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Shmups (Shoot 'Em Ups) |OT| THE FULL EXTENT OF THE JAM

Jan 30, 2018
3,127
I haven't had too much time to play it yet but I've had a great time with the collection so far. I prefer Darius II but Darius 1 is such a striking game. Something about it reminds me of the shmups of the early 80s, but I don't mean that as an insult. Plus the three screens makes it feel monolithic in a very literal way.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,240
Haha.

I haven't had too much time to play it yet but I've had a great time with the collection so far. I prefer Darius II but Darius 1 is such a striking game. Something about it reminds me of the shmups of the early 80s, but I don't mean that as an insult. Plus the three screens makes it feel monolithic in a very literal way.
Darius 1 has a moodier and more ambient soundtrack, I enjoy it but the weapons always feel underpowered and your ship feels sluggish. Darius II is more balanced and playable IMO. But yeah, there’s just something about the visuals, music and atmosphere of Darius 1.

Also noticed Darius 1 scanline options only seem to make the screen flicker a lot, not very pleasant to look at. Scanline options on the other games are ace though, awesome collection so far.
 
Jan 30, 2018
3,127
Haha.



Darius 1 has a moodier and more ambient soundtrack, I enjoy it but the weapons always feel underpowered and your ship feels sluggish. Darius II is more balanced and playable IMO. But yeah, there’s just something about the visuals, music and atmosphere of Darius 1.

Also noticed Darius 1 scanline options only seem to make the screen flicker a lot, not very pleasant to look at. Scanline options on the other games are ace though, awesome collection so far.

I've been thinking about Darius 1 compared to Gradius 1 from a year-ish prior, and I think that Gradius 1 represents the beginning of something new, whereas Darius 1 is the culmination of something that was ending. I think Epilexia said once that Gradius 1 is the Super Mario Bros. of shmups, and I think that's exactly it. Gradius 1 really seemed to introduce the idea of set pieces in order to establish a feel of space opera -- the stage gimmicks and set pieces seem to tease a story. Each stage has new gimmicks, and the moai stage even allows vertical and horizontal movement. Darius 1 on the other hand puts you in a sort of trance. It feels like you're skimming along the bottom of an endless and dangerous ocean. The 3 screens emphasize the vastness of the ocean (or space), but it also reinforces the idea that this is a horizontal shmup. You go left to right, and that's that. Darius 1 is content to iterate on the formula established on the very first stage in every subsequent stage, like a lot of early shmups, and that confidence in its own formula is well placed.
 
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Oct 26, 2017
1,423
I've picked up this neat little helper yesterday:


But ChryZ, why would you need that? I own a bunch of SHMUPs which render internally at 720p or way lower than that. I'm looking at you, Japan. When you ask them to go full screen, they look like a blurry mess since Windows uses bilinear scaling. This is especially bad for low bit pixels art. Pixel based graphics look the best and sharpest, when integer-ratio scaled therefore lossless. You can read more about the science here: http://tanalin.com/en/articles/lossless-scaling/

There are a few other ways to get the similar result, like GeDoSaTo with nearest neighbor scaling and keeping an eye on the frame aspect ratio. Lossless Scaling is a lot more convenient and easier to use though. I tried a couple of games and it worked like a charm. You run the utility in the background, your game windowed at native res in the foreground, then you can toggle the lossless scaling via a hotkey combination. The game goes full screen with the correct integer-ratio and fills the remaining background frame black. Depending on the native base res it might as well will fill the whole screen, e.g. 720p 2x without any issue to 1440p, but remains 720p on a 1080p screen; 360p 3x completely fills a 1080p screen; 1080p 4x = 4K, etc etc

Devil Engine supports integer-ratio scaling out-of-the-box and since I've played the game a ton recently it was the perfect test candidate. I wasn't able to notice any input lag or frame pacing irregularities when switching from in-game to utility based scaling.
 
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Jan 27, 2018
2,643
I haven't had too much time to play it yet but I've had a great time with the collection so far. I prefer Darius II but Darius 1 is such a striking game. Something about it reminds me of the shmups of the early 80s, but I don't mean that as an insult. Plus the three screens makes it feel monolithic in a very literal way.
Fun fact, 'Darius II', AKA as 'Sagaia' in its Master System II port was the game that made me to fall forever in love with the genre.

It's probably the shmup that makes me feel more nostalgic.

Until the point that I can't have a judgement of how good or bad was this version, because I was 11 years old.

I only was able to reach the final level in one of its routes and playing in the Easy difficulty.

So I was doomed since my teens days to be terrible in the genre :)

Once the conversation about shmups started to be focused in things like 1CC perfect runs with the rise of internet forums, people forgot that when a lot of us fell in love with the genre as kids in the 80s or the 90s, we weren't giving a shit about these things.

We played these games because they had a type of enjoyment not found in other genres.

The young version of me felt immensely satisfied when I was able to complete a console shmup by using the default number of continues, or by selecting the Easy difficulty, and then trying in normal.

And I think that we have become reactionary about this subject, once terrible reviews in the press starting to emerge in the PS2/Dremacast era, destroying immortal classics because these game started to include infinite continues, and some journalists did a terrible job by destroying these games in reviews with the excuse of its longevity.

But if it had not been for the kid version of me playing 'Sagaia' for weeks in its easy difficulty, when even reaching the final level felt like a gigantic achievement, probably, today I would not be interested in the genre.

Seeing all the recent conversation surrounding 'Devil Engine' makes me think in this. These games that we played as kids where aimed to a hardcore Japanese audience, playing in a competitive environment. But most of the classics also included additional difficulty options, to be able to attract to a broader audience. And a lot of care was put creating the balance in each difficulty. A lot of testing with users of different skills was involved, to assure that each difficulty level was interesting an fun. And when console games included continues, they tried to create a balance in which completing a game for a newcomer not was an easy peasy task.

We usually see conversations about the genre, in which people discuss about how make these games more popular for the general public.

And maybe, Japanese developers already had the answer to this question in the 90s.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,240
Darius II, Sagaia Ver 2 and Darius Gaiden are my faves on the collection so far.

I've been thinking about Darius 1 compared to Gradius 1 from a year-ish prior, and I think that Gradius 1 represents the beginning of something new, whereas Darius 1 is the culmination of something that was ending. I think Epilexia said once that Gradius 1 is the Super Mario Bros. of shmups, and I think that's exactly it. Gradius 1 really seemed to introduce the idea of set pieces in order to establish a feel of space opera -- the stage gimmicks and set pieces seem to tease a story. Each stage has new gimmicks, and the moai stage even allows vertical and horizontal movement. Darius 1 on the other hand puts you in a sort of trance. It feels like you're skimming along the bottom of an endless and dangerous ocean. The 3 screens emphasize the vastness of the ocean (or space), but it also reinforces the idea that this is a horizontal shmup. You go left to right, and that's that. Darius 1 is content to iterate on the formula established on the very first stage in every subsequent stage, like a lot of early shmups, and that confidence in its own formula is well placed.
Very interesting take!
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,240
Some more pics I took a few nights ago from the special edition including soundtrack CDs (two of them), acrylic mini arcade marquee signs, 125 page art book with interviews, concept art and planning documents (hopefully shmuplations translates these someday), commemorative glass plate and cloth pouch. So glad I splurged and got this for $183, already being resold by scalpers on eBay for average $350-400. This is a ridiculously high quality special edition, right up there with the Battle Garegga Premium Edition and Dragon Quest XI Edition of Lost Time box set.

















 
Jan 27, 2018
2,643
I've picked up this neat little helper yesterday:


But ChryZ, why would you need that? I own a bunch of SHMUPs which render internally at 720p or way lower than that. I'm looking at you, Japan. When you ask them to go full screen, they look like a blurry mess since Windows uses bilinear scaling. This is especially bad for low bit pixels art. Pixel based graphics look the best and sharpest, when integer-ratio scaled therefore lossless. You can read more about the science here: http://tanalin.com/en/articles/lossless-scaling/

There are a few other ways to get the similar result, like GeDoSaTo with nearest neighbor scaling and keeping an eye on the frame aspect ratio. Lossless Scaling is a lot more convenient and easier to use though. I tried a couple of games and it worked like a charm. You run the utility in the background, your game windowed at native res in the foreground, then you can toggle the lossless scaling via a hotkey combination. The game goes full screen with the correct integer-ratio and fills the remaining background frame black. Depending on the native base res it might as well will fill the whole screen, e.g. 720p 2x without any issue to 1440p, but remains 720p on a 1080p screen; 360p 3x completely fills a 1080p screen; 1080p 4x = 4K, etc etc

Devil Engine supports integer-ratio scaling out-of-the-box and since I've played the game a ton recently it was the perfect test candidate. I wasn't able to notice any input lag or frame pacing irregularities when switching from in-game to utility based scaling.
WOW, that's amazing.

I'm not doing so many PC gaming in these last two years, but I swear you that for YEARS I tried to find in Google a Windows program offering a similar solution, for 2D games which are scaled with a blurry filter.

I love the vast array of injection tools that offers the PC environment.

Reshade is one of the the things of PC gaming that I miss more in my Switch.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,423
Is it easy to take and post some comparison shots? I'm curious to see real world results.
Here is a pretty good example, Supercharged Robot VULKAISER

This is a frame cap of how the game renders internally:



The game is just stretching that to the the display res when going full screen, oh the horror:



Lossless Scaling preserves the aspect ratio of the internal frame buffer, integer scales 3x because 1440/480=3



Smaller crops to make it a little bit easier to see the difference:

Belinear (in-game full screen)



Integer-ratio scaled (windowed at native res, Lossless Scaling doing the rest)



Is the tool the ultimate solution to all problems? No. YMMV depending on the game, but it's freaking useful as an option.
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,700
It means he's talked to Cave about putting something on EXA, that's it. It doesn't confirm anything new or even anything old, just that they've talked.
 
Oct 26, 2017
15
The talks could result in the first “new” Cave game since 2012 (exA stipulates some form of exclusive content in games on their platform). Doubt that Cave have much of a shmup division these days. Akai Katana Shin got a Nesica port which runs on PC hardware. Should be easy to port that, since exA is probably also PC hardware. Add a new ship or whatever and call it Black Label.
 
Oct 28, 2017
1,700
Cave doesn't have consumer or arcade divisions anymore. They're perfectly willing to license their games for ports or adaptations--they're doing so with M2 on consoles right now, and there's been a regular stream of Asian-made/sold mobile games using Cave IP--but they're not going to do it themselves.

A lot of Cave's arcade veterans are still there and they've all contributed to their very popular mobile shooter Gothic wa Mahou Otome.
 
Oct 26, 2017
1,240
The talks could result in the first “new” Cave game since 2012 (exA stipulates some form of exclusive content in games on their platform). Doubt that Cave have much of a shmup division these days. Akai Katana Shin got a Nesica port which runs on PC hardware. Should be easy to port that, since exA is probably also PC hardware. Add a new ship or whatever and call it Black Label.
Thanks for the clarification.
 
Jan 30, 2018
3,127
For those of us on the Darius train, what have you all been focusing on? I only had much experience with Darius 1 beforehand so I've been focusing on Darius II which is insanely hard -- too hard for me, but I really want to get through at least one route somehow so I can appreciate the differences in Sagaia version 1 and 2. I've also been playing Gaiden which is just a delight. It's totally up my alley as a fan of true blue sci-fi shmups.
 
Oct 30, 2017
68
I imagine Gaiden in the Cosmic Collection is really nice to play thanks to having autofire settings. Playing the Saturn version without an autofire pad/stick makes it so much harder!
 
Oct 31, 2017
21
I imagine Gaiden in the Cosmic Collection is really nice to play thanks to having autofire settings. Playing the Saturn version without an autofire pad/stick makes it so much harder!
There's a code in the Saturn version that enables autofire. On the screen that has "Game Start" and "Option" on it press and hold B, and press Y, Right, Left, X, Z, L and R. You should hear an explosion sound if done correctly.
 
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Oct 26, 2017
2,394
For those of us on the Darius train, what have you all been focusing on? I only had much experience with Darius 1 beforehand so I've been focusing on Darius II which is insanely hard -- too hard for me, but I really want to get through at least one route somehow so I can appreciate the differences in Sagaia version 1 and 2. I've also been playing Gaiden which is just a delight. It's totally up my alley as a fan of true blue sci-fi shmups.
The first Darius will always have a special place in my heart. Back in 2004, a local game store I used to frequent had a Darius 1 cabinet set to free-play. After several attempts, I got a 1CC and even a One-Life clear. However, hurricane Charley hit later that same year. The game store was hit really badly. Thankfully the owner had insurance and was able to recover, but the Darius cabinet was completely demolished.

I've been hot and cold on Gaiden for the longest time, but I think I love it now. It has the most striking visuals of the entire series and its high accessibility makes it easy to jump into and enjoy. G. Darius is a deeper and more mechanically-refined game, but it's also damned tough and has a high learning curve. Sometimes I don't want to deal with all that, which is why Gaiden is so appealing.

Darius 2 though... I absolutely loathe Darius 2.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,432
For those of us on the Darius train, what have you all been focusing on? I only had much experience with Darius 1 beforehand so I've been focusing on Darius II which is insanely hard -- too hard for me, but I really want to get through at least one route somehow so I can appreciate the differences in Sagaia version 1 and 2. I've also been playing Gaiden which is just a delight. It's totally up my alley as a fan of true blue sci-fi shmups.
Just sitting here waiting on shipping. Glad I jumped on it when I did though..

 
Jan 30, 2018
3,127
The first Darius will always have a special place in my heart. Back in 2004, a local game store I used to frequent had a Darius 1 cabinet set to free-play. After several attempts, I got a 1CC and even a One-Life clear. However, hurricane Charley hit later that same year. The game store was hit really badly. Thankfully the owner had insurance and was able to recover, but the Darius cabinet was completely demolished.

I've been hot and cold on Gaiden for the longest time, but I think I love it now. It has the most striking visuals of the entire series and its high accessibility makes it easy to jump into and enjoy. G. Darius is a deeper and more mechanically-refined game, but it's also damned tough and has a high learning curve. Sometimes I don't want to deal with all that, which is why Gaiden is so appealing.

Darius 2 though... I absolutely loathe Darius 2.
That's a crazy story. Darius 1 is indeed a very special game. I think I'm beginning to prefer it to II.
Shmup forums did their annual top 25. Lots more info and breakdowns over there.

That Ketsui climb has been unstoppable. Happy to see ZeroRanger crack the list.

Grumble grumble. Garegga should still be number 1.
 
Oct 27, 2017
475
Radirgy Swag (radirgy s) releasing in the spring :O :o :O

http://rs34.co.jp/product/radirgysw/

Deathsmiles remained on while Progear and Muchi Muchi Pork got the boot, if you really want to go down the path of injustice here.
I didn't feel worthy to vote this year since I only played neko navy, momoiro underground and a tiny bit of zero ranger (and progear/mmp of course).

I think I'm to blame because it's the first year I skipped since 2013 and both games were my most highly weighted :\

(Dangun was high in my list too)
 
Jan 27, 2018
2,643
There is a new contender in the list of superb western shmups inspired in Japanese classics, than can stay close to 'ZeroRanger' and 'Devil Engine' in its perfect understanding of the original source material to create a modern classic.

I feel dumb for having let this to escape my radar.

The game is called 'Mars: Chaos Menace', and it's available on Switch, Steam, PS4 and Xbox One.







It's a love letter to the 3D entries of 'Raiden', specially 'Raiden IV', and to G.rev shmups.

- It has a gorgeous soundtrack, whit a 'Raiden IV' catchy mood.

- They have nailed the feeling of the shooting: it feels so close to 'Strania' that it warms my heart.

- The sound design is stellar, and they have also nailed the different sound effects for each weapon, creating a hypnotic state of trance.

- You have a button to shoot in the front, and other to shoot from your back. And this is masterfully integrated with the placement of the enemy ships to create extra scoring options. And in the crazy patterns of some bosses.

- They have nailed the 3D look and feel of the camera from the Japanese mid-2000s shmups. By using some idiosyncratic features of these games like the gigantic mechanical bosses, or accelerating the movement of the camera in the background to increase the intensity and the awesomeness.

- You can create a shield to not be damaged by the bullets with the left trigger, and you can shoot an ultra destructive laser beam with the right trigger. Both of them are infinite, but they will consume an auto-rechargeable bar. To strategize the use of the laser beam to let enough seconds to cool down the energy bar is an essential part to survive and destroy the bigger enemies. And at the same time, the shield has been integrated in some brilliant situations. Like the first boss temporally immobilizing you, so to manage the shield is an essential part to survive.

Trailers don't make justice to this game, how good is the sound design, and how pleasant and joyful is to play.

There is not a single 1CC run in Youtube.

The only long video is a shameful streaming of the game played by an inexperienced player, and with an awful quality in which it seems like the game shutters constantly. Something that is not related with the game, but with how it was recorded. And we are talking of a video in the official channel from the publisher of the game, yikes.

There is not a single review available in Steam, for god's sake.

I have been playing the Switch version.

I recommend to purchase the game in Steam over Switch, thought. While the 3D engine of the game is gorgeous and it runs at 720p in portable mode, there is too much shit happening in the screen and it's a game made in Unity. So they have decided to lock the framerate in this version to 30 FPS.

Not ideal for a shmup. But at least it's rock solid and without a single performance problem. It feels smooth and responsive, and I can live with this because from a design standpoint, this is one of the finest new shmup releases. And because I love my portable shmups.

But I can see myself double dipping in the Steam version, and reserving this only for portable play.

The game also seems to lack leadearboards, in all the versions and including Steam, so once again, yikes.

But the things that this game is trying to do are so ambitious for a small team working in a niche genre (a new full-fledged and lenghty 3D shmup nailing a Japanese feel, and expanding through 8 levels), that I can forgive these flaws.

Also, if someone is planning to purchase this on Steam, please, write a damn review of the game.

There are not so many new shmup releases with this quality.

It's sad to see such a great game completely ignored.

And by the way, here is some footage that I have recorded from the first level, playing terribly, only to showcase how damn great are the soundtrack and the sound design, and how satisfactory is the use of the laser beam.

 
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Oct 27, 2017
475
I feel the same way about zero ranger and years ago I had high hopes because of the little bit I played of final boss. Even my first impression of the game was positive but I just have no desire to continue after a couple of runs :/
 
Oct 25, 2017
472
I am in the same boat. I put in a bunch of hours with it when it came out. It is an absolutely gorgeous looking game, but the gameplay itself just did not click with me. I finally put it down and haven't returned back to it.
 
Jan 27, 2018
2,643
I continue playing 'Mars: Chaos Menace', and the more I play this I can say that yeah, this is together with 'DARIUSBURST Chronicle Saviours' my favorite shmup this generation.

I was able to figure the mechanics much better.

- The shield can be used to protect you from bullets, which is the boring approach.

But you can also try to absorb bullets while the shield is active.

With the bullets that you absorb, an inner red circle will be filled until breaking your shield.

If you are able to break your shield, this will give you a special attack that you can release with the A button. A laser that will be homing enemies, creating a gigantic combo sequence.

The counterpart of this is that once your shield is broken, you will need to wait a few seconds until you can use it again. So in this part, you will need to survive through devilish bullet hell patterns, relying in your skill.

Giving that the parts in which is more easy to fill your shield are the hardest ones with hundreds of bullets, there is a risk-reward mechanic to obtain the devastating special attacks.

Also, if you want to obtain a good score, it's essential to reserve this attack to parts in which the screen is filled with enemies, so the homing laser can create a bigger combo sequence.

- I also have figured the power-up system.

You can collect blue or green orbs. Every orb will change its color every few seconds. And every color is tied to the evolution of a weapon. The problem is that if you are concentrated in collecting a giving color, let's say the blue one... and for a mistake, you take a green orb... this will restart your weapon from zero, starting in the first level of the new color sequence.

So a fundamental part is trying to not get under any circumstances an orb of the opposite color. And waiting until each orb is colored in your preferred weapon.

----

I'm into the third level, and man, this game is gorgeous and it has reached a Taito level of awesomeness in its aquatic world.

From some of the psychedelic effects in the water and the ambience, to the gorgeous, gorgeous soundtrack, that is start to sitting in an 'Eschatos' level of brilliance.

Look at this video with a small bit of the aquatic level, and listen to the music. This game is SO GOOD.

 
Oct 25, 2017
1,788
Has anyone played both the Steam demo and full game of Devil Engine?

I know the game is hard but I've tried the demo and it is literally insane. The furthest I ever got was to the second boss once, and that felt more like luck than anything else.

What I'm wondering is if the demo is more equivalent to easy or hard mode in the full game. I really want to like it, but I know I won't play a game THAT hard for very long, simply because I'm below even the skill floor and don't think I could improve to any measurable degree.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,711
Can I just say that this thread is awesome? Love the shmup community here. Tons of positive vibes and willingness to play new games and indie games without the overbearing elitism that's present in a lot of other shmup enthusiast places. Y'all are good people.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,434
I don't know about the demo, but the full version of Devil Engine is surprisingly tough on the default difficulty. It took me a surprising amount of attempts to simply no-continue through the first stage!

I'm also dumb/stubborn when it comes to defensive mechanics like the burst in this game, so I'm almost certainly under-using it and making things harder for myself.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,788
I don't know about the demo, but the full version of Devil Engine is surprisingly tough on the default difficulty. It took me a surprising amount of attempts to simply no-continue through the first stage!

I'm also dumb/stubborn when it comes to defensive mechanics like the burst in this game, so I'm almost certainly under-using it and making things harder for myself.
But isn't "Very Hard" the default difficulty in the full game?

I'm sure I heard that it only unlocks "Very Easy" when it takes pity on you playing "Very Hard" for a while.