Scoring systems between titles vary widely, so a look at the Touhou Wiki might be a good idea before tackling any particular game in earnest; happily, every “main” entry in the series also has a free demo you can download (despite what you may have heard, the full games are NOT freeware), and most of them let you play through nearly half the game with few restrictions, so there’s no reason not to find out firsthand if a particular Touhou title is a good fit for you. Suggested Followups: The third and for-now-final entry, Resurrection Plus, remixes the visuals and music while adding in a handful of additional options and other extras. While you’re not really required to mess around with the game’s scoring system if you’re just looking to reach the end, ignoring it would be missing out on a perfect opportunity to slowly but surely push your limits a bit further. I loved that game when I was a kid. If you destroy the offending baddie before your magic power runs out (or it leaves the screen) its “captured” shots are turned into coins, which can be spent, Fantasy Zone-style, at mid-level shops, which carry not only extra lives and magic meter but single-use special weapons which basically act as your bombs. © 2004-2020 Racketboy. Don’t get cocky, though, as “Hard” and “Very Hard” both live up to their names, and the separate “Score Attack” course, a point-rich caravan mode, is also quite tricky just to survive, let alone escape from with an impressive score (but it can be done!). Retro-Bit rereleasing four Toaplan shmups If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. (Takumi, 1999-2006 – ARC/DC/PS2 – JP/US/PAL) Shop for Space Invaders Extreme Series on Shop for Astro Warrior on If the “main” game (which, I should add, can be imported region-free, and got a cheaper “Platinum” reprint too) is still a notch too demanding for you, there’s a console-exclusive “Arrange” mode in which you switch back and forth between two characters, and whichever one you’re not using can help out by shielding you from some enemy attacks. While the popular “weapon edit” function from III has been scaled back to a fixed roster of four color-coded ships to pilot, in exchange you now also have four different kinds of shields to choose from, can juice up your Double, Missile and Laser weapons an extra level, and most importantly can freely rearrange the order of the power-up bar to your liking. Like beat 'em ups, shoot 'em ups were arcade staples that have found new life on home video game consoles when cabinets began vanishing from laundromats, pizza joints, and bodegas. Suggested Followup: More than that, with a bit of persistence a visit to the final boss shouldn’t be too far away…and if you can manage to best him a second trip through the game’s tougher “loop” begins, and things really start to get interesting. Unless, of course, you have wild fantasies of obliterating as many as possible. ), but grants players a charge attack handy for knocking out entire segments of ever-more-esoteric baddies (seems the Invaders have embraced a “big tent” recruitment strategy); there’s also a simple but challenging scoring system on tap, since destroying successive targets without “whiffing” a shot steadily increases their value. (Xona Games – 2010 – XBLA – US) Thanks! Activision's top-down shooter for the Atari 2600, released in 1982 and designed by Carol … The scrolling shoot-em-up (or “shmup”) is a hardy, tough-skinned branch of video gamedom dating back to the earliest age of arcades, and in true crocodilian fashion has evolved relatively little over time compared to its fluffier, warm-blooded kin. In the event that you find yourself deep into Deathsmiles and eager to sample more games like it, vertical-scroller Espgaluda, also by Cave, might be a good next stop to pencil into your itinerary. There’s no need to obsess over this sort of thing when you’re just getting started, but if shooters are looking to become a significant part of your gaming diet you might want to make a habit of placing a particular final boss or point total squarely in your crosshairs before moving on. For instance, when you beat a stage’s boss you receive the somewhat awkward message that he will “surely revive” – that’s because once you “finish” the game it starts up again, and you get to play the stages one more time, but with more aggressive opposition and a significantly higher challenge level, a concept you already read about with Batsugun Special and will see revisited many times more elsewhere. 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. ), 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?) 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. You might recall this site’s “Shmups 101” segment from a ways back, which includes a few basic “tips and tricks” for general shmupping audiences; the piece you’re reading now aims to expand upon some of those while adding a batch of fresh guidelines specifically aimed at genre newcomers (including, of course, a sampling of suggested titles which might serve as suitable points of entry). No matter how you choose to play power-ups are plentiful, bombs are both powerful and protective (though they require a little practice to aim for maximum damage), and your plane’s hitbox is generous enough to see you through pretty much anything thrown your way. Once the brand hit the SNES with “Pop’n Twinbee” in 1993, not only were the onscreen shenanigans suitably jazzed up (colliding with your fellow player now sends him careening unstoppably around the playfield, knocking out enemies in his path), but a nifty why-didn’t-anyone-else-think-of-that “couple mode” option has been added, which causes enemies to focus most of their attacks on Player 1; if you know a friend who’s curious but apprehensive about stepping into the shmup arena, sign ’em up as Player 2 and do the heavy lifting until they’re more at ease. 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. Really, it's a shallow reason to make hulking enemy ships and robots go boom. As its illustrious Wonderswan ancestors were, the player craft is equipped with a powerful straight-ahead shot, a wider-covering spread gun, and a frontal shield: you’re free to utilize all three (plus a “speed adjust” button) throughout the entire game, but can only deploy one of them at any given time. You do have to hand it to the buggers: even after all these years and all the enhancements (not to mention Square-Enix’s acquisition of original developer Taito), Space Invaders still succeeds at remaining true to its roots while feeling fresh and friendly to newcomers. While most of the games we’ve covered here so far can claim at least a nominal amount of genre recognition or name-drop a storied developer on their resumes, this rather anonymous title has slipped past many players’ radars despite debuting not too terribly long ago. Sure, you may have encountered the name here and there in your travels, but were never curious enough to inquire further, until one day you meandered face-first into a download link and said “eh, what the heck.” Once the sucker is finally up and running, you figure “not bad, I’ll keep going for a couple more minutes”…and the next time you glance up, hours have passed. So long, in fact, that I nearly forgot them! But still an awesome read nevertheless. Liking what you see of Raizing’s style but aren’t quite ready to tackle the likes of Battle Garegga or Dimahoo just yet? Hope you have room for one more “shooters in a nutshell”-style outing, because we’ve saved perhaps the most exhaustive such entry for last. Space Invaders (1978) There’s some debate as to whether or not “Space Invaders” is a true shmup. If you are into Shoot'em ups video games, this is the right group to share your passion for them!. Though the developer (whose name was tweaked to “Technosoft” in the West), like Compile, focused most of its attention on home consoles, it maintained a somewhat closer bond to the genre’s deeply-ingrained arcade mentality, and by extension an unmistakably different, raw brand of appeal to gamers with itchy trigger fingers. (Sky Think System – 1997 – PS1/PSN – JP) The roms span lr-fba (, lr-mame2003 (Mame 0.78) and lr-mame2010 (.139) and are using non-merged sets meaning no parent roms are required. However you choose to approach the game, you’re likely to enjoy its slick (if somewhat trippy) presentation, which blends the simple sprites of old with abstract backgrounds and fast-paced electronic music (which reacts to certain onscreen stimuli, giving it a bit of kinship with Rez). I consider it a widely overlooked Wii gem, and found Blast Works very approachable and easy to play. That’s a pretty solid intro course for something that’ll only take up a half-hour or less of your time in its entirety; moreover, while the game was exclusive to the Master System until a recent iOS port appeared (there is an arcade game called “Astro Warrior”, but it’s unrelated), it’s also one of a relative few to secure an official Brazilian release under the considerably-harder-to-commit-to-memory name “Sapo Xule: S.O.S. As mentioned … Doing well on a stage will make the next one both tougher and more lucrative, but your life stock is always reset to a full three tries every level, so there’s no reason to play too scared. Happily, unlike some of its fellow Japanese exclusives, both Bullet Soul revisions were granted region-free releases, meaning they will play on any 360 system, so if you find yourself interested in giving either one a try there’s not a whole heckuva lot to stop you from importing. Since every entry varies in its approach a bit, here’s a (very) quick summary: the original DonPachi, Cave’s first release, is a bit more “old-school” than the rest, so if you prefer your screen not quite so clogged with bullets it might be up your alley. You might have also heard, or experienced firsthand in some form or another, that this particular fandom’s fringe has gone rather off the rails; while it is true that the games’ casts are composed entirely of young girls with magic powers, and that some unaffiliated content creators have done various regrettable things to them over the years, rest easy. Satazius is available both DRM-free and on Steam for less than ten bucks, and there’s a demo too, so show some respect for your elders and try your hand at a game made (more or less) the way they used to be. 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. Has your space still not been invaded to satisfaction? Recently, the best shooter wasn't newfangled fare like Halo or Gears of War, but a simple gem called Geometry Wars. 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. One other enhancement is also worth looking into, especially for newer arrivals: a simple timing-based scoring mechanism. Also loved seeing Blast Works: Build Trade Destroy (Wii) mentioned in the article. Have you ever had the good fortune to, completely by accident, discover a game that, for lack of a better term, just “works”? The biggest PC shmups...okay, okay, Shoot 'Em Ups. This space shooter boasts high-powered offensive and defensive options for annihilating aliens, with three controllable ships, three attack styles, and the bullet-cancelling Hyper Counter System. This special, serendipitous sequence of events, repeated many times over, is the stuff that cult classics are made on, and the humble Cho Ren Sha is second to none as its conduit; many a devoted shmupper was first ushered into the fold, and its PC sector in particular, by this little freeware gem, and it’s a safe bet that more than one or two readers will soon be following in its hallowed vapor trail. These games, lest we forget, have defined and defended their niche the old-fashioned way, via not only the famed quarter-munching appetite we’re aiming to mitigate here, but the much-coveted ability to evoke an immediate, from-the-gut response in passersby: part of a good arcade game’s appeal is the prospective player’s decision to give it a whirl not after spending hours poring over reviews and FAQs, but simply because something about it catches his eye as he walks by the cabinet. Reading this convinced me to rethink and grab the game. Up to four people (assuming none of you have heart conditions) can get in on the madness, and you only need a buck to get past the velvet rope out front…though said rope should probably have a “you must be THIS insane to ride” sign on it. If you like what you see in the NES version, feel free to give the original a try somewhere down the line, or better yet sniff out its further-improved sequel, Dragon Saber. While the original arcade game would eventually lock players out of the milder difficulty levels as they progressed, the Xbox 360 port (which was released in all regions) includes a revamped “360 Mode” which not only pretties up the graphics for HDTVs but removes that restriction; older hands looking for a more involved challenge can also give the “Black Label” and “Version 1.1” modes a try. Off to the side is DDP 2: Bee Storm, which was created by a separate developer and thus feels considerably different from the rest, but is still worth a try on its own terms. Each one boasts different movement speeds, weapons, and a unique helper critter that floats around and provides supporting fire a la Deathsmiles; most crucially, your familiar can make limited use of a protective magic circle, which slows down enemy bullets it catches. Compare to today’s shmups, maybe the criteria does fall short. Shop for Parodius Series on @Scott – You might already know this, but a little bit back a freeware remake of Knightmare was released, it’s at the following link: Glad folks are enjoying the article so far. If you get the chance, ask any shmup fan who grew up with a Genesis/Mega Drive in the house what his favorite games were (and possibly still are): you’d be hard-pressed to find too many such folks who wouldn’t include Thunder Force III and/or IV somewhere in their list of personal classics, a testament to just how far a bit of good old-fashioned 16-bit thrill-seeking can carry you. The “capturing” player has sole control until the “captured” player decides to disengage – you’ll stay joined up otherwise, even if you die – so in many cases solo flyers will spend two credits from the get-go to give themselves an advantage, but this system is also a perfect fit for a more experienced player showing a newbie the ropes, as the former is free to take over and usher his ward past certain tough parts and let the latter fly free when things calm down a bit. Simply put, the timeless, no-frills appeal of shooters and other classics of years gone by doesn’t get more compressed, distilled, or endearingly in-your-face than it does when you hop aboard the caravan. And so your journey continues, as you encounter ever more bullet-happy foes and rise to meet them with your rapidly-expanding bag of tricks (and a generous stock of lives and bombs) from all corners of scrolling shooter history: some of your later evolutions can actually vary depending on your in-game actions, so one play-through you might equip a Rayforce-style homing laser, on another you’ll brandish powerful energy blades a la Radiant Silvergun, and yet another time a bullet-reflecting shield right out of Giga Wing will wind up at your disposal. The farther you get before time inevitably runs out the higher your score will be (you can also go for some bonus points by aiming straight for the center instead of picking off all the guns first), and yes, this one’s freeware as well, so if it sounds up your alley by all means get downloading, posthaste. Shop for Gradius Series on eBay Make the most of your games and hardware with some creative ideas. ‘Course ya do! (Video System – 1992-1996 – ARC/SNES/NG/SAT/PS1/PS2  – JP/US/PAL) These 12 Ice Cream Shops In Virginia Are An Absolute Must-Try. You want more of that, right? At its core the game is probably best described as a simplified Star Soldier, which it beat to market by a year or two: both airborne enemies and stationary, non-aggressive ground targets are ripe for blasting, and a small selection of powerups (shot enhancers, laser and speed upgrades, Gradius-esque follower options) regularly pop up to make your job a touch easier. It would appear that the designers embraced this particular feature as something of a communal tradition amongst themselves, and continued to implement it even under a different company banner (to be elaborated upon a bit below). It’s a nice look at Cave truly coming into its own, and might even help you to do the same. River Raid. Most superguns out there in the wilds are mainly built for two players at best (without the optional ability to upgrade to have a third or fourth player capability from the get-go). The one major Achilles’ heel that holds Harmful Park back is its aftermarket elusiveness; the game only ever released on the Japanese PS1 and frequently commands triple-digit prices if you want a physical copy nowadays. Even if you don’t count collaborations and side projects, the “main” series is currently well over a dozen games strong; the first few titles were programmed for the Japan-only PC-98, but their descendants for Windows computers, starting with 2002’s “Embodiment of Scarlet Devil,” are the ones that garnered worldwide fame, not to mention a slew of admirers and imitators. Note from racketboy: Taking the next step from his comprehensive Shmups 101: A Beginner’s Guide to 2D Shooters,  the expert shmup writing of BulletMagnet (see his guides to shmups for the Playstation, Saturn, and PS2 and the Games That Defined the Shmup Genre) this guide is one of most epic posts ever. In a nutshell, big points in Bakraid require players to “chain” mid-to-large enemy kills together in quick succession for as long as possible; you can put together a few short chains just by memorizing where groups of exploitable baddies appear and firing away, but to truly impress the shmup gods you’ll have to take advantage of two methods to extend the chain timer. This being a Psikyo production there are definitely trickier patterns here than Taito’s denizens of doom ever sent your way, but the journey is short, fun, and briskly paced, so improving one’s game shouldn’t be too terribly taxing for less-confident players. Here we have an indie shoot 'em up from the developers at … Trouble Witches, to absolutely no one’s surprise, parades out a set of spell-slinging witch girls to assume the roles of both playable characters and bosses. it’s can be a little easy, but my word is it a spectacle to watch and very enjoyable to play. One of these awards a single-use bomb, while the other grants a speed burst ability; you can only hold one at a time, so you have to consider which one best complements both the area you’re in and your current weapon of choice. Download the demo for semi-abstract shooter ring^-27 (yes, that’s its actual name) and see if it’s worth the couple of bucks for the full download: if you’re ready for a bit of digital boot camp you’ll certainly get your money’s worth. Keep an eye on your inbox! So in the spirit of celebrating this throwback, here are five shoot'em up titles that defined the shmup genre. 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