November 23, 2005 12:08 PM   Subscribe

SHMUPS! aka 2D Scrolling Shoot-em-ups. is dedicated to this classic genre, from ancient history (Space Invaders, Tempest) to grandfather games (R-Type II, 1941) to golden age shmups (Tyrian, Blazing Star) to modern classics (Radiant Silvergun, Mars Matrix, Ikaruga). Most aren't for the PC, unfortunately, but that's what Mame and other emulators (mac too) are for. As for roms, can't help you there. For PC enthusiasts, Shoot the Core's PC Shmup listing is the most complete I've ever seen, with many links to download as well. This Thanksgiving weekend, what better to do in your food coma than sit back and blast through a few games in the most enduring video game genre of all time? *CAUTION! These sites took up five hours of my time last night and I downloaded 42 games.*
posted by BlackLeotardFront (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If that rom-ish link is verboten, someone can take it out.

I don't know how many of those reviewed are emulated (some for sure), and many of the best PC shooters coming out lately are Japanese only. Of course, that didn't stop me, and it shouldn't stop you.

And I forgot: if you come across a DOS type game you want to try, DOSBox is a handy tool and easy to use.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:15 PM on November 23, 2005

All your base are belong to us. Thank you.
posted by spinoza at 12:16 PM on November 23, 2005

Way to go, hot stuff.
posted by phaedon at 12:17 PM on November 23, 2005

Thanks for this excellent post! I had stumbled across Warning Forever and a few other relatively recent titles, but this should keep me busy for a while. It's tough to love the genre but not be much of a console fanatic, Ikaruga looks fantastic.
posted by prostyle at 12:37 PM on November 23, 2005

Radiant Silvergun is amazing. I still play it form time to time.

Also Armada for the Dreamcast is pretty excellent.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:00 PM on November 23, 2005

Ikaruga is fantastic.
posted by chunking express at 1:01 PM on November 23, 2005

Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:02 PM on November 23, 2005

If you don't own Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh, you need to own it. Even if it means buying a Dreamcast, which will probably cost you less than the game.

posted by selfnoise at 1:04 PM on November 23, 2005

Oh, and Every Extend. Which is free and fun as hell. And I believe there will be a PSP version soon.
posted by selfnoise at 1:05 PM on November 23, 2005

Am I the only one that loves these games but thinks that "shmup" is the Dumbest Name Ever? It seems like it's just recently come into use, and I'd like to know who's responsible for that atrocity of an appellation. I grew up just calling these things "shooters" and I'll be damned if I'm going to start calling them "shmups" now.
posted by shinji_ikari at 1:10 PM on November 23, 2005

No schmup thread is complete without the obligatory link to kenta cho/ABA games (creator of rrootage/nois2za/gunroar/tumiki fighters).
Free downloads if you're on windows; I think some of the games are available on other platforms.
posted by juv3nal at 1:16 PM on November 23, 2005

radiant silvergun, excellent.

this has inspired me to pull the dreamcast out of the closet, dust it off, and find the ikaruga cd. thanks!!
posted by dorian at 1:20 PM on November 23, 2005

that certainly is a purdy site.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:25 PM on November 23, 2005

shinji_ikari, it's like Asimov resisting "sci-fi": even if you hate it, it's all that's left. Calling them "vertical shooters" (or "horizontal shooters" depending) is too technical for the casual crowd. Even "FPS" was too much for people, which is why "shooter" now means "camping Nazis/terrorists while complaining about snipers/chocolate milk". Might as well get used to it.

And let me plug Touhou shooters-er, shmups.
posted by Maxson at 1:52 PM on November 23, 2005

For those dying to play Ikagura but have no dreamcast: Chankast emulates it reasonably well (I've heard that on one level some bullets are invisible). I've seen tons of gameplay videos of it (and some other amazing shooters), and I was stoked to finally play it.

I highly recommend finding the Ikagura full game Max Chain and the 5th stage double play (one person playing both ships) videos.
posted by Four Flavors at 1:57 PM on November 23, 2005

oh, Ikaruga is beautiful.
posted by casarkos at 2:20 PM on November 23, 2005

Is Ikaruga for all dreamcast systems or do you need a modified Japanese one? Also, is Rez on ps2 the same as the dreamcast version?
posted by Peter H at 2:43 PM on November 23, 2005

These are questions I've been wanting to ask somewhere for a bit, thanks for the post, too.
posted by Peter H at 2:43 PM on November 23, 2005

w00t! I got the high score!

posted by shmegegge at 2:47 PM on November 23, 2005

Wow, thanks for an excellent post, BlackLeotardFront! The more exposure 2D shooters get, the better - it's a fantastic genre, and they deliver an experience no other type of game really does.

Ikaruga's fantastic, but it's awfully regimented - once you get really good at it, there's basically only one way to play the game and build decent chains. I'm more about Cave's output these days - the godly Mushihimesama and ESPgaluda are both available for the PS2, and I can't speak highly enough of the bullet fireworks they throw at you.

If we're talking about modern classics, there's no leaving out Psyvariar 2, either - the buzz system (exploit your mech's hitbox by grazing it against bullets) isn't a completely original idea, but the way it's used in every aspect of the game - levelling-up through buzzing enough shots opens up harder difficulty levels as you play, certain enemy types increase your level-up rate if you specifically avoid them, and it's possible to use the couple of seconds of increased speed and invincibility after a level-up to both ram enemies and carry out some beautifully death-defying stunts against bosses - is nothing short of stunning. I think it's my favourite 2D shooter of all time, and I've played an awful lot.

Peter H - Ikaruga was only released on the Dreamcast in Japan, so you either need a DC-X import bootdisc, or a modded console. I run it on a PAL DC with the bootdisc, and I can vouch for its being completely flawless. It was also released on Gamecube, although if you're in Europe you should steer well clear of the PAL version - rather than implement a 60hz mode, whichever hack converted it decided to force ugly frameskipping in 50hz to keep the timing broadly similar, but the whole thing's a bit of a disaster. The US and Japanese Cube versions are fine, though. Oh, and PS2 Rez is exactly the same - there are framerate differences between the two (the PS2 comes out on top), and the purists can't decide which they prefer (since the DC version offers beautifully crisp VGA output), but be assured you're getting the same game. And anyway, the Dreamcast version doesn't support the Trance Vibrator, which is certainly the most... novel way to experience the thing.
posted by terpsichoria at 3:28 PM on November 23, 2005

There's also a version of Ikaruga for the American GameCube.
posted by box at 3:58 PM on November 23, 2005

[marks terpsichoria as best answer] THANKS!
posted by Peter H at 4:20 PM on November 23, 2005

Personal favorite shooter from childhood and possibly still today: Dragon Spirit
posted by Peter H at 4:22 PM on November 23, 2005

One more vote for Dragon Spirit. Any game with a powerup that gives you extra heads is fine in my book...
posted by wanderingmind at 4:43 PM on November 23, 2005

Dragon Spirit is one that I downloaded, haven't played it yet but I'll bump it on the list.

Thanks juv3nal for the kenta cho link, I was gonna but.. you know.

As for the term "Shmups," I don't particularly like it, but that's what the kids are saying these days. I still say scrolling shooters.

My personal favorite is Tyrian, I love customizing the ships, and Jets n Guns is a great update of that system.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:51 PM on November 23, 2005

Minor pimpage for my own shmup: Nova (Flash).

It's not awesome per se, and it uses recycled graphics from R-Type because I am no artist, but it's kind of fun, and I made it in only a month in my spare time as a challenge.

Quick hints: Use the mouse to aim. You can hold down the button to continually fire. Pick up the blue pulses to get more energy; more energy = better guns. Hold down spare for an invulnerable shield, but be aware that it drains your energy. Patterns are vital to know, so you will not beat it your first try. Bosses may slow down a bit, but that's because Flash hates it when you scale things and I did not know that at the time.

Postmortem and source code available for any interested on the site.

posted by Imperfect at 10:43 PM on November 23, 2005

I have a couple of reviews up on that site, somewhere, although it's been so long I don't even remember exactly what I wrote anymore.

For the record, my vote for bestest Shmup is, without question, Compile's ZANAC for the NES. Not it is as frantic as the best of 'em, but it mixes up enemy attack patterns for every game so it's never as simple as memorizing what attacks when.
posted by JHarris at 2:08 AM on November 24, 2005

Great post. Tyrian 2000 (PC, runs fine in XP) is really the best side scrolling space shooter ever, considering the variance in difficulty (this genre is always so damn tough!) and the quantity of secrets. Parodius (Requires a SNES emulator) also rates well, both for absurdity and gameplay. Don't attempt to list that directory or you will see things you can't unsee.

In the platform blaster genre, in the same vein as Metroid: Cave Story. This is a Japanese freeware title with a translation, both on the linked page. This game is incredible. Better than Castlevania *. Better than Super Metroid. You read that right. Better, and much harder, clear your calendar. :]

Also Imperfect, thanks! It's really cool to see all the indy games that are popping up these days, even moreso when the source is included.
posted by moift at 2:19 AM on November 24, 2005

mono is a cute shooter, very simple nad unpretentious.
posted by anthill at 5:17 AM on November 24, 2005

Um, Tempest isn't 2D, it's a paleo-3D game...
posted by Artw at 8:39 AM on November 24, 2005

It's a vector based "into the screen" shoot-em-up. movement is within a quit nitpicking and download!

I second Tyrian as the best shooter ever, personally. If it's running choppy there are things you can do to make it smooth. Try dosbox for instance.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:01 AM on November 24, 2005

R-Type II is a *grandfather* game? Jesus. I remember seeing Scramble for the first time and thinking, holy shit I wish I has 10p! I never really warmed to Super Cobra, that was just too damn hard. I feel old.

I also liked 1981's Jumpbug - how many shooters let you drive a VW Beetle against overwhelming waves of underwater cephalopods? It's still a favourite on MAME.

Was Zaxxon the first diagonal scroller?
posted by meehawl at 12:55 PM on November 24, 2005

For those who want to check out some of the finest modern shmups in MAME, the works of Cave, Psikyo, and Razing are widely recognized as some of the very best arcade shmups. There's a great guide to the games of these three developers here.

Games like ESPRaDe, Progear, Strikers, Armed Police Batrider are not only incredibly fun, but have some of the best 2D artwork you'll see in any game.
posted by straight at 10:18 PM on November 25, 2005

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