What is a "shmup"? FAQ v. 2.1

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8 years ago#1
Introduction: This is the original sticky topic created by action52, heavily edited by me, El Boucho. Before I start, I would like to say that the definition of a shmup is very, very broad. So broad, there is in fact no set definition of a shmup that satisfies everyone.

A “Shmup”, or shoot ‘em up, is a video game genre where you shoot many enemies while dodging bullets.

These are the USUAL features of a shmup (with all of them there are exceptions of course):

-You are controlling a ship or vehicle of some kind.
-The screen automatically scrolls, and you must take on enemies as they come--however there are many shmups where the screen does not move, especially older ones where the games couldn't scroll.
-You can get powerups which will protect your ship or allow you to destroy enemy ships more easily--this one also has many exceptions, especially with older shmups.
-One hit will kill you, save you’re not shielded and/or powered up.
-The game has a third-person perspective, either from the side or from above.
-Many enemies and bullets come at you.
-Enemies come at you in a predetermined pattern.
-Winning the game depends on fast reflexes, and shooting lots of enemies.

Some famous shmups:
-Space Invaders
-Star Wars (original arcade game)

**TYPES OF SHMUPS** - Definitions blatantly plagiarized from Wikipedia, with a wee-bit of editing by me.

NOTE: There is an ongoing debate even to this day as to whether or not these types fit the genre. Some say they do, others say they don’t. Whether they fit the genre or not depends on your standpoint.

Scrolling shooters are the most well-known type of shmup. In scrolling shooters, as the player explores each level, the screen scrolls to reveal more of the level and more enemies. Scrolling shooters may scroll horizontally or vertically: A horizontal scrolling shooter usually shows the player from a sideview, while a vertical scrolling shooter offers a top-down perspective.

Examples of Vertical scrolling shooters: Star Soldier (series), Axelay, 1942
Examples of Horizontal scrolling shooters: Gradius, R-Type

A small group of scrolling shooters also features an isometric point of view, with a diagonal scrolling. A typical example of this sub-genre is Sega's Zaxxon.

Fixed shooters consist of levels that can each fit within a single screen. The player's movement is usually fixed to a single axis of motion, and their ability to aim is usually fixed in one direction. These games are sometimes also called gallery shooters.

Examples: King & Balloon, Space Invaders, Galaga

Tube shooters give players a single axis of movement around the edge of an on-screen "tube", creating the illusion that the player is moving forward into the screen. This style originated with Atari's Tempest and was further popularized by Gyruss.

Rail shooters largely supplanted tube shooters with the rise of three dimensional gameplay. The player's viewpoint automatically turns and moves through the level as if player were attached to a railroad, hence the name of the subgenre. As the player is propelled forward, the player may have limited freedom of motion to dodge incoming attacks. A few notable rail shooters include Panzer Dragoon, Rez, and Star Fox (64).
Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one. -Friedrich Nietzsche
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8 years ago#2
Multidirectional shooters, also called arena shooters, allow freedom of movement and orientation in a two-dimensional environment. This may take place within a single-screen level such as Robotron: 2084, or allow players to navigate a larger playing field as the screen scrolls.

Run and gun usually describes shoot 'em ups where the player character runs on foot, often incorporating jumping, as seen in platform games. Run and gun games can utilize side-scrolling, top-down or isometric viewpoints.

Examples of side-view run and guns include the Contra series, Metal Slug series, Abuse, Soldat, Liero Xtreme, Gunstar Heroes and Turrican (although the latter also has platform adventure elements and is generally less linear)

Examples of overhead view run and guns include Ikari Warriors, Heavy Barrel, Ninja Commando, Jackal, and Guerrilla War.

Bullet hell is a sub-genre of shoot 'em up video games in which the entire screen is often almost completely filled with enemy bullets. The genre is also occasionally known as curtain fire or as manic shooters. This style of game originated in the mid-1990s, and is an offshoot of scrolling shooters.

Examples: Ikaruga, Touhou (series)

Here’s some freeware shmups to try out if you’d like a taste of the genre:

http://shinh.skr.jp/osxbin/ - What I linked you to is a bunch of freeware shmups developed by Kenta Cho and other Japanese developers. These link you to the Mac OS X versions, but search around and you’ll find the windows versions.

Thanks to m3tall1ca for posting this link, these are probably some of the best shmups to try out if you’re looking to get into the genre or would like a fun shmupping romp.

These are x.x’s shmups. Very, very amazing for freeware games.

Here you’ll find other freeware shmups (not all of them are freeware) as well as the latest arcade shmup news and info.


I’m going to say this right now because I saw too much fighting in the last sticky topic regarding this. This is not a place to discuss the universal definition of a shmup. There is no universal definition. In fact, creating a definition of “shmup” that will be accessible to both new people getting into the genre and veterans of the genre is so broad, it’s almost impossible. The purpose of this topic is to inform.
Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one. -Friedrich Nietzsche
Check profile for friend codes and contact information.
8 years ago#3
Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one. -Friedrich Nietzsche
Check profile for friend codes and contact information.
8 years ago#4
Nicely done.
"Are you OK, Buster? WOOOOLF!!!"
8 years ago#5
Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one. -Friedrich Nietzsche
Check profile for friend codes and contact information.
8 years ago#6
8 years ago#7
Well, either no one is clicking the request button, or the mods feel the current sticky is sufficient. Oh well....
FFXI:Chewurface|Midgardsormr - Retired
Who looks at a screwdriver and thinks, 'ooh, this could be a little more sonic'?
8 years ago#8
8 years ago#9
Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one.
8 years ago#10
Lords of Thunder is the best horizontal shmup ever made.
People who agree with me: 1
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