- The PS1 popularized the shooter genre, with original light gun titles that are still enjoyable today.
series offers competitive, mini-game-style light gun action with charm and flair.
Die Hard Trilogy
provide explosive, challenging rail shooter experiences with high replay value.
The place to go for light gun action used to be the arcades back in the olden days of gaming. While console ports were made of numerous arcade titles, they usually didn’t hold a candle to the original. When the PlayStation hit the scene, thanks to the power of CD-ROMs, it proved that it could deliver faithful ports for a home console.
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Even better, a selection of original, exclusive light gun titles were created for the PS1, too. Firing at aliens, terrorists, and snapping piranhas with a bulky plastic handgun on the console is wacky, sweat-inducing, and unbelievably enjoyable experience, even well over two decades later. These are but a selection of the hottest light gun titles on the PS1.
6 Point Blank 1-3
Minigames meet light gun action in this competitive, goofy series.
The Point Blank trilogy was ported to the PS1, and they play just like their arcade originals. Each entry includes a whole batch of mini-games, and the hapless duo Dr. Dan and Dr. Don appears in some of them as well. Think of it as a precursor to the WarioWare series, except with guns.
Blasting bottles, firing at cardboard cutouts of ninjas, hitting a leaf with a single bullet, perforating a car, saving the unlucky mascots from trouble – these bite-sized stages last for no longer than a minute each, and the differing visual and art styles give charm and flair to an upbeat, frantic title that even a second player can join in on competitively. It’s difficult to pick which entry is the best, as they’re all just as brilliant as one another, so give them all a try!
5 Time Crisis
The first entry in the long-lasting arcade series delivers explosive action.
- October 31, 1997
- Rail Shooter
Time Crisis throws oodles of bad guys at the player in rapid succession, yet the clock is an enemy in itself as well. This rail shooter is fairly simple: jump in and out of cover, shoot all the enemies attacking in mass numbers, and then wait for the character to move to the next area to do it all over again. Some shots from bad guys will cost a life if the player is exposed (troops in red will net an instant kill, as a general rule of thumb), but letting that timer tick down to zero will do the same as well.
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The very first entry is quite tricky by today’s standards, and the boss battles are no slouch either. After all, there are no on-screen warnings that an enemy is about to land a critical shot to knock away a life. Despite its short length, the high-octane gameplay and challenging difficulty should be more than enough excuses to keep trying and retrying.
4 Time Crisis: Project Titan
A side-story in the series, introducing more quality-of-life improvements for its brand-new campaign.
Time Crisis: Project Titan
- June 19, 2001
- Flying Tiger Entertainment
- Rail Shooter
More terrorist-blasting action is on offer in Time Crisis: Project Titan. Akin to eighties action movies, it’s one protagonist against an entire army of trigger-happy mercenaries, some wearing Hawaiian shirts! It’s another short title with lots of punch and plenty of replayability.
This entry offers sharper visuals while retaining its colorful appearance. Even better are the options to choose one’s cover in some firefights, and the fact that incoming critical hits are highlighted with a red glow makes dodging them a bit easier. Otherwise, anyone who enjoyed the first game will no doubt get plenty of joy out of this follow-up, though greater entries in this series are still to come.
3 Die Hard Trilogy
This three-in-one package includes an amazing rail shooter based on the second movie.
Die Hard Trilogy
- PC , PS1 , Sega Saturn
- August 20, 1996
- Probe Entertainment
One doesn’t have to be a fan of Die Hard II: Die Harder to enjoy this one. Heck, the Die Hard Trilogy is made up of three games, yet its on-rails shooter entry is the best of the bunch. Recreating scenes from the movies, terrorists are available for shooting as John McClane drops his usual cheesy quips. Welcome to the party, pal!
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It’s fabulous to see how much wanton destruction players can cause here. Cars, windows, televisions, and soda machines can be smashed, while grenades and missiles will cause fiery explosions everywhere, turning terrorists into red mist. And, yes, there are plenty of them to gun down, though they may be alongside civilians as well, forcing players to make their shots carefully. Also, it’s home to one of the most hilarious high-score screens in existence, making it a must-try title.
2 Area 51
FMV graphics meet mindless alien-blasting action.
Area 51 (1995)
- Arcade , PS1 , Sega Saturn
- Mesa Logic
- Rail Shooter
Nineties cheesiness is abundant in Area 51. Dated full-motion video visuals and green-screen enemies are to be expected here, yet it just adds to the game’s overall charm. The whole game is rendered as an FMV cutscene, taking brief breaks to allow players to blast any mutants and extraterrestrials in their way.
It’s another short ride, much like the arcade original, though it promises enough mindless fun to justify giving it a try from time to time. With all the frantic action going on, and the sheer number of foes popping out of cover, it’s always recommended to play with a second player, either with a light gun or controller.
1 Elemental Gearbolt
Many features make this fantasy-themed title a unique rail shooter.
- August 10, 1998
- Alfa System
- Rail Shooter
Elemental Gearbolt is an interesting title. It combines 2D sprites with full-3D environments, is set in a sci-fi/fantasy world (rather than some action or horror-themed title like most shooter games of the era), and has a surprisingly moving soundtrack composed by a full orchestra.
Its anime cutscenes look gorgeous, and there’s always something to blast, be it falling rocks, steel golems, giant spaceships, etc. By defeating enemies with different spells (either precise shots, fully-automatic firing, or shotgun-like blasts), players can level up and increase both their health and damage. RPG elements in a rail shooter are certainly not that common! With all that being said, this is a title undoubtedly worth checking out.
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