Irem Collection Vol. 2 announced, includes hard-to-find shoot-’em-ups

Irem Collection Vol. 2 is on the way from ININ and Strictly Limited Games, and includes shooters GunForce, GunForce II and Air Duel.


Following the announcement of the first volume in April, ININ and Strictly Limited Games has opened pre-orders for Irem Collection Vol. 2.

This latest release collects together another handful of games from Japanese developer Irem’s back catalogue – the titles on offer this time are GunForce, GunForce II and Air Duel. 

GunForce and its sequel will be of particular interest to fans of Metal Slug, since it shares much of the creative DNA with that later run-and-gun classic (Metal Slug and its sequels were developed by Nazca Corporation, a studio founded by departing Irem staff). A frantic action game that allows you to hop into assorted vehicles as you do battle with waves of enemies, GunForce and its sequel have all the detailed sprite design and general polish you’d expect from the studio.

First emerging in Japanese arcades in 1991 as – brilliantly – GunForce: Battle Fire Engulfed Terror Island, the game was later ported to the SNES. The Irem Collection will contain both versions.

GunForce II, released in Japan as GeoStorm in 1994, bears an even closer resemblance to Metal Slug – one of its artists, Akio Oyabu, worked on both games. (Interestingly, Oyabu recently talked about the arduous conditions Metal Slug was made under – it’s a fascinating glimpse into early 90s Japanese game development.)

Then there’s Air Duel, a horizontally-scrolling shoot-’em-up developed for Irem’s M-72 arcade system and released in 1990. Like most of Irem’s shooters – such as Image Fight – Air Duel is quite frighteningly hard. Also like GunForce II, Air Duel was never ported to any other system – the Irem Collection therefore marks their debut appearance on a console.

Just like the previous volume, Irem Collection Vol. 2 will be available as a physical release for PS4, PS5 and Switch, and is available as a regular boxed game or as a bulkier Collector’s Edition that includes an art book, arcade flyers, soundtrack CD, and other materials. All are going to be printed in (relatively) limited quantities of between 2,000 to 4,000 copies.

irem collection vol. 2

Credit: ININ/Strictly Limited Games.

There are five volumes planned in total, and it’s possible to pre-order a complete bundle of all five, housed in a tidy slipcase.

We can’t help wondering why these games have to appear on quite so many cartridges, though. Nintendo managed to squeeze Tears of the Kingdom on one card, so we should think 15 or so 3o year-old arcade games could fit quite easily into the same space.

Grumbles aside, it’s pleasing to see these once obscure games getting a physical release, and it’ll be interesting to see what games are announced for the next three volumes. R-Type, perhaps Irem’s most famous game, hasn’t made an appearance yet. Let’s face it – making five volumes of Irem games and leaving out R-Type would be a hilarious act of retro scene trolling.

Irem Collection Vol. 2 will be available to pre-order from 15 July at Strictly Limited Games. It’s expected to launch in the first quarter of 2024.


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