The First Shmup Novel
Ok I’ll admit, my beloved Tapestry of Fates does have elements in it which pay a slight resemblance to a movie about a time-travelling robot sent to kill the mother of a certain John Conner. Whilst I see the similarities, I can honestly say The Terminator was not the main influence, nor was any movie for that matter.
As a youngster I was besotted with my beloved Sega Megadrive; and it probably paved the road to my future imagination. Games like Gunstar Heroes, Alien Soldier, Landstalker, Splatterhouse 2 and many others have helped build the internal foundations of my mind.
One game particularly has stood out more than others. Already a huge fan of ‘shoot em ups’ or ‘shmups’, I remember being blown away by the game ‘Thunderforce IV’ (or ‘Lightening Force as it’s sometimes known). It’s cool slick graphics, blazing speed, mass of weapons, stupendously big bosses and fantastic music and sound effects so bassy that you could feel them at the back of your head all added to a game which still stands as legendary (I’m not a huge fan of more recent ‘bullet-hell’ shmups, although I adore Ikaruga).
One part of it though captured my imagination more than others. After an epic battle with the final boss, and the hero jets away in his battered craft, we are shown an epilogue that included an image of the pilot hugging his beloved. That single image managed to drive home a piece of humanity and emotion into the game, making you believe that after ten levels of sheer hell, the pilot was so grateful to be back. I wish the game makers – Technosoft had included some sort of storyline surrounding this couple, as it would have charged the game even more.
It’s this reason why Tapestry of Fates exists.
It is why a lone student girl becomes the only human being able to pilot a legendary fighter ship against an enemy who’s spent the past five thousand building up enough forces to decimate her.
It is why this ship sits on almost every piece of artwork I’ve made on the books.
I’ve tried to do what I wanted Technosoft to do – make a fully fledged story based around a single person sent against hordes and legions of enemies, and be expected to win.
Maybe I’m wrong but I think I can honestly say that Ella Bland is the first Shmup Novel Protagonist.
A homage to the above picture I did for uni can be viewed here.