Note from racketboy: As a suplement to the already monumental Playstation Shmups Guide, BulletMagnet, thought it would be interesting to take a look at some shooter-stlyle minigames that are included in other PS1 games.
Aside from the huge amount of stand-alone shooter releases, a handful of non-shmup Playstation games included “mini-shmups” hidden in distant corners for players to encounter. Here are a few of the most notable ones –
“Tiny Phalanx” (Zero Divide)
Somewhere within the coded confines of this long-forgotten 3D fighter, the developers, for whatever reason, saw fit to hide a bite-sized side-scroller that’s pretty much exactly what the title suggests – a “mini” reimagining of the 16-bit shooter Phalanx. While only three stages long, it plays almost exactly the same as its inspiration, featuring several of the latter’s weapons, enemies, and backdrops – the graphics have been slightly improved, however, and you now have a supply of bombs to save you in a pinch. While it’s definitely nothing mind-blowing, especially if you already have the original on the SNES or GBA, it’s definitely one of the more interesting “hidden” games out there, and at least an encouraging sign that even developers working during the era when it was “3D or Nothing” still had some love for sprite-based gaming. To access Tiny Phalanx, while the Zero Divide disc is booting up, hold the Start and Select buttons on controller two – once the shooter starts up, you’ll play using the second controller.
“Groovy Arche” (Tales of Phantasia)
While all that Westerners ever got of the first game in the Tales series was the subpar GBA port, the Japanese were able to play not only the Super Famicom original but a PS1 remake which included, alongside other extras, a side-scrolling shooter minigame where you play as Arche, the witch character, flying on her broom. It’s a short section (a score attack run, really), lasting around three minutes total, but there are plenty of point bonuses to rack up (nearly all of which are vocally announced in the background), based on everything from simply not dying to killing enemies quickly, along with several weapon types to use. It’s not the most impeccably-tuned shooter ever, but it is cute, and a nice diversion from the RPG goings-on of the rest of the game – it was eventually released on its own as a mobile phone title. On the PS1, you access it by talking to a robot located in the future’s Thor City.
“Versus Steely Dan/Lovers” (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure)
While Capcom’s take on the long-running manga’s most popular story arc is primarily a fighting game, the Playstation version, unlike its Dreamcast counterpart, includes a “Super Story Mode” which not only features (duh) extra story elements, but several mini-games, including a side-scrolling shooter, which can also be unlocked and played on their own. You actually play as 2 characters at once, controlling each one’s attacks with separate buttons – the “main” character can power his laser up with items, and while the other has fixed power he is invulnerable to damage and can attack in any direction. In “SS” mode it’s encountered relatively early on, in Chapter 13 – to unlock it, you’ll need 600 Jojo points.
“Galaga” (Mortal Kombat 3)
Whatever you may think of the Mortal Kombat series, one can’t deny the developers’ apparent fondness for hiding some interesting stuff in their products – this time around, among other things, there’s a variation of Galaga waiting for you if you get tired of ripping internal organs out of people. It’s stupidly hard, if not impossible, especially due to the fact that you receive little to no invincibility when respawning, but you do get to hear the “toasty!” sound bite whenever you die, as well as “that was pathetic” when you lose all your lives. To play it, at the “Versus” screen before a match, player 1 should enter “6-4-2” (silhouette – question mark – yinyang), while player 2 should enter “4-6-8” (question mark – silhouette – Shao Kahn). A message should appear to inform you that you’re being transported to the “Realm of Rellim Ohcanep” (apparently the last names of two of the game’s developers spelled backwards, a la “Noob Saibot”) – the current credit will be lost when all your lives are gone. This mini-game is also available in other MK variations.
“Loading Screen” (Ridge Racer Revolution)
Leave it to Namco to toss in references to their back catalogue wherever they possibly can – while the game is loading up, you can occupy yourself with the bonus level from Galaga. Also, if you don’t shoot any of the aliens during the roughly 30-second segment, you’ll unlock the ability to set the time of day for the race in the “Other” screen.