Japanese Mega Drive cover art
Gaiares (ガイアレス Gaiaresu?) is a 1990 scrolling shooter developed by Telenet Japan and published by Renovation for the Sega Genesis in Japan and North America in 1990. It was one of the first 8Mb cartridge games on the Genesis. Its title combined Gaia (mother Earth) and a shortened form/abbreviation of the word "rescue" (Res), which is the main objective of the battle taking place within the storyline.
Most horizontal shooters require the player's ship to come in contact with a capsule to gain weapons. Gaiares design was different, and features one of the most original and unique weapon power-up systems in the shooters genre to date. The TOZ System device can be fired out like the R-Type's Force, except each time it comes in contact with an enemy, it would inherit and learn its weapon; the player can steal from the same enemy repeatedly until the weapon's strength is maxed-out. There are 18 weapons in total to be captured, and the appearance of each weapon varies depending on the strength meter.
Many of the stage designs were heavily influenced by Macross, Gradius, and Valis, though some deviation is apparent with bosses like Death Ghetto and Mermaid. Gaiares makes extensive use of parallax scrolling, wave and warping effects across all eight stages, and the bosses are mostly screen-sized, making it one of the 16-bit platform's premiere shooters. The game is notorious for its high difficulty level.
In the year 3000 Earth has become a toxic dump ravaged by careless humans, leaving an uninhabitable, polluted wasteland. The space pirates Gulfer, led by the evil Queen ZZ Badnusty, plan to harvest the pollution to create weapons of mass destruction. The United Star Cluster of Leezaluth sent a warning to the Earth about their plans, stating that if they could not stop them, they would be forced to supernova Earth's sun to do so themselves; but if they succeeded, Leezaluth would use their technology to restore the Earth to its former beauty.
Dan Dare (Diaz in the Japanese original), a young pilot from Earth was chosen to be the pilot of a new fighter ship to combat the Gulfer. The ship is armed with a powerful experimental weapon from Leezaluth called the TOZ System, which would be operated by Alexis, an emissary from Leezaluth.
Gaiares was very well received. MegaTech opined it was "an excellent looking game, but by far the toughest horizontally scrolling shoot 'em up available on the Mega Drive". A 2002 review by Game Informer called it "a shooter masterpiece" and "perhaps the greatest of all horizontally scrolling 2D shooters." A 2008 retrospective review by IGN called it "an excellent shooter that has aged quite well since the sunset of the Genesis."
- "Classic Reviews: Gaiares". Game Informer. 12 (112): 108. August 2002.
- "Gaiares Review - IGN". Uk.ign.com. 2008-05-14. Retrieved 2016-07-29.
- MegaTech, EMAP. Issue 6, page 78 (June 1992).
- "Out-of-Print Archive • Mega Drive reviews • Gaiares". Outofprintarchive.com. Retrieved 2016-07-29.