"Unspeakable evil was born in a distant galaxy when the wicked brain Gaudy came into being. Gaudy created a brutal force and embarked on a quest to conquer the universe. Now it is the year 2059 and this inhuman aggressor has arrived - to conquer our world!"
Slap Fight is a great top-down, vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up from those lovely people at Taito. Originally released as an arcade game, Slap Fight was also released for the Sega Genesis (aka the Mega Drive in Europe), Commodore 64, Atari ST and Sinclair Spectrum. It was also released as Alcon (Allied League of COsmic Nations) in the U.S..
I first played Slap Fight on my old Commodore 64 around 12 years ago (circa 1990, possibly even before that...), and I loved it. The graphics were stunning, for the C64, thanks to the excellent choice of colours, and the theme music was very catchy, as opposed to being annoying. Unfortunately, my C64 died not long after I acquired Slap Fight, so I moved on to bigger things - Turrican 2 on the Commodore Amiga, and R-Type on the Sega Master System.
Back to the matter at hand. According to Taito, Slap Fight is "an all out action game with many levels of weaponry to make an exciting game not seen in quite some time". Which sounds like standard blurb, and has probably described a million other games. The game is set in the year 2059, when aliens have overrun the earth, and one man must pilot the experimental S475 craft to victory. Well, so far, so R-Type. What *I* liked most about Slap Fight is the speed of the action, and the nice incremental power-up system, which is different to that of R-Type, as you can actually choose your power-ups, rather than just picking up whatever comes your way.
On the actual game screen, under the main action "window", there is a row of small boxes, containing the names of the various power-ups you can collect - Speed, Shot, Side, Wing, Bomb, Laser, H. Mis and Shield. As you collect the little golden stars left behind by destroyed enemies, different items are highlighted yellow. When a power-up is highlighted, you can press your Weapon Select button to get that power-up. The power-ups are pretty self-explanatory; Speed makes your initially fairly sluggish ship a bit faster (especially when it comes to dodging enemies...); Shot is the default shooting action (making this a pretty crappy power-up); Side provides you with funny semi-circular bits radiating from the sides of your ship; Wing will increase your firepower by adding two more guns on to your wings, up to a total of 6 guns; Bomb gives you a wider firing range, while Laser gives you a longer range; H. Mis gives you homing missiles, while Shield gives you a shield that will take three enemy hits before failing.
Hardware-wise, Slap Fight was only available as a conversion kit; see the "Alcon Arcade Manual" link below if you really need to know how to build a Slap Fight arcade machine (or if your name is Susan ;) ). And on the subject, Susan tells me that the board for this quite is quite expensive - usually around $100.
Anyway; to sum up, Slap Fight is a venerable old shoot-em-up whose colourful graphics and jaunty music have withstood the test of time well, and that I still enjoy playing (using MAME). It may be mindless, but it's great fun!
- http://toaplan.gamersgraveyard.com/slapfight/ : A brief overview of the game, with nice screenshots.
- http://www.toaplan.com/slapfight/alcon_arcademanual.html : The arcade machine manual; all quotations above are taken from this.
- TheBooBooKitty, who graciously sent me the MAME ROM for Slap Fight, and then pointed me towards a space in the nodegel.