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RELEASE DATE (JP): July 1996 GENRE: Shmup
// review by SoyBomb

Well, hot dog. We have a wiener.

I'm about to review a game called Hotdog Storm. No, really, I'm going to do it.

Hotdog Storm is a game released for the Japanese arcades in 1996 by a company called Marble. I had never heard of Marble before, I researched Marble just to see if they had produced anything I could recognize. Sadly, they only developed one other game: "The Match Golf" for PlayStation. They clearly no longer exist, and we could possibly blame it on releasing a game called "Hotdog Storm".

To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when playing Hotdog Storm. What could a game of that moniker possibly be about? Will I have to raid a hot dog factory after a gang of murderous hamburger ninjas take over? Will I have to crank a virtual meat grinder to build a high-scorin' gargantuan frankfurter for a medieval king in need of a tubular feast? Is this a bootleg copy of Burgertime? Sure enough, the title screen reads "Hotdog Storm" with a well-stuffed hot dog in the background, displayed on a plate that reads "THE FIRST SUPERSONICS". That certainly doesn't make any sense. Little did I know, the title screen was rather deceiving: this game actually has NOTHING to do with hot dogs.

Hotdog Storm is actually a shmup, believe it or not, that only depicts those tasty bunly wieners on the title screen and the high score table (where floating hot dogs and ketchup bottles slide by). The remainder involves you in a spaceship defeating all the enemy ships until you basically destroy an entire empire. Sadly, there is no storyline or cinematics to accompany Hotdog Storm, so you're left to synthesize your own backstory based on the title alone. "The Intergalactic Sausage Alliance Headquarters has been invaded by a collective of starved comet dwellers from B.U.R.G. (Basic Universal Radio Galaxies)! It's up to you, Lieutenant Mustardus, to rid your solar system of B.U.R.G. influence before your entire supply of delicious hot dogs are devoured, leaving the Alliance to perish! Take off every caramelized onion for great justice!" Or something of that nature.

I actually wish I was battling against ballpark frankfurters.

Everything else is a by-the-book space shooter. You fly a generic blue ship, destroying various larger, more impressive ships along the way. (Frankly, every ship is more impressive than yours in this game, as is the case for every shmup out there.) Along the way, you can collect orbs to either power up your main weapon, grab a large bomb for later use, or provide yourself with backups on the side. You'll occasionally feel a tad underpowered, at least until you learn that you can charge up and release a massive blast at enemies. I particularly enjoyed the green homing bullets, though in the time I spent charging, I usually ended up losing a life to some ridiculous stray bullet. And there will be many of those. The bosses, though pedestrian in design, will give you a challenge by tossing bullets pretty much everywhere. Hotdog Storm isn't a "bullet hell" shooter (categorized by literally having most of the screen filled with bullets at any given time to manically avoid), but it is still very difficult to avoid everything thrown at you. Bring extra quarters to this shindig.

Unfortunately, the game's presentation serves as a setback to shmuppers (and I'm not referring solely to the fact that there's a hot dog on the title screen). Those who have never experienced an arcade game beyond the likes of Pac-Man or Dig Dug will have their minds blown into the next county, but compared to games of the genre from several years earlier, Hotdog Storm is relatively bland. It can be pleasant to the eyes, but nothing truly stands out. The music is so generic, I can't even remember any of it, but I certainly recall the awful screeching sprung forth from the speakers when an enemy ship is destroyed. It's absolutely brittle and unnecessary.

I'm sorry to have to break the bad news, but Hotdog Storm isn't what you expected. It's just a generic shooter, and we can infer from the fate of developer Marble, that's just not enough to keep a company afloat. I actually wish that Hotdog Storm had more elements of actual hot dogs; that could have separated it from the crowd. At least no hot dogs were harmed in the making of this game... presumably.

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