Truxton: Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis

Truxton: Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis
Truxton: Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis

Insert Disk collects Truxton for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis.

Today’s retro game review is Truxton for the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. This retro gaming classic is a great example of Toaplan at their best. Classic shoot ’em up fun straight from the 1980’s arcade. Truxton/Tatsujin sees you face odd against 100’s of enemy ships and boss fights. There’s power ups to collect and action galore, all set to the backdrop of a memorable electronic soundtrack. Truxton may not look particularly special but its certainly a fan favourite with many gamers.

Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. Like many children of the 80’s I grew up with a lot of space shooter game. You know the type, hordes of enemies and bullets flying at you. Today I’m taking a look back at one of my personal favourites for the Sega Mega Drive and Genesis. Known as Tatsujin in Japan but to the Western audiences, Truxton. Truxton does have a back story. As you might expect, it’s completely irrelevant and there purely to make up the extra space in the manual. There’s an armada of Gidans, led by the evil Dogurava who are invading the planet Borogo. As one of the final surviving fighter pilots you challenge the Gidans in a last attempt to destroy the invaders. It’s complete nonsense but hats off to coming up with the most generic backstory ever penned. None of this matters though as Truxton originated from the arcade. It’s not as if we stood around reading back-story. Arcade goers came for the action and its action you’ll find with Truxton.

Initially looking at the game graphics you’re going to quickly come to the conclusion, Truxton does not look particularly impressive at first glance. It’s sprites are somewhat simple, the backgrounds lack detail and if we’re honest does the side display really need to take up around a quarter of the play area? Or was this a mechanism to cover up some of the technical limitations of the day as with Truxton’s sister game Fire Shark. However, looks can be deceiving. It’s the game play that really hits the spot in Truxton. This is a very stripped back game compared to competing shooters of the day such as Battle Squadron. You’ll typically do all this things you do in a shooter of this type though. You’ll shoot down waves of enemy, avoid the oncoming fire and collect a range of pickups. Typically you’ll be upgrading your speed, power and occasionally an extra smart bomb for those trickier moments in the game.
What sells Truxton is it’s direct approach to fun. This really is a game that says don’t over think it, just play.

Along your way you’ll also have many opportunities to upgrade you weapon. You’ll start with a decent enough orange bullet spread fire shot. It’s ideal for covering off large areas of the screen but not so powerful as other options in it’s initial state. The green laser is a bit of a fan favourite. It will only fire straight ahead but the means you get more bang for your buck when it comes to fire power. For some of the sub-bosses this is a great option. The final weapon is the blue shot. This is where the action is really at. Individually it is weaker than the green laser but it has a trick up its sleeve. The blue lasers lock on to oncoming enemies making it ideal for screen clearing runs. At full power it can be an absolutely devastating weapon. Loose it though and you’re back to square one. As with many games of this type, lose your powered up weapon and you can find yourself in some serious trouble if you can’t quickly build up its power.

Overall, you’re going to enjoy this game if you generally enjoy a quick fix of blast ’em up fun. There are a few issues with the game that seem to be hangovers from the arcade. My primary irritation is the notion of cheap deaths. If you haven’t played a stage before it’s easy to get caught out by enemies suddenly appearing. In some cases they will literally speed straight in to you from all directions. Hardly a fair challenge if you haven’t memorised the game. This is fundamentally the second issue with the game. It can be beaten simply by learning the level patterns. Other games often seem better at avoiding this trap by varying the enemies enough that you have to take a different route unless you have the game memorised. I’m not going to be too critical though, there’s still enough game play here to satisfy the casual retro gamer.

The packaging for Truxton is fairly decent. Some really nice artwork on the box and I’m certainly sold on the presentation. Truxton has been in my collection for many years so I’ve never really considered the collecting price. Having reviewed the online auctions the PAL version now regularly sells for around the £35-£40 mark. That’s near enough 50 USD. Is it worth it? Well, that’s slightly debatable. For $50 you can certainly find better shooters on the system. In terms of collecting though Tappan shooters have stealthily crept up in price and desirability over the years. Even Fire Shark now commands a decent price tag nearing $50. From what I remember I paid no more than £3 or $5 each for my editions.

Truxton is a great game. It’s simple, effective and the music really does scream generic 1980’s space shooter. Overall I’m very much sold on Truxton, if you’re looking for a gateway game to introduce you to the shooter genre before you hit the harder Japanese bullet hell shooters then you can do far worse than Truxton.

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