So if Bullet is what happens when a company tries their hand at a twinstick shooter but with added scrolling...

What happens when you take out the scrolling, make it an arena shooter but no twinsticks?

You get Dead Connection, the opposite of the other arena-ish shooter of the same year.

A little context is probably in order. By 1992, the twinstick arena shooter had well and truly had it. I mean, its heyday was really the 1980s, but Williams had made an attempt at keeping them going. Sort-of. Although Smash T.V. was immensely popular, it was this year that Midway (who had swallowed up Williams by this point) released the last 'traditional' (and that's pushing it) arcade arena shooter for a long time- Total Carnage. A pseudo-sequel to Smash T.V., it changed one of the genre's core elements- instead of taking place on a single screen, there's scrolling involved. Not to the extent of Commando-style games- the game scrolls by itself, and often stops on a single sccreen. Even so, it's a move away from the genre's roots, and much like Bullet, it loses that sense of helplessness, of a desperate single-screen battle where you can just about get through by the skin of your teeth. Besides, by this point, fighting games were starting to take over, and so Total Carnage was the genre's last breath, so to speak, to come back years later as Assault Heroes, Geometry Wars and its ilk... Except they all had scrolling too, to an extent. What happened to the single-screen carnage of Robotron: 2084 and Smash T.V., eh?

In the same year as Total Carnage, Taito gave the arena shooter one last shot.

It may be missing those all-important twinsticks, but Dead Connection is definitely in the mould of the traditional arena shooter, with even a little bit of Stern's Berzerk mixed in (obstacles, you see). It's 1953, and as one of four maverick cops (you might even call them untouchables) you must wage a crazy, impossible battle against Nerozzia's crime syndicate, to avenge the murder of Christine and return peace to the city. Each round is a total bloodbath party (as the game calls it) as you have to gun down a set quota of gangsters, with the last three making an impromptu boss fight of themselves before moving on. There's a joystick for moving and aiming, a shot button to fire, and critically a dodge/duck button which has multiple uses- you can crouch to dodge bullets, roll out of harm's way (and crash into enemies, which will kill them, just like Crime City), vault over bannisters/fences, and use it to interact with background objects, often by kicking (ones you can't shoot, that is). While it doesn't use twinsticks, you still get more freedom with shooting than you'd think- it uses a primitive lock-on feature where your shots will angle to hit enemies slightly to the left and right of where you're aiming. It's not perfect, but it's as good a compromise as any, and since the play area's relatively small, it does the job well enough.

Speaking of the play area, this is the other big thing about Dead Connection- the game's eight stages are all in different settings, which means you get more than just your guns to play with. If you can't simply shoot at it to destroy it (like the lights, doors, chairs, etc.) you can do something with it, like dinner tables (shoot the candle and it'll burst into flames), walls (lean against them to... Well, just to look cool) and a switch in the warehouse stage (which is the best weapon in the game, as we'll see). Because of the small, finely-detailed art style, these arenas are packed to the brim with stuff to interact with in your quest to kill 'em all, so naturally we'll be pointing out as many as we can while we play through. Some of them are pretty clever!

Destroying the environment and killing enemies also reveals special items, such as...

Health Items

Recovers a little health.

Recovers more health.

Recovers the most health.

Permanent (Until Death) Pistol Upgrades

Increases your rate of fire.

Fires slow, powerful penetrating bullets.

Ammo-Limited Weapons

Machine Gun
Hold the button for rapid fire action!
You get one if you continue too.

The strongest weapon,
rips through anything and causes small explosions.

Point Items - Worth 500-1000 Points






Every stage also has this item hidden somewhere, worth 5000 points...


We'll tell you where it's hidden in each stage description:

Dead Connection isn't the longest game in the world- it's at least half as long as Smash T.V., and a skilled player could probably clock it on one credit with enough practice- so you'd think this playthrough wouldn't be too interesting. You are, of course, incorrect, as we went a bit overboard with animating stuff. We did this for a reason, because as you're about to find Dead Connection is completely crazy. It's the kind of over-the-top stuff that arcade games from the 90s specialise in, so we're all in for a treat. Well, everyone except the gangsters whose day we're about to ruin by filling them with bullets.

With all that out the way, it's time to take a bite out of crime- let's play Dead Connection!