Stargunner review — June 1997, US edition

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Every Sunday, Tyler Wilde publishes a classic PC Gamer review from the '90s or early 2000s, with his context and commentary followed by the full, original text from the archived issue. This week, Apogee shmup Stargunner is reviewed in the June 1997 issue of PC Gamer US. More classic reviews here.

I seem to have kicked off an Apogee shareware streak. While this quick half-page review of a '90s shmup isn't bursting with historical significance, I did just notice that Stargunner is free on GOG. It's plenty of fun for an hour, especially when you assume the mindset of someone trying to review the game in 1997, when 2D games—shmups in particular—were on the decline in favor of crude 3D games like Die Hard Trilogy (which we gave an 84% in the same issue, but that'll be a future From the Archives).

Procedurally generated grand strategy The Last Federation out now

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Arcen Games' The Last Federation only came to light in February, and yesterday the grand-strategy-featuring-turn-based-shmup-combat-bits saw release. One day the secret of Arcen's astounding productivity will leak out - my money's on founder Chris Park owning some sort of Time Turner - but before that dread reveal we have plenty of time to wallow in their copious, innovative, if not always entirely successful output. The Last Federation is now available on the official site or on the Steams, along with your standard slight reduction in price and beautifully impenetrable launch trailer. I have no idea what's going on in the next two minutes, but just look at all the tiny lasers and explosions.

Velocity Ultra warps onto PC this Christmas, bringing Steam support and custom controls

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For a moment I thought Christmas wouldn't be full of spaceships, shooting and teleportation, and that would have been terrible. I mean, what else is there? Generosity, human interaction and gentle TV specials? Sounds awful. Luckily, a PC port of PS Vita shmup Velocity Ultra has been confirmed for a Steam release this holiday season. It's guaranteed to be more enjoyable than Brussels sprouts.

Pay what you want for expansive space action shooter RPG Ring Runner

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Trying to describe Ring Runner is a bit like trying to explain Twitter to Wurzel Gummidge. It's an action RPG, kinda, but also a top-down shooter set in space. For all I know it's a rhythm game too, but let's stop before our brains explode too much. Triple.B's game features a ton of procedural generation, hundreds of abilities and dozens of ships - and now you can pay what you want for it on IndieGameStand. You have just under 89 hours left to do so.

Ikaruga looking for Steam release, now listed on Greenlight

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PC Gamer web editor Tom Senior loves spaceships. He loves them when they're being shot out into Oculus-powered space, he loves them when they're designed out of giant cube construction sets, and he definitely loves them when they're battling in a bullet-hell assault of bi-coloured carnage. So if you could all do him a favour, and go vote on Ikaruga's new Greenlight page, that'd be swell. You don't even have to buy it, although, as one of the most lasting cult classics of the shmup-'em-up genre, you probably should.

Humans Must Answer, the ex-STALKER devs' sidescrolling shmup, releases next week

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Have we all come to terms with the fact that a couple of ex-STALKER developer are making a sidescrolling shmup where you control a crew of space-chickens? OK, take another few minutes. Humans Must Answer (why, is it an emergency?) was successfully crowdfunded around three months ago, meeting the modest goal of $5,000 without falling fowl to Kickstarter fatigue. And, hey, you'll be able to buy the finished game this coming Thursday, from either or the Humble Store for a poultry $10. Insert your own chicken puns after the break.

Trippy puzzle shoot-'em-up Dyad can be 'ad on PC next week

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We already knew that Dyad was coming to PC, but we didn't know exactly when. Now, thanks to a very beardy announcement video by its creator Shawn McGrath, we do. The inventive shmup/puzzle/miscellaneous thing-a-majig is coming to Steam and GOG this Wednesday, otherwise known as April 24th. I have no idea how to describe it, so I'm going to plagiarise our Phil Savage and call it "a game in which you hook and lance your multi-coloured enemies to build speed and complete a variety of objectives." To me, it looks like a Windows Media Player visualiser - but a very pretty one indeed.

Mok Force: the procedurally generated shmup that just won't quit

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I've typed the words 'procedural generation' into this here text box so often that they've lost all meaning - what procedures are being followed, exactly? Are they the same ones they flout in every procedural cop show? I'm no closer to understanding, but it's nice to see the methods employed in games that aren't roguelikes every now and again. Mok Force is such a game, a vertically scrolling shooter with procedurally generated stages - well, stage, which will go on forever and ever or until you die.

Ballpoint Universe is a game made with a ballpoint pen (also, computers and stuff)

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It's heartening to think that you could just pick up a pen and make a PC game, but as anyone who's wrestled with game development programs knows, that pesky 'computer' part currently insists on getting in the way. Still, they're good for making graphics, as this homemade indie shoot-'em-up shows. As discovered by IndieGames, Ballpoint Universe's art assets were done entirely with a ballpoint pen, before being scanned into a computer and turned into the player, enemies, bullets and so on. The result is rather beautiful - and there's a beta version available here.