Piloting the Flying Shark

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.2 is a collection of arcade shooters that either defined the genre or influenced a generation of gamers. At the same time, it takes gamers back to the era when the arcade dominated the video game world. Among the titles in the collection is Flying Shark.

Flying Shark is a vertical-scrolling shooter that puts players in command of a biplane fighter aircraft. It’s one of those arcade titles that was a byproduct of its time with all the hallmarks of a military-themed SHMUP. If you grew up playing these games then this is a classic you will enjoy playing with a friend. 

Take to the Skies 

Details of the story vary based on the region the game was released but the main plot remains the same. This summary will be based on elements every version of the game shares. Enemy forces have launched a surprise attack, capturing many bases on the front. The only hope is an ace pilot who flies the legendary Flying Shark. 

Military-themed games were a staple of the arcade scene from the mid-80s up until the early 90’s. The plot was usually about the player having to go behind enemy lines and take out their forces. Flying Shark was just one of many arcade games of this era that offered such an experience. In its day; the game was highly praised while being one of Toaplan’s most successful arcade titles at the time. The remaster gives gamers the chance to experience this classic either once again or for the first time.

Behind Enemy Lines

Flying Shark is a fast-paced experience that strikes a balance between being a traditional vertical scrolling shooter and having undergone some modern updates. Gameplay has players take on the role of the titular plane as you battle waves of enemy forces. Along the way, you will pick up power-ups that will give your weapons a major boost. Best of all; one could enjoy this solo or team up with a friend via local Co-Op. Since this is a retro arcade game, it’s best enjoyed with a friend. 

Enemy forces are made up of tanks, planes, battleships, and a variety of other military weapons. At the end of each level, players will go one-on-one with the boss. Each boss will present their own challenges that will test the players’ skills and make them think fast. Do expect to die multiple times before having a good idea of your enemy and the battlefield.

Finally, you have to appreciate how you can customize the overall experience. A player could experience the original Flying Shark or the North American version (named Sky Shark) from their youth. Players could also customize the difficulty to either offer a challenge or make it easy to enjoy. This is made possible by altering the number of lives, using assist features, and setting the difficulty level. 

The overall purpose of this feature is to make it the experience you want.

Pilot Down

Flying Shark biggest issue is acquiring the power-ups is unnecessarily challenging. To earn one requires you to shoot down a squadron of either red or grey biplanes. When you do manage to score that kill, you have to chase that power up to obtain in while having to deal with the enemy. You already have to deal with waves of enemies, making this method of earning power-ups feel less challenging and more annoying.  

Also, I can’t overlook the controller layout regarding the keyboard. The default layout is odd at best but you will fumble with it until you realize #1 = Start (for some reason). Save yourself the trouble by hitting ESC and go to the Input menu to change the layout. Once that has been taken care of, you should have a good time. This is not an issue when playing with a console controller. I should note that this is an issue with other titles in the Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.2.

Light the Fires

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.2 is a collection of arcade classics that were either staples of the arcade or cult favorites. Among the titles in the collection is Flying Shark, a military themed SHMUP that was a common sight back in the days.

Flying Shark is a traditional SHUMP that perfectly encapsulates the military themed arcade games of the era. Long before games like Call of Duty or ARMA, these were the titles that let gamers live out their military fantasy. This remaster allows those who played it back in the day to enjoy it once again while introducing it to a new generation of gamers.

Disclaimer: Embracer Freedom provided the game used for this review.

This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the gamer community of the San Francisco Bay Area

Flying Shark (PC)





  • It's a classic military SHMUP.
  • Easy to learn gameplay but will put your skills to the test.
  • You can adjust the experience based on their preference.
  • Fun with a friend or enjoy it solo.


  • Collecting power ups is an annoyance.
  • Wonky keyboard controller layout.

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