Hands On: Run 'n' Gun: A History Of On-Foot Shooters 4
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

We've already seen UK publisher Bitmap Books team up with acclaimed writer Dave Cook for a book about scrolling beat 'em ups, so the news that the pair are reuniting for a weighty tome focused solely on run 'n' gun shooters was certainly cause for celebration.

Bitmap Books was kind enough to send us a copy of the book ahead of its launch later this month, and we've spent the past few days leafing through its 496 pages. Divided into time-based segments, it covers the early examples of the genre – such as Gun Fight, Castle Wolfenstein and Berzek – right up to modern-day interpretations, such as Blazing Chrome, Xeno Crisis and Cuphead.

Run 'n' Gun: A History Of On-Foot Shooters naturally covers some of the most significant entries in the genre, such as Contra, Metal Slug, Gunstar Heroes and Mega Man, but it's just as comfortable shining a light on the lesser-known examples, including Abuse, Ruff 'n' Tumble and Eduardo the Samurai Toaster.

Cook may be most famous now for his comic books, but he's a former games journalist who really knows his stuff, and the resultant text is packed with trivia, critical analysis and sprinkles of humour. We especially like the two-page segments which are rolled out for key titles, such as a breakdown of all of the weapons in Midnight Resistance or the many forms of the iconic Gunstar Heroes boss Seven Force.

If you like the run 'n' gun genre, then this is pretty much essential reading; it covers all of the notable games (and a few duds, which the book is happy to label as such), and it even has a foreword by Kenji Inafune, famous for his work on the Mega Man series.

Run 'n' Gun: A History Of On-Foot Shooters launches on July 29th.

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