Title pretty much covers it. I think the predecessor to Cybernator is the earliest I know (1990) but I wouldn't be surprised if there are earlier examples. I suspect the inspiration may have come from Thexder, which is a similar idea but not quite the same.

Update: The original Mario Land qualifies and is actually older - 1989. From the Wikipedia page:

Two of the game's twelve levels are "forced-scrolling" Gradius-style shooters where Mario helms a submarine or airplane and fires projectiles towards oncoming enemies, destructible blocks and bosses.

Hopefully that clarifies what I'm talking about.

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    You mean like the Contra which was released on February 20, 1987?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Jul 26, 2021 at 19:47
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    I think this question would be better with screens (or links from the games to examples of what you mean) as I am not convinced a textual description will serve. I'm sure it's clear to you, but the clarify did not help me understand anymore than originally and I'm unmotivated to look at those games to either remember or try and see what you might mean.
    – joedragons
    Jul 28, 2021 at 21:30
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    I've updated and clarified the question again.
    – Sam
    Nov 29, 2022 at 15:35
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    Next I discovered "Mad City" (also 1988), once again although multi-genre it isn't quite (I don't think) what you are looking for. Then going back even further I found "Major Havoc" a vector-based arcade game from 1983 by Atari. This includes distinct platform shooter/run and gun stages with scrolliong shooter stages. Check it out and let me know if I'm getting closer: youtube.com/watch?v=94j4u6ztiKc&t=748s
    – Albert F D
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:00
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    Sorry for seemingly spam posting, but as a relevant addendum for your consideration I would also submit "Xain'd Sleena", a 2-genre arcade platformer, side-scrolling shooter by Technos from 1986, not as early as my last suggestion but pre-dating the others I mentioned.
    – Albert F D
    Dec 2, 2022 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


I found this a remarkably interesting question to research, taking me down memory lane in some instances and the idiomatic rabbit hole in others. The earliest game I could find that satisfied the criteria defined by Sam was "Major Havoc" (or "The Adventures of Major Havoc") a vector-based arcade action game developed and published by Atari Inc. in 1983.

It features alternating levels of spaceship (the "Catastrofighter") combat, a la "Tempest" (1981), and Major "Rex Havoc" himself running and gunning in a platform environment, a la "Berzerk" (1980)/"Spike" (1983).

Gameplay footage can be seen here:

Furthermore, I recommend the channel for fans of retro-gaming.

  • 1
    Many thanks for your determination and persistence :-)
    – Sam
    Dec 6, 2022 at 10:05
  • You're very welcome! :)
    – Albert F D
    Dec 6, 2022 at 14:05

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