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Description official description

In 2192, a new city, Selene, is built on the moon. Over the years, Selene grows larger, more powerful, and more independent of the Earth - to the point that the moon and Earth battle in a war that winds down without a definite victory for either side. In 2242, war breaks out again - the Earth slowly begins to win... except for the efforts of an experimental Selene technology known as Einhänders: flying machines with a "hand" that allows them to change weaponry mid-battle.

On December 12, 2245, Selene sends down 3 Einhänders in a last attempt to turn the tide of the war. You get to choose the craft to pilot, and it's up to you to battle your way through the Earth's monstrous defenses and win the battle.

The game is a traditional side-scrolling shooter, with rendered 3D backgrounds and enemies. The atmosphere of the game is very "industrial", down to the German industrial music playing in the background (think Einsturzende Neubauten mixed with Lords of Acid). The weapon-switching and claiming is an integral part of the game, as weapons have limited shots. This forces a bit more strategy than the usual button-mashing shooters inspire.


  • アインハンダー - Japanese spelling

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Credits (PlayStation version)

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Average score: 85% (based on 16 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 19 ratings with 1 reviews)

A single handed display of power...

The Good
Once in a great while there are games within a genre that bust a mold, but still go frequently unnoticed. Einhänder, SquareSoft's first side scrolling shooter on the PS1, is just such a game. On the surface Einhänder is easily mistaken for a common side scrolling shooter. Nothing could be further from the truth however. Einhänder follows many conventions key to a good shooter, but Squaresoft thankfully was not satisfied with the status quo. Einhänder's primary attraction stems directly from a certain amount of quasi-realism and player adaptive game mechanics, to overcome nearly impossible odds, making you feel like a real hero. Einhänder's most irresistible feature is the collection and use of weapons, or "gunpods". Defeated enemies often cough up a vast collection of gunpods to be turned against them. These power-ups are ammo dependant and their possession is crucial to gameplay. Each gunpod type has characteristics that are very specific, and are geared for certain types of combat; long range, short range, wide attack, narrow, directional, charging, instant, delay etc. Ammunition dependency for the gunpods is a great reward / tension mechanic. Among gunpods, even the weakest of them will rip apart small to medium enemies with little or no effort. Cutting loose with gunpods blazing, turns your ship into a death machine and feels very potent. The notion of ammo count is very "real world" and grounds Einhänder into a feel more pragmatic and visceral than most shooters. Because ammunition is a factor in gunpod usage, they take a very significant role. They empower the player with choices, and more importantly... different styles of playing the game. The catch is when you're are out of ammo your ship drops the pod and you return to stock firepower, while nowhere near as impressive as gunpods it still packs a good punch. The equipping and disposing of gunpods could be considered nearly drug-like; always looking for the next fix in a struggle between highs and lows. Additionally, the pods also serve as a defense mechanism capable of shielding the player from enemy fire in a limited capacity. From the selection screen there are a total of 5 selectable ships to pilot, 2 are unlockable. Each version stores and utilizes gunpods differently. Some hold more, some hold less, some can use more than one at the same time etc. Within these variations a player can either position a gunpod above or below the ship on the fly with a button press. This is what makes the Einhänder ships incredibly flexible and lethal. As a player alternates the position of the gunpod high and low, its functionality also changes. A great example of this is the gunpod "WASP". The basic function is a rocket launcher. When positioned below the craft the missiles have a straight line firing arc and do more damage. Alternately placed above the ship the rockets change to tracking type missiles that do less damage. In effect a single weapon becomes two-fold in its usefulness to the player. Not all gunpods change so radically. Certain gunpods such as the "SPREADER" a basic shotgun weapon, simply changes directions firing forward or backwards pending a high or low position. With an impressive arsenal of weapons to choose from and twice the functionality in each, it is easy to see that Einhänder is very flexible in its design. It is this flexibility that makes Einhänder genuinely dynamic and thoroughly addictive to play.

The Bad
Einhänder does suffer from a couple of problems. Because the game is in a 3D world with 2D gameplay and activity in the background to boot, clutter and visual overload can distract from the players attention in a crucial moment. It is a frustrating thing to loose a life and not know why, or not see the shot that hit you. Secondly, collision is a bit dicey in gunpod pickup department, this can become frustrating when it comes to collecting gunpods. It is very easy to accidently grab a gunpod you did not want, or replace one you wanted to keep. Thankfully those situations do not occur often, but when it happens in a pressure situation it can be "slack jawed" annoying.

The Bottom Line
Einhänder is a shooter with tight, crisp and effective controls. The visual look of the game is gritty, well structured and convincing. The sound effects inspire, and the music keeps your toes tapping. The gameplay functionality Einhänder contains is breathtakingly effective and easy to understand. This game is an experience you should not miss.

PlayStation · by Vecster (19) · 2003


1001 Video Games

The PS1 version of Einhänder appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Title translation

Einhänder is German for "One-hander" (referring to a sword)

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  • MobyGames ID: 3656


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Robert Morgan.

PS Vita added by Fred VT. PSP, PlayStation 3 added by MAT.

Additional contributors: ケヴィン, MegamanX64, DreinIX, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack.

Game added April 3rd, 2001. Last modified June 16th, 2023.