Category Archives: Shmups

The most interesting, unusual or otherwise noteworthy games in the shoot ’em up, shmup or STG genre, whatever your preferred terminology might be.

Shmup Essentials: Murasaki

As we’ve discussed on numerous previous occasions, the shoot ’em up genre is a lot more diverse than you might think.

Over the years, we’ve seen this initially straightforward genre blossom into something that encompasses a wide variety of distinct mechanics: the precise navigation of danmaku games, the pattern recognition and twitch reflexes of twin-stick shooters, the emphasis on memorisation and “risk versus reward” of Gradius-style games and plenty more besides.

One of the most interesting ways in which developers have experimented with the genre as a whole is through combining it with other genres. To date we’ve seen attempts to blend it with fighting games (such as the Suguri series), platform games (such as Rabi-Ribi) and even puzzle games. Murasaki, a 2014 release from Japanese doujin circle Katatema, falls into the latter category.

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Wii Essentials: Gradius ReBirth

Regrettably no longer available for purchase due to Nintendo’s closing of the original Wii Shop Channel’s payment processing, Konami’s ReBirth series consists of several wonderful “modern retro” takes on classic Konami properties, including Castlevania, Contra and Gradius.

It’s the latter we’re concerned with today, as it really is an absolutely fantastic shoot ’em up, and an absolute crying shame that it can no longer be legitimately acquired via normal means.

Still, if you want to know what you missed out on — or perhaps spend some of those Wii Points you’ve been hoarding before the Shop Channel closes down completely — then read on.

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Shmup Essentials: Riddled Corpses EX

You know sometimes you just see a game and think “I’m going to enjoy this?” That was very much me and Riddled Corpses EX.

There was something about the game’s excellent use of convincing 16-bit style pixel art and the suggestion that it would incorporate two of my favourite shmup subgenres — bullet hell and twin-stick — that made me pretty sure I was going to have a good time with it. And I most certainly did.

If you’re yet to check out this enjoyable blastathon, either in its original PC incarnation on Steam or its all-new “EX” version on PlayStation 4/Vita cross-buy and Xbox One, then grab yourself a sturdy controller, strap yourself in and get ready to perforate some cadavers.

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Namco Essentials: Sky Kid

While I was familiar with most of the other games in the Namco Museum collection for Switch, one that I hadn’t come across before was Sky Kid.

First released in 1985, Sky Kid is a horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up based on the company’s Pac-Land hardware introduced the previous year. Indeed, this fact is fairly obvious, as the two games have a similar aesthetic, and in a later mission there is even a billboard where Pac-Man in his Pac-Land incarnation (sporting arms and legs) makes a cameo appearance.

It’s the first of Namco’s games to support two players simultaneously, and aside from all that, it’s an entertaining, interesting take on the arcade shoot ’em up.

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Namco Essentials: Galaga

Some games are utterly timeless, remaining just as fun today as they were back on their original release.

Namco’s Galaga is definitely one of those games, though it’s also a title the company has taken great pains to keep “relevant” over the years with numerous re-releases, the most recent at the time of writing being as part of the Nintendo Switch version of Namco Museum. It even showed up as one of the company’s “loading screen games” in the PS1 era, putting in an appearance during the initial load time for the original Tekken.

It’s had a number of sequels and remakes since it first showed up in 1981, but there’s an endearing purity to the original that is hard to beat, making it a true classic from gaming’s early days.

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Shmup Essentials: Satazius

When you think of Japanese shoot ’em ups, it’s easy to get hung up on nothing but classic arcade and console titles.

But over the years, the PC has played host to a wide variety of its own unique titles, too, with many developers specialising in this highly flexible platform thanks to its ease of digital distribution and free marketplace.

One such developer that has come to prominence over the last few years is Astro Port, and its title Satazius is one of its best, alongside the similarly excellent Zangeki Warp.

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Shmup Essentials: Raiden V

It’s interesting to see how the Raiden series has evolved over time, what with it being one of the longest-running series of shoot ’em ups that is still relevant today.

Raiden V is probably the biggest “reinvention” the series has seen since its inception — and consequently may take a little adjusting to for series veterans in particular — but it’s still very much recognisable as an installment in this classic series.

For those less familiar with shoot ’em ups — or those interested in getting involved in the modern side of this challenging, fascinating genre — Raiden V is certainly something of a trial by fire, but it’s a very rewarding journey to take.

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