Whats your favorite Shoot em' up of all time?

Afro Republican

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For me, I always like Gradius IV, and it's ost, however I think im going to have to give this to. The 80's classic Demon Attack.

When you see those cool particle materializing effects and the background thumping sound a sense of doom and tension goes across you. The fear is high, and the demons keep coming! Ahhh!

But seriously Demon attack is great, no wonder it keeps topping lists 40 years later.

Defender gets an honorable mention along with Asteroids, Bosconian, Gradius IV, and Thunder Force 2.

 

stranno

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Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire. It is a masterpiece and probably the most impressive "8-bit" game of all time. I love every trick devs used in this game, the light effect in the temple, fake-3D bosses, buildings changing perspectives. It is basically a tech demo of what PC Engine CD can do.


Some tech highlights.




Solaris. The most underrated game from his generation and, by far, the best Atari VCS game ever developed -imo-.


Chikyu Kaiho Gun ZAS. Best DMG graphics and great gameplay, i love it.


Flying Tigers. Ultra-cheap and quite easy but it brings me good memories from my childhood.


Raptor: Call of the Shadows. Probably the best PC native shmup.


I cant decide :messenger_sunglasses:
 
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Robin64

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I have a big soft spot for UN Squadron. It had a great selection of characters and weapons, the music and graphics were awesome, and it wasn't overly hard for someone crap at the genre like me thanks to having health.
 

Enjay

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Remembering the ones I grew up with got me really missing the Genesis days...

Phelios:

Hellfire:

Truxton:

Phelios was probably my favorite because of the storyline, which at the time for me seemed epic.


Solar Striker for Game Boy:

This one gets a mention just cause of how much I played it during car rides. I even used to day dream a storyline for it.

There was another one on Genesis I can't remember the name of but it was like a flying shoot em up version of Contra. It had 2 guys (or 1 for 1 player mode) flying through the stage and there were would be shop sometimes during the stage you can go into for upgrades. I distinctly remember the 2nd stage boss ending with a scene in which one of the protags says something like "We defeated the dragon, it too had a weak point." if anyone can remember.
 

LostDonkey

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Raystorm PS1


The visuals and music blew my 11 year old mind. Great memories.
 
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Stuart360

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Dont know if its my fave, but i always loved Axelay on Snes. -


And of course, Biohazard Battle on genesis, arguably my fave -


Music wise, well you cant get better than Sol Feace on MegaCD -

 

Fbh

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It's mostly nostalgia but I love G-Darius. I used to spend entire weekends playing through this with my neighbour as a kid.
I love the fish/water based aesthetic of ships, the bosses in particular looked badass. I also loved the whole "capture an enemy and have him turn into an upgrade" mechanic as well as being able to turn them into a super beam and have a kamehameha contest with the bosses.

 

Shifty.

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No poll? Earmark this thread for the history books!



On-topic, paging @DunDunDunpachi for shmup content.

Mine is definitely Touhou 8: Imperishable Night



I've been into shmups since the SEGA Master System, but Touhou 8 was the first time I decided to man up and get into an actual bullethell game.

It has gorgeous bullet patterns and uses a 'spell card' conceit to give all the boss patterns proper names and make them available for practice in the game's training mode:



There's a good spread of difficulties, which makes learning to 1cc the game and gradually up your level of play a manageable experience. There are high-level scoring mechanics that involve putting yourself at risk by flying to the top of the screen, and a bunch of playable character tag-teams with their own specific shot types and bombs. You can even unlock single characters for more challenging runs.

And the soundtrack is fantastic, but that comes as standard with any Touhou title:



My only real knock against the game is that the art can go into derp territory at times:



But considering that it's all made by one guy, the pros far outweigh that con. It's a great shmup.

And, speaking of the Master System, honourable mention goes to Fantasy Zone II for getting me into the shmup genre in the first place. I suppose it's technically a "cute 'em up" depending on who you listen to, but whatever, same thing:




It's mostly nostalgia but I love G-Darius. I used to spend entire weekends playing through this with my neighbour as a kid.
I love the fish/water based aesthetic of ships, the bosses in particular looked badass. I also loved the whole "capture an enemy and have him turn into an upgrade" mechanic as well as being able to turn them into a super beam and have a kamehameha contest with the bosses.

BEAM COUNTER! :messenger_face_screaming:



That shit was so cool. They actually expanded on it with DARIUSBURST: Chronicle Saviors as well:

 

Ellis

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R-Type (Master System version) is by far my favourite, and will never be topped.

That being said, Radiant Silvergun is the best in the entire genre. Ikaruga was severely lacking in comparison to the first game.
 

Stuart360

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R-Type (Master System version) is by far my favourite, and will never be topped.

That being said, Radiant Silvergun is the best in the entire genre. Ikaruga was severely lacking in comparison to the first game.
 

Traianvs

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R-type because it had an excellent conversion for my c64 and I played it for countless hours. Same for 1942, I played a lot with my father

Then, I have a soft spot for fantasy shmup, like Dragon Breed, Saint Dragon, Legendary Wings, ecc.
Phelios was INCREDIBLE to watch as a coin-op
 

#Phonepunk#

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got a warm spot for the SNES Gradius



but U.N. Squadron is probably the most fun i've ever had in a SHMUP
 

DunDunDunpachi

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My Motorola pager was buzzing like crazy, @Shifty


Lots of fun games listed so far.

Current favorite is Dodonpachi Daioujou, often shortened to DOJ or DOJWL. I've talked about it elsewhere on the site so I won't go into too much detail here.

This particular game's claim to fame is that it was so difficult that the top players in Japan asked CAVE to tone it down, which resulted in a different title called DOJ Black Label.

Scoring begins when you can chain a full level. The difficulty, of course, is that you only have a 1 second window (or a half-second, depending on which enemy you killed) before your Chain meter depletes. You must either kill another enemy or your chain drops. This is too much to consider on the fly. Players practice a route allowing them to kill enemies fast enough to keep the total number of bullets down, but not too fast as to not drop their chain.

The Hypers make things quite a bit crazier: your Hit counter is multiplied when in Hyper mode, but the speed of bullets increases, too.

It's not really a complicated game in the sense that your objective is simple: use your Hypers in areas with dense concentrations of enemies, don't use Bombs (massive bonus at the end of the game), don't drop your chain, and don't die. Simple!

Here is a 2-ALL of the game. It's a useful video for building your own route if you ever wish to pursue high-score play:

Since @stranno broke their own rule and posted multiple shmups of all time, I'll post a few more of my favs:

Galaga '88

Hands down the best pre-shmup from the Golden Era of arcades. Maintains the simplicity of the original Galaxian/Galaga but adds in some frills that keep things enjoyable.

Hellfire

It's not Toaplan's best, but it's one of the first shmups I fell in love with ~30 years ago.

Sexy Parodius

I love Konami's Gradius-likes. The Gradius series itself is amazing and I'm also very fond of the offshoots like Salamander and Parodius. Sexy Parodius isn't good because it has T&A. Sexy Parodius is good because it's an excellent shmup, even edging out Gradius V in my opinion.

ESPgaluda

(includes two playthroughs; the second begins at 31 minutes)
Perhaps The Perfect Shmup when it comes to casual friendliness matched with brutal high-level play. ESPgaluda grants the player a pool of green gems to power their "kekusei", which allows you to slow down incoming bullets at any time. Kill enemies in non-kekusei mode to gain more green gems to use kekusei more often. This makes complex patterns far more manageable as long as you are stingy with your kekusei usage.

Or, if you're playing for score, abuse kekusei and push the mechanics to their limits for massive points. You can see how the player intentionally lets the screen fill with bullets with the purpose of cancelling them for gold bonus chips.

Twinkle Star Sprites

Unquestionably one of the best games ever to grace arcades. So simple that a filthy casual can understand it. Endless competitive fun.
 
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Space Runaway

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The fast shot version of Galaga.

Still one of the top games ever made and a super classic at the level of stuff like OutRun.
 
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Afro Republican

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I suggest those that like bullethell games learn to get good. You need to learn how to play a game instead of memorize patterns. ;)
 

DunDunDunpachi

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I suggest those that like bullethell games learn to get good. You need to learn how to play a game instead of memorize patterns. ;)
"It's just memorizing patterns".

Nah, no more so than a fighting game or puzzle game. The (misplaced reputation) of needing to "memorize patterns" is why I didn't take the genre more seriously. Then when I realized it was about learning "to get good" as you put it (just like literally every other game genre) I fell in love.

"Memorizing your route" is hugely overblown, even within the shmup community. Players can't execute patterns they don't understand. The timing is far too precise. Instead of "memorizing", you're actually learning how to manipulate the pattern i.e. lead bullets to one side of the screen and then cut across to dodge them all.
 
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TeamGhobad

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there was an old arcade game i played in late 80s early 90s it was like a top down metal slug. u were army guys killing. i had a blast.
 

DunDunDunpachi

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The shmup farm finished its 16th Annual 'Top 25 shmups of all time' less than two weeks aago, which only means as much as a bunch of shmup nerds on an ancient shmup forum expressing their opinions:



I thought it pertained to the topic at hand.
 

Naked Lunch

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Radiant Silvergun. Still the pinnacle of the genre. Bosses on top of bosses - it makes other shmups seem lazy in comparison. There is no bullshit levels and the bullets move slow and methodical. The ultimate eye/hand coordination test. I prefer the Saturn version over the xb360 for the added slowdown but the 360 version is stellar as well for the uprez.

Followed very closely by Battle Garegga and DoDonPachi Resurrection.
 
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I vote for Thunder Force III as king of shumps



Blazing Lazers


and a bunch of 16/32bit shooters


Oh this one!


and the Lord himself!


I think that this gem on the SNES deserves some attention too
 

cireza

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Bring on the shmups !

My favorite ones, no order :

Gley Lancer on MegaDrive

(looks a bit like a giant lipstick !)
Super awesome game. Amazing soundtrack by Noriyuki Iwadare and others. Mind-blowing introduction with an awesome music and great anime art.
Gameplay is fantastic, many weapons and possibilities. Lots of events that help build a story where you really feel like you want to succeed. Also, the main character is a female lead which is always nice for the time (not so many female leads back then). Great great presentation and clever use of the MegaDrive hardware. Some stages are not so pretty, but there are some very impressive highs in the lot, stage 2 being one of them. It displays a sea with a stupid number of parallaxes, uses the "palette switch at half screen" trick, and has a water distortion effect on the bottom half of the screen. Everything running at 60fps with gameplay elements managed as well. Unbelievable.

Robo Aleste on Mega CD

I love this game. Compile were really one of the most amazing developers back then (my avatar speaks for itself I think). Robo Aleste was released pretty early, and as with all Compile games, set the bar of what could be done on the console in the genre. It makes a very clever use of the additional power of the Mega CD to add some very neat effects to the game. What I appreciate about it is that it never tries to abuse this, and shows some nice and subtle effects, not things that take the entire screen screaming "did you see me did you see me ?". You get some zoom effects, rain with thunder, lighting effects and some 3D effects for the final boss. Gameplay wise, the game is a bit demanding since you lose all upgrades when dying, but very satisfying. I love the Redbook soundtrack, it sets the mood for the game. Very atmospheric at moments. The beginning of stage 2 was a real slap in the face. You can really feel how gigantic the robot is when you fly over the battlefield and all these tiny troops. Amazing.

Sengoku Blade on Saturn

Boobs ! Because why not. Psikyo is another developer that I really like, especially the times before they went the danmaku route. Sengoku Blade is my favorite game from them, although Strikers 1945 is a great pick too. I love the presentation in this game : amazing pixel-art. The game also has a good replayability since the first four stages are shuffled, you get one choice for the last stage, and the time of day changes as well giving a fresh look at stages. You can also play a wide variety of characters with very different skills, which helps replayability as well. As in all Psikyo games, music is not great at all, this always was a low point for them.

Power Strike 2 on Game Gear

Compile again, but you know deep inside you that they were the best back then. Power Strike II, also known as GG Aleste II, is the most impressive shmup on the Game Gear, and overall a fantastic shmup. It makes an incredibly clever use of the hardware, with big sprites for maximum visibility, and reduced bullet speed. The end result is an extremely challenging, yet never unfair, shmup. The game also display very impressive bosses and perspective effects, as well as offering a smart bomb that adds distortion effects all over the screen. Music is super awesome too.

Space Harrier on 32X

Space Harrier is the first shmup I really loved in my life. I discovered it on 32X and fell in love instantly. I love its simple, yet challenging gameplay. Presentation is fantastic, fast and smooth (not perfect on 32X though). I love how you feel like everything is a single uninterrupted journey in a fantasy world where anything can happen.
 
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alienator

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No love for Gunlock aka layer section? the game was far ahead for its time.. absolutely love it!


but prolly stuff like gradius, r-type (delta) , darius gaiden (and g-darius) and everything cave shaped my current shmups-life ;)
 

Shifty.

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Arrow Flash on Mega Drive was pretty rad as well:



It had you piloting a fighter craft that could transform into a mecha, with a different set of shot types, bombs and gradius-style option forrmation for each.



Also, rather unusually, it let you pick between 'stock' and 'charge' mechanics for bombs in the options menu. The former being a traditional 'refill with score / pickups' setup and the latter allowing you to charge your shot for a while and deploy a bomb with no ammo limits. I remember the mech form + charge more or less trivializing the game thanks to its invincibility.

It also has a fancy setpiece in the middle of the first stage wherein the space cruiser you launched from at the start of the game crashes into the planet, parting the sea of clouds to reveal an ocean and coinciding with a palette shift to daytime. It's pretty cool:

 
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DunDunDunpachi

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I do love Layer Section @alienator , but I haven't sunk much time into it i.e. I haven't made it past stage 3 yet. :messenger_grinning_sweat:

It's a very good representative of an 'arcade' game. Bombastic voiceovers. Dramatic Game Over sequence where it shows where you failed. Flashy graphics that still hold up today.
 

Afro Republican

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"It's just memorizing patterns".

Nah, no more so than a fighting game or puzzle game. The (misplaced reputation) of needing to "memorize patterns" is why I didn't take the genre more seriously. Then when I realized it was about learning "to get good" as you put it (just like literally every other game genre) I fell in love.

"Memorizing your route" is hugely overblown, even within the shmup community. Players can't execute patterns they don't understand. The timing is far too precise. Instead of "memorizing", you're actually learning how to manipulate the pattern i.e. lead bullets to one side of the screen and then cut across to dodge them all.
Darius Burst Savior requires you to focus on gameplay mechanics, reflexes, and planing accordingly ahead of time. You need to focus on whats going on and you have the freedom to tackle things in your own way in several differemt ways.

Crimson Clover has lots of bullets on screen, focuses mostly on memorization with some reflexes, lacks variety and you only have few set paths to choose from if more than one.

The first is an actual game.

The second is memorizing the layout so you see pretty colors. Good for spectators watching a stream. ;)
 

Traianvs

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This thread is more and more a "what to install in my SNES Classic"
This weekend I'll lose myself in hours of blissfull retrogaming.
 

petran79

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Previous decades it was Xenon 2, Xevious and Tyrian
Blazing Star and Viewpoint too if you count emulation

More recently Gigawing 2 and Gunbird 2 on Dreamcast. Like story mode and character interactions in shmups

8 years ago I discovered Game Tengoku at a game expo, running on MAME and it became my favorite shmup ever since. Played after that the emulated Saturn version. Even managed to reach top 10 on Steam high score list with various characters.
It also has a funny story, good voice acting and cute graphics. Unlocked all the story mode chapters and they even added Tetsujin as an extra ship.
Sequel wasnt as good though.
 

GrayFoxRJ

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We need a new Salamander / Star Soldier collection for Switch/ps4
 
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DunDunDunpachi

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Previous decades it was Xenon 2, Xevious and Tyrian
Blazing Star and Viewpoint too if you count emulation

More recently Gigawing 2 and Gunbird 2 on Dreamcast. Like story mode and character interactions in shmups

8 years ago I discovered Game Tengoku at a game expo, running on MAME and it became my favorite shmup ever since. Played after that the emulated Saturn version. Even managed to reach top 10 on Steam high score list with various characters.
It also has a funny story, good voice acting and cute graphics. Unlocked all the story mode chapters and they even added Tetsujin as an extra ship.
Sequel wasnt as good though.
My first encounter with Game Tengoku was the PS4 version (imported). What a wacky-yet-addicting game.

I need all the 🍆 :lollipop_anxious_sweat:
 

Ellis

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Sengoku Blade on Saturn

Boobs ! Because why not. Psikyo is another developer that I really like, especially the times before they went the danmaku route. Sengoku Blade is my favorite game from them, although Strikers 1945 is a great pick too. I love the presentation in this game : amazing pixel-art. The game also has a good replayability since the first four stages are shuffled, you get one choice for the last stage, and the time of day changes as well giving a fresh look at stages. You can also play a wide variety of characters with very different skills, which helps replayability as well. As in all Psikyo games, music is not great at all, this always was a low point for them.
Great game, and indeed great tits

 

Crew 511A

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Remembering the ones I grew up with got me really



There was another one on Genesis I can't remember the name of but it was like a flying shoot em up version of Contra. It had 2 guys (or 1 for 1 player mode) flying through the stage and there were would be shop sometimes during the stage you can go into for upgrades. I distinctly remember the 2nd stage boss ending with a scene in which one of the protags says something like "We defeated the dragon, it too had a weak point." if anyone can remember.
Forgotten Worlds?
 
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Lionel Richie

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There's only one game with this OST. Seriously, boot up and get that incredible menu track, first stage and you're greeted to this metal as fuck theme that gets surprisingly anime-like in the chorus. Perfect.
 

DT MEDIA

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If I had to name my favorite shoot-em-up of all time, I'd probably go with Thunder Force 3 on Sega Genesis. It just epitomizes style and cool for the 16-bit era. I also have great love for Thunder Force 4 and 5, which are spectacular thrill rides from start to finish.

For runner-up, I'll give a shout-out to the immortal Jeff "Yak" Minter, who gave us Gridrunner, Llamatron 2112 and Tempest 2000.

For "golden age" videogames, there's no beating Asteroids, Defender, Robotron 2084 and Galaga. River Raid 1 & 2 are fantastic on Atari 2600, and I absolutely loved Mad Max and The Tail of Beta Lyrae on Atari 800.

Kudos to those who mentioned Gaiares and MUSHA, another two of my all-time favorite Genesis games. I'll also throw in Fire Shark, which is probably my favorite Toaplan shooter.

As for Sega Saturn, there are too many classics to mention by name. I'm surprised by how much love Battle Garegga still commands, but I definitely understand the appeal.