So it's probably pretty clear by now how much I love arcade beat em ups. Another game type I was really fond of as a kid were side scrolling shooters, Contra being the prime example. It was very surprising that I didn't see more of the two combined. I saw firearms present in some beat em ups, like Alien vs Predator, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, and Growl to name a few. Besides Narc, Bucky O'Hare, and MAYBE Alien Storm, I really can't bring any prominent examples to mind that really mixed the two as integral components rather than consumable random (or scripted) pickups.
Also, I don't often see independent shooting and moving, which would really be helpful as seen in the likes of Robotron or Smash TV. I think I was playing the arcade version of Narc at the time when I thought of how much better it would be if the game had separate shoot left and right buttons, kind of like (but not nearly as oddly implemented) the attack forward/backward buttons in Renegade. The thought of an auto-initiated close range attack to push enemies away also popped into my head, and I figured at that point, why not just give them a standard button mash BEU combo in addition to weapons. You'll also have evasive dodges by double tapping direction keys, and of course, an invincible frame possessing panic attack for emergencies. This won't take a bit of your health however, you'll have a special bar that slowly charges based on your actions, like Denjin Makai. I haven't decided yet if dodging will take a bit from it; I'll figure that out in playtesting.
Taking more influence from Alien Storm, I really liked the idea of a kind of mock heroic specialized team that deals with extraordinary enemies. Also, it's always more interesting to me to have a lot of non-human enemies in my beat em ups, which is why I really liked games like Battle Circuit and Guardians. So I did a rough design of a kind of John McClane looking guy and a Southern bell-type girl for the archetypes of strength and speed respectively. They probably won't even be named; I might as well just refer to them as Strength and Speed (hopefully the company that makes my motorcycle jackets doesn't find out and sue). I want their weapons to reflect their archetypes as well, so the guy has a lot of heavy, old, metal weapons while the girl has more lighter, tactical, polymer type weapons.
I have quite a bit of visual assets done; most, if not all of the pickups, both characters' weapons, most of their firing animations, and a few of the in-game tutorials, which will be handled through billboards (I'm pretty proud of myself for that one). I've also got initial sketches and early designs of the player characters, but not much as far as enemies. I also have the basic walking, shooting, and melee fighting engine done. This is the first game I've decided to program in AS3 (and may be the last...) and I'm also loading a lot of info (weapons, stats, enemies) via XML, so I can change game values without re-exporting the game.
Monster Squad is the working title, but it might stick; I was a really big fan of that movie as a kid. The game probably won't be a collection of classic monsters, but I do have at least zombies planned as some basic fodder enemies. Maybe I'll take suggestions for them, still have a while to go before it really becomes a big issue. For now, here's a still of the game thus far. I'm quite happy with the pickup icons, not so happy with the character design just yet. The background itself is for testing; it's from Final Fight 3. I'll have to change a bit of the logic as to how the boundaries work; I'd really like for this to be the first BEU engine I make that allows for vertical scrolling. Should be fun. Unless AS3 kills me first.