above features as outlined by Studio Evil. Amiga, C64, Apple II, and that sort of thing. Otherwise you can choose modern and in my case I went to godlike settings for my GTX 680. The eye candy is gorgeous and plentiful if you choose this route and your hardware can run it.
The GFX presets are a separate menu option unto themselves and if you choose the graphics option you can choose resolution, window or full screen, and then several presets that cover the gambit on AA settings and such ranging from normal, fast, next gen, and godlike. I’m running godlike on my machine at 1920×1200 with no issues whatsoever.
An amazing soundtrack is the first thing I have to mention. Studio Evil did the music and if you look them up the soundtrack is easy to come by and they stated their intentions as fans of these games from back in the day to bring in the best of the old and some of the new for their music and they did exactly that. The music absolutely stands strong on its own and is a huge asset to this game in addition to the rest of the spacey and schmup sound effects included, some of which should be familiar sounding to schump vets.
I would recommend a good controller for this but since it’s on the PC I had to try out the KBM as well to cover all bases and found it to be surprisingly competent and viable.
An omnidirectional schmup that almost becomes 2D and a half. I love switching directions on the fly with the press of a button or a key and your fire button is thankfully something you can hold down as opposed to the manic tapping that would otherwise be required.
It’s also completely necessary since rarely is there a moment where you don’t need to firing either you main weapon or special weapon (assigned to another button or key.)
Prepare to die. A lot. Just as it should be.
Steam is asking for $8 for this which is a no brainer otherwise you can buy a DRM free version direct from Studio Evil themselves for $12 that also includes the killer soundtrack. Either way, this is an absolute no brainer for any schmup fan. They really are giving this away.
This is one of those “vote with your wallet” causes as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been thrilled to see a resurgence of any kind of 2D gaming whether it be a fantastic platform stealth game like Mark of the Ninja and now seeing schmups reappear in the form of this game. I can’t overstate my thanks to the Independent scene for these kinds of effort and they deserve your support so we can send the right message to developers to make more quality games and not let entire genres die off needlessly.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll get our Freespace/Wing Commander space sim type game resurrected next if we’re really fortunate. My money is on the table, developers.
As it stands: Studio Evil “gets” schmups and it’s wonderful to be able to play a new one at last. You can buy it now on Steam for $7.99.
Syder Arcade gets a four out of five: GREAT.
* A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review.