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This time around, we have seen a huge leap in graphical fidelity, the dawn of motion controls, online play becoming a facet in every aspect of gaming, achievement tracking, digital distribution and......... countless SHMUP releases?
Yes, hard to believe, but even with all of these advances in the forefront, this very old, very hardcore genre is experiencing a bit of a renaissance.
SHMUP is a shortening of the word “SHOOTEMUP”, a genre once simply called “shooters”, not anymore... for obvious reasons. They can be either horizontal or vertical scrolling, or “static”, meaning the background is fixed. Twin-stick shooters are the most popular type of these. They all put you in control of some sort of killing machine that rains death upon its enemies with bullets, beams, bombs, missiles, magic, etc. This “craft” can be a spaceship, dragon, witch, samurai, kitty cat… pretty much anything. No matter what it is, the premise is basically always the same – kill everything, stay alive, score gazillions of points. In Japan, these games are called STG’s, a shortening of ShooTing Games.
These are old-school style games: they are “beaten” in one sitting, but mastering the particular scoring mechanic and gaining the ability to clear the game without dying (no miss), continuing (1cc) etc comes with much time and practice. As with all genres - but probably with a bit more extremity here - these games can be anywhere from walk in the park easy to masochist-ball-busting hard.
This generation has seen the Xbox 360 become the go-to console for us SHMUP fans, a lot of which have been remakes from the glory days of the genre. Some notable previous-gen consoles that have had amazing catalogues of SHMUPs are the Genesis (Megadrive), TurboGrafx 16 (PC Engine), Sega Saturn, Playstation, Sega Dreamcast & Playstation2. The genre also sees continuous releases in arcades over in Japan, even to this day.
SHMUPs come in just about any flavor you can think of. WWII planes fighting transforming submarine-mechs? Gundam-style robots charging hordes of enemies? Lolita witches facing off against Christmas-themed demons? King of Fighters characters in high-flying duels with their arch-rivals? There’s something out there right up your alley, no matter what your tastes.
As of October 8th, 2012, there are 25 SHMUPs that have been released on the retail end for the Xbox 360. There are also a vast amount of XBLA releases as well as some very well made indie titles.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some of my favorite 360 offerings:
Raiden Fighters: Aces (Retail/Games on Demand)
3 games on one disc!!! The Raiden series has long been considered one of the best SHMUP franchises, and this release will net you 3 of the best in the series, all for a very budget-friendly price. This series is probably most famous for its use of beam weaponry – your ship is a force to be reckoned with, no matter which one you choose to pilot. Raiden has been around longer than most, and is still relevant today. This is arcade goodness in its purest form.
Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 (Retail – Region-free Import)
Ridiculous name, right? Roughly translated into “Bug Princess”, this game is an absolute blast. One of Cave’s more manageable shooters, Mushi is of the “bullet hell” flavor of SHMUP, meaning the screen will be constantly filled with bright, colorful patterns of enemy shots. Great graphics, excellent soundtrack, fun character switching & scoring mechanics... all in a budget-friendly and region-free package, making this a no-brainer for any fan of the genre.
Otomedius Excellent (Retail)
Ah, this game takes me back to the 8/16-bit days. This Konami shooter is inspired by their Gradius series, one of the most popular SHMUP franchises ever. If you’ve ever played any of the Gradius games, you’ll instantly feel at home with the mechanics. Anyone looking for something a little more classic than the typical Cave title would want this in their library.
Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi Extra (Retail – Region-locked Import)
Yes, I know most of you will not be able to play this game on your 360’s... I still have to put this one up here. Another Cave game... this is without a doubt the greatest title they’ve ever created... in my opinion at least. Music, graphics, bosses, mechanics... all top notch. This game is intense, and I love it. Ketsui is a game that anyone with a Japanese 360 should already own.
Radiant Silvergun (XBLA)
Simply put, my favorite SHMUP of all time. Originally released for home on the Sega Saturn, this game was, up to recently, quite expensive if you wanted to play... the import sells on eBay for over $200 regularly. Not so anymore – you can get this gem on Xbox Live Arcade at a mere fraction of the cost! Everything about this game is excellent, from the graphics, to the epic boss fights, to the score composed by Hitoshi Sakimoto of Final Fantasy Tactics fame... even the story is awesome. Seriously, if you own one SHMUP, this should be it.
Trouble Witches NEO! (XBLA)
This game packs quite a bit of content into an arcade release. Multiple characters & weapons, a unique card system, very fun and accessible mechanics... this game is a blast. Personally, I would switch the vocals to Japanese before even pressing start, but who knows, you might need a laugh ^_^
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 (XBLA)
There are plenty of twin-stick shooters available on the 360... this one is possibly the best. Plenty of different modes gives you many ways to play. All of which are fun, and intense. Pacifism is my personal favorite, a mode where you have to survive as long as possible without the ability to shoot... your only defense is an explosive gate you can lure pursuing enemies into. This game is highly recommended by tons of people, and something almost anyone can enjoy.
Shoot 1up (XBLiG)
A unique indie game, this shooter gives you all of your lives to burn at once. Every time you pick up an extra ship, it is instantly added into your firing squad. Very well made and only 80MSP, this is a great pick up and play game.
This is such a quality game for 80 Microsoft Points... a stylish and fun versus SHMUP. It’s games like this that make me happy that the indie scene exists. Very Touhou-esque, fans of the popular PC franchise should check this one out.
Beat Hazard (XBLiG)
A twin-stick shooter that utilizes your personal music collection for the gameplay. This game isn’t just one of the greatest indie titles, it’s one of the best games on the 360, period. Load up your favorite album and watch the music come alive in the form of enemy waves and explosions. Plus, it was reduced from 400MSP to 80 – a no-brainer, IMO. My recommendation? Your favorite SHMUP OST, of course!
...and this is the very tip of the iceberg. There are literally dozens of SHMUPs available on the Xbox 360, and more coming all the time. The few I have listed above note some of the best of the genre that are also affordable. Be warned: this can turn into a very expensive hobby, very quickly - imports tend to be quite a bit more expensive than domestic releases, which are usually budget-priced. Not to mention most will require a 2nd Xbox 360 to play them! A rough outline on how SHMUPs are priced today:
XBLA/indie titles: $1-15
Domestic releases: $20-50
Imports: $40-130 (average $90)
PCBs (for arcade cabinets): $200-1000+
Going retro can be a pricey venture as well. For example, certain Sega Saturn releases, like Radiant Sivergun, regularly sell on eBay for quite a pretty penny.
Ever seen any of these games in the arcade? Ok… let me back up a bit: before home gaming consoles became the technological powerhouses they are today, there used to be these places where people would gather to play the latest and greatest called arcades and... ok, yeah, if you made it this far you probably already know that much ^_^
Anyways... SHMUPs, the vertical ones in particular, are usually played on rotated screens when in arcades, allowing for a larger playing area on a smaller screen. TATE and YOKO just refer to the process of playing on a rotated screen, which most of the vertical-scrolling SHMUPs offer as an option for those lucky enough to have a display with the ability to rotate 90 degrees. Here’s what it looks like:
**if you’re going to do this with a CRT or other display that doesn’t rotate on a stand, BE VERY CAREFUL. Unplug everything before sitting it on its side, and be gentle. Most displays weren’t built to be used like this, and you can damage your set if you’re not paying attention.
This is not a genre for the faint of heart. You WILL die. A LOT. Memorization, practice, youtube, practice, determination, and more practice are your friends. Replays help as well, especially with a level/section/boss that’s giving you a particularly difficult time. Don’t get discouraged – we have all credit-fed our way through a boss fight. Stay with it long enough and you will be able to decimate Tyranosatan without a scratch!
Want more than what is available in your home country? Here’s a list of all the retail games that’ll work on any Xbox 360:
Muchi Muchi Pork/Pink Sweets
DoDonPachi Resurrection (PAL release works on NA consoles)
Ginga Force (coming soon)
The Xbox 360 – one of the greatest SHMUP consoles in the history of gaming. Seriously!
Keep shmuppin’ everyone!
Wow, so that was a lot more difficult than it should've been,
Anyways, topic is now open - feel free to post!
How is Akai Katana?
My Darksiders II Review:
How is Akai Katana?
My personal favorite Cave hori available on the 360.
Love the scoring system and the "alternate universe WWII" theme.
DarkSymbiote posted...How is Akai Katana?
How long is it? Any save system? Maybe I'll start it after RE6.
My Darksiders II Review:
Ah the Shmup that got me into the genre, and one I recommend to anyone trying to get into it, Geometry Wars 1 and 2 ^^ <3
When I eat, it is the food that is scared.
gabrius posted...DarkSymbiote posted...How is Akai Katana?
IIRC, there are 6 stages.
Apart from saving overall progress, there isn't any checkpoint system or anything like that - these games are typically designed to play through in one shot.
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