Originally released in 1985 across the Japanese arcade circuit, Konami’s Twinbee was one of the pioneers of the cute ‘em up genre. The arcade game would see a home port to the Famicom Disk System a year after its initial release, and this version would eventually get ported to the Gameboy Advance in 2004, exclusively in Japan.
The general gameplay of Twinbee is in line with what you’d expect from an 80’s era shoot ‘em up, and very similar to Xevious. Unlike its Namco competition’s dark grey and black sprites, Twinbee features cutesy, colourful sprites, ranging from radishes to strawberries – as well as big fluffy clouds and bells. The game is a vertical scrolling shooter, where you earn points by blasting away at your enemies and throwing bombs at the ground below to destroy small structures for bonus points. It’s a pretty simplistic gameplay loop – but it’s addictive – you must beat your previous score! It’s not from an era of games you can complete, but from an era of money-hungry arcade machines. Twinbee is not easy, and you’ll need either a lot of experience in the genre, or a lot of practice, in order to get good enough to earn big points. It’s also possible to play the game in two-player mode, which is always a positive.
Ring the Bells
The power-up system in Twinbee is a little different to your run-of-the-mill shoot ‘em up. In order to obtain a power-up, you first need to shoot a cloud. After the cloud has been hit, a bell will fly out of it, and you’ll then need to shoot the bell to change its colour. There are four different colours, which all relate to a different power-up ability – and you’ll need to fly into the bell whilst it is one of these four colours in order to obtain it. With so much going on with enemies on the screen, playing about with these bells just feels a little bit unnecessary, and a simpler power-up system would’ve probably been a better choice, at least in my opinion.
For me, Twinbee just moves too slowly. It takes at least a few seconds to move from one side of the screen to the other, and that’s just not something I like in my shoot ‘em ups. Sure, the speed was limited by the hardware of the time, but I feel that there should’ve been an option to adjust this for the GBA re-release.
Despite having a few issues here and there, there’s no denying that Twinbee was a roaring success for a reason. My personal preference brings this one down a bit in my opinion – and you’d be far more likely to catch me playing a vertical shmup like Red Death than spending more time with Twinbee. There’s still a lot to like about the game, and looking at it in a historical sense shows that it really helped pioneer an entire subgenre that would later become populated by titles such as Fantasy Zone a year later, and Parodius in the 90’s.
- Cutesy, memorable art style
- Classic 80’s difficulty
- Co-op play
- Movement is a little slow
- Power-up system feels too complicated.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP