Are you ready to be prosecuted to the full extent of the jam?
Welcome to the hardest (yes, really) videogame genre on Planet Earth! Post your triumphs and defeats here. Discuss the shmups you love and the ones you despise.
I will try to keep this OT updated with upcoming shmup news, too. Feel free to post your own news updates, of course.
New to the world of shmups?
The Shoot 'em up genre (or shmups for short, or STG if you're a weeaboo) is one of the oldest in videogames. Beginning with Space Invaders, Defender, Asteroids, and Galaga, there are now hundreds of shmups on the market across numerous platforms. There are hundreds more that have remained arcade-only and Japan-only. The high challenge and dwindling popular interest in shmups resulted in an ever-shrinking fanbase since the mid-90s.
Difficult videogames have surged in popularity in the last 10 years. Gamers are paying attention to shmups again. However, extreme challenge, obscurity, and in some cases rarity all present a high barrier-to-entry for many gamers who are hoping to try them out.
That shouldn't stop you, though! Read on.
"Shoot 'em up" is a misnomer. A better term would be "dodge 'em up" since your priority is avoiding enemy bullets. Shooting enemies merely makes the incoming bullet patterns easier to deal with. Survive to the end and you've won! Survive to the end using just one credit and you've accomplished a 1cc! This is a rare feat, something that takes significant skill and concentration.
But that is merely scratching the surface. Die-hard shmup fans also "play for score" which entails learning advanced techniques and exploits to master the game's scoring.
"Arena shooters", "twin-stick shooters", and "fixed-screen shooters" like Geometry Wars, Super Stardust, Nex Machina, and Space Invaders are sometimes excluded from the "shmup" moniker, but they're all a part of the same family. Play what suits you, friend.
Shmups have a lot in common with the puzzle genre, in that you need to recognize and react to complex patterns. The spatial awareness earned in games like Tetris will help you here. And like rhythm games, shmups reward players who "learn their route" and execute it perfectly. The downward-scrolling of Guitar Hero icons doesn't feel much different than dodging in Mushihimesama or Shienryu:
If you are truly new to the genre, I recommend this video by Regdren (Regdren C. on the shmups.system11 forums)
Another good intro video by Mr Wendal on games
I prefer arcade sticks. Specifically, I use a Seimitsu LS-40 and standard Sanwa buttons. Whether you use a controller, a stick, Kinect, or a DDR pad, you'll want something that feels comfortable and allows you to make short, precise movements. Many shmup players default to the D-Pad if they do not have the option of using a stick.
Low-lag panel displays, a consumer-grade CRT, or a VGA CRT monitor are your best bet. If there is lag between your controller input and your ship movement, it makes the game significantly harder than they need to be. I suppose that is true for most games, though.
Numerous videogame consoles have ports of shmups. Some ports are exceptional (like Arika's PS2 port of DoDonPachi Daioujou) and some ports are terrible (Salamander on MSX).
PC owners are in luck. Many shmups are available for purchase on Steam. Degica is an even better source for certain doujin shmups.
Arcade PCBs are wonderful, but they aren't ideal for practicing. Plus, they're hella expensive. If you insist on genuine arcade hardware, consider buying or building a Supergun to play on your TV.
Lastly (and unfortunately), you may have to resort to emulation. Finalburn Alpha, MAME, shmupMAME, groovyMAME, and Retroarch are just words that I am stringing together. They are by no means words you could search for in order to learn more about emulating shmups.
1-credit, 1cc, 1-ALL: completing the game on standard settings using only one credit. A difficult task.
2-ALL: some games have a second loop. A 2-ALL would be completing both loops on one credit.
Credit: an arcade term; typically consists of three lives.
Extend: generic term for "1up" or "extra life" or "extra ship".
Hori: horizontal shmup. Examples are Gradius series, Thunderforce series, Darius series, R-Type series
Leading: attracting bullets toward your ship for the purpose of dodging
Micrododging/tap-dodging: a technique that dodges a pattern by weaving through it without being hit
Macrododging: a technique that dodges a large pattern entirely
No-miss: completing the game without dying once.
Score: the ultimate deciding factor of skill in the shmup genre.
Superplay: a high-skill playthrough of the game, usually setting a top score for the player's region or World.
Tate: vertical 3:4 aspect ratio, like a portrait. Your TV set is sitting on its side. The ideal way to play most vertical shmups.
Vert: vertical shmup. Examples are DoDonPachi series, Rayforce series, Raiden series
Yoko: horizontal 4:3 aspect ratio, like a landscape. Your TV set is sitting normally.
Choosing which shmup to play depends on how you want to play shmups. If you are unfamiliar with what the genre offers, my advice for getting into shmups would be to watch footage and try a handful of different ones. Once you've found a game that clicks with you, settle down with that and start practicing for a 1-credit clear (1cc, 1-ALL).
Try to focus on that game and practice once a day (if possible). Even a 10-minute session each day will result in a huge leap in skill over 1 week. Getting a 1 credit clear is a great way to enjoy a game.
Alternatively, you can play for score. This emphasizes scoring techniques over clearing the game (although you'll end up clearing it anyway as you pursue higher and higher scores). This is how yours truly prefers to play. Playing for score involves learning the chaining, combo, and/or medal system, as well as attentively learning the layout of enemies.
The hardest of hardcore will play for score. The techniques, memorization, and reflexes required are beyond what is usually required to "merely" 1cc a game. Playing for score is -- without question -- the most entertaining way to play these games.
Some players prefer to be a "shmup tourist" by playing everything that's out there, which is fine as well. However, the issue with this is you will have a tough time improving when you hop from game to game. I would not recommend constantly hopping from shmup to shmup until you've 1CCd at least one or two.
Don't be afraid to watch footage to learn the game. This can help you learn better routes and techniques against bosses. On the flip side, it's a lot of fun improving your skills and discovering little tricks on your own.
Jonny Blitzer has compiled quite a few videos of shmup footage in 1080p, offering comprehensive overviews of each console's shmup library. I highly recommend taking a look.
HEY POOR PLAYER! Below are links to help you on your journey:
hiscores.shmup.com -- French site. Although it doesn't have all the world-records, it's a great resource for posting your scores
Full Extent of the Jam -- an introduction to practicing shmups
shmups.system11.org -- ancient shmup forum full of knowledge
Hardcore Gaming 101 -- not shmup-specific, but a good resource for reviews and screenshots
Racketboy -- several articles about shmups that are geared toward newer players
Youtube channel STG Weekly
Youtube channel Studio Mudprints (hosts of Bullet Heaven)
Youtube channel Jonny Blitzer
Podcast channel Electric Underground