Canny players soon discovered, however, that if you can sneak into the center of the triangle without collecting anything and hover there for a few moments, you’ll be rewarded with all three bonuses at once: easier said than done when baddies are peppering you with bullets, but it’s definitely a technique worth mastering. (5pb/Tachyon – 2011/2014 – X360 – JP) ), it is still a great game. (Famibe no Yosshin – 2001 – X68000/PC – JP) In case Astro Warrior wasn’t quite enough by itself to satisfy your old-school cravings, fast-forward a year or so to the early days of storied developer Toaplan, when relatively spartan military-themed shmups were its bread and butter. Normal is a faithful recreation of the Japanese arcade classic. On a final note, ambidextrous and/or showboating types should seek out the home editions of Raiden III and IV, whose unique “double play” modes allow one brave and/or disturbed gamer to control two ships with a single controller…and everybody should keep their ears to the ground in anticipation of Raiden V. Suggested Followup: Though few other shooters have covered quite so many bases when it comes to multiplayer, Raiden’s enduring popularity has allowed it to leave plenty of marks elsewhere: Warashi’s Shienryu, which you might remember from father up this page, is one well-regarded imitator, and Irem’s Fire Barrel is another. Scoring is also considerably simpler, since aside from filling targets with hot lead the only noteworthy thing to worry about is collecting any score medals you come across without letting them drop offscreen; the required technique to succeed at this is a useful one to practice (and is present in Bakraid too), so keep at it. While Qute took something of a look back in time to lay the foundation for Eschatos, its followup project, Ginga Force (also for the 360, and happily once again region-free to import) takes a more contemporary approach in its mission to widen its player base, sprinkling a smattering of modern gaming amenities on top of a decidedly old-school core to make the crossing easier for latecomers. Once you’re into the nitty-gritty it shouldn’t take too long to find your groove, as each ship has a standard shot, a special ability, and a temporary shield/weapon power-up called the “vaunt”, which can be activated after picking up some gold from defeated enemies. Enter Cave, perhaps the most prominent latter-day shooter developer, and one with deep roots in the arcades, though more and more of their work has wended its way to store shelves and download services over the years; as it happens, their most recent platform of choice has been the Xbox 360, a notable bright spot amidst the console’s well-documented struggles in Japan. Again, though, you’re free to transition into this more reckless play style at your own pace, and keep an eye out for plenty of other bonuses (from “eliminate this formation once it lines up”” to “use the environment to destroy that enemy”) as you go; “Infinite Burst” is something of a “remix” of the original Bullet Soul, with a couple of extra amenities added, so you might want to go with that one first, despite a somewhat stiffer challenge level overall. I’m not sure if this was in the runnings for being on this article, but Blast Works (which I would also put in as atleast an honorable mention in the Wii Hidden Gems article, whenever that will be finished) was pretty good. (Sega – 1986 – SMS/iOS – JP/US/PAL/BR) Play the game and find out – and keep your eyes open for a whole bunch of other hidden scoring opportunities too! One other enhancement is also worth looking into, especially for newer arrivals: a simple timing-based scoring mechanism. Shop for Sonic Wings Series on eBay One might protest that sticking to cooperative ventures would be the best way to get a curious friend involved in a game he’s not familiar with, and there’s some truth to that, but Twinkle Star Sprites’ shamelessly cute and silly style, driven home by an abundance of decidedly non-threatening selectable characters (feel free to let your friends pick the bosses if they need a handicap), will likely prove hard to resist for all but the most stone-faced gamers, and the simple controls – two buttons are all you need – are considerably easier to wrap one’s head around than, say, the typical tourney fighter. Something of a side story to Cave’s longtime flagship franchise, Maximum drops you into the scary-sounding “Maximum Bullet Simulator”, which sends you and your fighter craft of choice up against reincarnations of enemies you thought you’d blasted to smithereens several games ago, plus some new “pals” with predictably itchy trigger fingers. Finally, every time you “level up” your craft is awarded a one-hit shield for a layer of extra protection, making a single trip through all five stages achievable for most anyone willing to put a little time into it. But still an awesome read nevertheless. Activision's top-down shooter for the Atari 2600, released in 1982 and designed by Carol … So if you’ve ever wanted to join the glorious struggle against the Bacterion threat but weren’t sure you’d get past that mean-looking drill sergeant, climb on board with Gaiden and get a load of what you’ve been missing. Finally, the game’s latter-day mobile release not only tweaks the existing arcade game a bit further but tacks on an exclusive “smartphone” mode, which features a new character and lots of item collection and stat-building to ease the RPG set into the fold (just make sure it works on your device’s firmware). (BONUS: Thanks to shmups.com forum member blackoak, an English translation of a Japanese magazine interview with Cho Ren Sha’s creator is available to read at his site (which you might have already seen linked a little ways up), and is definitely worth a read.). While it’s not quite so exclusively focused on “bullet-canceling” enemies, Cave’s Mushihime-sama Futari still has plenty of them to blow away for a needed bit of breathing room, and spreads them across three different modes right out of the box – “Original” is the simplest and probably the best choice for beginners, “Maniac” kicks things up a notch and adopts a more free-form scoring system, and “Ultra” is for crazy people. Rarely are there any obvious “safe spots” which allow you to stay completely out of their way, so you’ve just got to learn how to weave safely through to the other side; thankfully, your character’s central hitbox can be rendered visible and your movement speed slowed with the press of a button, so from there it’s just about feeling your way around the chaos. (Warashi – 2003 – PS2 – JP/PAL) Think Gradius, Super Star Soldier, or Thunderforce. If you’ve never played Batsugun before, it’s a pretty straightforward shooter in most respects, though the seizure-riffic firepower that both players and their enemies volley back and forth was cranked up several notches beyond any of its real-time competition, and remains a sight to behold even today; surprisingly, though, the commensurate power-up system is quite nicely balanced, combining traditional “P” items (which are lost upon death) with an “experience” level (which rises along with your kill count and never decreases), ensuring that you won’t be left completely defenseless after a mistake. Both your own (generous) hitbox and those of every bullet fired at you are clearly visible, so you’ll never have to guess when wending your way through a dense cloud of pain. You’re free to play any level you like right at the start, though the challenges listed nearer the bottom are the tougher ones, so you might want to warm up with some less-sadistic stages first. I’ll start seeking some of them right now… but… I missed some Cave hits since their shooters are the best. ), you’ll find plentiful other reasons to stick around for awhile; by now Psikyo had abandoned the “auto power-down” mechanic of its older work, so there’s no more worrying about suddenly dropping a level at an inopportune time, but you’ll be happy to know that the wide array of wacky two-player dialogue, multiple endings, and ample doses of silliness (how does the phrase “fire-breathing chain-smoking lemur” tickle you?) Not only that, it's my favorite shmup, period. PCMag.com is a leading authority on technology, delivering Labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Shop for Twinkle Star Sprites on eBay Of course, these games aren’t exactly known for babying their players (the arcade version of Gradius III is particularly revered/feared as a trial for the ages), but thankfully new players don’t have to treat the series as an untouchable museum exhibit; take a brief detour back to the PS1 era and you’ll find Gaiden (“side story”) waiting for you, designed with someone just like yourself in mind. Sure, they all send scads of not-so-friendly fire in your direction, but if you can keep yourself safe long enough to bring them down before they get you, all of their remaining onscreen hazards fizzle away into the harmless, puffy “souls” of the title. While Hydorah is a fair challenge (and you can’t argue with the price), be advised that it’s not aimed quite so squarely at new players: this one’s more for those who not only remember but relish the struggle for dominance embodied by the venerable shmups of days gone by. If you ever need a break, the developers threw in a trio of multi-player minigames (basically variations on Pong, Combat, and Sonic 2’s split-screen racecourses) to relax with while you get your bearings back. The production most likely to interest shooterphiles is Hydorah, a side-scroller that could just about qualify as a long-lost Gradius offshoot, though like Satazius it draws inspiration from many other sources too; in turn, many of the same gameplay elements make an appearance here, from incremental weapon power-ups to new toys earned after every stage, from powerful limited-use special weapons to single-hit barriers. If you were hoping for something a bit more traditional in the multiplayer department, keep reading, as we’re not quite through with Toaplan yet. Konami’s MSX output was a golden age, with Knightmare easily in my top 3. Mushihimesama has three game modes: Novice, Normal, and Arrange. – JP/US/PAL Fear not, though: as the years have progressed, fictional extraterrestrial-repulsion technology has made impressive leaps forward, and the upshot is a succession of increasingly fun and forgiving Space Invaders titles, culminating with the two-game (so far) “Extreme” series. As the name suggests you control a little cartoon knight by the name of Popolon (who later makes a playable appearance in the very first Parodius, also for the MSX) and aim his arrows, boomerangs, and whatever other armaments he finds at the evil creatures blocking his way: as expected, background scrolling is choppy, but it doesn’t affect the experience here as much as in most other games, so once you’re used to the somewhat slow movement speed you’ll be able to bring down most anything with a little practice, and can thus concentrate on seeking out all of the hidden question mark boxes scattered throughout the kingdom. Whether you know it as Genesis or Mega Drive, there were a ton of excellent shmups for Sega's 16-bit console so here are the 10 best. The character variety has also improved, and while everyone’s basics are a cinch to learn the playable crew packs in a nice selection of attack styles: Katana’s short-range but devastatingly powerful spears are particular favorites (and Marion from Gunbird makes a bonus cameo in the Saturn port). So, yeah, while Sonic Wings takes place in some iteration of “our world” and wears something of a pedestrian veneer, it won’t be long before you’re wondering just who allowed a pop idol, diaper-clad baby, or horn-helm’d Viking (among many, many others) near the controls of advanced fighter jets, or, for that matter, what manner of world domination plan involves spot-welding a butt-load of guns onto an old Mayan ziggurat. "Shmup" is an abbreviated term for "Shoot-Em-Up" and usually relates to games involving spaceships trying to prevent some sort of evil alien attack The first "Shmup" was Taito's "Space Invaders" from 1978 (it was so popular, that at one point it created a national 100-yen coin shortage in Japan). As mentioned … Only skimmed through the article but looks great. Shop for DoDonPachi on Amazon.com. As noted up top, Eschatos was released region-free, so it’ll play on non-Japanese systems with no issues. Its sequel, DoDonPachi (DDP for short), endures as something of a standard-setter for “bullet hell” games and offers a nice, balanced challenge, while the next one, DDP Dai-Ou-Jou, is still fair but significantly harder and deeper. At least one of Sega’s scant handful of exclusives, however, can still claim fans who recall it fondly, and moreover stands the test of time as a surprisingly effective introduction to the genre’s bare essentials: if you’ve still got a Master System around and have a shmup-curious compatriot drop in, by all means dust off a copy of Astro Warrior. Countless lifelong shooter fans began their journeys by sampling Compile’s sizable library, including iconic series like Zanac and Aleste – which, somewhat unusually for their time, were squarely aimed not at arcade-goers but the home console audience, offering the latter a once-elusive doorway into the exciting world of baddie-blasting and bullet-dodging, right in their own living rooms. ), whose power-ups grant him additional serpentine heads to better blast baddies with, not to mention bomb ground targets much like its classic forebear. No worries, though: publisher Qute is just as eager to meet new people as its more “mainstream” equivalents (if it’s even possible to attach that term to a shmup outfit these days), and there’s more than enough material packed onto this disc to please just about any fan of bullets, bombs and blowing stuff up. Most importantly, of course, I hope you enjoy the read, and have fun playing some great shmups afterwards! It’ll probably take a bit longer to wrap your head around how everything works here (the title’s pronunciation included), but beginning players should still be able to make steady progress with relatively light practice. The game is certainly no cake walk, but it does feature a unique training tool: most enemy bullets are bright blue, but when one is on a collision course with the player it turns red, which makes prioritization and focus considerably more intuitive when you’ve got a screen full of unpleasantness bearing down on you. Suggested Followup: There’s even a bonus-loaded “speed level” to test your reflexes (and greed). It’s certainly true that none of the Giga Wings (and even moreso their cousin, Mars Matrix) are walks in the park, but neither do they deserve the dismissive “impossible” label they’ve been unfairly saddled with: half the battle here is simply learning not to be intimidated by enemies’ over-the-top assaults, because you’ve got everything you need to overcome them. Go right ahead and switch ’em around, and while you’re at it shuffle whatever else you’d like to prioritize over to the left: if you’ve developed a visible twitch whilst waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for an elusive opportunity to move the bar over that ONE vital space you need, rejoice, for your prayers (and blood pressure readings) have been answered. There aren’t any bonus scoring tricks to concern yourself with, and moreover the game is only three stages long (one run-through of them will take less than ten minutes if you can make it without dying), but several additional props are waiting in the wings, and transform this otherwise simple game into a well-suited crash course for learners. (Taito – 2007-2009 – PSP/DS/XBLA – JP/US/PAL) In addition, the stages have been given a once-over to make them a bit less nasty, items are more plentiful and easier to collect, your dragon isn’t quite so massive a moving target, and one or two new power-ups have been added to place one last thumb on the scale. Shop for Raiden series on eBay At first, the only play option open to you is a random sampling of the Test’s several dozen shooting minigames: some are fairly rudimentary in nature (blast as many unfriendly tanks as you can without getting plugged, dodge the boss’s bullet patterns for as long as possible) while others lean in a more “technical” direction (only shoot targets of a certain color, mash the buttons for a high-enough fire rate to finish a baddie before it flees), and the rest delve into particularly genre-specific skills (don’t release a smart bomb until just before an attack hits you, catch the highest-value medals you can) or the just plain weird (save the earth!…by using bullets to juggle empty drink cans into a floating recycling bin). G. Rev’s Under Defeat plays more traditionally but features some lovely explosions (and was localized on the 360 and PS3), while doujin freeware offering Demolition Gunner (by Astro Port, who you’ll also be seeing again) packs loads of bullets onto the screen but is equally generous with strong weaponry and collectable shields to help you pull through. As a result, most of the company’s celebrated 16-bit productions appeared on Sega’s flagship system, whose fleeter processor allowed everything to blaze on through with less slowdown than its competition afforded. Sengoku Blade is actually a direct followup to the company’s very first shooter, Sengoku Ace, but unlike that game (and most of the Psikyo catalog) it adopts a side-scrolling, horizontal perspective. This really makes me want to get back into that scene again after being out for so long. Lagoa Poluida”. From here on in it’s all about managing your own energy, smart bombs and the scads of bright, fluffy nonsense swirling around your home turf whilst doing your best to keep your whiskers un-singed. One could also opt to take on some other graduates of Toaplan’s “old-school” era, though you might want to approach their more famously challenging titles with caution; Fire Shark (aka Same! Oh, and prepare yourself for more visual puns and other general nonsense than should be allowed on a single 32-bit CD. Two players can also join forces to increase their odds of success, though if you’re still having trouble the good ol’ Konami code is here to lend a hand as you train for a “legitimate” clear of the game. DreadStar blends RPG elements into the shmup genre, including level-ups, skill points and ship upgrades, without putting players through bullet hell. Suggested Followup: More importantly, while you can always gun down your targets, you’re better served making frequent use of your little ship’s handy-dandy grabber arm: if you snag a (non-boss) alien you instantly capture it, and can then either deploy it as a temporary ally or launch it as a makeshift missile, hopefully setting off a nice big chain explosion and raking in the bonus points in the process. The flow of amassing spendable cash and exchanging it for both increased firepower and heightened scoring potential is addictive once you’ve gotten the hang of it, and is deeper than it might seem at a glance; you can expand your circle to capture more bullets, but this drains your magic power faster, and any captured shots you don’t destroy will make a direct beeline for you. Arrange is a remixed version of the game that starts you with maximum firepower and automatic bomb drops. Oh, and some stages offer branching paths, too, so try them all out if you can. Not only is Konami’s too-long-dormant Twinbee series one of the most influential and celebrated “cute-em-ups” in the (sub)genre’s storied history, but it’s got “twin” right there in the name, so you know it’s primed and ready for some two-player action. Shop for Life Force on eBay While every entry’s rule set and character roster is different, they all have a similar “feel” to tie them together; while the cutesy cast has received the highest-profile attention, the real stars of the show for those in the know are the elaborate, colorful, and screen-filling bullet patterns you’re required to dodge, especially the extra-flashy “spell card” attacks bosses are packing. x.x’s games were among the many JP doujin shooters I lost in a hdd failure a long time ago. Everything that moves in these thrilling shoot 'em up games of all time 's finest that cherry your... Quickly established itself as the premier household arcade gaming platform confidence, the! 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