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The Best Side-Scrolling Shooters on Antstream Arcade

Antstream Arcade

If shoot ’em ups are your jam, Antstream Arcade really does leave you spoilt for choice. This retro-gaming service, which has recently landed Xbox, has a massive catalogue of titles across multiple platforms. And if you’re a fan of side-scrolling shooters, you might be wondering which ones are the best on Antstream Arcade.

The service covers over 25 years of side-scrolling shooter history, offering up some of the best classics. But knowing where to start can be difficult. We’re here to help: we’ve rounded up five of the best side-scrolling shooters on Antstream Arcade. It’s been tough to narrow down, because there are so many to choose from – but hopefully you’ll enjoy your choices. Happy shooting and scrolling!

1. Defender


This Williams classic is one of the most frantic shooters you’re likely to play. It’s not because the aliens are actively trying to murder you, even though they are. But while you’re blasting away, their pals are trying to abduct colonists. So you have to juggle eliminating aliens with rescuing the humans they’re in the middle of spiriting away.

2. Metal Slug

Metal Slug

On foot rather than in a spaceship, Metal Slug has you taking on an unnamed military force, blasting away at helicopters, giant tanks and more. That might sound familiar but what sets Metal Slug apart is its sense of humour and gorgeous animation – well, for a 1996 release, anyway. The latter makes dispatching enemies all that much more satisfying.

3. R-Type


R-Type from Irem is one of our favourites, and undoubtedly one of the best side-scrolling shooters on Anstream Arcade. One of its stand-out features is that, instead of blasting away, you can also fire out a single concentrated burst of energy. Though whether you want to risk holding it in when enemies are coming at you is another thing altogether. Throw in some weirdly bio-mechanical bosses and you’ve got a treat for shmup fans.

4. Project X

Project X

Unlike the other shooters on this list, which are all arcade games, Project X is an Amiga-based blaster. And it will absolutely kick your backside. More so than some bullet hell games, this is a challenging but hugely rewarding shoot-em-up. Developed by Team 17, it later got a middling PlayStation sequel but the original is a true shoot-em-up gem.

5. Prehistoric Isle

Prehistoric Isle

Before Exoprimal, we had Prehistoric Isle. This classic side-scrolling shooter tasks you with annihilating wave after wave of dinosaurs. It’s a silly, silly game but a hell of a lot of fun with it. Our favourite feature has to be the way that caveman will leap into your plane and slow you down, at last until you shake them off.

Weekend Editor // Chris has been gaming since the days of the Acorn Electron, which was allegedly purchased to 'help him with his homework'. You can probably guess how well that went. He’ll tackle most genres – football titles aside – though he has a taste for games that that are post-apocalyptic, horror-oriented or thought provoking in nature.