( Blazing Lazers )
©1989 Hudson Soft
Release : 1989-07-07 (¥6200)
HuCard (3 Mbits) HC89019
Shooter / Vertical
Released in America as
( TGX030010 )
Gunhed (aka Blazing Lasers) is a vertical shooter co-developed by
Compile and Hudson Soft. It is loosely based on a Japanese feature
film of the same name originally released in 1989 (they however share little in
common). The Dark Squadron forces are poised to take over the galaxy, and
eight of their deadliest weapons must be destroyed in order to thwart the
interplanetary invasion plot. The player pilots the Gunhed, a powerful
space-fighter, and flies his way through nine massive areas, from a huge space
station to organic tunnels and other odd alien worlds. Gunhed offers
vast levels, most of them featuring middle-bosses as well as bosses. To succeed
in his mission, the player has access to a vast array of weapons. A lot of
weapons. Four main weapons are available throughout the game - Photon
Blasters (I), Disrupt Wave (II), Field Thunder (III), and
Ring Blaster (IV). Each weapon (I to IV) also comes with several
levels of power upgrades, which can be powered-up by collecting the same
weapon-icon several times, or by collecting purple floating orbs left behind
by defeated enemies and power pods. Then secondary weapons or special abilities
can also be equipped along the way - floating F icons (Full Fire)
increase the power of the active weapon, Multi-bodies serve as support
options/satellites and fly alongside the ship, Homing missiles spread
out and attack nearby enemies, and Shields protect the player against
enemy attacks. Finally, in case of extreme emergency, the ship has a stock of
powerful bombs than can clean up most of the enemies on screen.
Gunhed was licensed from the science fiction/action film of the
same name released in 1989 and directed by Masato Harada (Picture
on the left). The movie was produced by Toho/Sunrise, and the same copyright
information can be found on the game's title screen. In the movie, a super computer
called Kyron 5 takes control of the world, and a group of survivors decides
to reactivate a giant robot, the GUNHED 507, to fight the threat.
Interestingly, the Gunhed 507 is a large and futuristic robot-tank, and
not a space-fighter - but the tank mode does somehow resembles the ship featured
in the video game.
A series of comic books was also published in Japan and in the
United States (picture on the right) - the story and art were done by
Kia Asamiya, also known for his major works Silent Moebius and
Another game also based on the Gunhed movie was released
for the Famicom in 1990 - Gunhed Aratanaru Tatakai was developed by
Varie and is not a shooter but a strategy/war game. Finally, the
Gunhed 507 does also a cameo appearance in Runabout 2 developed
by Climax Entertainment for the Playstation in 1999, where the
"Kyron 5" is an unlockable tank very similar to the original
The PC Engine game was co-developed by the legendary Japanese company Compile.
Their names can be seem in the game's end credits where they are mentioned as 'cooperators'.
Gunhed is filled with ideas and gameplay concepts only found in other Compile games
such as Zanac (Famicom),
Gun Nac (Famicom) or
Super Aleste (Super Famicom) - similar
weapon system and same hectic and intense gameplay.
Interestingly, some of the music tracks sound really familiar too, and they do resemble the
ones found in other Compile games such as
Gunhed was part of the fifth Caravan Festival organized by Hudson Soft
in 1989. A non-commercial and very limited edition of Gunhed
exists - Gunhed Special Version comes as a single HuCard, and offers a 2 and 5 minutes
Time Attack modes (picture on the left, see also the Omake section).
Interestingly, many video game magazine
in the 1990s (especially in France), listed Gunhed as part of the Star Soldier
series - we are left to wonder if the Caravan Competition didn't actually lead to that
mistake. See Star Soldier for more
information about the Caravan Festival.
Interestingly, Gunhed was released with two different label variations in Japan.
Well, not exactly - one edition has a large blue sticker applied to the game's cover. The
sticker seems to mention that Gunhed was featured at the fifth Caravan Festival
in 1989 (see above for more information about the event). There is uncertainty as to which
variation came first, but the "sticker edition" is apparently more common than the
Teaser text from the American version :
Stay alert! Don't blink! You're in the fight of your life. The defense of Planet Earth
against the Dark Squadron hangs on your hair-trigger shooting and superior strategy.
Bun win or lose, you and your 80-ton lazer gunship are going to make things HOT.
Increase destructive capabilities by powering up, and battle your way to the Supreme
Alien Leader. What you do to him if you catch him won't be pretty!
Game story from the American version :
Get to your battles station, space jockey! You're in for the fight
of your life in this, the ultimate outre-space shoot'em up - Blazing Lazers!
Seated at the helm of 80 tons of awesome firepower - a Gunhed Star Fighter - you've
just run into the ruthless Dark Squadron. Dangerously close to the Earth, they
threaten to destroy the world with 8 Super Weapons. Only you and your Star Fighter's
blazing lazers and bombs stand between them and certain destruction. Plan your
strategy and power up with the 8 different enhancements that appear - you'll
need more than straight shooting to fight your way out of this one!
Game Staff (Copied from the end credits) :
Best Friends in Sapporo
John A. Greiner
And You !
© 1989 HUDSON SOFT
1989 © TOHO SUNRISE
Click on picture to enlarge
Gunhed is definitively one of the most amazing and overwhelming vertical
shooter available on HuCard for the PC Engine system. The graphics
and the soundtrack are outstanding and the gameplay is utterly brilliant - the game
is fast, furious and will get your adrenaline pumping for sure! It always ensures
that there is a steady flow of enemies heading your way, as well as power-ups, which
gives it an unique and intense gameplay. Everything is not perfect though, and the
game has a couple of tiny flaws - the difficulty curve is a bit off - although it is
somehow gradual, the last couple of levels are insanely difficult compared to the rest
of the game. Then enemy bullets don't actually move sideways when the screen
does - this effect is hard to describe, but I sometimes find it hard to evaluate
their trajectories, especially in the fire of action. All in all, Gunhed is
amazing, spectacular and a shooter that shouldn't be missed.
Every review I’ve ever read for Gunhed has been exceedingly positive, so
naturally I figured it had to be overrated. However, as I got further and
further into it, I consistently found more to enjoy. Yes, Gunhed / Blazing
Lazers is a straight-ahead shooter with simplistic gameplay, but it is
also a shooter with a musical soundtrack that not only complements the
gameplay but is something to enjoy all on its own. Gunhed is a true classic
and a definite must-play!