Golden age shmup Space Cruiser returns on PS4 and Nintendo Switch

One of the shmup genre’s earliest examples returns to battle in 2021

It’s back to the button-bashing world of shmups for this week’s Hamster Arcade Archives release, as Taito’s cosmic blaster Space Cruiser — one of the oldest releases in the genre — makes its grand return on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Released way back in 1981, right at the dawning of the golden age of the arcade, Space Cruiser is a basic vertically scrolling shmup that took the static action of titles such as Space Invaders and gave it a dose of speed, color, and dynamism. Set in 2100 A.D. Players control the titular vessel as it hurtles through the stars, taking on waves on enemy ships who attack in patterned formation. Survive several waves and you’ll be greeted with a fast-paced asteroid belt, tasking the player with weaving in and out of danger at speeds that, at the time, were almost unfathomable.

Check out the action in the video below, courtesy of YouTuber Old Classic Retro Gaming.

Should the player survive the onslaught, a bonus stage sees you dock with a mothership in order to unlock weapon upgrades. The combination of these varied stages, complete with Space Cruiser‘s speed, vibrant visuals, synthesized speech, and strange choice of music, (a bitty rendition of Modest Mussorgsky’s “A Night on Bare Mountain”), helped Taito hit big in the burgeoning arcade scene. Today, of course, Space Cruiser is incredibly simplistic, but it’s still a classic of its own time.

Space Cruiser is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8.

Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s and writing about them since the 1880s. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors. Twitter: @ChrisxMoyse