It’s all Greek to me
A pretty special shmup release has joined the ranks of Hamster’s Arcade Archives this week, as Namco’s mythological and controversial blaster Phelios is now available to download on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Released to the Japanese arcade market in 1989, before later being ported to the Sega Mega Drive, Phelios is a vertically-scrolling shmup that is (very loosely) patterned after Greek mythology. Players don the mighty armor of the sun god Apollo, who mounts his mighty steed Pegasus and embarks upon a mission to rescue his wife, Artemis, who has been abducted by the serpentine god, Typhon. Players guide Apollo through seven famously challenging stages, taking on notable boss characters such as Medusa, Antaeus, Cerberus, and The Sirens. Dusa would never.
Check out the button-mashing action in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber Replay Burners.
While Phelios was a massive success in its native Japan, it would, unfortunately, be rarely seen outside of its native territory. Much like Namco’s previous Rolling Thunder, players were greeted with images of the damsel, Artemis, chained and tortured between stages, which left Namco a little nervous about shipping the title westward. Phelios is also one of the harder shmup titles of its day, with even standard enemies often requiring multiple shots to dispatch. With its sexual content and high difficulty, Phelios would not become a mainstay of North America’s arcade centers.
Still, it remains a genuinely tough and engaging title. And the now ultra-mild “sexual scenes”, along with the hilariously loose use of Greek mythology, (from Apollo riding Pegasus as a pet, to the use of the famously heterosexual hunt goddess Artemis as his “princess wife”), makes Phelios one of the more interesting examples of the late-’80s shmup genre.
Phelios is available to download now on PS4 and Ninetndo Switch, priced at around $8.