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Shmup recommendations

Steezy

Member
Jan 7, 2018
152
I've seen a few threads recently about shmups and it's made think about how little I really know about them. So what do I need to check out?

What are the classics?
What are some unique takes/spin-offs of the genre?
What does a modern shmup look like? I like the idea of playing something forgiving with some kind of progression.
Bullet hells seem intimidating, frustrating and ugly to me but I'd be willing to dip my toe in - any suggestions?

I have access to most of the big consoles and have a decent enough laptop for PC games.

The things that have probably turned me off in the past is repetition (I never enjoy score attack or time attack in any genre) and learning wave patterns. I get these are a big part of shmups but there must be titles that attempt to move away from this.
 

DanteLinkX

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
3,554
Only one word for you OP.

IKARUGA.

EDIT: You can get Ikaruga on most consoles, dreamcast, gamecube, etc, if you want some truly old school awesome SNES shmup go for my favorite Super Strike Gunner (S.T.G.) and if you have a buddy to play with its totally awesome in 2 players co-op (the ships can fusion together, one shoots the other moves), Axelay its also really cool, so is Gradius III, R-type III is awesome too, there is one militar shoot them up that I keep forgetting its name in which you buy new aircrafts and stuff, that is also on SNES that is awesome too.
 

Green Mario

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,551

These are all highly regarded shmups of varying difficulty.
The first two are classics, released in the early 2000's. Hellsinker and ZeroRanger were released in 2019 and 2018 respectively.
 

ElectricBlanketFire

What year is this?
Moderator
Oct 25, 2017
17,921
My favorite classic shmup is Star Force by Tecmo (known at the time as Tehkan). You can get it on the Switch.

 
May 24, 2019
3,141
Bullet hells seem intimidating, frustrating and ugly to me but I'd be willing to dip my toe in - any suggestions?
Mushihimesama from Cave.
Cave is absolutely the top bullet hell developer, and instead of the usual dystopian scifi look, this one is all themed on nature, bugs, fairies and stuff.

edit: And they have one on XBox back compat based in feudal Japan (just trying to give you varied settings based on the 'ugly' remark)
 
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SoH

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,206
Play ZeroRanger


Jamestown+ is the most accessible recent release


Dangun Feveron has a bangin' disco soundtrack
 

DanteLinkX

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
3,554

Look this video includes the game I said,

Its U.N. Squadron, fucking awesome game OP, go for it.
 

Tain

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,248
These are all highly regarded shmups of varying difficulty.
[snipped due to media embed limit]
I think this is a solid spread:

- Ikaruga is fantastic, the only thing holding me back from suggesting it is that it's not very representative of the genre. Which is the point!
- Mushihimesama is a great representative for Cave's games. EspRaDe (recently released on Switch and PS4) would be another good one for this slot.
- Hellsinker is a wild-sounding doujin that I'm not too familiar with, admittedly, but it always looked cool
- ZeroRanger is recent, has a unique and forgiving (but still challenging) structure, and just completely fucking rules.

The only thing missing here, I think, would be some horizontal classics like Gradius and R-Type:


If you want me to pick one game, OP, it'd either be Mushihimesama or ZeroRanger.
 

AvernOffset

Member
May 6, 2018
492

This is a great intro to bullet hell. You get a lot of opportunities to cancel incoming bullets, so you'll have an out for patterns that feel too overwhelming.
 

SoH

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,206
Also the Shmup Hangouts thread has been very active as of late with lots of recent discussion assisting new players. Swing by and hang out. We are happy to explain tap dodging and rank or whatever doesn't make sense.

 

Calvinien

Member
Jul 13, 2019
432
I've seen a few threads recently about shmups and it's made think about how little I really know about them. So what do I need to check out?

What are the classics?
What are some unique takes/spin-offs of the genre?
What does a modern shmup look like? I like the idea of playing something forgiving with some kind of progression.
Bullet hells seem intimidating, frustrating and ugly to me but I'd be willing to dip my toe in - any suggestions?

I have access to most of the big consoles and have a decent enough laptop for PC games.

The things that have probably turned me off in the past is repetition (I never enjoy score attack or time attack in any genre) and learning wave patterns. I get these are a big part of shmups but there must be titles that attempt to move away from this.

Ok you clearly said forgiving so disregard the people saying Ikaruga. It is not a schmup, it is a bullet hell game.

Gradius, R type, UN squadron, Aero fighters and the star soldeir series are some of the longstanding staples. They are all form the 16 bit era so if you don't have some way to play them by now, it's because you don't want to.

Parodius is essentially a shmup parody. It plays like an acid trip.
Zero wing is worth a play. It's the source of one of the most infamous gaming memes so that part is fun, but the core gameplay is entertaining if unspectacular.

Heavy Weapon is a more modern take on the genre from the popcap era. You are a tank attacking targets in a 180 degree arc. Unlike most
in the genre you can upgrade yourself.

The sky force series is on modern consoles and I think gamepass. It has tons of unlockables and upgrades, but there is a grind that comes with.
 

Tain

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,248
Silvergun and Ikaruga both are games that I think everyone should play but are weird examples of the genre at their core for surprisingly different reasons. Ikaruga for its polarity system (obviously) and Silvergun for its demand that players play for score (or use saved progress in the console-y mode)
 

Andromeda

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,533
Most Shmup 'classics' I have played along the years were either too hard or not fun.

So for the best I have played since the SNES:

Parodius (SNES) and Blazing star (Neogeo) are super fun. Blazing star should be available on some recent consoles.
Resogun (PS4) is the best shooter I have played.
 

RingRang

Member
Oct 2, 2019
1,195
Radiant Silvergun is my favorite shmup of all time. It's available on the Xbox right now.
 

sweetmini

Member
Jun 12, 2019
1,203
I recommend Parodius Da! and Sexy Parodius (my avatar is a Sexy Parodius boss). My two favourite entries in the Parodius series.
The series is a spoof of the Gradius/Salamander formula. It is not too difficult, the graphics are cute and funny, the soundtrack is fantastic (spoofs of known themes... i'll let you discover) and bosses are fun.
Parodius is simple and linear, Sexy Parodius adds branching paths with objectives completion determining what next level you reach.
Parodius is no bullet hell normally, its sprites count limit forbids that... sexy can be a little more hectic if you turn to maximum difficulty. Normal is very manageable.
I love the series...
Saturn / Playstation versions of these games should be easy enough to source.
I don't recommend snes/pcengine/nes versions of Parodius Da!
The X68000 version is mighty fine.


edit: fun fact, in the first level of Parodius Da! Even the playstation and saturn don't animate the palm trees...
The like cause is because the X68000 port didn't animate them and so ditched the animation order from the level "playlist". Every other 16bits ports being derivative of that x68000 port... it got forgotten. That's my take ;)
In the arcades, an order is sent in the level playlist to start animate, the animation is hardcoded for the duration of the mid-boss passage, there is no real interaction between the 2. The animation is just done by changing tiles addresses to be returned by the graphics co-processors, it's a different technique than the one used by sprites animation.
 
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Kent

Member
Jun 4, 2018
227
Ikaruga is available on basically everything.

Radiant Silvergun is available on Xbox 360 - and backwards compatible on Xbox One.

Tyrian is open source and Tyrian 2000 is free on GoG.

Please play them, I implore you.
 

angelgrievous

Member
Nov 8, 2017
4,246
Ohio
Both Raiden V: Director's Cut and Dariusburst Chronicles Saviours on PS4 are really good. Raiden has a bunch of difficulty settings to help ease you into the game and unlimited continues to keep you going if you die.

Under Defeat HD on PS3 and Xbox 360 is a really fun. It's also really forgiving for newcomers.

Sine Mora Ex is one that I enjoy quite a bit. It's a really pretty game imo and probably one of the more accessible bullet hell games that I can think of.
 
Oct 26, 2017
129
Montreal
My avatar? :)

I am partial to TREASURE and CAVE shooters. I find everything else less... exciting for some reason.

A couple on NEO GEO were also very memorable (Pulstar, View Point, Sonic Wings 2).
 
OP, memorization is indeed a part of almost all Shmups recently, especially bullet hell.
Most of what has been mentioned on here is incredibly memorization heavy.

+1 for Jamestown+ on Switch! It should be on sale right now, so pick it up!

Blazing Star and Pulstar are both awesome on Switch, probably other consoles.

Zero Gunner 2 on Switch, along with Gunbird 2 and Sengoku Blade would be a GREAT start to learning about shmups.

Don’t know how you can access it anymore, but the original DoDonPachi is my go-to for introducing my friends to shmups.
 

RedSwirl

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,155
I've been particularly curious about what the hallmarks of shmup history are. What are the must-play Gradius, R-Type, Raiden, and Thunder Force games?

I've really only played some of the Darius games.
 

killuglypop

Member
Jan 9, 2020
6
Mushihimesama can be whatever you want it to be difficulty wise. That would be my manic/bullet hell choice. If you would prefer to play something more traditional or slower paced, I highly recommend Pulstar for the Neo Geo. Rumoured to be made by Irem staff members, plenty of 2D wizardry coupled with tight gameplay
 

7threst

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,902
Netherlands
Both Raiden V: Director's Cut and Dariusburst Chronicles Saviours on PS4 are really good. Raiden has a bunch of difficulty settings to help ease you into the game and unlimited continues to keep you going if you die.

Under Defeat HD on PS3 and Xbox 360 is a really fun. It's also really forgiving for newcomers.

Sine Mora Ex is one that I enjoy quite a bit. It's a really pretty game imo and probably one of the more accessible bullet hell games that I can think of.
This guy has the right idea! Dariusburst, go for it! Then go for Raiden. Need more challenge? Seel out the R-Type games.
 

Awakened

Member
Oct 27, 2017
202
This game has such a hype soundtrack, it's easy to want to keep going back to:


This one just has a great feel and progression:


It's been a bit since I played this, but I think I liked it since it has a neat attack system:

 
Both Raiden V: Director's Cut and Dariusburst Chronicles Saviours on PS4 are really good. Raiden has a bunch of difficulty settings to help ease you into the game and unlimited continues to keep you going if you die.

Under Defeat HD on PS3 and Xbox 360 is a really fun. It's also really forgiving for newcomers.

Sine Mora Ex is one that I enjoy quite a bit. It's a really pretty game imo and probably one of the more accessible bullet hell games that I can think of.
This is a good post.

Except I can’t stand Sine Mora, but it’s still a well designed game. I’m just not into it.
 

KDR_11k

Member
Nov 10, 2017
2,259
I'd strongly advise against Hellsinker for a newbie. That game is stupidly complex. Without reading the manual thoroughly you won't have a clue what's going on. I still cannot remember if self eclipse was a good or bad thing.

Keep in mind that a lot of the games getting listed here are older and will go on deep sales regularly.

Has a literal twist:
Just a good standard one:


Early Access stuff:
uses the Asteroids thrust model instead of standard shmup controls:

I think you can just grab anything from this bundle:
https://store.steampowered.com/bundle/5655/Henteko_Shmups_Bundle/
 

Paertan

Member
Oct 28, 2017
694
Jets N Guns is an old favorite of mine.
Got released on Switch recently and a sequel is releasing pretty soon as well after year and years of waiting.
 

KDR_11k

Member
Nov 10, 2017
2,259
The Dariusburst game that got mentioned before:

It's loaded with content, ignore the DLC, that's just crossovers with other series for fans. Darius is an old series famous for its multi-screen arcade machines, the PC version of DBCS can be played in 32:9 with dual monitors, the console version lacks that feature.

When looking at Parodius remember that it's a parody of Gradius so you might not get the jokes if you don't know Gradius. I certainly didn't get the point of the final boss in Parodius on the old Game Boy.
 

mute

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,047
I like G-Darius the best, but there aren't any modern releases of it I don't think (outside the JP PS classic maybe?) The other Darius games are great too, and are a little bit easier to get a hold of.
 
May 24, 2019
3,141
I've been particularly curious about what the hallmarks of shmup history are. What are the must-play Gradius, R-Type, Raiden, and Thunder Force games?

I've really only played some of the Darius games.
R-Type: The original and SNES pt3. Delta and Final on Playstation are also good.
Gradius: 3 and 5 (and Parodius and Salamander spin-offs, which I think are even better)
Thunderforce: 3,4,5
 
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Tain

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,248
I've been particularly curious about what the hallmarks of shmup history are. What are the must-play Gradius, R-Type, Raiden, and Thunder Force games?

I've really only played some of the Darius games.
my brief personal thoughts on each series... (arcade versions unless noted otherwise)

The first Gradius was groundbreaking but has some of that typical mid-80s arcade game jank, back when Cool Stage Progression was kind of a new thing. Gradius II is bigger and more polished and more challenging. Gradius III went wild with the difficulty level, which has an appeal but I may never 1cc the second game let alone the third lol. Gradius Gaiden (PSX) is really cool and probably overshadowed Gradius IV from a retrospective perspective. IV also has kind of a weird look to it and was released during a bit of a lull for horizontal shooters? Gradius V is good: it has an awesome look and sound, but there are notable structural changes and the console-first design is apparent in the game's length and pacing.

Worth noting that Salamander is almost a Gradius side-series, only without the checkpoints and with alternating horizontal/vertical stages. There's a lot of overlap. The original Salamander was, like the original Gradius, a pretty big deal, and Salamander 2 is pretty sick as well.

R-Type I'm less familiar with as a series, but the original is just such a classic. 2 seems like more of the same (non-pejoratively). Leo is a bit faster (no per-life checkpoints) and has a really different tone. 3 (SNES) seems a bit more spread thin but has a super-cool aesthetic. Delta (PSX) might be right up there with the original. I found Final (PS2) to be a slog, and that's before I realized how many ships there are to unlock.

Raiden is a landmark vertical game, but I'm even less familiar with the series. Movement speed is slow, bullets are fast. I know the first two games are held in high regard. I don't remember much of III, but IV seemed very in line with the original two games? V has some dialog and a health meter, but still seemed pretty cool. The two Radien Fighters side games are incredible, albeit massively different.

and with Thunder Force... I don't think people generally put a lot of weight into the first two games. I've barely played the original and the second one (X68k, Genesis) is a bit of an awkward mix of free-roaming top-down and linear side-scrolling stages. The third and fourth games (Genesis) are aesthetically wild and mechanically pretty tight for being console-first, and are the most praised games in the series for sure. The fifth game (Saturn) is also right up there aesthetically but maybe a bit more uneven mechanically (there's an insanely OP weapon that really lowers the difficulty of the game), and people rarely bring up the sixth revival game from the mid-2000s (PS2).
 
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Merkunt

Member
Oct 25, 2017
417
Quoting my post from a few months ago on the matter.
 

Aizō

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
7,928
ほぼ真ん中の方
Pretty much anything from Cave or Eighting.

Living in Japan was shmup paradise.

My absolute favorites are Armored Police Batrider (arcade only ;_;)
Mushihimesama Futari (360)
Ketsui (PS3, PS4)
DoDonPachi DaiOuJou(JP PS2/JP 360)/SaiDaiOuJou (360)

For the more easily attainable shmups that are also great, check out Jamestown+ (PC, PS4, more?), Caladrius Blaze (PS3, PS4, Switch), Crimzon Clover (Steam), Mushihime-sama 1.5 (Steam), Battle Garegga (PS4)
 

Shaneus

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,756
No love for Fantasy Zone :( Coming out on Switch in a few days, definitely not difficult/intimidating and super fun.
 

Hoa

Member
Jun 6, 2018
1,129
I see Eschatos already mentioned, that also comes with two additional games Judgement Silversword and Cardinal Sins. All 3 are great play.

Mecha Ritz and Mecha Ritz: Steel Rondo are good to ease yourself into bullet hell.

With the dynamic rank system the better you play, not only does bullet count increase but enemy count, scroll speed, and boss attacks increase too. You can change the starting rank to be wherever your skill level is at, and they give you quite a lot of resources (bombs and shields) to clear even if you aren't great at surviving. The original freeware version is also great and quite different enough from Steel Rondo to give a go too.


I'd also recommend Cambria Sword, which is more of a traditional shmup but it is beefy if you want to do all stages runs. Skipping stages lets you complete in like 50 minutes but all stages is like a 3 hour run. It has a ton of weapons and subweapons to mess around with. I never expected a longer than normal shmup to pull me in like this but once you're in you're in. Just a heads up Stage 1-2 are pretty relaxing, Stage 3 turns it up a little, but Stage 3 boss will give you a wake up call immediately. From there on difficulty gradually increases each stage.

What both of these shmups have in common is that they are filled with bosses throughout the stages.
 
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KDR_11k

Member
Nov 10, 2017
2,259
From what I read about Gradius 3 and 4, you absolutely want the home console versions of those games. The arcade versions are rushed, buggy, laggy and extremely unfair. Arcade Gradius has a system called rank management where as you gather more powerups the game spawns more enemies and makes them more aggressive! Even expert players die on purpose in those games just to reset the rank.
 

CrabDust

Member
Nov 16, 2017
258
Fair warning though, most of them do not have modern progression systems - they are arcade games first and foremost and for all its praise, Ikaruga is a memory pattern game. Some recent ones like Jamestown splash modern design. My old school favs are: Radiant Silvergun and DoDonPachi.
 

Dache

Member
Oct 25, 2017
456
UK
I'll always recommend Cave shmups, there's something about the feel of Ikeda's games in particular that draw me back unlike anything else.

I'm super in the minority but I absolutely fucking love Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu/Resurrection and find it the most fun and replayable DDP, and the PC port is really good. Black Label in particular is brilliant, with lovely juicy cancels (as per ADGQ parlance) throughout.


It also includes Black Label Arrange, aka Ketsupachi, which combines DDP DFK with Cave's other shmup Ketsui. Which is also amazing and worth going through the hassle of setting up a Japanese PSN account to buy it with on PS4.
 

flashman92

Member
Feb 15, 2018
1,277
Multiple mentions of Thunder Force but not one for Devil Engine?