Happy Mother’s Day!



Cover art by whoever does the cover art for GWAR albums.





GENRE: Shoot-em-up

RELEASE DATE: 12/09/89 – (JP), 01/90 – (US), 11/90 – (EU)


As a word, Truxton means nothing; it’s up there with “undiscovery” on the video game gibberish list. Tatsujin – the original Japanese title for Truxton – means “Expert.” As in, if you’re not an expert, back away from the arcade cabinet/Mega Drive. Toaplan, the game’s developer, created several shoot-em-ups before and after Tatsujin: Tiger-Heli, Twin Cobra, and the infamous Zero Wing to name three. Tatsujin is their only shmup with a difficulty level for a title. For good reason. Whatever name you give it, this shoot-em-up will bruise your pride and leave you questioning your skills.


Truxton (W) [!]000

They may look like poop brains with eyes, but they’re fierce just the same.


Truxton has a story that involves made-up words like “Belery” and “Borogo.” Here’s the abridged version: you’re a fighter pilot named Tom who has to shoot as many Gidans as possible. Who are the Gidans? Presumably an evil alien race, I dunno, who cares. All that matters is that they’re not human and you are. If there’s another ship on screen, kill it. It’s probably for their own good.


Truxton (W) [!]001

I hate you all, for some reason!


Tom’s spacecraft starts off with an unlimited bullet spread and a couple bombs. You either use ‘A’ to manually fire (and destroy your thumb) or hold down ‘C’ to rapid-fire. There’s no penalty for the latter, so unless you’re some sort of purist with made-up rules in their head, rapid-fire away! ‘B’ unleashes a screen-clearing bomb, with an incredibly metal image of a skull in an almost pentagram.


Power-ups come in the form of skull-shaped capsules and provide everything from a change of weapons to speed and power boosts. There are three different weapons: the Power Shot, which is the aforementioned spread of bullets; the Thunder Laser, a blue lightning attack that locks onto the enemy; and the Truxton Beam, a green wall of power. Each weapon can be upgraded twice through accumulating power boosts. Five power boosts upgrade your weapon to level 2, while ten get you to level 3. At their peak, the Truxton Beam and the Thunder Laser have five-way spread (the latter dominates the entire screen), while the Power Shot has a five way spread and a rainbow shield that protects you from danger. All three are excellent, but the best weapon for the stage usually depends on the stage’s enemy types and their movement patterns.


Truxton (W) [!]002

Like Cosmic Bowling, but with bullets.


Like any intense shoot-em-up that rarely lets the player breathe, you’ll need every power-up that Truxton gives you. Even if that extra bomb seems unnecessary or your weapons are completely powered-up, collect the boosts and the bombs anyway. If you die when your weapon is Level 3, you lose ten power boosts (five if you’re at Level 2), but if you manage to stockpile over ten boosts and then die, you’ll restart with your weapon still at Level 3. Hard, but doable, and especially important for later levels where it’s impossible to progress without powered-up weapons.


Got bombs? Save them for the minibosses. The regular enemies that creepy crawl in droves across the screen won’t get in your way too often, but the minibosses are complete buttheads. There’s usually two or three of them at once, they’re just large enough to take over the screen, and they spew projectiles and blasts (usually at the same time) from their many alien orifices. Even the enormous screen-filling bosses aren’t as obnoxious.


Truxton (W) [!]005

Nobody’s setting me up the bomb!


While the shooting action is stellar, Truxton‘s environments and enemies are nondescript and forgettable. The stages all take place on asteroids: Blue Asteroid, Red Asteroid, Orchid Asteroid, olé! These are the literal stage names and more or less summarize what you can expect to see; though there are also occasional periods where your ship is drifting in space and little is happening. The enemies aren’t much better. Their generic, cluttered designs will have you aching to annihilate the Gidans in full.


Truxton (W) [!]007

That explosion off to the left was my ship, now and forever more.


If Tatsujin means “Expert,” then Truxton, as a made-up word, could mean just about anything. I’m calling it now: Truxton means “Bastard.” It’s a game that hates you, your gaming skills, and your pride as a gamer. If you’re the type of expert who refuses to be bested by some goofily named shoot-em-up, Truxton will get under your skin and sit a spell.



Posts created 76

17 thoughts on “Truxton

  1. That’s scary cover art!! I’m glad I never played this game as a kid or I would have been permanently traumatized, even more so than when I played Ecco the Dolphin and went in the machine.

  2. While not my favorite shooter ever. This was a really good 16-bit shooter. I eventually got good enough to beat it. And beat it again.mbecause it’s one of those play through the game twice things. There are only 5 levels. But they are pretty long levels. Gameplay is not too complex. The power ups are pretty straight forward. But the skill required is so damn intense. But I Liked it. I also liked the weird alien robotic organic blended designs. That bomb was awesome too Just a big ass giant skull flashing on the screen. And it killed enemy bullets too. So if you got in a pinch you could drop one off to save your ass. Definetly in the bullet hell class of shooters though. I definetly has an affinity for the homing lasers. I’d power that up first and get good at dodging. The Truxton beam also was awesome for concentrated fire. That is the last boss on the cover BTW.

    1. Couldn’t imagine playing through this game twice. I enjoyed myself, but that’s just torture. I didn’t realize bullet hell shooters went back to ’89. Course I doubt they called them bullet hell shooters then, but still. Truxton feels like a prelude to the madness of games like DoDonPachi.

      1. Technically speaking, “bullet hell” or danmaku shmups are all about bullet patterns, whereas Truxton definitely comes from the old school of “twitch” shmups, or games with smaller quantities of fast movie bullets. You can see later Toaplan shooters migrating toward this style, with titles like Batsugun, as well as elements that move in that direction with Twin Cobra 2, Dogyuun, and and V-V (aka Grindstormer). Those games don’t quite tread that line between twitch and bullet hell like most Psykio shmups, or the original DonPachi, but they definitely show that Toaplan is sowing the seeds of what was to come.

        Great review, though. This is a game I’ve never been able to get very far in, though admittedly, I’ve not dedicated the kind of time to it that is required to really get good. I get frustrated quickly and turn it off, because it’s just so brutal. I much prefer Toaplan’s Fire Shark, a more well balanced shmup that ramps up the difficulty a bit more slowly, and kicks your tail with a little less glee than Truxton does. Still, a worthy addition to any Genesis/Megadrive shmup fan’s collection, though it has become expensive lately. Also, I’m sure you’re aware, but in case you’re not, this game is a favorite of Mark from Classic Game Room, and he references it all the time in various reviews.

  3. You’ve got so many shoot em ups to go through, I hope your skillz are improving! To the max! *does gnarly flip on skateboard*

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  5. I played the arcade version and I managed to play a single game for over 2 hours. I beat the game 3 or 4 times over , had 28 extra lives at one point and could have continued but the shop was shutting for the evening.

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