Developed by Eclipse Productions (now World Tree Games) and published in 1995 by Epic Megagames (now Epic Games
is an addictive Vertical Scrolling Shooter
.It is the year 20,031. You are Trent Hawkins,
pilot currently assigned to the planet Tyrian, the only planet in the entire sector that contains samples of Gravitium
, a material that causes huge chunks of its landmass to float in the air.
While on the job, Trent's best friend, Buce Quesillac, a Hazudra
, was shot in the back by a hoverdrone belonging to Microsol
, the company in charge of the terraformation efforts on Tyrian. With his dying breath, Buce informs Trent that Microsol intends to use the Gravitium to take control of the sector, and that he's next on their hit list. With that, Trent begins a long, dangerous fight for his survival.
For a game of the genre, Tyrian
actually has a surprising amount of story to it, primarily in the form of datacubes that can be collected from certain enemies and read between levels when you get the opportunity to upgrade your ship in the game's Story Mode. Tyrian
also includes arcade mode for both one and two players on the same computer or over a local network.
With great graphics for its time, addictive gameplay, and catchy music, along with a wide variety of levels, weapons, enemies, and hidden secrets, Tyrian
is a game with a lot of replay value. It is considered by many to be one of the best scrolling shooters ever made.
Three iterations of the game were released. Version 1.x contained three episodes (with the first being released for free, as was common among shareware publishers in the '90s) and chronicled Trent's escape from Tyrian and his hunt for the Microsol invasion fleet. Version 2.x added a few extra levels to Episode 1 as well as a new fourth episode featuring a raid on the research planet Ixmucane. A later re-release, Tyrian 2000
(Version 3.0), added a short fifth episode. Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance ports were started but never released. ROM images of these uncompleted games are available from the author's website. An iPhone- and iPod touch-compatible applet based on Version 2.1 is also available.
It is freeware since 2004. The official page of author Jason Emery
is quite sparse, so it's better to refer to this excellent fansite
. Since 2010, it is also available on GOG.com
, with the game's music encoded into a collection of MP3
files (about 12 times as large, disk-space-wise, as the game itself) as a bonus download. Even the graphics were released with an open license
. A source port of the game from Pascal to C, called OpenTyrian
, is available for many platforms and consoles.
Back around 2005, a small group of fans got the OK from Jason Emery to make a freeware sequel, which would have featured a retired, alcoholic Trent Hawkins fighting against the Zica, who had returned to conquer the sector. Unfortunately, the project never seems to have left the planning stage (scroll down to the January 27, 2005 entry on this page
to see details).
Tyrian provides examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual:
- A lot of players are surprised to hear that the game has a plot, or that the player character has a name (Trent Hawkins).
- Reading the cubes fully can occasionally lead to secret levels or side passages that the player would not have access to normally; the Ixmucane crisis in Episode 4 comes to mind here.
- There are even some that explain why a flamethrower would work in space, or how food production equipment could be weaponized.
- Apocalypse How: Ixmucane gets a Class X in Episode 4 if you fail to defeat the boss in level "Core", or if you beat the boss of "Core" but fail to defeat the boss of "?Tunnel?".
- Artillery Game: There's a hidden Easter Egg game called Destruct, which (unusual for the artillery genre) plays in real-time.
- Attack Drone: Side-kicks, which offer extra firepower to your ship and they come in many varieties, from simple pea shooters to laser cannons and even short-ranged flamethrowers.
- Attack Its Weak Point: The boss of Ixmucane is a floating robot encased in rock. The only way to damage it is to hit its core when it is open, otherwise, it is impervious to all weapons.
- Javi's Dreadnaught in Episode 4. The game actually makes a set of green arrows pointing to the vulnerable part(s). Lampshaded by an explanation from one of your allies in a datacube prior to the mission, stating that he has a scanner that is strong enough to transmit the weak point of the Dreadnought to your ship, indicating them with green arrows.
- Awesome but Impractical:
- Missiles. All of them. They look and sound very nice, and most of them can deliver splash damage, but for whatever reason, they always seem to do a lot less damage than cheaper and easier-to-find weapons such as the Pulse Cannon that you start out with. The Atomic RailGun, your front gun in Super Tyrian mode, also falls into this category as well, more so given that the only good thing going for it is its name.
- The Up to Eleven Lightning Cannon emits a dazzling stream of opaque lightning and is relatively powerful, but the power it drains is colossal (even the most powerful generator in the game, the Gravitron Pulse-Wave, cannot recharge fast enough if it is used alongside other energy-draining weapons such as the Zica Flamethrower), higher than the Level 2 or 5 Mega Pulse, and it is often less effective than the Level 11 Mega Pulse. This is not helped by the fact that the Mega Pulse is cheaper and usually available for purchase before the Lightning Cannon.
- Tyrian 2000 gives us the Gencore Solar Shield, which does not draw power from your generator to recharge, but by the time it is available, there is another shield that gives you the same protection for just over half the price, and the drain on the generator isn't really an issue except with constant-fire weapons like the Lightning Cannon and Zica Flamethrower.
- Awesome McCoolname: Quite a bit of everything in the game has some sort of fancy name to it. The Gencore Phoenix and Maelstrom's not-so-signature armor recovery twiddle command, for example, is called "particle redefinition technology".
- Kill It with Fire: The Plasma Storm and Flamethrower Sidekicks, the fireball front and rear weapons, and there's a special move that you can use that covers the screen in fiery explosions.
- Kill It with Ice:
- Language Equals Thought: Played for Laughs with one of the datacubes, describing the natives of the Shifting Sand Land Soh Jin:
"The locals are wary of outsiders, but will freely accept you as long as you can speak their language. Fortunately, the locals were never too bright and most people can fake their ancestral language which consists of only one word: Sand."
- Lethal Joke Character:
- One of the secret characters is the very first mook you meet in the first level of the first episode. While its arsenal of attacks is rather so-so, some of the weapons it can obtain are powerful, like the Mega Cannon.
- Lethal Joke Item: The Banana Bomb. Its firing speed is sub-par, and the projectiles it fires are small and slow, but if it hits...
- Lightning Bruiser: Microsol's plan for most of the game is to create a fleet of these. With their ships' propulsion systems drawing directly on the Gravitium, more reactor power can be allocated to weaponry. Trent beats the crap out of the fleet anyway.
- Macross Missile Massacre:
- You can pull this off by equipping your ship with Heavy Missile Launcher as your front weapon, Rear Heavy Missile Launcher as your rear weapon, and Micro/Mega Missiles as your sidekicks.
- Micro missiles do this on their own; they burn through their 100 shots — each — in about twelve seconds of continuous fire.
- Meaningful Name:
- One of the secret levels, MARKERS, railroads your movement by placing many highly visible blocks on the screen to mark out the only paths you can fly through.
- Another secret level GEM WAR has loads of gem power-ups floating about, and the only enemies in the level fire out gems at your character. And when you kill them, they drop gems.
- The first level of Episode 3 is called GAUNTLET. Your ship flies through most of this level at high speed while at the same time dodging mooks, makeshift walls, anti-ship flails and the asteroid thicket.
- Destroying Microsol's Gravitium-powered fleet is the focus of the level FLEET.
- What is the name of the level where you sweep the surface of Ixmucane of Microsol's forces so that Gencore and its allies can land and evacuate the planet's inhabitants? SURFACE.
- The level where you confront Javi in his dreadnought is called DREAD-NOT due to the fact that it can be easily destroyed if you attack its weak points for massive damage.
- In EYE-SPY, most of the enemies you confront are eyeballs in various sizes. There is also one segment where you have to dodge projectile attacks aimed at you by indestructible eyeballs that momentarily enter the screen from the edges.
- The boss at the end of BRAINIAC is ... a gigantic brain.
- The boss of NOSE DRIP is... a giant nose that shoots "snot" as one of its attacks.
- The Medic: The armor ship, a Palette Swap of one of the mooks in Torm and Asteroid 2, will descend from the top of the screen and hang around for a while whenever you lose enough armor points to reach the Critical Annoyance klaxon (or if you do not have that much armor to begin with in the first place). Destroying the armor ship will drop a hull integrity bonus which, depending on its color, will repair your armor by up to a third of the maximum armor level possible in the entire game (that's the blue one). This armor ship will keep making appearances at fairly long intervals until you have recovered enough armor to shut the klaxon off.
- Mega Corp.: Microsol, Gencore and several other unnamed groups. Microsol seems to be lead by the Omniscient Council of Vagueness and never runs out of leaders. Each episode presents a bigger bad guy. In the final episode, it's revealed that the entire company is a mere front for the cult of Zinglon and its foul leader, the god himself. In addition, Microsol appears to be the manufacturer of all the game's best items save those made by the Zica.
- Mercy Kill: This is what amounts to ending Vykromod's life during the NOSE DRIP level. Even the epilogue of Episode 4 discusses about it.
- More Dakka:
- You can get front and rear Vulcan Cannons with 11 levels of power each, Vulcan Shot Option sidekicks, and the Dual Vulcan special weapon. Without a high-end generator, your ship can't handle this much Dakka.
- The Hyperpulse also follows a similar formula to the Vulcan. At maximum level it rapidly fires off about a 35-degree fan of Pulse-Cannon-Style bullets.
- New Game+: At the end of the final episode, you start back at the first level of the first episode with all your equipment, the difficulty bumped up a notch, and a Rare Random Drop appearing.
- Oh, Crap: Gencore agent Harble Wom plays this straight and true the very instant he guesses what Microsol is thinking of doing by turning on the Zica computer system deep in the center of Ixmucane.
I think they're going to turn this planet into a sun.
GET ME OUT OF HERE!
I DON'T WANT TO BE CAUGHT OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS PLANET WHEN THEY TURN IT INTO A SUN!!!!
SEND SOMEONE OUT NOW YOU STUPID
[End of File]"
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: Completely and utterly averted. Your ship has a regenerating shield that absorbs damage. And when your shield is down, your armour then starts taking damage. Only when your armour is down does your ship get destroyed.
- One-Hit Polykill: Quite a number of these: the Mega Cannon, Needle Laser, Sonic Impulse, Zica Flamethrower, Soul of Zinglon and the SDF Main Gun will pierce through everything they hit.
- Outrun the Fireball: The destruction of the brain boss on BRAINIAC causes a massive energy surge that is shown in-game as a extremely lengthy Chain Reaction Destruction. Trent uses it to perform his Screw This, I'm Outta Here!.
- The Paralyzer: One of the special weapons you can get (as well as a shield-draining twiddle command) was the Ice Beam. If a shot from this hits an enemy, it will not freeze it in motion, but would prevent it from firing shots for a short while.
- Path of Inspiration: The Order of Zinglon seems to be a fanatical-but-benevolent religious organization for most of the game, then turns out to be the real Big Bad in Episode 5.
- Precursors: The Zica, sort of. They haven't been seen for millions of years, but a lot of their technology is still around. One of the datacubes mentions their return as a possible Sequel Hook, though this has never come to pass.
- Purposefully Overpowered: The Nort Ship Z, your reward for completing the final episode on Super Tyrian mode. Its special weapons are Astral Zone, a Beam Spam of Zica Lasers across the whole screen for three seconds, and the SDF Main Gun. Yes, the Infinity+1 Sword/Wave Motion Gun of Tyrian is the second of this ship's two default Special Abilities. It also has the same armor level as The Stalker 21.126 — the maximum amount possible in the game.
"TOP SECRET: This ship is on loan from Nortaneous' personal hanger. The rent on this ship is very high, but it's incredibly powerful.
The only way to describe what this ship does is to fly it and see for yourself. Nothing on the screen is safe with its special weapon active."
- Ramming Always Works: Smaller mooks can be destroyed by bumping into them, which does inflict some damage to yourself, although your shields will regenerate. However, larger mooks and bosses frequently ram into you, which often translates into an instant death if you are not careful, and even if them ramming you doesn't kill you, they will violently push you off course, most likely into a path of bullets. It's possibly the reason few if any other shooters without constant gravity have no collision inertia.
- Rare Random Drop: There is a one in six chance that your ship and its front and rear weapons will be replaced by the SuperCarrot and Banana weapons every time you complete the final episode of the game and start over on the next difficulty level. While the SuperCarrot can be purchased between some levels, this is the only way for the player to obtain the Banana weapons without resorting to the use of a custom ship.
- Recurring Boss:
- The very first boss of Episode 1, a brown, evil-looking ship with destructible detachable claws, had to be fought again in the same episode as the final boss and as a Giant Mook in an extremely hard-to-unlock secret level.
- The first boss you had to fight in Episode 2 was a large green ship at the end of Torm. It later reappears in Episode 2 in Botany. Then, in Episode 4, the player had to confront it yet again in the secret level ?Tunnel?, but this time it has additional sawblades and exploding missiles in its arsenal.
- The Z-29 Central Defense Ship, a large red vessel that serves as the main pillar of Savara's defences. Trent encounters (and destroys) this vessel no less than three times throughout the course of the game. Under the right conditions, he also earns the anger of Transon Lohk because of the number of times he destroys it.
"Now, look, Trent Hawkins, I am sick and tired of you blowing our Z-29 Central Defense Ship to bits!
Take your stupid war somewhere else and stop destroying our defense fleet!"
- The gigantic eyeball in Episode 4 shows up in Lava Run, near the start of the episode, and EyeSpy, near the end of the episode.
- Dreadnaught (or at least the middle section) too. You confront in one of the lava stages, in Deliani, then as a Battleship Raid.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: The regeneration is power by your generator, same as your weapons. Armor can be restored by enemy drops and, in certain ships, by a twiddle command.
- Certain datacubes that are usually picked up in the bonus level contain references to other Epic Megagames products like Jazz Jackrabbit and One Must Fall 2097. Only one of these is a direct ad; the others take the form of transmissions from or about characters from those other games.
- There's also this special weapon called the SDF Main Gun.
- One of the songs is titled "One Mustn't Fall" in reference to the game "One Must Fall 2097".
- The final boss from the first level of Episode 2 looks just too much like the first boss from Xenon.
- Single-Biome Planet: Pretty much all of them, Played for Laughs in the data cubes:
- Tyrian itself is probably the most diverse, with a Green Hill Zone and Lethal Lava Land in Episode 1 and a water level in Episode 4, but they all have one thing in common, namely lots of floating rocks thanks to the mineral Gravitium, the game's Unobtainium.
- Soh Jin is a Shifting Sand Land, though only one of the levels on that planet actually takes place on its surface.
- Savara is mostly water with some beach islands that has all sorts of aircraft and blimps.
- Deliani is an Eternal Engine. Even the plant life (which only appears in one level) grows on machines.
- Torm is a giant rainforest.
- Gyges is more or less a planet-wide Womb Level (the datacube with information on the planet says that all native life is carnivorous and are offended if you don't eat them).
- Ixmucane is another Shifting Sand Land although it may not stay that way in Episode 4.
- Camanis is an ice planet, though one level in Episode 5 is Under the Sea.
- Some Dexterity Required: Unusually for an overhead shooter, each of the many different ships you can pilot has different "twiddle" commands that work exactly like fighting game action commands. Some of these are almost impossible to actually perform when you need them; some are too easy to activate; some of them drain lots of your health when you do activate them. In the extremely difficult Super Tyrian mode, they are your only other attack option beyond your fast-but-weak starter weapon, although thankfully the ship used in that mode can also use the said commands to summon helpers as well.
- Sound Test: The Jukebox which allows listening to all the music pieces, with trippy colorful visuals as the background. The Jukebox is also available in the Ship Editor.
- Space Is Noisy: Lampshaded as one datacube explains that all space fighters are equipped with chairs that amplify whatever sound waves they can pick up in space.
- Sphere of Destruction: Banana Bombs create a very damaging explosion sphere when they hit. The "Xega Balls" of TX Silvercloud count as well.
- Spiritual Successor: To MSX/NES game Zanac. Most obvious when you trigger a warp zone.
- Spread Shot: Many of them, such as the multi-cannon, Protron, Banana Blast, Sonic Impulse, Fireball, Dragon Frost, etc. Then again, this game IS a Shoot 'em Up...
- Supporting Leader: Reid, head of the rebel Mendivian and Anti Microsol league. He becomes the Acting President of Savara late in Episode 4.
- Take That: What does the name of Microsol, the Big Bad Mega Corp., sound like?
- Time Skip: Episode 5 in Tyrian 2000 takes place 101 years after the end of Episode 4 if you are not flying The Stalker 21.126.
- Turns Red:
- The final boss of Episode 1 does this once you destroy its horns, required before you can actually damage him. The background music changes, and then it gets really fast and damaging...
- Many of the other bosses in the game also do this, albeit to a lesser extent. Whenever their health bar approaches 25%, parts of their outer hull break off and they drastically increase their firepower. Subverted by the blimp boss of Savara V in Episode 1, which loses all its weapons and attacks once its health gets low enough.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment:
- Averted, though not strictly in a gameplay sense. The best regular ships you can get, the Stalker series, were designed and built by Microsol. Averted completely by the secret U-Ship, which is the first Mook ever encountered in the game.
- You can also get the Banana Blaster as a weapon, which is used by the banana ship enemies in the final level of the final episode.
- Updated Re-release:
- Tyrian 2000 includes better Windows support (though it's still a native DOS program), a few new ships and ship parts, and most importantly a new episode (albeit a short one) that wraps up the game's story.
- It also fixes the infamous Turbo Pascal divide-by-zero crash whereby on a computer significantly faster than the state-of-the-art at the time the program crashes immediately. About time.
- Up to Eleven: The front and rear guns all have eleven power levels. This trope is also the basis of a joke in one of the datacubes that manages to poke fun at The Ten Commandments and This Is Spinal Tap simultaneously.
- Villainous Breakdown: After throwing everything at his disposal at Trent and failing to kill him countless times throughout Episode 2 to 4, Javi finally loses it and resorts to deploying his personal Dreadnaught.
"What in the universe are you doing still alive?! I thought I told you to die the last time you showed up!
HOW MANY TIMES MUST I KILL YOU?!?
This time, Trent, there is no escape!
I will take you out with my personal DREADNAUGHT! You are nothing to me, do you hear me! NOTHING!!!"
- Wave Motion Gun: The SDF Main Gun, which will pierce through absolutely everything in the game for massive damage. The Level 11 Laser also counts; it's just as wide as the SDF Main Gun's projectile, although marginally less deadly.