Tyrian is a scrolling shooter computer game developed by World Tree Games Productions and published in 1995 by Epic MegaGames (since renamed Epic Games). The game was officially released as freeware in 2004, and the graphics were made available under an open license in April 2007. Tyrian was programmed by Jason Emery, illustrated by Daniel Cook, and its music composed by Alexander Brandon and Andras Molnar.
The game is set in the year 20,031. You play the role of a skilled terraforming pilot named Trent Hawkins, who is employed to scout out habitable locations on newly terraformed planets. His latest assignment is the planet Tyrian, which is located near the territory of the Hazudra, who are a lizard-like race.
One day, Buce Quesillac, a Hazudra and Trent's best friend, is shot in the back by a hoverdrone which quickly disappears into the sky. Buce lives just long enough to tell Trent that the attack was the work of MicroSol, the giant corporation who controls the terraformation of Tyrian. They want Buce dead because of his knowledge of Gravitium, which is a special mineral, unique to Tyrian, able to control the force of gravity. Microsol want to use Gravitium to power their warships, which could result in them becoming nearly unstoppable. They will stop at nothing to eliminate anyone who knows of its existence. Trent is the next person on their hit list, and he implores him to try to reach Savara, a free world. With that, Buce dies. Trent manages to secure a small fighter, and departs for Savara.
Tyrian is an arcade-style vertical scrolling shooter. It was developed chiefly as a homage to the works of Compile, particularly their Zanac. The player controls a space ship fitted with different weapons (front and back, linked to the same button, and up to two external pods with their own buttons) and other equipment. The game is mostly fast-paced but easily memorizable and it presents a variety of enemies (some flying, some fixed, some on rails) and bosses, with many occurrences of fixed and/or indestructible obstacles. Before the player's starship is destroyed it must take enough damage to exhaust several points of shields (which regenerate over time) and armor.
Tyrian's Full Game mode features a credit and equipment-buying system, and the shield/armor hit points which are similar to game mechanics in Raptor: Call of the Shadows, another PC game from the same period. Tyrian also features an Arcade Mode which has characteristics from coin-op arcade shooters, such as in-game powerups and extra lives.
Tyrian was a departure from the prevalent 'serious' style of shooters like Raptor and Aero Fighter, due to the cartoon-like artwork and the abundance of silly (or at least strange) dialogue and content. The bonus levels in Episodes 1 and 2 were meant as a tribute to Galaxian or Galaga, where there are large formations of enemy ships that gradually break off one by one to attack the player.
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