Genre: Shmup Developer: Toaplan Publisher: Tengen Players: 1 Released: 1993
It’s a fact; most Tengen releases in Japan just cost a lot of money. Gauntlet IV is cheap here in American while the Japanese release (just Gauntlet, without the IV) cost a lot of money — $75 and higher. Most gamers out there will say “Is $100+ dollars’ worth it for just one game?” It depends on the game itself actually. A perfect example of this would be Slap Fight. Originally a Toaplan shooter which was ported onto the Genesis by Tengen, Slap Fight would only see a Japanese release. But what makes this even worse to regular gamers is that the game had a very low print run (around 2,000-7,000 copies estimate), and that makes Slap Fight a really expensive game to purchase. For such a high price, is it really worth a purchase?
Slap Fight is a vertical shooter that was made in the 80s, so if you remember Xevious and Gradius, you can have an idea on what the game is going to be like. Most of the gameplay is directly taken from Gradius. You have a weapon selection menu and in order to choose one, you must destroy an enemy and pick up a star. The more stars you pick up, the higher you’ll be in the weapons menu. The gimmick in Slap Fight is the “Wing” system. Like the Options in Gradius, the Wings increases your fire power. When selected, two small wings goes at the side of your ship, giving you extra fire power. The deal is the more wings you’re using, the bigger your ship is. This can make you a very easy target to enemy fire. But if one enemy bullet hits a wing, your Wing level goes down and thus makes you have less fire power. It’s a good idea not to abuse the Wing system because you’ll die in a quick death by doing so.
If you understand the power-up system in Slap Fight, then the game will be very fun. Enemies move and attack a lot like Xevious so if you’ve played that game, then Slap Fight should be very similar. The enemies are very simple at first, but later on they get quite aggressive. This reason alone is why the Wing system shouldn’t be abused. This is a check point shooter, and it starts your new life off with no weapons whatsoever (Gradius anyone?). The only small flaw in the power-up system is your default shot, which only shoots to a certain distance and stops.
The graphics in Slap Fight are pretty dated. The colors are very washed out most of the time have little detail. It’s important to remember that Slap Fight was made in the ’80s so it’ll look like a ’80s shooter, though the level of detail does improve later on. Most of the enemies appear to be based off of Xevious, which is another reason why the two are so often compared.
Musically. Slap Fight is a lot like Gradius in that its soundtrack is unbelievable. The tracks are very well done and fit the theme of the game very well. When playing you find yourself thinking “is this Gradius?” when you hear the music. By default you’re playing the arranged soundtrack, but you can always change to original by going to the options menu (arranged sounds much better than the original). The sound effects are average (again, most sound a lot like Gradius) and the voices in the game are very scratchy. Sometimes it’s pretty hard to understand what the voices are saying.
Just when you think I’m done typing up this review, I forget to mention that there are two games in Slap Fight! Booting up puts you automatically in original mode. In order to get to the other game, go to options, highlight game type, and press right and you’re in Slap Fight MD mode! Slap Fight MD is Slap Fight with slightly improved graphics, all new levels, new music done by Yuzo Koshiro (of Streets of Rage fame), and a few gameplay additions. The new feature added to the gameplay is the Typhoon Bomber attack. When playing Slap Fight MD your ship is really large and powerful, but by pressing the C button you can release a powerful bomb attack that covers most of the screen, at the cost of your ship’s size. After the attack, you’re back to your small and puny ship and must collect stars again to increase fire power. You can also use the Typhoon Bomber when you have a Wing on your ship, or an enemy bullet hit one of your Wings.
Importers should know that Slap Fight is completely in English, has no territorial lock-outs, and will work on all Genesis models. On the rarity scale, Slap Fight will rank quite high due to its very low print run and huge demand in the collectors market.
I suppose you can call Slap Fight the “vertical Gradius” since the game was mostly taken from Konami’s classic shooter. If you can get into it, then you might find Slap Fight to be a very fun shmup with great old school gameplay and an interesting “Wing” gimmick. Even better is that there are two games on one cartridge. Is the game worth it for $100+ dollars? Well if you love shooters and can afford the high price tag, then yes it’s worth it!
SCORE: 8 out of 10