There used to be a day when shooters weren't almost always preceeded with the words "first person." Phil remembers these days fondly, and takes a look back...
THE OLD SCHOOL WAY
The Game Boy naturally had the greater share of software available for it. With many of the Nintendo 3rd party publishers bringing their franchises to the little guy. There was a great selection of shooters, ranging from run and gun games to Gradius and co.
The Game Gear had a few blasters it could call its own. A couple of pretty neat vertical shooters in the form of GG Aleste and Halley Wars. Also an actually impossible to locate conversion of Gunstar Heroes, which while not as technically accomplished as the Genesis title was a damn good effort at reproducing it. Fantasy Zone is another Sega fans favorite but the GG version sadly didn't do anything for me. The Game Gear was destined to live its live as a platform game machine, probably due to the fact that the severe blurring of those early color LCD screens wasn't ideal for fast action at all.
Now if you happened to like blasters involving spacecraft. The PC-Engine GT was the machine to own. The American version the Turbo Express was the same machine but the clever guys at NEC decided that they were going up against the Genesis and SNES and rather than risk a shooter heavy lineup left a lot of titles out. A few made it across like Gunhed (As Blazing Lazers), Aero Blasters and Galaga '90 but the amount of games that never made the leap over the pacific is huge. Nec pretty much gave up on the whole Turbo Grafx platform quite rapidly. Not the case over in Japan though. The home console PC-Engine was quite a success, writhing in a sea of games from the likes of Capcom, Taito and Konami like 1943, Parodius and Kyuukyoku Tiger(Twin Cobra). This made the machine quite the blasters paradise.
The Atari lynx? Personally I never owned one, i was put off by the comedic size of the thing. It had a couple of blasters, the classic Robotron 2084 and Gates of Zendocon. I didn't even know anyone who actually owned a lynx though, let alone have those games so that I could sample them. Later on in its life, like.. well after the machine had officially died. A conversion of Raiden appeared on the system. Too little too late for this machine though. The Lynx shall be forever shunned by those seeking to fry alien space-beings.
MODERN SHOOTING LIFE
The DS and PSP have shown some promise to us shooter fans. The DS with Nanostray and Nibris' promising looking Raid over the River. We've revisted a few classic series with retro collections, remakes and a damn good version of Bombermanon the PSP. The GBA has gifted us with the likes of Gunstar Super Heroes, Alien Hominid and Metal Slug advance. So it's not quite all over for old school blasting on current systems.
If you're adventurous enough though, there's a plethora of blasters available by the nefarious world of emulation . A whole host of emulators for the PSP are obtainable , similarly for the Gp32 and its brethren. The PSP homebrew scene has given us Pc-Engine, Nes, SNES and Genesis emulators so there's a whole world of shooting action for you to stuff in your pants. I've personally been getting my fix on my mobile, as there has been recently released for Nokia's Symbian s60 series a reasonably functional version of Mame. Now if ONLY my phone allowed for diagonals on its tiny little joystick, Gragh!