A Mission to Save Humanity

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.1 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 Out Zone.

Out Zone is a run-and-gun shooter that puts players in the role of a cyborg mercenary hired to save the Earth. A byproduct of its time, the remaster takes players back to the gamer culture of the early 90’s. It’s a welcoming experience for old school gamers and fans of retro games. 

Taking the Fight to the Enemy

Set in the distant future, Earth has been under constant attack by a hostile alien force. Even though humanity has been victorious during each war, it has been at a great price. In an attempt to break the cycle, the United Nations decides to take the fight to the enemy’s home planet by hiring the Space Fixers (a legendary mercenary army).

Players take on the of a cyborg mercenary soldier who is deployed to a hostile world. Their goal is to take out the alien forces to ensure humanity is never threatened again. 

As with most late 80’s / early 90’s arcade games, the story is simple and easy to follow. It draws a lot of inspiration from the many B-films of the era (especially those that attempted to mimic the success of Alien). While not an original plot, it’s a window into the science fiction culture of the time. Making it an ideal adventure for fans of classic B-films.   

Stand-by, Good Luck!

Out Zone is an intense game that strikes a balance between being a classic run-and-gun shooter while having undergone some modern updates. Gameplay has players take on the role of a cyborg mercenary as they battle waves of enemy forces. Along the way, you will pick up power-ups that will give your weapons a major boost. Adding to the challenge is players need to keep an eye on their battery charge. 

At the end of each section, 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 developing the right strategy. These moments are both challenging but also very rewarding. 

This is one of those arcade classics that will be easy to learn and easy to master. Which is great because you are quickly tossed into the action. 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. 

One also can’t overlook how it allows you to customize the overall experience. A player could experience the Out Zone from their youth or the version that gamers in Europe, Hong Kong, Korea, or Japan got to enjoy. Changing the region also allows players to enjoy the perks that came with that version. 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 point is to make it the experience you want. 

Battery Depleted 

Out Zone biggest issue is 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, hit ESC and go 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 also note that this is an issue with other titles in the Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.1.

While on the subject of controls, it seems the remaster never incorporated the function of dual analog sticks. Not the norm back in the day, dual analog sticks have been a basic part of all shooters since the late 90’s / early 2000’s. Unfortunately; it’s absent here and instead players will have to shoot in the direction they are moving. 

The Legendary Cyborg Mercenary

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.1 is a collection of arcade classics that were either staples of the arcade or cult favorites. Among the titles in the collection is Out Zone.

Out Zone perfectly encapsulates that B-film culture of the era in an arcade experience. This remaster allows those who played it back in the day to enjoy it once again. At the same time, retro gamers have the chance to experience this classic run-and-gun shooter.

Disclaimer: Freedom by Embracer 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.

Out Zone (PC)





  • Classic 80's B-film quality plot.
  • Easy to learn gameplay and non-stop action.
  • Players can adjust the experience based on their preference or region.
  • Fun with either friends or solo.


  • Wonky keyboard controller layout.
  • Dual analog functions are absent.

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