Tyrian 2000

 · 14 mins read

Tyrian 2000 review

Tyrian 2000 is surely the best vertical scroll shoot’em’up ever made. Don’t look more, you found it. Period.

Tyrian, the vanilla version, was published by Epic MegaGames in 1995 (aka Epic Games), like OMF2097. It was developed by Eclipse Productions (aka World Tree Games). A new version, called Tyrian 2000, was released in 1999. Published by XSIV Games, the game was even more extended.

This game is, as expected on shumps, themed around space sci-fi. Many space ships, weapons, rich levels…

Tyrian menu

Strong points

What makes great Tyrian 2000 is a good mix of awesome OST, graphics that still look good today, various game modes and lots of secrets and easter eggs. Everything together, in a single game, is awesome. I’ll enter in detail to describe it better and point why is good:

  • Customization. The player controls a space ship that has a front weapon, a rear weapon, 2 sidekick weapons, a special artifact, shield, armor and energy generator. There are lots of them. The armor is always fixed, given by the ship model. Please refer to Appendix to know more about each component.
  • There are five episodes with lots of levels.
    • There are secret levels that can net you free upgrades and points. The secret levels are unlocked by touching a trigger (e.g. an orange sphere) inside a level.
    • There are bonus levels too, skipable, played like regular levels where there are more rewards than regular levels.
  • There are many difficulty levels (3 normal + 3 secret levels). Playing the game in hard (or more) rewards with many things (new secret/extra levels, new ship, new components, etc).
  • The game features many enemy ships and defenses, including the usual end-of-level or middle-level bosses.
  • There is a single player arcade mode. The player can play level to level linearly, collecting front weapons (blue background), rear weapons (red), sidekicks (green) and special artifacts.
  • There is also a single player super arcade mode. It’s played similarly to arcade mode, but there are 9 distinct ships with special weapons instead of rear weapons. You access it by inserting a secret code. I added details in the Appendix.
  • A two player arcade mode (cooperative, shared screen). Roughly the same as arcade mode but with a notable difference: the ship can be divided in two parts. Read more.
  • A timed battle mode (single player, Tyrian 2k only), with 3 bosses to choose, where you must destroy it as quickly as you can.
  • Full game mode is like a story mode where you can uncover the game story on level completions, choose your path and spend cash to upgrade the ship: read more.
  • There is also another secret arcade mode: Super Tyrian mode, meant to give the biggest challenge in the 2 hardest difficulty modes. Be warned.
  • There is other secret game mode, this time a minigame called Destruct, similar to an old arcade game: Scorched Earth. A game inside a game is not so uncommon today, but it’s amazing in an old game initially published in 1995.
  • There is a ship editor too! You can use some custom sprites and set weapons and ship components and just use it in any game mode, including full game mode.
  • The OST is truly awesome. Was composed by Alexander Brandon (facebook). There is even a jukebox ingame to play it.
  • Tyrian 2k changes it’s graphics for Christmas.
  • There are many jokes and easter eggs.

Tyrian upgrade


I find there are not relevant flaws and I consider this game just a flawless gem.

Tyrian is a balanced game where you can enjoy the story, customize your ship, play with a friend, try new space ships or go for a challenge in harder difficulties.

Tyrian 2 player

Why to play?

Tyrian 2000 is a fun and balanced shoot’em’up with a lot of content and modes that make it replayable. If you like arcade games with many secrets to discover and nice OST/graphics (dated but still ok), this game is for you.

Tyrian datacube


A nice let’s play video by the youtuber Kikoskia:

How to acquire + extra stuff

The game has been released as freeware many years ago. You could legally download it from anywhere, but I recommend you get it (for free) from gog.com. It comes with a DOSBox setup ready to play and you can get support from community and gog.

Again, there is a fan made remake named opentyrian as developers kindly shared source code. It’s built natively for Windows, based on vanilla Tyrian 2.1. Good thing about it is that game can be ported to other platforms, so you could play it consoles, Linux or Android without emulation. If you’re just going to play on Windows, I still recommend the original Tyrian 2000 on DOSBox.

Tyrian demo

Version / Platform

The game was released only for MS-DOS (PC). The reviewed game is Tyrian 2000, which extended original game with new ships, stuff and a full new episode. It can be played perfectly by using DOSBox. The game is freeware too, play it and enjoy to your heart content.

Tyrian demo 2


It was great they released Tyrian 2000 but it seems time just have passed from that time and we’re just not going to see a new Tyrian in the near future.

Maybe someone can get inspired enough to develop a new space shoot’em’up with similar mechanics? Maybe Zinglon will finally release it’s sacred beer brand?

Tyrian Ale

Games like Tyrian 2000

Shoot’em’up genre was rather prolific on past decades. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed by this games:

  • Raptor: call of the shadows. A good vertical scrolling shoot’em’up, for MS-DOS. Features buying weapons/components and nice OST / graphics. Available to purchase in gog.com.
  • Zone 66: An up-to-down view free-action shoot’em’up for DOS, this is not widely known. It’s a gem on the rough that is totally worth playing at least once.
  • PixelJunk Shooter: a modern, side view free-action, puzzle-driven shoot’em’up. This combines shooting with puzzle solving and platformer. I totally recommend it, it’s fun and support 2 players.
  • Operation inner space: fun and interesting Windows 3.1 game that still can be bought and played today natively on 32bits Windows.
  • Pop’n twinbee: an awesome and cute japanese vertical scrolling shoot’em’up, for SNES, made by Konami.
  • Parodius: a totally weird side scrolling shoot’em’up, made by Konami for SNES, to parody other games like Gradius (hence the name) and Twinbee.
  • Major Stryker: good old DOS game, published by Apogee, that is in Steam today.
  • Super Star Dust HD: a simple top-down view shoot’em’up, for PS3, where you destroy asteroids by using some flashy weapons.

Other known game sagas that were very popular back on it’s arcade days and are still popular with its newer releases and remakes:

  • Gradius: great Konami side scrolling shoot’em’up saga.
  • R-Type: old famous side scrolling shoot’em’up saga. There is a remake for this game too (R-Type Dimensions EX).
  • Raiden: an arcade old famous vertical scrolling shoot’em’up saga. Modern releases seem to have evolved to bullet hell sub-genre.
  • Galaga: other old famous vertical scrolling shoot’em’up.

I’m not a fan on bullet hell shoot’em’up and I don’t play them at all. But those are very popular (I think it’s a love it or hate it). I’ll just throw some random names I found in Steam (be warned, I didn’t played them but these seem ok):

  • Ikaruga
  • Mushihimesama
  • Crimzon Clover: World Ignition
  • DoDonPachi Resurrection

Tyrian dragon ship


This is another flawless gem and also is a free game, so it made sense to review it after OMF2097.

This game doesn’t have fan made content, as far as I know, as could have OMF2097 or C&C Red Alert. Still, the game itself has enough to keep you replaying it some time.

Tyrian Savara



  • You can buy and upgrade front and rear weapons. There are also free front/rear upgrades on the levels (like in arcade mode).
  • Also, you can buy the sidekicks and buy better generator and shield.
  • You can’t change the armor of the ship, but this time you can buy new ships. When you switch your ship, you keep everything else you had on the previous ship (weapons, generator, shield, special).
  • You can’t buy a special artifact, but those can be found for free on the levels (randomly, instead of powerups).
  • It’s important to note that, when you buy a new weapon, you get back the old weapon value and 100% money spent on upgrades. So there is no penalization, no money loss because of switching. This applies to everything (weapons, generators, shields and ships).

Ship components

  • The front weapon usually just fires to the front, could be diagonally. It’s the main weapon and your primary offense, so usually has a fast rate of fire or is powerful.
  • The rear weapon could fire to the front, sides, back, anywhere, depending on the weapon itself.
    • Sometimes acts as a secondary weapon to increase front firepower, other times as support/defensive weapon to help on the sides or back and protect the ship.
    • Some rear weapons can be switched on two modes by pressing a key (one mode more defensive and other for front offense).
    • Few rear weapons are guided: target and chase the enemy.
    • There are less options to choose between rear weapons than front weapons and many of them are re-adapted front weapons (e.g. there is a front multi-cannon and a rear multi-cannon).
    • Usually, rear weapons have lower power or range that front weapons but still are useful and should not be neglected.
  • The sidekicks are more varied:
    • Limited use bombs/missiles/mines/plasma (those are refreshed on level start), used to nuke your way on difficulties or killing bosses.
    • Attached side weapons, those usually are just smaller front beam weapons to improve front firepower. There is no limit usage but can drain the ship energy.
    • Companion small ships armed with beam weapons. Shoot like the attached side weapons, but this move following ship steps, so there is a lag with tactical usages.
  • The special artifacts (I just name it like that to differentiate from Super Arcade mode Special weapons). Those don’t use generator power. These are shoot with front weapon (you must press and release button) and most of them has a recharge time (cooldown) before the special can be fired again.
    • Some are just special weapons that help your front firepower, all (but Pearl Wind) have recharge time.
    • There is also a AOE damage special weapon (Flare), affects randomly the screen and has cooldown too.
    • The other are special passives are support/utility (Atractor, Repulsor) and have no cooldown.
  • The armor is the health of the ship, so if reaches zero, you lose a life. The only way to heal it normally is to retrieve health from a help ship that appears when your ships is damaged and in danger (there is other way, a ship super weapon that heals armor by consuming shield).
  • The shield protects the ship armor from all damage. When the shield strength reaches zero, the damage starts to affect the ship armor. The shield strength recovers automatically if there is enough energy (power) coming unused from the generator.
  • The generator provides energy for the weapons and shields.
    • Energy is provided to firing weapons first and then to recover shield strength.
    • If there is more energy used than generator can supply, the energy power levels go down to zero.
    • When energy level is near zero, the shield can’t recover strength and the weapons fire slowly.
    • Some weapons consume more generator power than others and depends on upgrades, so keep in mind when choosing new weapons (like vulcan cannons)
  • There are super special weapons that replace rear weapons and are available only in super arcade mode.
  • Finally, there are secret ship super weapons assigned to every ship.
    • In order to activate the ship super weapon, you have to do a combo movement (e.g. press fire, left, right).
    • Using the super special weapon has a cost always: it’s going to consume armor or shield, depending on the weapon.
    • Most of game ships have 2 or 3 ship super weapons.
    • Some of them are missile, other are special weapons (like repulsor), other are new support weapons (like invulnerability or repair) or other weapons.

A full list of ship components, with prices and location in full game mode, can be found in this small Tyrian Guidebook.

Arcade modes

  • In this modes the ship, shield and generator are fixed.
  • You can get extra lives. In 2p, every player has it’s own lives.

Two player arcade

  • Every part is an standalone ship. First player moves a ship with a front weapon and special artifact. The other player controls a ship with the rear and sidekicks.
  • Both parts can also merged and split freely at any time. When merged, the ship is totally controlled by the first player while the second players controls a turret for giving support by pointing the rear weapon.
  • Players can get upgrades for front and rear weapons. They also can upgrade change front, rear, sidekicks and specials.
  • Every player has it’s own extra lives count (so no matter if they’re merged or not).

Super arcade mode

  • There are many super arcade modes (9 in Tyrian 2k), each one has a different secret ship. You get the codes every time you end the arcade mode or every super arcade mode (one after other).
  • You can pick up color bubbles to switch and upgrade front weapon. There is a limited set of weapons for every ship (some of them, unique, only found for this ship).
  • There are no rear weapons or special components. Replacing the rear weapon, there are max 1 or 2 special weapons (depending on ship). You can switch between special weapons by using same key used for switch rear weapon mode.

Full story mode

  • On almost every level, you collect data cubes which you can read later (after completing the level) to know the story.
  • Before entering next level, you can see the sector map path and choose destination when the path is split in two distinct levels (on arcade mode you were just forced to next level).
  • On every level, you can spend money on new ships or components. The components offered depends on the last level played, so you need to reach certain levels to be able to buy certain ships/components.
  • The points earned on every level are converted to cash, on level completion, to spend it on the space ship: read more.
  • There are bonus minigames between episodes, that provide extra points and are optional.
  • There are no lives. When you die, you lose the points retrieved in the current level and go back to the menu. So you can try again the next level or maybe change your ship components.