Top 10 Run and Gun Anime Games [Best Recommendations]

The Run and Gun genre has been around well before a lot of us were able to pick up controllers and play, and they’ve played an integral role in the evolution of the gaming industry as a whole. Run and Gun titles stem from shooters and shmups, games that place emphasis on the player eliminating enemies by shooting them off screen before the enemy does. Games like Space Invaders and Wolfenstein are early examples of shooters, while shoot em’ ups ‘(or Shmups for short) have players shooting enemies from either a side or top down camera view such as R-Type and Ikaruga. Run and Gun anime games have the player running across the screen in a side scrolling manner, taking out as many enemies as possible while collecting power ups to score big points along the way. So we’re here to show you the top 10 run and gun anime games.

10. Mercenary Kings

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Tribute Games
  • Developer: Tribute Games
  • Release Date: March 25, 2014

Mercenary Kings is a newcomer to the run and gun genre, but that’s certainly a good thing because we need more games like this to remind us just how fun the retro days were. Released back in 2014 for Windows and PlayStation 4, Mercenary Kings follows the same formula as other run and gun titles, but with a much more updated approach in relation to how enemies react and what weapon upgrades you’ll encounter. Players have the ability to craft their own arsenal of weapons along with upgrading armor, and be able to hop online with three other players to take on hordes of crazy enemies.

You can also play locally too which perhaps is another great aspect about Mercenary Kings, because once again it helps to remind us of just how wonderful the 90’s were for gaming. Instead of hopping online to find a server, you’d hop in your bike and ride down to your friends house and grind it out together for hours. This is something we’re missing a lot of in our more modern day world of gaming, but Mercenary Kings keeps that nostalgia intact at all times. The art style reminds us of a more anime Contra, with added droplets of Metal Slugs fluid animations and Gunstar Heroes action.

9. Alien Hominid

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: The Behemoth
  • Developer: The Behemoth
  • Release Date: November 18, 2004

Alien Hominid is a classic flash game that eventually took off and became a console classic. Initially starting off on popular flash websites, Alien Hominid grabbed the attention of fans around the world for its wacky art design, yet challenging and rewarding gameplay. You play as this little cute alien with a gun perhaps bigger than it is, and run around blasting away evil alien soldiers in order to restore peace to the land. It was fast paced and truly remarkable for its time, because it remained intact even when it was ported over to consoles later in its lifespan.

Alien Hominid simply was a step in a different direction while still maintaining the quintessential aspects about the run and gun genre. Whether you were trying to blow up a huge spaceship, or run through a horde of enemies just waiting for you to make a mistake, Alien Hominid took you on a wild ride and you had to make sure you were strapped in real tight, because it really felt crazy. The fun really takes off when you and another friend do co op, which feels akin to that of Metal Slug where the two of you just go on a spree, taking out enemies and yelling at each other to not get killed.

8. Hard Corps: Uprising

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Arc System Works
  • Release Date: February 16, 2011

Hard Corps: Uprising is a run and gun title from famed game company Arc System Works, which is the spiritual successor to Contra. As you race through the map desperately trying to collect as many powerups as possible, Hard Corps tends to throw curveballs sometimes and places random enemies in areas you’d never expect. While not as challenging as let's say Ghosts n’ Goblins or as incredibly fast as Contra, Hard Corps: Uprising walks down its own path creating a fresh new experience for those new to the genre. Leave it up to Arc System Works to create some fascinating games, with added elements for a fluid experience.

The controls are smooth and easy to grasp, while enemies aren’t as deadly but still pose a decent challenge. Perhaps it’s the rockin’ music that Arc System Works is revered for that actually make this game worth playing for hours, because every time we raced through a level our heads would be bopping to the soundtrack. Boss battles can be a thrill at times because you’ll need to come up with a clever strategy to avoiding attacks, and quickly adapting to the enemy patterns. Hard Corps: Uprising is certainly a treat to play and for anyone looking for something a little more modern, this one is for you.

7. Shock Troopers

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: SNK
  • Developer: Saurus
  • Release Date: 1997

Shock Troopers came out in 1997 for the arcades and allowed you to take control of one or three soldiers in a wild eight-way shooter. You can choose from two modes, Lonely Wolf, which allows the player to run through the game alone. Or you have Team Battle, where you can select three soldiers all of which have their own unique attributes, and switching between them on the fly. The benefit of choosing to go lone wolf is that you receive a higher health bonus, whereas choosing the team option provides a more robust selection of weapons to play with in battle.

In the beginning you can choose from a few locations, and then halfway through the game it allows you to choose whatever direction you want as an option. Whatever path you decide on will determine just how many bonus points you’ll achieve, with each stage having a big boss waiting to destroy you when you arrive. With so much versatility in how you can play the game, Shock Troopers is a classic run and gunner that has the style and finesse of earlier classics, but creates a fresh new feeling with its freedom of choice. The game was eventually ported to other systems later in its lifespan, which didn’t really make any changes to the gameplay but still felt very much like the game we knew and loved.

6. Wild Guns Reloaded

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 4
  • Publisher: Natsume
  • Developer: Natsume
  • Release Date: December 20, 2016

Whoever thought that using a wiener dog to shoot down enemies would be so satisfying. In Wild Guns Reloaded, the more recent upgrade to the original, you choose from an array of cool characters all of which come with their own distinctive playstyles. You’d then hop right into the action and shoot down enemies that stand in your way, praying that their bullets down hit you along the way. Wild Guns Reloaded comes with a ton of visual upgrades over the original, but more importantly now has an online feature where you can compete for the number one spot on the high score ranking.

Local play is still very much intact just like the original, and this is where Wild Guns Reloaded becomes very wild indeed. Multiplayer run and gun games just feel so right when compared to the single player campaigns because, you’re right there with your friend trying to avoid near death while working together to tackle challenging bosses or hordes of unforgiving enemies. The soundtrack and very western style artistic direction is a great feature of the title and truly makes the shooting experience feel more genuine. Except for the weiner dog who’s clearly in a league of its own, receiving help from a small drone that zaps enemies with ease while you run around the stage with the weiner dog avoiding obstacles as much as possible.

5. Rapid Reload [Gunner’s Heaven]

  • System/Platform: PlayStation
  • Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developer: Media.Vision
  • Release Date: April 28, 1995

Rapid Reload is another classic hit in the run and gun universe, which plays very similarly to that of Gunstar Heroes. Rapid Reload is short yet very very sweet, as you race through six intense levels filled with difficult enemies and gripping boss battles. You’re able to swap between four weapons, all of which come with their pros and cons in battle. Each character also comes with four of their own unique weapons also, which brings the total weapon count to eight. The game also throws in a grappling hook because hey, more weapons are always a good thing.

One plus is that you’re completely invincible while using the hook, so coming up with ways to avoid enemy damage while blasting them away is great.The most unique feature however is Rapid Reload’s point system, where points will drop after the player eliminates enemies. As you collect more points the shots from your weapons become even more powerful, while finding booster items along the way help to further boost the damage you dish out. The timer on the booster however runs out so fast, so being able to rapidly reload and gun down the enemy is paramount.

4. Ghosts ‘n Goblins

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: September 19. 1985

Debuting in the Japan arcades back in 1985, Ghosts ‘n Goblins has evolved over time becoming more and more challenging as the sequels started to come out. The main reason behind its incredible success is due to its high level of difficulty, and that it truly tests your patience the more you invest into it. It’s Capcom’s 8th best selling game for very good reason, and Knight Arthur is a very happy man. As you run through each level taking out ghastly ghouls and creepy goblins, the player has to be constantly alert at all times because if you get hit, you start to lose parts of your armor.

As you start to lose armor, you become more susceptible to higher damage and eventually succumb to a painful death. This element of difficulty is what made playing so tense a lot of the times, because you had to chuck spears and duck enemy attacks all the while paying close attention to how much armor you still have on. Throughout the game you can find much stronger armor to deflect enemy attacks, but even finding those can be daunting at times because the enemy doesn’t make it easy. Once you beat the game, it then forces you to replay the entire game on a much higher difficulty until you get the true ending, which is truly scary stuff if you ask us.

3. Gunstar Super Heroes

  • System/Platform: Game Boy Advance
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Treasure
  • Release Date: October 6, 2005

Gunstar Super Heroes is the direct sequel to the classic Gunstar Heroes which came out on the Sega Genesis way back in the 90’s. Much like its ancestor, Gunstar Super Heroes follows a run and gun style where players must gun down enemies that come from all directions, using whatever weapons you have to eliminate them before it’s too late. The story takes place after the events of the original and actually boasts a lot more features, especially in its combat system. In Gunstar Super Heroes, instead of being able to combine weapons like you were able to before, you’re now able to select from three versatile weapon types at anytime in the game.

There’s also a supercharge meter that continues to fill up as you take down more enemies, and once totally filled you can unleash a monstrous attack that destroys anything in its path. The game also takes on an anime style and it suits the gameplay very well, playing out like a sci-fi action film in the palm of your hand. The great thing about Gunstar Super Heroes is that it borrows a lot of what made the original Gunstar Heroes amazing, and upgrades everything making the experience feel more fresh and satisfying. If you still own your Game Boy Advance then definitely be sure to try this one out if you’re into run'n'gun titles.

2. Contra

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Developer: Konami
  • Release Date: 1987

Taking inspiration from western films like Rambo and various Arnold films that were massively popular at the time, Contra throws players into a war torn world where you’ll need just about any weapon you can find to take out the enemy as quickly as possible. Contra is fast paced and incredibly challenging because enemies come at you nonstop from all different angles, and so you needed to keep your attention on every section of the screen to ensure survival.

The vast array of weapons at your disposal made blasting enemies entertaining, with power ups allowing you to take out camps of enemies with one explosive move. Perhaps the greatest aspect behind Contra’s success is the boss battles, because you’d be sitting there for hours trying to figure out each pattern a boss had. That in itself created so much replay value and encouraged you to come back every time with new ways of defeating these massive enemies. Contra was like the Dark Souls of today in a way in that, you never really knew what to expect and even if you did, there’d be another surprise waiting for you.

1. Metal Slug

  • System/Platform: Multi Platform
  • Publisher: SNK
  • Developer: SNK
  • Release Date: April 19, 1996

SNK needed something to really rejuvenate the genre and so Metal Slug released initially on the Neo Geo MVS arcade cabinet, and it became a huge success immediately. You star as the Peregrine Falcon Squad, a small faction who must use their abilities to topple the enemy and prevent catastrophe from happening. What made Metal Slug so popular was that unlike in Contra where the animations were limited due to hardware, SNK developed a much more seamless style that allowed for more freedom of movement.

You’d be able to control various weapon types such as missiles and large machine guns, but also you could hop into a moving tank and blast enemies away with explosives. The biggest selling point however was the melee attack, which was perhaps the most powerful weapon in your disposal since all you’d need to do is run up to a group of enemies, swipe once or twice and that was it. Some enemies require that you use the melee because using guns just simply had no significant effect. This added element is what truly makes Metal Slug an incredible title, because it really takes the challenge to the next level.

Final Thoughts

Which run and gun titles did you find the most enjoyable? Let us know in the comments section down below and share your experiences with these challenging games. The run and gun genre has certainly had better days, back when the arcade scene was still booming and players would have sleepovers and play for hours on end. Those glory days are unfortunately over, but we can still relive those memories in these games mentioned above. Be sure to follow us on social media and help share our articles with the world, and help grow the honey’s community!

As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.

Wild-Guns-Reloaded-game-Wallpaper-700x403 Top 10 Run and Gun Anime Games [Best Recommendations]


Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on ! Take care!

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