Einhander (1998)

  • Gamepage
  • Developer: Square
  • Publisher: Square

The mid to late nineties were a time when Square - flushed from its newfound international success - played away from home quite a bit. Sometimes, its forays outside the RPG genre didn't work quite so well; the somewhat risible beat 'em up Ehrgeiz being a good example. However, as we saw with Bushido Blade, there were moments when Square demonstrated true genius in its non-RPG titles. Einhander was, unquestionably, one of those moments.

The premise is simple; it's an R-Type style side scrolling shoot 'em up, rendered entirely in 3D (which is still surprisingly good looking). The catch is that your ship has a grasping manipulator which can grab weapons dropped by destroyed enemies and fire them either from an above or below position. These weapon pods are scattered like candy around the game's gorgeously appointed stages, and they offer the player a unique variety of options for approaching any given situation.

As well as being good looking, fast and very, very slick, Einhander also boasted some of the best electronic music to be found in any videogame of the era, courtesy of Square in-house composer Kenichiro Fukui. While it was arguably the most successful of Square's expeditions into non-RPG territory, Einhander never made it to Europe, and enjoyed only a limited audience abroad. A follow-up seems eminently unlikely; but PlayStation Network would be a fitting home for such shoot 'em up brilliance, surely?

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Rob Fahey

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