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Axelay (Konami)

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You’ve heard this very web site make consistent statements about the unfortunate slowdown that plagues almost all SNES shmups.  Some say it was the limited amount of processing power (literally half that of the Genesis), while others claim that the increase in graphics meant that developers wanted to push the visuals at the expense of the framerate.  Whatever the reason, Axelay, developed by Konami, the very company responsible for the SNES port of Gradius III that slows to a crawl around every corner, has absolutely no slowdown.  It’s like a miracle of programming – the game does not slow or stutter and is a strong and competent shmup with horizontal and vertical (behind the ship) levels, much like Life Force.  As far as I know, it’s the sole reason we have to say “most” SNES shmups slow down, because one alpha title soars above the rest: Axelay.

Vertical/behind the ship level

It’s pretty much your typical shmup story, and given the fact that this is no series nor does it have ports, there’s really nothing to note other than aliens attack humans and we send a space ship in to kill them.  What is notable is that the Konami team that programmed Axelay was none other than “support program”, better known as Hideo Ueda and Kazuhiko Ishida, but many companies wouldn’t allow programmers to be revealed for fear they would get recruited to competitors.  In this case, Ueda and Ishida instead went on to help create their own competitor: Treasure – best known for Gunstar Heroes, touted by some as the best game on the Genesis, and more prominent contemporary shmups such as Bangai-O, Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga, Gradius V and Sin & Punishment.  Turns out those two programmers that made a fast and smooth shmup on the SNES were actually on to something.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm