Tag Archives: shmup

Shmup Essentials: Deep Space Waifu

It may seem faintly sacrilegious to include a game like Deep Space Waifu in the same column as legends such as Thunder Force II, Raiden IV and Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours. But the fact is, this rough-around-the-edges, budget-price affair is actually well worth your time and attention.

Developed by the mysterious “Neko Climax Studios”, whose only online presence appears to be a Facebook page under the ID “@nekohentaiking” and whose credits consist entirely of initials, Deep Space Waifu describes itself as a “casual strip ’em up action game, full of colours and girls”. And, really, that’s pretty much the perfect description.

At first glance, this appears to be a game that does not take itself at all seriously. But beneath the neon colours, chaotic visual effects and questionable artwork, there’s a surprisingly solid shoot ’em up that has clearly been designed with some care and attention.

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Mega Drive Essentials: Alisia Dragoon

Sega’s Mega Drive console — or the Genesis to those of you in the States — was a wonderful machine.

In many ways, it started the process of making gaming “cool”, and laid the groundwork for Sony’s solid efforts to make our whole form of entertainment a lot more mainstream with the first PlayStation. But more importantly, it played host to a wide variety of absolutely fantastic games.

One such title was Game Arts’ Alisia Dragoon, an unusual action game that combines elements of disparate genres to produce an extremely memorable, enjoyable and addictive game that still holds up well today.

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Shmup Essentials: Thunder Force II

We’re going retro this time around, with a classic from the early days of Sega’s 16-bit console, the Mega Drive.

The heyday of Techno Soft’s Thunder Force series was arguably around its visually spectacular third and fourth installments, both of which were often used by many proud Mega Drive owners as showcases of their system’s audio-visual capabilities, but the second installment — a launch title for the Genesis in the States — is an interesting game in its own right, mostly because it’s quite different from its better-known successors.

We may not have seen a new Thunder Force game since 2008’s PlayStation 2 release of Thunder Force VI, but the series as a whole remains extremely solid to this day, and one well worth checking out if you’re a dedicated shmup fan.

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Shmup Essentials: Cardinal Sins

As we’ve already established, Qute’s Eschatos is an absolutely fabulous shoot ’em up that every fan of the genre should have in their collection.

Its predecessors are still very worthwhile games in their own right, too; while technologically rather more primitive than the 60fps cinematic polygonal action of Eschatos, their 2D pixel art and chiptune soundtracks have a great deal of charm to them — and, most importantly, they’re damn fun to play.

Today I wanted to particularly look at Cardinal Sins, one of the two games that eventually begat Eschatos. Technically a freeware spinoff of Eschatos’ true predecessor Judgement SilverswordCardinal Sins is arguably the most interesting of the two games, for reasons that will become apparent.

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Shmup Essentials: Deathsmiles

Although it’s been rather quiet for a while, the Japanese company Cave has long been known as one of the best developers of modern shoot ’em ups out there.

With most of their titles falling into the danmaku (“bullet hell”) subgenre, their titles have a reputation for being challenging and punishing but highly polished, combining solid mechanics with absolutely beautiful presentation and a delightful blend of “old and new”.

Deathsmiles is one of the company’s most well-regarded recent works, and is a great example of what “frantic shooting” is all about — not to mention a fine showcase for Cave’s mastery of game mechanics that go far beyond simply “shoot everything and don’t die”.

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Shmup Essentials: Gundemonium Recollection

Any self-respecting gamer knows that if you really want to impress someone with your dexterity and prowess, you don’t fire up a Souls game, you fire up a bullet hell shmup.

Notorious for their screen-filling bullet patterns that seemingly demand superhuman reflexes to navigate, bullet hell (or, to give them their more “proper” name, danmaku) shoot ’em ups are a frightening prospect to get involved with. But you might be surprised at quite how approachable some of them are.

One such example of a danmaku shmup that is both accepting to genre newcomers and monstrously challenging to veterans is Gundemonium Recollection from Japanese doujin circle Platine Dispositif, originally localised for PS3 and PC by Rockin’ Android. It’s a game that isn’t afraid to slap you about a bit, but also a good place to familiarise yourself with some conventions of the genre.

And, well, it’s just a really good game to boot, too.

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Shmup Essentials: Astebreed

There’s an assumption among certain parts of the gaming community that you need a big budget and a massive team to make something that looks amazing.

This is nonsense, of course, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the output of Japanese doujin circle Edelweiss, who have, to date, put out three exceptional (and exceptionally beautiful) games, each of which demonstrates a clear understanding of how to produce something that both looks spectacular and plays incredibly fluidly, in the grand tradition of arcade games.

Edelweiss’ most recent release is Astebreed, a shoot ’em up that began its life on PC but was subsequently ported to (and enhanced for) PlayStation 4. And it’s one hell of a game that any shmup fan should be proud to have in their library.

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