Axelay (アクスレイ Akusurei?) is a shoot'em up video game developed and published by Konami for the Super NES in 1992. Axelay is a sci-fi scrolling-shooter in the same vein as other Konami titles such as Life Force and Gradius. The game features both horizontal and vertically scrolling levels and allows the player to choose three different weapon-types, which increase in number as they progress through the game.
Axelay takes place in the fictional planetary system known as Illis. Once a peaceful system, it was invaded by an alien empire known as the Armada of Annihilation, taking over the planets of the Illis system, including the Earth-like Corliss (known in the Japanese version as "Mother"). As a last resort against the alien forces, the D117B Axelay fighter is sent out to recover its lost weaponry and put a stop to the invasion.
Having traversed the cloud covered Cumuluses, the space colony Tralieb, the largely populated Urbanite, the watery Cavern, and Sector 3 Lava Planet, Axelay makes its way to the Armada of Annihilation's Fortress and completes its mission.
Axelay's gameplay varies quite a bit from that of traditional 2D scrolling shooters. Instead of the player collecting weapon power-ups from defeated enemies in order to acquire more advanced weapons, the player earns weapons as they advance in the game. There are three weapon types with which the fighter is outfitted at the start of the level: a standard weapon, a special weapon, and a bomb or missile. The player may freely switch between each of these weapon types during a level. At the end of each level, a new choice of one of these types of weapons is added to the player's armory, and the player is given the ability to modify their fighter to suit the needs of the next level. Examples of weapons include multiple-way shot, vulcan cannon and spread bombs. Similar to Life Force, levels transition between vertical and horizontal scrolling layouts, forcing the player to select weapons that will be most effective for each level.
These weapons also operate like shields. The game eschews the standard one-hit-kill model prevalent in space shooters, instead simply disabling the currently selected weapon and reducing the player to a weak default version of that weapon type. Sustaining a second hit while using a weakened weapon will destroy the player's ship. However, directly colliding into an enemy will still destroy the ship instantly.
The game uses various visual effects in both the top-down and side-scrolling stages. In the top-down stages, enemies and objects are warped as they come into view to produce a pseudo-3D effect. The game also uses parallax scrolling effects.
- Upon beating Axelay twice in Hard mode, a message would appear teasing Axelay 2; however, due to several factors, including some of the developers leaving Konami and creating Treasure Inc., Axelay 2 was never created.