Assessment: Pop’n TwinBee – Konami’s Vibrant 16-Bit Shmup Shines With Couple Mode Co-op

The TwinBee sequence loved relative success in Japan all through the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Pop’n Twinbee was the sixth sport within the sequence, and the final correct shoot ‘em up entry earlier than Konami took it in a unique path with issues like spin-off platformer Rainbow Bell Adventures.

As a result of it was by no means launched in North America, Pop’n Twinbee by no means fairly loved the next it in all probability deserved. In an period stuffed with imply and moody shoot ‘em ups the place spaceships and starfields made up 95% of the style’s output, Pop’n Twinbee’s vibrant visible fashion and quirky enemies actually ought to have given it a bigger fanbase (the identical, by the way, goes for Konami’s different cartoon shooter sequence Parodius).

The sport tells the story of Gentle and Pastel, two appropriately named pilots who fly the colorful, sentient plane TwinBee and WinBee. The pair are contacted by a younger lady referred to as Madoke, who informs them that her scientist grandfather Dr Mardock bumped his head and has turned evil. Mardock needs to take over the world, so it’s as much as Gentle and Pastel to hop into TwinBee and WinBee, fly by seven enemy-filled phases and slam a wholesome serving to of gunpowder into the evil physician’s bum.

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TwinBee (or WinBee in case you’re Participant Two) is armed with each a typical fast hearth shot and the power to drop bombs on enemies on the bottom. Enemies can solely be killed with one or the opposite, relying on which airplane they’re on. In addition to these commonplace assaults you can even carry out a screen-filling particular transfer the place you hearth a bunch of tiny TwinBees across the display screen, dealing enormous injury within the course of: naturally, these are restricted in quantity.

Lastly, you even have the power to carry out a punch assault. At first look this transfer seems like a little bit of a waste of time given how shut you need to get to enemies to carry out it, however it may possibly additionally deflect some bullets and is required to take out sure foes that may’t be harmed in another method. All of those totally different strikes mix to make a shooter that’s just a little extra than simply taping down a single hearth button and swooping round.

Punching planes apart, Pop’n Twinbee’s different foremost gimmick is its power-up system. Quite than merely choosing up randomly dropped weapons and the like as in most different shoot ‘em ups, right here you’re as a substitute gathering bells that fall from the sky. These bells are often bronze in color once they first arrive, and solely provide you with factors whenever you choose them up. Nonetheless, you may shoot these bells and juggle them again into the air, probably altering their color within the course of.

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Pink bells enhance your protect, inexperienced ones add a brand new little mini helper ship to fly round you, blue ones velocity you up and so forth. The trick, then, is to maintain juggling bells till they flip right into a helpful color, whereas additionally having to deal with the fixed onslaught of enemies within the course of. It’s a enjoyable method of conserving you in your toes, even when the 2 weapon power-ups you may acquire are just a little on the underwhelming facet. One is a bigger shot that doesn’t look like rather more highly effective than your commonplace shot, whereas the opposite is a selection shot that permits you to hearth with a wider vary however has a slower fee of fireplace.

The one-player mode is as you’ll count on, however in case you don’t fancy going it solo a second participant can hop into the pink ship WinBee and the pair of you may fly by all seven ranges collectively. There’s additionally a superb addition right here that ought to have been current in additional co-op video games through the years however sadly did not catch on: it’s referred to as Couple mode and, because the identify suggests, it’s designed to allow you to play together with your companion, even when they don’t have quite a lot of gaming expertise.

Right here’s the way it works: with Couple mode switched off your co-op expertise is just about the identical as it’s in different shoot ‘em ups: you each tackle the approaching enemies as equals and take care of them within the regular method. Activate Couple mode, nonetheless, and the enemies will focus all their assaults on TwinBee (participant one), that means the participant controlling WinBee has a a lot simpler time of issues and may act as an assistant, taking out dangerous guys to reduce the onslaught their companion is dealing with. It’s a wonderful method to get a non-gaming companion, little one or sibling concerned when they might in any other case be intimidated by a load of bullets flying at them.

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You’d assume this Couple mode mixed with its cutesy graphics would make it a straightforward sport, however the actuality is that Pop’n Twinbee is as difficult as you need it to be. The Choices menu generously provides you seven problem settings to decide on between, that means you may make it a stress-free scroller or a knuckle-clenching knockabout relying by yourself private style. The best problem is less complicated than in most shoot ‘em ups, nonetheless, and this – mixed with the truth that the bosses are much less imposing than in its friends – makes it a super entry level for folks curious in regards to the style however intimidated by tales of ‘bullet hell’ hijinks.


Lastly making its official North American debut 27 years after its authentic launch, Pop’n Twinbee is an enthralling, vibrant shoot ’em up that may attraction each to finish novices and grizzled veterans. Its particular Couple mode is a good twist on the everyday co-op formulation, and its sensible stage and enemy designs make it a deal with to play to this present day.

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