Pop'n Twinbee / ポップンツインビー
Released two years after Detana Twinbee hit arcades, Pop'n Twinbee is the sixth installment of the Twinbee series. It continues the series' tradition of colorful, vibrant graphics and zany enemies, but innovates in a number of ways.
The most notable difference found in Pop'n is the health system - all previous Twinbee games afforded the player a small handful of lives, though their ship would perish upon a single hit if struck directly. In Pop'n Twinbee, you have only one life per credit, but you have a health meter, allowing you to sustain a bit of extra abuse. There are even heart items occasionally left behind by grounded enemies which'll refill a portion of your health.
The bell system is similar to that found in Detana! Twinbee, at least in terms of your power-up selection. You have your speed-up, shield, and a choice between two primary weapons, a straight beam for grey, and a triple shot for purple. Green Bells will upgrade your ship with an extra option, allowing for a total of four. Before starting the game, you may choose between three possible arrangements for your options, including the classic shadow trail, a Gradius-style spinning shield, or a more dynamic system where they move in lines away from your ship. There are also flashing bells, which will increase the stock for your screen-clearing bomb.
Speaking of Bells, new to Pop'n Twinbee is a tweak that makes it easier to collect the ability of your choosing - now, when a Bell switches color, it'll take a number of shots before switching back to gold, meaning counting off exact shots is not as big of a deal as it was previously. This will serve as a tremendous relief for players who found the Bell system to be finicky in older titles.
Pop'n Twinbee is easily one of the best shoot 'em ups for the Super Famicom, if not the single best. It offers a reasonable level of challenge, has enough variety in its mechanics to keep fresh, and there's even some great eye-candy in the form of short cutscenes between levels which do an excellent job at showcasing the series' trademark artstyle. Undoubtedly, one of the top entries in the Twinbee series.