5 Great Twin-Stick & Top-Down Shooters

Some call ‘em top-down shooters and play on the keyboard, others call ‘em twin-stick shooters and prefer a controller. No matter which way you go, it’s safe to say there are plenty of awesome games in this genre. Here are five of which that we strongly recommend checking out.  

Hotline Miami

Dennaton Games asked the gaming community a chilling question: “Do you like hurting other people?” Those who felt brave enough to play Hotline Miami were greeted with ultra-violent visuals, a disturbing plot, and copious amounts of synthwave music.

Killing was more than just a means of surviving, considering you went down for the count after one hit. Fact was, it was a competition. The more you killed in rapid succession with the various melee weapons or guns on offer, the more points you gained, so keeping up your momentum without dying was always a big challenge. Meanwhile, the numerous unlockable masks to wear during your murderous escapades would grant you bonus abilities alongside an incentive to perfect your scores. It’s a raw, unforgiving title, and a bloody brilliant one at that.

I think the answer is ‘yes’.


POSTAL was a real shocker when it was first released in 1997. As the Postal Dude, your objective was to mow down all hostiles on each level. No one told you that you didn’t have to perforate the numerous innocents running for their lives. The HD remake of the game was a dark horse – underappreciated, too – that still retains the disturbing atmosphere of the original while polishing the look, sound, and controls.

Every level from the game has been remade, including the content from the Postal: Special Delivery expansion pack and even the Japan-exclusive missions as well. Co-operative and deathmatch modes are a blast to play, but the real gem is the rampage mode. Rapidly slaughtering everyone in creative ways – all to the tune of aggressive and sinister electronica tunes that will make you want to headbang yourself into submission – will earn you more and more points, as a mysterious voice taunts or praises you for your efforts… very spooky, and very addictive.

Death is on the Midway, gambling with souls…


The team at 10tons definitely have a soft spot for top-down shooters, and they know how to make a solid one. JYDGE is proof of this. As the titular protagonist, you leap across numerous levels rescuing civilians, confiscating loot, and striking dread in the hearts of criminal scum. Numerous upgrades and weapons are unlockable, and will compliment the playstyles of your choice. Plus, the environment is destroyable, meaning you can blast holes into walls in order to get around faster. Very nice.

As you progress, stages will be remixed. The primary goal for one level may be to take down a big bad guy, while a tougher variant will get you to survive for a certain amount of time. Additional objectives on offer will put your speed or stealthiness to the test. It’s safe to say that it should be a crime to skip out on this one.  

Justice comes in the form of a 5.56mm bullet to the back of your head.

Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour

This is, without question, the best spin-off Serious Sam title to date, and one that gives the FPS games a serious (hurr durr) run for their money. Our hero explores luscious, pixelated Mediterranean locales, laboratories and secret bases on the moon. True to the Serious Sam formula, you’ve got armies of deadly enemies, and a big selection of guns to waste ‘em with. However, our hero can upgrade his skills, and is able to dodge-roll at top-speed, making it a relentless, fast-paced slug-a-thon.

The good stuff doesn’t stop there. You can play with others cooperatively or competitively, and try your luck in the survival maps. Plus, there are oodles of mods and maps on offer, and you can make your own as well. If arena shooter-style of the Serious Sam games aren’t putting a smile on your face, then this one no doubt will. Or, as Sam himself would quip: “Yeah, baby!”

A janitor’s worst nightmare.

Total Carnage

The muscle-bound manly men of the Doomsday Squad are the only dudes capable enough to take on General Akhboob and his army of mutants in this immensely satisfying spiritual-sequel to Midway’s beloved twin-stick title Smash T.V.. You’ll be moving down hundreds of freaky dudes, battling gigantic tanks, and looting as many goodies along the way. A whopping 220 keys need to be swiped to access the best ending possible – a near-impossible task, yes, but the real joy comes from frying enemies with flamethrowers, or dropping time bombs all over the place.

Total Carnage is no doubt a barmy game, with its cartoon-ish visuals and dopey sense of humour. Don’t be fooled though, as you’ll be showered with giblets-galore and some graphic cutscenes in between. All of this comes together in a testosterone-fuelled top-down shooter that’s great fun when played solo, but even more so with two players flexing it out.

This was created by the same company that made Mortal Kombat, so you know it’s gotta be awesome.

What are some of your favourites? Get in contact with your thoughts, and be sure to share the article!

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