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North American version cover art

Einhänder (アインハンダー?) is a horizontal scrolling shooter developed by Square for the PlayStation console. It was released in Japan on November 20, 1997 and in North America on April 30, 1998. It was also re-released for the Japanese PlayStation Network on June 25, 2008. The name Einhänder is German for "single-handed", a reference to a sword, here used to refer to the single manipulator arm possessed by the player's spacecraft.[1]

The game is set in a fictional future during a war between the Earth and the Moon. The player is part of the Moon's forces and must invade enemy territories to gather reconnaissance and enemy weapons. The music of the game was composed in electro/techno style by Kenichiro Fukui and was published in Japan as a soundtrack album. The game received positive reviews from critics, who praised its gameplay and graphics, but felt the game's short duration and lack of two-player mode were minor flaws.

Einhänder is a shoot 'em up game of the scrolling shooter subgenre in the tradition of games like Gradius, in which the player controls a fighter spacecraft that must destroy enemy crafts in side-scrolling levels. The game's graphics are in "2.5D"; that is in 3D with occasional shifting of camera angles, but with player's movement restricted to a two-dimensional plane. Pre-rendered full motion videos are used to illustrate pivotal scenes between stages.[2]

GameplayEdit

The player can choose between multiple difficulty settings and three different models of "Einhänder" fighter, in addition to two secret ones.[3] The Japanese version also features a difficulty setting called "Free", which grants unlimited continues but disables the score.[1] The player's fighter can move at different speeds and is equipped with a default machine gun as well as a manipulator arm, which is used to collect gunpods left by destroyed enemies. Gunpods have varying amounts of power, ammunition and range, and include cannons, guided missile launchers, aircraft-sized lightsabers and other types of weapons.[3] Gunpods depleted of ammunition are discarded. They can be switched between an overhead and below-the-belly position, causing them to fire at different angles or directions.[1] Most stages have a middle boss and an end boss, which often possess a main core and individual parts that can be destroyed.[2]

The game's score system is based on a multiplier bar and a hit gauge counter. As the player destroys enemy cores, the hit counter increases. Points awarded for destroyed cores are multiplied by the value of the hit counter. The counter decreases when the player stops destroying cores. However, if the multiplier reaches a certain amount it will begin to flash, awarding large point bonuses for any cores destroyed during this short period of time.[1]

StoryEdit

Einhänder takes place in a fictional future, during a war between the Earth and the Moon colony of Selene. According to the backstory of the game, the "First Moon War" resulted in the destruction of most of the Earth's surface and the creation of a totalitarian regime on the planet. The game recounts the events of the Second Moon War, in which the Moon attacks the Earth again for natural resources. Selene's tactic consists in sending one-man fighter spacecraft called "Einhänder" on kamikaze missions, to cause as much damage as possible on the planet before being destroyed by the enemies. The player takes on the role of one of these pilots attacking the Earth capital city.[1][4]

As the player progresses through the game, they are relayed command orders and objectives dispatched by the Selene military satellite, Hyperion. The orders are synthesized by the on-board central computer EOS, which also records and relays the players flight and battle record data back to Hyperion. After completion of the last objective, the player is informed by Hyperion that the battle pattern of the latest EOS unmanned fighter has been completed according to the data from their battle record. The player is given the honor of being the target of the last EOS test as reward for their heroic efforts and that upon the player's death, they shall advance two classes and be awarded the Sirius decoration. After surviving the intense barrage of artillery fire of the EOS test, the pilot wonders why they must be terminated by their ally and questions their military leaders' rationale for the war.[1][4]

The game's narrative then skips to one month later, when the pilot re-emerges in space flying an armed Einhänder spacecraft. A message from Hyperion communicates that the player is committing an act of treason and must remove their armament and surrender. Nevertheless, the player fights their way through Selene fighters and faces the Hyperion, the game's final boss. The ending sequence depicts the player's spacecraft damaged and drifting in space. The pilot engages its thrusters and dives into an army of Selene spacecraft with the Moon in the background. After the end credits, a lone Einhänder spacecraft is shown powering up.[1][4]

Fighters and GunpodsEdit

Main Article: Einhänder Fighters.

BossesEdit

Main Article: Einhänder Bosses.

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