Einhänder (1997)

by Christopher
4 minutes read


With its engaging gameplay, challenging missions, and innovative weapon system, Einhänder stands as a testament to SquareSoft’s ability to craft experiences outside its traditional RPG fare, offering a thrilling journey through its futuristic setting.


Einhänder brings a unique experience to the side-scrolling shooter genre, combining fast-paced action with a detailed storyline. Its name, derived from a German word meaning ‘single hand,’ refers to the ship’s unique arm that can switch weapons during combat.


The game Einhänder is set in a fictional future during a war between the Earth and the Moon. The plot is based on the Greek mythology of Selene and Endymion. The player is part of the Moon’s forces and must invade enemy territories to gather reconnaissance and enemy weapons. The player controls a fighter spacecraft that must destroy enemy craft in side-scrolling levels.

The player takes on the role of a freelance ace pilot from a lunar city on the moon. The pilot takes on just about everybody of the earth defense fleet, which is primarily German. The player’s spacecraft is superior and more maneuverable, capable of taking advantage of enemy fighters by stealing their weapons.

Einhänder is a shoot ’em up game of the scrolling shooter subgenre, in the tradition of games like Gradius. The game’s graphics are in 2.5D, that is, in 3D with occasional shifting of camera angles, but with the player’s movement restricted to a two-dimensional plane. Pre-rendered full motion videos are used to illustrate pivotal scenes between stages.

The player can choose between multiple difficulty settings and three different models of the “Einhänder” fighter, in addition to two secret ones. The Japanese version also features a difficulty setting called “Free”, which grants unlimited continues but disables the score.

The player’s fighter can move at different speeds and is equipped with a default machine gun as well as a manipulator arm, which is used to collect gunpods left by destroyed enemies. Gunpods have varying amounts of power, ammunition, and range, and include cannons, guided missile launchers, aircraft-sized lightsabers, and other types of weapons. Gunpods depleted of ammunition are discarded.

Most stages have a middle boss and an end boss, which often possess a main core and individual parts that can be destroyed. The game’s score system is based on a multiplier bar and a hit gauge counter.


The game primarily focuses on the player’s spacecraft, the Einhänder. While it doesn’t feature characters in a traditional sense, the enemies and bosses encountered provide a diverse challenge.


Einhänder is celebrated for its weapon system, where players can equip different armaments captured from enemies. This system allows for a wide range of combat strategies, adding depth to the side-scrolling shooting mechanics.


Einhänder remains a beloved classic in the side-scrolling shooter genre, notable for its artistic direction, sound design, and unique gameplay mechanics. It represents a memorable departure for SquareSoft into the world of action games.

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