Shmup recommendations

Dash Kappei

Member
Nov 1, 2017
2,200
So, I actually read your post. Forget Ikaruga, Mushihimesama/Futari/Esp. ra.de/Crimson Clover etc. etc

Based on what you’re looking for, these are my reccomendations based on your tastes, needs and price. All cheap, mostly <$15

This is super important and will make most STGs much more approachable: you can actually fly your ship much closer to enemies/bgs/bullets then what the sprite/model looks like; the hitbox is usually represented by a flashing/standstill light 💡 in the middle of your ship.

TITLES:
JAMESTOWN+
is on PC/PS4/SWITCH, vertical 16:10 bullet hell which is the perfect entry to the genre; Choosing this game will make you play better and improve easily, has plenty of modes and challenges. Lots of content and it’s addicting in its unlocking system.
Forget Cave’s stuff and such (mind you, they’re my fav devs) for now because you’re not ready imo, you will enjoy them more later and will make a more informed purchase since they are much more brutal and generally expensive. Same for the fantastic Crimson Clover, you’ll get it later in case you’ll yearn for more bullet hells.

R-TYPE DIMENSIONS
Two games in one, horizontal classic STGs that made history in a fantastic package that you can play in its classic 2D form or a new 2.5D remake, you can switch on the fly, supports 16:9
It has a demo (at least on Switch).

ACA NEO-GEO: AERO FIGHTERS 2
The pinnacle of Alpha System’s output.
Super cheap, vertical 4:3 ar.

STEREDENN

It’s a rogue-like STG, horizontal 2D in 16:9, with runs, weapons unlocks, seeding and so on. It also plays pretty well.

You have 4 titles for now. Start from here, possibly with Jamestown+ and at least the demo for R-Type Dimensions.
 

arcadepc

Member
Dec 28, 2019
165
One of the few Arcade/Saturn ports on Steam, also with very good story mode and voice acting. You can pick various characters from older Jaleco arcade games. PS4 version has an extra video episode, though they edited out some bomb images of a character due to licensing issues.

 

JustinH

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,035
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.
Came to mention Raiden V.

I don't think it's as highly received as the big classics, or maybe even Raiden IV (?), but I had a lot of fun with it and I'm not someone who's really good at vertical shooters (even though I love them).

I think the soundtrack is pretty good too (and will always be salty I didn't get a CD with my physical copy for Xbox One, bought it again on PS4 just for the CD).

Darius is good too, although I've only really played the Saturn one. I have it for PS4, but just haven't spent much time with it. I think the music might've been really good but I might be thinking about Darius Gaiden.
 

Geist 6one7

Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,262
MASS
SAME! Gahhhh. It's such a great game. They have to do it. It's never been ported. I really do think there's a high chance they'll get around to it.
I hope so. Even if I have to import the disc as they don’t seem to be translating them anymore. I figured with the alternating Cave/Raizing releases it would have already had it’s chance but then we got 2 Cave titles back to back (not complaining always wanted ESP.Ra.De).
 

BubbaMc

Member
Oct 30, 2017
209
Raiden 2/DX is my favourite.

Also while not strictly a shmup, Bangai-O on the Dreamcast is one of the finest games I've played.
 

Don Fluffles

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,457
[QUOTE="DanteLinkX, post: 28243506, member: 13122"]

Look this video includes the game I said,

Its U.N. Squadron, fucking awesome game OP, go for it.
[/QUOTE]

UN Squadron's great except for the brutally unfair difficulty, which makes it easy to die in seconds.

I recommend the games by Compile.

My favorites are:

NES:
Z
anac
Gun-Nac
The Guardian Legend

TG-16/CD:
Blazing Lazers

MD/SG:
M.U.S.H.A.

SNES:
Space Megaforce(Super Aleste)
Super Puyo Puyo Tsuu
 
Last edited:

dadjumper

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,781
Japan
If you want to try bullet hell, the mainline Touhou games are actually really good. They're super janky graphically but I think the actual bullet patterns are more fun than any Cave game. Start with 6 or 7.

Also Darius Gaiden on the saturn is the best normal shmup
 

Cleve

Member
Oct 27, 2017
585
DoDonPachi DaiOuJou and Raiden Fighters Jet are two that I have a long relationship with and would recommend to anyone.
 

MochaKoffee

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,523
Just remember that you don't have to play for score, and you certainly don't have to play at the highest difficulties. Just relax, play an old caravan shooter, and have a good time.

But hey, if you want to.

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?
- Gradius, R-Type, Thunder Force, Soldier Blade, Donpachi, Cotton, Touhou, Raiden, Battle Garegga, and so on.
- Gaiares has some Kirby copy ability mechanics, which are kinda neat.
- You'll often have shmups mixed with other genres, shmups that stay true to their arcade roots, or shmups that do offer progression systems. The genre might not be where it once was in the industry, but you can still find variety in it.
- Something to remember is that bullet hells have a bark that is often worse than their bite. If it's not for you, though, it's not for you. Try Crimzon Clover on Steam (often $2 on sale), regular ol' Mushihimesama on Steam, or Danmaku Unlimited 3.

Maybe work up to Zeroranger, lol.
 
OP
OP
Steezy

Steezy

Member
Jan 7, 2018
151
Thanks for all the replies! There's certainly a lot to investigate here.

The games I'm finding myself most drawn to at the moment are ZeroRanger, Steredenn and Jamestown+, but I'll definitely be looking at branching out from there.
 

Sharivan

Member
Dec 29, 2018
273
Belgium
My all time favorite verical shooter is still Raiden 2 (part of the Raiden Project collection on PS1)


Love the detailed sprite art and cool weapons in this game. Other good one is Raystorm (also on PS1)

 

ScOULaris

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,681
Thanks for all the replies! There's certainly a lot to investigate here.

The games I'm finding myself most drawn to at the moment are ZeroRanger, Steredenn and Jamestown+, but I'll definitely be looking at branching out from there.
Those are fantastic ones up start with.

I also HIGHLY recommend Dragon Blaze if you have a Switch. It might be on other platforms too, and it's normally only $8.
 

lambdaupsilon

Member
Apr 17, 2018
672
If you want to try bullet hell, the mainline Touhou games are actually really good. They're super janky graphically but I think the actual bullet patterns are more fun than any Cave game. Start with 6 or 7.
i disagree with the idea of starting with 6, just because it has some weird design stuff (e.g. not showing hitbox on focus)
7 (Perfect Cherry Blossom) is a good choice though, as is 10 (Mountain of Faith)
13 (Ten Desires) or 16 (Hidden Star in Four Seasons) are probably the easiest and both are available on steam, as opposed to having to seek out unpaid dls
also echoing ZeroRanger. i'm not much of a shmup person in general but i adored it
 

dadjumper

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,781
Japan
i disagree with the idea of starting with 6, just because it has some weird design stuff (e.g. not showing hitbox on focus)
7 (Perfect Cherry Blossom) is a good choice though, as is 10 (Mountain of Faith)
13 (Ten Desires) or 16 (Hidden Star in Four Seasons) are probably the easiest and both are available on steam, as opposed to having to seek out unpaid dls
also echoing ZeroRanger. i'm not much of a shmup person in general but i adored it
Fair point! Hitbox stuff is pretty important. I really liked 9 because it was pretty easy and had interesting systems, but that might be a bit overwhelming to start with for sure
 

Xythantiops

Member
Oct 27, 2017
522
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.
Gradius Gaiden and Gradius V are must plays in that series for sure.

Multiple mentions of Thunder Force but not one for Devil Engine?

There is a payment dispute with the dev and publisher right now. If you want the dev to get paid for your purchase then wait for this to get sorted.
 

arcadepc

Member
Dec 28, 2019
165
VASARA 1&2 went under the radar too though it has a unique Samurai era theme

 

Piotr47

Member
Oct 6, 2018
60
If you are a beginner I would really recommand BulletSoul on steam and Mushihime Sama Futari on 360.




They are great games and easy to play for beginners.
 

Jockel

Member
Oct 27, 2017
234
Berlin
If you’re getting in to the genre, Ikaruga is a pretty bad pick to be honest. Sure, it looks amazing, but it’s very difficult and has a strict scoring system that doesn’t really allow you to improvise.
MechaRitz Steel Rondo is a game that I can easily recommend for a beginner, as you get the thrill of a modern bullet hell shmup without really putting in much effort. Killer soundtrack, too. If you want to get into cave, I’d recommend Espgaluda and Ketsui. Espgaluda enables you to slow down bullets, so it can be a good starting point if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Ketsui on the other hand is a very challenging game, but it has an amazing scoring system that changes how you plan your attack drastically; and it allows you to improvise a lot better than Ikaruga. Other noteworthy arcade shooters to try would be Armed Police Batrider for it’s sheer variety and all around insanity and Batsugun Special for a relatively easy clear and that 90s Toaplan aesthetic.
 

ShinJohnpv

Member
Oct 25, 2017
756
In regards to classics, there are a lot of them. As people have mentioned the Raiden Series, Gradius, R-Type, DonPachi, but also the Strikers 1945 series from Psikyo, the Soldier series on PC Engine, Capcom's 195x series, The Cotton series, The Raiden Fighters Aces series which is a spin off of the Raiden games. There's a lot of classic shmups out there and I don't think you can go wrong with any of them but I highly recommend Raiden I - IV (I think V is a low point in the series personally, and feels the most different from the other ones). Raiden II and DX are probably the best in the series. I don't know if you plan on emulating stuff or what but Shienryu is an excellent Raiden like that I HIGHLY recommend checking out as it doesn't get enough love.

For modern stuff you have some newer takes on the bullet hell stuff with Dankamu Unlimited 3, or Ghost Blade HD. I don't think either of them really have modern progression stuff. I'm honestly not sure what to recommend there as I don't really get into the progression shmups myself. I prefer the more old school arcade stuff.

Along with the Mushi recommendations from everyone let me add ESP Ra De, which just got released in Japan on the PS4 and Switch and are easily playable (you can either import the region free physical versions or sign up for a Japanese PSN or eShop account and play them on your system). For me ESP Ra De is the best shmup ever, and this version has a lot of accessibility options for people new to the genre, plus the esper room stuff they added has a ton of training things and other stuff for helping you in the game.

I get people wanting to recommend stuff like Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun, but those are such non-typical shmups, I feel like they're not really for beginners of the genre. Speaking of which.....


Multiple mentions of Thunder Force but not one for Devil Engine?

Is really not a new to shmups game suggestion. While it is a beautiful looking game, it really is by no means something that people new to the genre and just tipping their toes in should try. You'll send them running into the hills and never looking back.

If I might also suggest a youtube channel called Studio Mudprints. They have a review series called Bullet Heaven, where they review shmups of all types. They just released review #256 like 2 weeks ago, so there is a lot there to check out.

 

Old Nick

Member
Oct 28, 2017
697
Worth clarifying what your setup is. Many of the classics can only be played via emulation or PCB if you're dedicated enough. Also, an arcade stick is an absolute must for older shooters where firing speed and precision is crucial.

Of the classics, I always return to Truxton, R-Type, Raiden and Gradius 2 but there's really too many golden oldies to list. I will also add don't overlook the ancient stuff. Games like Defender and Galaga have aged like fine wine.

I'm not as knowledgeable on the bullet hells, but I've sunk a lot of time into Dodonpachi, Ikaruga and Crimson Clover. Ikaruga in particular is a work of genius and an essential discovery whoever you are.
 

RKasa

Member
Jul 28, 2019
355
New Jersey
If you want to try bullet hell, the mainline Touhou games are actually really good. They're super janky graphically but I think the actual bullet patterns are more fun than any Cave game. Start with 6 or 7.
I started with 8 (Imperishable Night) because that's what various places on the internet recommended as a good introduction to the series. Ended up playing through it multiple times and getting five of the endings, I loved it so. The difficulty options are really great for a Touhou newbie as well. Picked up 7 and 10 afterward but haven't gotten around to trying either of them yet.
 

RedSwirl

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,133
I tried the demo to Devil Engine and couldn't even make it through that.

Same goes for the demo for Ikaruga when it first showed up on Xbox 360. It's why I've never bought the game in all the times it's been on sale over the last decade.
 

mogster7777

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,406
Is there any that are good that aren't those bullet hell type ones from Cave? I enjoyed the more slower paced less manic shooters in the 16bit era like Un Squadron, Space Megaforce and Einhander on PS1 all these games had great soundtracks too and looked unique from each other. They played different enough too and more memorable levels.

Now all I see is these crappy looking bullet hell type shmups that for me, aren't fun to play and they all blend into one. All the backgrounds and bosses and enemy design is just throwaway and forgettable. The music too is this repetitive dancy techno music that doesnt match anything like Einhander or Super RType. I honestly cannot tell one from another as they all seem to look and play very similar. I don't find it fun trying to avoid 100 bullets all at once all through the game.
 

KDR_11k

Member
Nov 10, 2017
2,231
I think we almost forgot a free classic game:
Cho Ren Sha 68k


Don't expect to win this one quickly but it's fun to get into and the music is good.

I tried the demo to Devil Engine and couldn't even make it through that.

Same goes for the demo for Ikaruga when it first showed up on Xbox 360. It's why I've never bought the game in all the times it's been on sale over the last decade.
Most shmups, even hard ones, start with an easy first stage. Devil Engine goes all in on the first boss already. That thing would pass for a final boss in many games.

Is there any that are good that aren't those bullet hell type ones from Cave? I enjoyed the more slower paced less manic shooters in the 16bit era like Un Squadron, Space Megaforce and Einhander on PS1 all these games had great soundtracks too and looked unique from each other. They played different enough too and more memorable levels.

Now all I see is these crappy looking bullet hell type shmups that for me, aren't fun to play and they all blend into one. All the backgrounds and bosses and enemy design is just throwaway and forgettable. The music too is this repetitive dancy techno music that doesnt match anything like Einhander or Super RType. I honestly cannot tell one from another as they all seem to look and play very similar. I don't find it fun trying to avoid 100 bullets all at once all through the game.
Super Hydorah is a great tribute to the likes of Gradius and Darius.
 

Galdius

Member
Oct 25, 2017
279
If I might also suggest a youtube channel called Studio Mudprints. They have a review series called Bullet Heaven, where they review shmups of all types. They just released review #256 like 2 weeks ago, so there is a lot there to check out.

This looks amazing.
Will have to check it out.
 

ScOULaris

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,681
Is there any that are good that aren't those bullet hell type ones from Cave? I enjoyed the more slower paced less manic shooters in the 16bit era like Un Squadron, Space Megaforce and Einhander on PS1 all these games had great soundtracks too and looked unique from each other. They played different enough too and more memorable levels.

Now all I see is these crappy looking bullet hell type shmups that for me, aren't fun to play and they all blend into one. All the backgrounds and bosses and enemy design is just throwaway and forgettable. The music too is this repetitive dancy techno music that doesnt match anything like Einhander or Super RType. I honestly cannot tell one from another as they all seem to look and play very similar. I don't find it fun trying to avoid 100 bullets all at once all through the game.
I think the Psikyo shooters are a good balance between classic shmup and bullet hell design.

Gunbird 2 and Dragon Blaze on Switch are my go-to examples.

Jamestown+ is another example and one of the most accessible shmups around.
 

hongcha

Member
Oct 27, 2017
101
Whoa!! I didn't know that! Are there any other games they've already done most of the work on/how do you know this?
It was in a developer interview they did last year, or maybe 2018. They said they had already ported several other games too (they wouldn't reveal what the games were). Apparently they just port them in their free time, then decide what to release later on!