Arguably the most prolific of all the doujin shooter developers, Kenta Cho, the sole member of studio ABA Games, has become one of the best known individuals working in the Japanese indie scene today – due in no small part to his 2D shooters which are at once beautiful, addictive and distinctive.
Kenta Cho has created around 20 games to date all of them freely available – but in the interests of not swamping you with a deluge of links and downloads, we’ll concentrate on his key titles. Many of you no doubt will know these games well, but as the doujin scene still remains something of an unknown for many, we thought it would be wise to cover them off here again.
If you’ve never come across Kenta Cho before, but consider yourself a fan of shooters like Rez or Geometry Wars, then we highly recommend you download and try these. They’re all pretty small files and they’re not exactly system hogs – making them perfect for a cheeky lunchtime download if your office computer allows it! ^_^
An important title this, for one reason alone. It was Cho’s first game which he made back in 2002. It was from the reception this title got, that really persuaded him to continue working on shooters and game development.
It also set the tone, aesthetically speaking, for his subsequent titles. Created entirely from squares and rectangles –its simplicity and its stark neon art style has not just become his trademark, but has undoubtedly gone on to influence many other shooter developers.
It’s available as a free download from here.
A little more sophisticated this one – not that the basics would have you believe that. It’s you versus a battleship. Take it down by dodging bullets. The closer you are to it, the more damage you do.
The interesting part of this is that it has a number of modes that pay homage to past shooters. Psy, Ika and GW take riffs of Psyvar, Ikaruga and Giga Wing – taking mechanics, like graze, polarity and reflect from each of those games, to mix things up a little.
You can download it here.
There’s even a free version available on iOS.
A personal favourite of ours, this. It’s a side scrolling shooter comprising of squares and triangles. You pilot a little ship against oncoming forces – where the clever bit comes in, is that the junk from enemies sticks to your craft bolstering your offensive and defensive capabilities.
Piloting a big mass of junk is oddly compelling – it’s like the Katamari Damacy of 2D Shooters! Interestingly, this is the only game to have been commercialised in any way – forming the basis for Majesco’s Blast works: Built Trade Destroy – which not only featured the original, but also an editor to create your own shooters. Worth a look if you can find it – if not just download the original from here.
More gorgeous neon action here – noticing a trend at all? – only this time you’re in a boat. Yes, a boat – not exactly your standard shooter fare then.
I particularly like this one as it’s a vertical scroller that moves at your own pace – as in, when you move forward, the screen moves forward, so you can play cautiously if you want to. Thing is, the central score mechanic revolves around how quickly you push on. The faster you are the better your score, which is a really elegant way of grading difficulty.
You can get Genroar here.
Kenta Cho’s most visually spectacular shooter – in that it puts you at the edge of a neon tunnel that hurtles towards you at ridiculous speeds. If you can imagine what it would be like to be power-flushed down a toilet in Tron, with a couple of plasma cannons strapped to your face – then you’re pretty much there.
Survival in this one is all about time – as in, when you run out of it, it’s Game Over. So dodge well, take out as many enemies as you can and reach those checkpoints to earn yourself those time extensions!
Ah and a warning – it’ll make your brain feel a bit funny when you’re finally snapped back to reality. A head rush that’s worth the download alone! ; )
You can download it from here.