Gaiares for SEGA Genesis
The best side-scrolling shooter on a system that excels in the genre, Gaiares is a brutally difficult, though highly enjoyable game in which players guide a spaceship through four distinctive, enemy-filled stages: Floating Continent, Glacial Planet, Space Sanctuary, and Space Colony. The bosses (such as an armor-clad figure with shield in sword in hand) are huge, highly detailed, and hard to destroy. The ship, which can toggle between three different speeds, is a blast to pilot since it is capable of firing off a TOZ device, which attaches itself to enemies and "teaches" the ship how to use the enemy in question's weaponry (including lasers, cannons, and giga-beams). The difficulty level is muted somewhat by the powerful weapons and the availability of shields, but all but the most persistent of players will have to use cheat codes in order to access later levels of play. Keeping the ship out of harm's way is a harried task indeed; sharp reflexes and intense concentration are absolute requirements.