I am trying to find an arcade game that I saw in the 1980s that made a strong impression on my with the innovative appearance of its bosses. It was a top-scrolling shoot-'em-up,

I saw it somewhere in the range of 1985 to 1989 (most likely in 1986), at Skate Palace in Salem, Oregon. Seen from a distance, at first I thought it was Xevious, as I remember it having a similar color scheme (with lots of greens and earth tones), and I saw a player defeat a boss that looked a lot like the Andor Genesis mother ship bosses from Xevious.

Andor Genesis from Xevious

As I remember it, the boss had a similar shape, square but with cut corners to make it an octogon. However, it may also have had an extended arm attached, unlike the Xevious boss shown above. It also shot more interesting looking missles, shaped like boomerangs, unlike the small and large spheres in Xevious.

The first boss down, the player I was watching made it through another stage, to face off against another monster alien craft, which was the one that really caught my attention. It was like a gigantic silver or gray metal insect. I remember it as being closest to a grasshopper or locust, but it might have a different bug. Moreover, it shot interesting missiles as well, little metal fists (extending back a bit past the wrist) that shot forward, propelled by rocket flames. I think the player died against his enemy, and I did not see any more.

Later, as I got to know Xevious better (and had multiple friends who actually made it all the way through that game), I recognized that this had not, in fact been the same game. Over the years, I have actually played quite a few (mostly emulated, through the MAME library—which I have looked over, albeit nonsystematically) Xevious-style arcade games in an effort to find this one again. However, thinking about it now, this was probably not the right approach. There are plenty of "Xevious clones" out there, but what distinguished them from other vertical shoot-'em-ups was that they had both turrets for firing at enemies in the air and bombs for hitting the ground. In fact, there is no reason to believe that the game I saw had Xevious's innovative bombing feature; I probably just associated what I was seeing with Xevious because of its similar graphics style and color palette.

  • You could perhaps try browsing the MAME ROM archive for games in the same time period. It could be a Xevious-inspired game, so probably for the same CPUs and similar in ROM size. – LSerni Nov 20 '19 at 23:38
  • @LSerni I've looked at a lot of MAME games, but I certainly haven't checked every vertical shoot-'em-up. – Buzz Nov 21 '19 at 0:11
  • The SE for retrocomputing may also be of some help, considering the "last-century" aspect of your query. – fred_dot_u Nov 21 '19 at 1:06
  • There was a futuristic variant of 1942, but I don't really recall what the bosses looked like. Then again, I vaguely remembered Xevious having an isometric view like Zaxxon so what do I know? :) – DavidW Nov 21 '19 at 3:00
  • Holy crap, did you realize you could play games at the Internet Archive!? archive.org/details/arcade_ajax – DavidW Nov 21 '19 at 4:00

Thanks to DavidW, I have found the game I was thinking of. (I will be awarding DavidW a bounty for finding the correct series of games.) The Gaming History page for UFO Robo Dangar pointed me toward other similar games made by Nichibutsu. Just watching UFO Robo Dangar, I noticed similarities to MagMax (the barriers on the ground that block the player's normal shots; the ability to upgrade the player's ship with the body of an anime robot; the holes leading down to different-looking play areas; and a number of extremely similar enemy designs). However, looking at other Nichibutsu games quickly found me the correct answer.

The game I was thinking of was Terra Cresta, from the same series of games as UFO Robo Dangar.

The bosses I remembered are shown in this longplay here

and here

When I saw that boss shooting fists propelled by flaming jets, I knew this was the game I was thinking of. (My impression that the boss was insectoid must have been confusion with another game.) After the boss's arms are destroyed, it shoots boomerang-shaped projectiles, which I also (imperfectly) remembered.

As I was tracking down the game I had seen, it was interesting to see the stylistic continuity among the games, which were, at a superficial level, aping the style of Xevious. Yet Terra Cresta, MagMax, UFO Robo Dangar, and the later game Terra Force had a number of stylistic commonalities that were original to the series.


I wonder if this could be the 1986 game UFO Robo Dangar. I've never heard of it before, but ran across it while searching for another game.

It seems to hit most of your points. The first boss is somewhat octagonal in shape:

First boss

I'm not sure what shoots what, but there are a variety of non-ball weapons shot at the player, including some that might be described as boomerang-shaped:

"boomerang-shaped" enemy fire

The second boss is silvery and insectile:

Silvery insect-like second boss

The player doesn't have separate shots for air and ground - the same shots hit both targets. There are also a variety of player shots; blue balls, flame-like clouds (both in these screen caps) plus a few other, like big expanding waves...

There's a longplay video on YouTube you can check out for more details.

  • That might be it, although I'm not sure yet. – Buzz Nov 24 '20 at 22:40
  • Actually, after viewing the longplay of UFO Robo Dangar for a few minutes, my impression was that this was across between Xevious and a top-scrolling (rather than side-scrolling) version of MagMax (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MagMax). There are obvious similarities: the barriers on the ground that block the player's normal shots; the ability to upgrade the player's ship with the body of an anime robot; the holes leading down to different-looking play areas; and a number of extremely similar enemy designs. And it turns out that this game was indeed made by the group that made MagMax in 1985! – Buzz Nov 24 '20 at 22:42
  • @Buzz Thank you! – DavidW Nov 26 '20 at 22:23

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