Every so often, I would think about this game I played as a kid. It was one of the first games I ever beat (or at least the most memorable early one), and I really liked the powerups. However, I didn't remember its name. I remembered that it was a vertical scrolling shooter for two players. The characters were angels or something, and the highest level powerup would turn your character into some kind of phoenix or something. I felt sure that if I saw the name I would remember it.
So, after thinking about it several times over a period of months, I finally decided to try to find it. I tried searching for various terms, but I didn't have any success. There was one particular friend I associated with this game, and I thought I remembered that this friend had a Sega Genesis, so I carefully combed through Wikipedia's list of Genesis games. I didn't find it. Just to be on the safe side, I also carefully combed through the list of Dreamcast games. No joy there, either. In desperation, I decided to check out the list of NES games, and there it was. Legendary Wings.
I read through the description, and it brought back many memories. I had one detail wrong, though. Apparently the characters were people with mechanical wings, not angels (although I don't think there's any mention of this in the game itself). So, thinks I, I guess I'll have to find out what's going on with NES emulators and try to hunt down the ROM to play. And then I notice that the first page of search results lists a place you can play Legendary Wings online. And lo, I did play Legendary Wings. And I discovered that it's a lot harder with one person, and it's a lot harder without a Nintendo controller. I've so far only managed to get the second powerup, and I got to the first boss but didn't beat him. I think maybe the little bullets from the ground guns are harder to see, too, but that could just be rationalization.
I explored the site a little more. It's a Java Nintendo emulator, and it reads ROMs from other sites, presumably for copyright reasons (although their copyright notice states that they've tried to contact copyright holders before even linking to the ROMs on other sites).
And exploring further, I saw that they have games for several other systems, including Nintendo Gameboy, Sega Master System, DOS, and, the love of my childhood, Commodore 64. Unfortunately, the controls on some of the Commodore games I tried out (Bruce Lee and Archon) were a bit wonky, so I may have to resort to downloading an emulator to try these out. And quickly browsing the site again to write this entry, I saw that they have Pirates! as one of their DOS games. I know their have been remakes, but I doubt they would hold up to my experience playing Pirates! way back when.