When we feel like getting an adrenaline rush (through legal means), we tend to pop in an action packed video game and lay waste to our digital enemies for a few hours. We may enjoy rolling up sticky junk in Katamari Damacy, or pulling off intricate heists in Sly Cooper from time to time. But we can't get enough of a good shoot 'em up/beat 'em up adventure.
One of the main video game developers that provides us with such frantic action games is Treasure Co. Ltd. Ever since the company was founded by former Konami employees in 1992, they’ve raised the bar when it comes to well-crafted video games. They have a penchant for crafting some of the craziest, most addictive side-scrolling and top-down shooters we’ve ever played.
Even though they create great products, their name and their portfolio seems to fall under gamer’s radars. And that just ain’t right! Some of you may have even played a Treasure-developed game or two without even realizing who made it. We’re going to handle the task of honoring this fine video game company by counting down 10 of their most memorable video games.
They may be underrated to some, but they’re also greatly appreciated by those who actually know them and their releases.
By the end of this list, you’ll know the name and respect their legacy.
10. McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure (Sega Genesis)
A licensed video game starring Ronald McDonald…THAT WAS ACTUALLY DECENT? Yeah, we know it may be hard to believe but this McDonald’s centered 16-bit game was pretty good. Treasure took the happy-go-lucky nature of McDonald’s clown mascot and placed him in a wonderful platformer. The way Ronald handled his enemies with magic sparkles emanating from his fingers was the stuff of legend. The character animations, the preppy music and the level design makes this game worth checking out, even by today’s lofty standards. Entertain your inner toddler and search for some treasure with good ol’ Ronald. Keep your eyes peeled for mascot cameos while you’re collecting the goods.
9. Astro Boy: Omega Factor (Game Boy Advance)
One of Japan’s most recognizable anime legends is none other than the robotic boy wonder known as Astro Boy. People may find Mega Man more appealing, but we prefer the boy with the unstoppable finger lasers. Back in 2004, Treasure dropped an criminally ignored Game Boy Advance gem for the franchise. That game was Astro Boy: Omega Factor. The game’s plot focused on the 2003 cartoon series that just hit our shores, so players got to see familiar faces like Dr. O’Shay. we had a blast punching and kicking lowly robot minions all over the place. The game was a little deeper than most beat ‘em up’s, since you were able to upgrade Astro Boy’s abilities at different intervals. This licensed product is a quality good time. If you can find a working Game Boy Advance, pony up a few bucks for this one.
8. Wario World (Nintendo GameCube)
Call us crazy if you want (trust us, we’ve been called worse), but we think Wario is a way better character than Mario. Mario’s a whipped softie who wastes his time saving a boneheaded princess who’s incapable of securing herself from Bowser. Wario is a money hungry dwarf who makes his hard earned money off of five second minigames. Who sounds like the better guy? Wario, right? Anyway, Treasure went back to the beat ‘em up well and crafted this GameCube adventure starring the big guy. This game featured light platforming elements, but the majority of it focused on beating bad guys into golden coins. Wario could pick up a ton of objects and swing them like a baseball bat against enemies’ heads. And those wrestling moves he could pull of were epic in execution. We wanna see another game featuring Wario that has Treasure’s development prowess behind it. All because of this gem.
7. Gradius V (PlayStation 2)
Treasure knows how to put together a worthy top-down flight shooter. When Konami commissioned them to work on the next Gradius game, it was a match made in SHMUP heaven. Gradius V featured the PS2 debut of Vic Viper and the ship’s return to deep space air blasting. You were pitted against insurmountable odds of ships, but the game’s wide variety of weapons evened the score. We preferred heading into battle with the type 2 option on every playthrough (TALIGUN BABY!). The game featured addictive, fast paced destruction and massive bosses to endure. If you’re looking for a great shoot ‘em up on the PlayStation 2, look no further than Gradius V.
6. Ikaruga (Arcade, Dreamcast, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox 360-XBLA)
This Dreamcast/Gamecube shooter is not the weak at heart. It can be immensely frustrating for gamer’s with low patience levels and delayed thinking processes. But for those who understand Ikaruga‘s complex play style, this game is simply a joy to suffer through. We have yet to make it past the second stage, but we can’t bring ourselves to hate this game. It’s challenging (to say the least), yet it pushed you to your limits and kept you coming back for more. The innovative black/white ship switch system is still cool and the 3D graphics sure are perty. Ikaruga made its way to the Xbox Live Marketplace a few years back. If you think you can handle the bullet hell this game provides, we implore you download it immediately.
5. Dynamite Headdy (Sega Genesis, Nintendo Wii Virtual Console)
When we think of strange Japanese video games, Dynamite Headdy immediately comes to mind. Players controlled a puppet, who’s detachable head could be used to bash baddies and clamber up hard-to-reach places. The game’s acts came fast and came very often, especially the first few acts. We loved the audio that came from some of the supporting puppets (TARGET! TARGET! TARGET), plus North Town’s scenery took full advantage of the Genesis’ processing power. The game’s soundtrack will get stuck in anyone’s head for days (we find ourselves humming the Wooden Dresser/Jacqueline Dressy during our morning routines). Headdy’s a likable little guy who we think is one of Sega Genesis’ unheralded icons.
4. Sin and Punishment (Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii Virtual Console)
We’re glad American gamers finally got a chance to play this former Japan-only title. Sin and Punishment takes a different approach to shoot ‘em up games. The camera centered behind Saki and Airan as players used the aim reticle to shoot up alien baddies. You were never helpless if anybody got too close since your trusty saber could cut ‘em down. The game’s plot is super strange (a race of human-created animals meant to become grub attack the denizens of Japan), but we find it slightly endearing thanks to its campy dialogue. The Nintendo Wii sequel is a respectable add-on to the series, but the original game still stands tall. Anyone else wanna see Saki Amamiya become playable in the next Super Smash Bros.?
3. Guardian Heroes (Sega Saturn, Xbox 360-XBLA)
The Sega Saturn seems to play host to a library of slept-on video games. Deep Fear, Burning Rangers and Enemy Zero are just a few of the games that come to mind under that category. Another game that we consider a part of this pack is the mayhem filled beat ‘em up Guardian Heroes. Heroes’ story mode is packed with replayability, thanks to the different choices/paths that players were tasked with. The roster was packed to the brim with mages, sword wielders, ogre’s etc. What made this game stand out even more is its multiplayer options. There was a ton of fun to be had from taking on the story with a friend backing you up. But it was even more fun to KO folks in Vs. mode’s 12-player showdown A fresh, physical copy of this game is hard to come by these days, but modern gamers can take it for a spin over XBLA.
2. Radiant Silvergun (Sega Saturn, Xbox 360-XBLA)
Remember us mentioning Treasure’s stock of A-Class SHMUP’s? This is the best example of this developer’s expertise in this overcrowded genre. Radiant Silvergun amazed gamers back on the Sega Saturn and its garnering newfound praise from XBLA players.The ships had no need for collectible weapon powerup’s since they were available from the start. The game tested player’s usage of all the different guns by throwing plenty of tough situations at them. Sometimes you’d have to equip your Vulcan machine gun and sometimes you’d have to use your homing lasers. We liked having free reign over my armory, so we grew accustomed to the game’s stages and its flood of baddies. This ain’t an easy game, but you already knew that.
1. Gunstar Heroes (Sega Genesis, Nintendo Wii Virtual Console)
Gunstar Heroes is arguably the greatest side scrolling shooter ever created. Controlling Gunstars Red and Blue for co-op mayhem never gets old. The game let you select the stages you wanted to go to and the bosses you felt like taking down. The explosive sound effects reflected all the minion throwing, slide kicking and destruction that sprang from the TV screen. We go back to this game every so often just so we can complete a 60-minute speed run for old time’s sake. The game’s BGM is super catchy, too (Empire Commander Pink’s stage/boss theme rules all!). And our memories shall forever be haunted by the Gunstar Green/Seven Force boss battle. The action never slows down for one second and that’s just how we prefer the game to be. Get up on Gunstar Heroes. We promise you’ll never forget it.
Honorable Mentions (Check these awesome Treasure games out, too):