Toaplan Shoot ‘Em Ups Complete Guide – The Best Way to Play ‘Batsugun’, ‘Truxton’, And More On Nintendo Switch, PC, Steam Deck, and More

By admin May3,2024

One of the most influential creators in the shoot ’em up genre, Toaplan burned brightly from its very first shooter Tiger Heli (1985) all the way up to its amazing final entry Batsugun (1993). Despite being around for only ten years the company completely redefined the shape of arcade shooters, and its effects can still be seen today. For many years it was hard to get Toaplan’s shooters at home in arcade-perfect form, but an ex-Toaplan developer, Masahiro Yuge, resurrected the brand under the Tatsujin name in 2018. Releases started to trickle out via a number of sources, and when the company was acquired in 2022 by Embracer, the faucet really opened up. But which way is the best way to play these games? Steam? Mobile? PlayStation 4? Switch? OTHER? Shaun investigates!

Some things before we get started in earnest, however. One, I’m a pretty big Toaplan fan. I used to hang off a Tiger Heli cabinet in my local mall when I was just a little goober, and the love affair started at that time never cooled off. As such, I have a wide array of ways to play these games, which is why I decided to write this. I’m leaving out the old console ports because we’ll be here for days if I don’t. Modern, actively sold things only. I’ve got six of them here, though I could split hairs further if I really wanted to.

Two, and this is an important one. One of the six I have featured here is the Evercade from Blaze. I have worked for Blaze in the past, writing game descriptions for the UI of the Evercade console and writing the instruction manual that was included with the Evercade EXP handheld. I am doing my utmost to be fair here, but it’s worth considering that I could potentially be biased to some degree despite my efforts.

Three, I don’t have any special equipment for measuring things like input lag or framerates. This is all down to my gut and experience, and it’s up to you how much you feel like trusting that. At the very least, I can say that I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time going back and forth between these versions while preparing for this article. Okay, let’s get to business.

Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Up Ultimate Collection

Platform: Steam, GOG

Developer/Publisher: Bitwave Games

Price: $69.99

Accuracy Rank: 3rd

Extras Rank: 2nd

Value Rank: 2nd

Overall Rank: 1st

This is the latest release of the lot. Bitwave Games handled the chores here, bringing a whopping sixteen of Toaplan’s shooters to computers and the Steam Deck. Pretty much every Toaplan shoot ’em up you could want is here, including a couple that haven’t seen many reissues before. The games run well for the most part, though there have been a number of audio issues that have had to be patched after launch. Even now, some games don’t sound completely accurate, but even those examples are very close. Input latency is great here, and there are a ton of excellent extra features to enjoy. You can buy the games individually for a very reasonable price or in bundles if you want to save even more money. I think for the average user that wants to get into Toaplan’s catalog, this is probably the best option.

Truxton Classic & Twin Cobra Classic

Platform: iOS, Android

Developer/Publisher: Mobirix

Price: Free, with Ads and IAP

Accuracy Rank: 5th

Extras Rank: 6th

Value Rank: 4th

Overall Rank: 5th

From the newest releases to the oldest, we’ve got two Toaplan releases on mobile from Mobirix. Typical of the publisher’s offerings, these games are free to play with ad support and IAPs to unlock various features. Twin Cobra and Truxton are two of the more popular Toaplan games, and while I would not by any means recommend these as your main way of playing either of these titles, you can’t argue with getting to try them out for free. The touch controls work well, but perhaps a little too well. They’re particularly game-breaking in Truxton, where speed power-ups have lost all meaning. The only nice things I can say about these releases is that they’re free to try out and they play decently enough if you just want a quick fix.

M2 Shottriggers: Toaplan Arcade Garage Series

Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

Developer/Publisher: M2 (Limited Run Games)

Price: $49.99

Accuracy Rank: 1st

Extras Rank: 1st

Value Rank: 3rd

Overall Rank: 2nd

The absolute deluxe treatment, but you’re going to have to pay the price for that. Thus far there are three releases in this series, each bringing three Toaplan games (two shooters and one non-shooter) plus the puzzle game Teki-Paki with them. Up until now, they’ve only been released in Japan, but Limited Run Games will be bringing the Tiger Heli/Twin Cobra set over soon and likely following up with the others. Anyway, the games play amazingly well here, especially on PlayStation 4 where input latency is down to an absolute minimum. In terms of graphics and sound, the games are spot on. The extras are outstanding, including a wide array of M2 “gadgets”, console ports of the games, practice modes that teach you how to get through the games, online leaderboards, and more. The only snag here is the price, especially if you’re only interested in the shoot ’em ups. For those who want the best, Toaplan Arcade Garage releases are worth every penny.

Toaplan Arcade 1 & Toaplan Arcade 2

Platform: Evercade

Developer/Publisher: Blaze Entertainment

Price: $19.99

Accuracy Rank: 2nd

Extras Rank: 3rd

Value Rank: 1st

Overall Rank: 3rd

Blaze’s Evercade family of consoles has over fifty cartridges available now, and two of them are dedicated to Toaplan’s arcade offerings. Between the two you get fifteen Toaplan games, though that isn’t limited to shooters. Still, the low price and the fact that you get a physical cartridge with a case and instruction book makes this option the winner for value. The games play great with minimal latency, and you can make use of all of the usual Evercade features like save states, scan lines, and a rather sad turbo-fire option. Of course, you’ll need an Evercade-compatible device to play these, but the cheapest option (the Super Pocket) is just $59.99. A solid compromise between affordability and quality.

Taito Egret II Mini

Platform: Dedicated Plug and Play

Developer/Publisher: Taito

Price: $199.99

Accuracy Rank: 4th

Extras Rank: 4th (TIE)

Value Rank: 6th

Overall Rank: 4th

Okay, now we’re getting into the really hardcore stuff. The Taito Egret II Mini has a ton of games on it, and since Taito was Toaplan’s publisher and distributor for many of its titles, it’s no surprise to see the latter’s titles among them. What might be surprising is how few there are here, even taking the expansion cards into account. Just two Toaplan shooters on the main unit, and for how much this costs it’s hard to recommend it just to play those. They play decently but there is noticeable input latency present, and the extras are limited to save states and a few filters. The screen size and quality along with the nice micro-switched joystick certainly lend this a classy feel, but the price, lag, and limited selection hurt it.

SEGA Astro City Mini V

Platform: Dedicated Plug and Play

Developer/Publisher: Zuiki/SEGA

Price: $139.99

Accuracy Rank: 6th

Extras Rank: 4th (TIE)

Value Rank: 5th

Overall Rank: 6th

This one just hurts. What should have been the ultimate desktop device for shooter fans ended up completely derailed due to the significant amounts of input latency present. You get six Toaplan shooters here, and some of them have been rather scarce until very recently. The screen looks excellent and the stick and buttons are nice. You get the same set of features seen in the Egret II Mini, too. But the input latency is absolutely devastating here, making this device poorly suited for serious play. While not as expensive as the Egret II Mini, it’s too expensive for a casual desktop toy. With the rare Toaplan games included here now available via the Steam releases, there’s very little reason to put up with this.

Final Rankings

Accuracy

1. M2 Shottriggers: Toaplan Arcade Garage Series
2. Toaplan Arcade 1 & Toaplan Arcade 2
3. Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Up Ultimate Collection
4. Taito Egret II Mini
5. Truxton Classic & Twin Cobra Classic
6. SEGA Astro City Mini V

Extras

1. M2 Shottriggers: Toaplan Arcade Garage Series
2. Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Up Ultimate Collection
3. Toaplan Arcade 1 & Toaplan Arcade 2
4. Taito Egret II Mini
4. SEGA Astro City Mini V
6. Truxton Classic & Twin Cobra Classic

Value

1. Toaplan Arcade 1 & Toaplan Arcade 2
2. Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Up Ultimate Collection
3. M2 Shottriggers: Toaplan Arcade Garage Series
4. Truxton Classic & Twin Cobra Classic
5. SEGA Astro City Mini V
6. Taito Egret II Mini

Overall

1. Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Up Ultimate Collection
2. M2 Shottriggers: Toaplan Arcade Garage Series
3. Toaplan Arcade 1 & Toaplan Arcade 2
4. Taito Egret II Mini
5. Truxton Classic & Twin Cobra Classic
6. SEGA Astro City Mini V

So, where does that leave us? If you don’t mind paying the premium, it’s hard to beat M2’s Toaplan Arcade Garage releases. The Evercade is an affordable way to play while still giving a good quality experience, albeit one a little light on extras. Still, with everything taken into account it’s hard not to recommend Bitwave’s Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Up Collection releases on Steam and GOG. A very good level of quality, excellent pricing, and lots of settings to tweak and play around with. The mobile releases from Mobirix are really only for dabblers, and the plug and play devices are too costly for the level of quality and selection they offer in this specific contest. Tatsujin itself will be bringing its full line of arcade games to mobile at some point via its own app, but there hasn’t been much word of that since the Tokyo Game Show last year.

In the end, you have to find the option that fits your needs best. Toaplan is an important part of gaming history, and I think its games still hold up quite well even if they’re extremely challenging. Thus, if you have any love for the shooter genre at all, I encourage you to choose one of these ways to play Toaplan’s titles and get at it. It’s going to take a lot of practice if you want to clear Truxton or Fire Shark, after all. Enjoy the adventure!

By admin

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