Nebula Fighter is a Horizontal Scrolling Shooter written for MS-DOS and Windows by Holodream Software and was first published in 1997.
In the late 20th century, the terrorists of the world began to grow in power. They eventually merged to form a massive empire and overthrew all the governments of the world, setting the stage for a new world order. In the process of world domination, the empire realised that they could effectively rule the world through terror itself.
A few decades later, in the year 2010, a space-faring race called the Venishians arrived on Earth. They brought with them some of their technology, including a number of highly sophisticated spaceships. With their visit, the empire realised that there were other civilisations in space that could be subdued and dominated like the various world governments in the past.
The Venishian spaceships were captured and the scientists of Earth constructed a massive invasion force. Their target is the Venishian homeworld, and the player is the invasion force's advance scout, sent ahead to secure the asteroid belt ringing the Venishian homeworld and signal the rest of the invasion force to begin their attack once it is done. This task completed, the player was instructed to wait in orbit until the rest of the attack force arrives. However, as they wait, the player decides to disobey the order and single-handedly subdue the Venishians on their own.
...Or you can ignore the plot completely and just plow through 21 levels of Stuff Blowing Up, which was what the game was remembered for.
Once touted by the Adrenaline Vault as having the potential to re-define the Shoot 'em Up genre, Nebula Fighter didn't manage to do that. However, it did leave a lasting impression on most players back at the turn of the millennium for multiple reasons. Apart from inverting the typical Shoot 'em Up plot by putting the player in the role of the antagonist, the game was considered one of the more aesthetically appealing ones of its time. Nebula Fighter also had a rather unique take on Boss Fights: each level ended with one, and most of the bosses drop their signature weapon when defeated, which can be picked up by the player for use on later levels. During levels, the player can also pick up secondary weapons such as side missiles and a rear-firing drone.
The game is currently freeware and can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of this page.
This game provides examples of:
- Continuing Is Painful: The player loses all upgrades to their main weapon as well as all their secondary weapons when they die, excluding nukes.
- Depth Perplexion: The player flies through a rocky cave from Levels 7 to 14 and can take massive damage from flying into the rock walls. The problem is that the walls that can damage their ship are part of the background, which also includes walls that do not damage the player. To figure out which walls damage their ship or not, the player must observe if their weapons fire explodes against or passes through the walls. To make things worse, enemy projectiles can pass through walls that will damage the player's ship.
- Excuse Plot: It's a staple of the genre, and Nebula Fighter is no exception; most players enjoyed the game without reading through the backstory. Even the developers lampshade this.
- Hitscan: The shredder. Anything that flies in front of it while the barrel is spinning takes massive damage immediately.
- Interface Screw: The anti-nuke, when used, darkens the entire screen for about a second—enough time for the player to get blown up by an asteroid for fly into terrain.
- Kill It with Fire: The flamethrower. It easily destroys most ships that fly into its short range, excluding bosses.
- Schizophrenic Difficulty: The game was designed to keep the player on their toes by employing this trope. The most common set-up is to give the player a ridiculous amount of firepower and countless numbers of weak enemies for much of a level, then put a boss at the end that is ridiculously difficult to destroy or has enough firepower to overwhelm the player in an instant. Depth Perplexion also helps this as the player could fly into the foreground if they are not careful and get destroyed almost immediately when just a moment ago they were obliterating everything that enters the screen.
- Shock and Awe: The shockwave discharges a powerful electric beam that arcs through the nearest target, passing through any walls in its path. Fire it for too long, however, and the player will also take damage as well.
- Spread Shot: Once powered up, the player's starting gun becomes this. The spread is greater than most of the other, more powerful weapons and the gun has a very high fire rate, making it excellent for determining which walls will harm the player.
- Villain Protagonist: The player works for the empire, a world government made up of all the various terrorist organisations of the planet. The only reason why the empire wants to invade the Venishian homeworld? Because they want to conquer it.