SNES A Day 110: Imperium


Approximate Release Date: November 1, 1992
Genre: Scrolling shooter
Developer: Vic Tokai
Publisher: Vic Tokai

Scrolling shooter Imperium looks fantastic in motion, but there’s a but.

It’s difficult. Really difficult. Cannot-reach-the-first-boss-on-Easy difficult. The genre is by its nature usually very hard, but Imperium is at an extreme. There are a ton of enemies on the screen that either shoot lots of tiny projectiles or bum-rush you, sometimes giving you very little chance to react. It’s not the fun kind of challenge, and having a 5-hit life bar doesn’t help much. I can’t tell if there’s a sound when you get hit, so most of the time I didn’t realize when I got damaged.

The shooting parts of Imperium are solid. You can adjust your ship’s speed with a press of a button like in Phalanx, swap between a handful of different weapons like in Thunder Spirits, and level up and become more powerful like in Earth Defense Force. It all works really well together even if the systems have been appropriated or done elsewhere already. The combat is above some really wonderful looking backgrounds. The first level starts off over a city, then you fly through some cloud cover, and on the other side, the city below has been destroyed. It feels more dynamic than the other shooters so far and looks awesome.


No matter what I say about it, Imperium‘s biggest problem is that it’s very hard. With yesterday’s game, Cyber Spin, I felt comfortable being positive on the game and recommending it because it’s unlike anything else on the Super Nintendo to this point. I just can’t say the same thing about Imperium. There’s little outside of the great graphics to distinguish it from other shooters, and I bet few people will be interested in playing a Super Nintendo game in 2014 because of its raw technical prowess.

I can see Imperium being a game that would be rewarding to get good at and master, and in 1992 I may have been one of the people to try. I don’t see it being worth bashing my head against to even reach the first boss, though.

Tomorrow: I don’t want to spoil anything about On the Ball except camels are involved.

3 thoughts on “SNES A Day 110: Imperium”

  1. There’s definitely a sound effect for when you get hit, but it might just be the worst got-hit sound effect ever made. It seems like it doesn’t always go off and I’m only guessing it’s due to a limited number of sounds that can be played at the same time.

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