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SNES SHMUPS: From Worst to Best (video)

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Earlier today I uploaded a video talking about and ranking 19 SNES shooters (shmups) released in the United States. What are your favorites on the system? If you have played all of them, how would you rank them?

Video:

https://youtu.be/Fl9Y13XR3cM

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It's a great video. I like when a full genre is covered like that.

 

Sadly I was hoping for some snes super-hidden-gems that I had somehow overlooked, and badly needed to try out, but the only ones I don't remember playing were near the bottom. For what snes had, that's probably the best order to put them in, I just wish there were more, I suppose.

 

And thanks for the tip about sonic wings sfc--for some reason I'd never searched for it. It's only a little more than the aero fighters pirate carts, and that's practically pennies in terms of shmup prices. I might go for one.

Edited by Reaperman

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Yeah, I think the only hidden gems you are probably going to run into now are Japanese-only releases. There are quite a few that didn't make it over here, many of which I'm not even familiar with yet.

 

Sonic Wings/Aero Fighters import--that's definitely the way to go if you want to have a cartridge of it. It's basically the same game from what I can tell. :)

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Very nice, thanks for posting! I've been fleshing out my Super NES collection lately, and I'm finding myself drawn to shooters I haven't played before. Your show has introduced me to a few titles I wasn't familiar with.

 

I am definitely a big fan of the Super Famicom game Parodius Da. It's a great and very bizarre Konami shooter in the Gradius vein... I'd highly recommend it!

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I never watch videos, but this one I did since I like shooters a lot. Enjoyed it: you went through all 19 games quickly, and I liked the summaries of your opinion based on fairly objective criteria.

 

I've only just recently been going through my SNES collection (reverse alphabetically) and trying everything mostly for the first time.

 

Just played Firepower 2000 yesterday and Gradius III a couple of weeks ago, both very fun even though my reflexes aren't what they used to be. Wasn't impressed with D Force, either (one of the first SNES games I got).

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Pros: good length, great idea (just one genre), good mini-review of the games.

 

Cons: I am still waiting on a Jaguar Pinball Fantasies video.

 

You said half of Axelay is good the other half not. Did you mean the horizontal vs. 3d look or something else?

 

Do you plan to do other console shoot'em-up videos?

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Pros: good length, great idea (just one genre), good mini-review of the games.

 

Cons: I am still waiting on a Jaguar Pinball Fantasies video.

 

You said half of Axelay is good the other half not. Did you mean the horizontal vs. 3d look or something else?

 

Do you plan to do other console shoot'em-up videos?

 

Haha.. Yeah, I'll eventually do a Pinball Fantasies video. I have a series planned dedicated to digital pinball games, but I still haven't penned a script or anything. It's going to be a while for that, but I may do a let's play on it sometime in the near future. I have a Skunkboard now so I can pretty much do any Jag game I want, but I've just been busy with other ideas/projects. Too many games and systems, too little time..

 

Axelay - I'm not a big fan of the vertical sections. The perspective is weird, there's not a ton of action compared to the side-scrolling sections, and the hit detection can be a little off (the fire boss is a good example). I think the side-scrolling segments are excellent and have aged gracefully. If the game was entirely made of them it would easily be one of the best on the system. I also feel the weapon system is a little redundant--some of the earlier weapons are better than the later weapons you get, which makes unlocking them feel.. well, not very satisfying, to say the least. I like a consistent, cohesive package, and Axelay to me doesn't nail that very well.

 

More shoot 'em up videos-- I have thought about it. I have had a script mostly penned for a while now in regards to PS1 shmups, but I no longer own most of those so it will be tough to do without re-acquiring them. I could see myself doing one on Genesis shooters in the future since I'm familiar with most of those. Capturing all the footage was pretty time consuming in the case of this SNES shooter video so it may be a while before I do another. I have a couple of smaller reviews planned for the near future, then after those I might revisit the idea.

 

 

I never watch videos, but this one I did since I like shooters a lot. Enjoyed it: you went through all 19 games quickly, and I liked the summaries of your opinion based on fairly objective criteria.

 

I've only just recently been going through my SNES collection (reverse alphabetically) and trying everything mostly for the first time.

 

Just played Firepower 2000 yesterday and Gradius III a couple of weeks ago, both very fun even though my reflexes aren't what they used to be. Wasn't impressed with D Force, either (one of the first SNES games I got).

 

Thanks for the kind words!

 

It's always good to see when someone enjoys Firepower 2000. It's one you don't hear people talk about much, but it's a pretty good game. Nice and smooth, it's aged pretty well unlike some other shooters on the system.

 

 

Very nice, thanks for posting! I've been fleshing out my Super NES collection lately, and I'm finding myself drawn to shooters I haven't played before. Your show has introduced me to a few titles I wasn't familiar with.

 

I am definitely a big fan of the Super Famicom game Parodius Da. It's a great and very bizarre Konami shooter in the Gradius vein... I'd highly recommend it!

 

I need to spend some more time with the Super Famicom exclusives. Parodius Da is one I hear mentioned fairly frequently. I really like the Gradius series, so I think Parodius in particular is a no-brainer for me.

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I am definitely a big fan of the Super Famicom game Parodius Da. It's a great and very bizarre Konami shooter in the Gradius vein... I'd highly recommend it!

I need to spend some more time with the Super Famicom exclusives. Parodius Da is one I hear mentioned fairly frequently. I really like the Gradius series, so I think Parodius in particular is a no-brainer for me.

This. There are a total of three Parodius releases on Super Famicom, and all equally whacky and enjoyable. I own the whole trilogy. The third one uses the SA-1 chip and speaks to you in Japanese. Bizarre but totally worth it and all three games have lots of customization options.

Edited by stardust4ever
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I had no idea there were so few shooters on the SNES. I have a few from the list, definitely agree that Thunder Force III is better than Thunder Spirits and that Super R-Type is hard (I'm better at the TG R-Type, but I've played it more).

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I had no idea there were so few shooters on the SNES. I have a few from the list, definitely agree that Thunder Force III is better than Thunder Spirits and that Super R-Type is hard (I'm better at the TG R-Type, but I've played it more).

 

You know what's funny? I was surprised there were so many on it. I always thought there were, I don't know.. maybe ten. I suppose that's because only about half of them are ever talked about, while the other half is, well.. far from spectacular, to say the least. I'll have to check the Genesis numbers and see how many it has in comparison. I know it's at *least* 20, possibly 30 or more!

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You know what's funny? I was surprised there were so many on it. I always thought there were, I don't know.. maybe ten. I suppose that's because only about half of them are ever talked about, while the other half is, well.. far from spectacular, to say the least. I'll have to check the Genesis numbers and see how many it has in comparison. I know it's at *least* 20, possibly 30 or more!

Well TG-16/PCe is the king of SHMUPs for sure.

 

One issue with SNES was despite having a powerful CPU, it was underclocked compared to the leaner Genesis/Turbo. So while the SNES could handle gorgeous visuals and epic soundtracks for RPGs, etc, moving a crapton of sprites around onscreen at once is not an easy task. Remember SNES was 3.58Mhz, only twice the clock speed of NES. TG-16 was double the clocks of the SNES even if less capable. I think Genesis was even faster although the 68K had higher latency.

 

I'd like to get a top list of Genesis SHMUPs as well as Super Famicom exclusive shooters. I'm dying to get my hands on more of the same Parodius style whacky "Cute-Em-Ups." :P

 

Star Parodier is another good one for PC-Engine. I've got that on Wii VC, but unfortunately it's a CDROM title and I don't have a CD addon for my TG-16. :sad:

Edited by stardust4ever

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1. Space Megaforce.

2. Axelay.

 

Also, they're called shooters.

 

Shoot 'em up (also known as shmup or STG) is a subgenre of the shooter genre of video games. In a shoot 'em up, theplayer character engages in a lone assault, often in a spacecraft or aircraft, shooting large numbers of enemies while dodging their attacks. There is no consensus as to which design elements compose a shoot 'em up. Some restrict the definition to games featuring spacecraft and certain types of character movement; others allow a broader definition including characters on foot and a variety of perspectives. Shoot 'em ups call for fast reactions and for the player to memorize levels and enemy attack patterns. "Bullet hell" games feature overwhelming numbers of enemy projectiles.

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I have "Thunder Spirits". It's almost the same game as "Thunder Force III" except not being able to select your stage. It also might have a bit more slowdown than TFIII. It's still a solid shooter.

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Shoot 'em up (also known as shmup or STG) is a subgenre of the shooter genre of video games. In a shoot 'em up, theplayer character engages in a lone assault, often in a spacecraft or aircraft, shooting large numbers of enemies while dodging their attacks. There is no consensus as to which design elements compose a shoot 'em up. Some restrict the definition to games featuring spacecraft and certain types of character movement; others allow a broader definition including characters on foot and a variety of perspectives. Shoot 'em ups call for fast reactions and for the player to memorize levels and enemy attack patterns. "Bullet hell" games feature overwhelming numbers of enemy projectiles.

 

Someone find me a reference to SHMUP being used in the 16-bit era or earlier.

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Someone find me a reference to SHMUP being used in the 16-bit era or earlier.

Why? What does it matter? lol things change, language changes and evolves and additions are made, point was it is a commonly used term today ;) Are you still living in the 16 bit era? Maybe. But just Google SHMUP you will find it is used a lot, just because you were not aware does not make it any less valid.

 

Just for you though -

Defining the Shmup

While contentious, it is widely believed that the first published instance of the word ‘Shmup’ was in Commodore 64 magazine, Zzap!64 Issue 3, July 1985. The word was initially mentioned in the editorial section written by Chris Anderson (1985)

 

 

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/LukeMcMillan/20130206/186184/The_Origin_of_The_Shmup_Genre_A_Historical_Study.php

Edited by OldSchoolRetroGamer

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I was perfectly aware of what they are called now. Just sayin' that back in the day, most everybody just called them shooters. Not sure why we have to change just because of the FPS fanboys out there. SHMUP just sounds so retarded.

 

Thanks for the link. So it goes back further than I thought. Very interesting. Still, back in the day 99% of the time they were just called shooters and maybe 1% of the time shoot-em-ups. I never heard anyone say SHMUP until the FPS era came and ruined everything.

 

If anyone has a scan of that Zzap!64 Issue 3 that would be awesome.

Edited by BillyHW

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I never heard anyone say SHMUP until the FPS era came and ruined everything.

FYI, shmups.com has been around since the '90s.

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Shoot 'em up (also known as shmup or STG) is a subgenre of the shooter genre of video games. In a shoot 'em up, theplayer character engages in a lone assault, often in a spacecraft or aircraft, shooting large numbers of enemies while dodging their attacks. There is no consensus as to which design elements compose a shoot 'em up. Some restrict the definition to games featuring spacecraft and certain types of character movement; others allow a broader definition including characters on foot and a variety of perspectives. Shoot 'em ups call for fast reactions and for the player to memorize levels and enemy attack patterns. "Bullet hell" games feature overwhelming numbers of enemy projectiles.

Good definition. And incredibly fun as well. Though I have traditionally sucked at these types of games, the gameplay itself is highly addicting. I'm getting better the more I play them however. But leave the "bullet hell" stuff for gamers who tend to rather enjoy traversing the ninth level of Hades in Dante's Inferno.

 

That is one reason I'm attracted to the Japanesey "Cute-em-up" sub genre. The lampoon games tend to be easier or have highly customizable difficulty settings for any player skill level.

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I disagree about not counting Space Invaders (a static-screen shooter) and Choplifter III (a free-roaming shooter) in that 16, those are definitely shmups, Space Invaders particularly! It's not not a shmup just because it's static screen...

 

Besides that though, counting those two I have 16 shmups for the SNES, only missing R-Type III, Imperium, Strike Gunner STG, BioMetal, or Aero Fighters (or Hunt for Red October).. I also have two of the Japan-only shmups, one static screen and one scrolling.

 

Of the ones I do have, though... worst to best:

 

D-Force - Below average game and the weakest shooter on the system, but some amusement can be had with this if you play the mode that only plays the zoomed-in stages and not the others.

Darius Twin - This game should be good, and has two player co-op unlike the other 4th-gen Darius games, but... it's just so boring! I've never gotten far in this one wihtout turning it off.

Super E.D.F. -- Earth Defense Force - Average game with constant slowdown and some annoying difficulty spikes.

Galaxy Wars (J) - Weird Japan-only static-screen shooter where you manually fly missiles up the screen, trying to take out enemies without getting your missile shot. It's sort of a static shmup.

Space Invaders - Good port of Space Invaders, but it's too bad it has nothing new here other than the two player mode.

Phalanx - An average shooter with issues -- the bullets can be too hard to see sometimes.

Raiden Trad - Raiden is a classic, and this is a decent version of the game. I know other versions are harder and more faithful, but still, I like this version despite its limitations, and it is at last the only 4th-gen version of Raiden with two player co-op!

Super R-Type - Not as good as arcade R-Type II, but still Super R-Type is a great classic shmup, only held back by an absence of checkpoints before bosses, the slowdown, and that it's so similar to the first R-Type but isn't quite as great..

Thunder Spirits - Indeed this isn't as good as Thunder Force III, but it is still a fun shooter, slowdown aside.

Pop'n TwinBee (J) - I don't love Twinbee as much as I do Gradius, but this is a fun, above-average game.

Choplifter III - Pretty good game, and the last game in this classic series for quite some time.

Super Nova [Darius Force] - One of the better Darius games. This game is really fun. Super Darius II (Turbo CD) is even better, but this game is good.

Axelay - Its no Gradius, but Axelay is a very good shooter regardless.

U.N. Squadron - Great classic shmup with unique game design.

BlaZeon - A fantastic game! With an incredible soundtrack, decent graphics, and good, somewhat original gameplay, I like this game a lot.

Space Megaforce - Another great classic from Compile. They made a lot of great 8 and 16-bit shmups. This game isn't their best of the generation, I like Robo Aleste and Blazing Lazers more, but it's really great.

Firepower 2000 - This might be my favorite European shmup ever. Amazing game! Euro-shmups usually aren't the best, but this game is really good.

Gradius III - I am a huge Gradius series fan, and this game is one of the best ever, slowdown or no.

 

Of the ones I don't have, I'm sure I'd love Aero Fighters because I like the sequels and the Strikers 1945 series a lot. I'd also probably like R-Type III. Not sure about the others.

 

So yeah, compared to the video I disagree most strongly about BlaZeon. I know most people consider it slow and boring, but I love the game. It's an A-grade game for sure on my list! :) Second on that list would be Space Megaforce, which deserves every bit of its high reputation.

 

It is interesting to see you rank Super R-Type over R-Type III... you don't usually see that. I haven't played much of R-Type III, myself. The first R-Type is my favorite of the R-Type games I've played.

Edited by A Black Falcon
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I disagree about not counting Space Invaders (a static-screen shooter) and Choplifter III (a free-roaming shooter) in that 16, those are definitely shmups, Space Invaders particularly! It's not not a shmup just because it's static screen...

 

Space Invaders is most certainly a shmup, as you stated--that's why I referred to it as "the Grandfather of the genre". In modern day terms though, single screen shooters are sometimes referred to as meta-shmups. To me it didn't really fit the theme of the rest of the shooters, which is forced scrolling, point A to B type of gameplay. I thought about including more guidelines in the video but figured it would just slow things down.

 

Choplifter III, we will have to agree to disagree. :)

 

 

Of the ones I do have, though... worst to best:

 

Darius Twin - This game should be good, and has two player co-op unlike the other 4th-gen Darius games, but... it's just so boring! I've never gotten far in this one wihtout turning it off.

 

Great list! It's interesting to hear peoples' opinions on every single one.

 

I want to highlight that line above. I find this is really a recurring theme for me in terms of whether I really enjoy a game (not just a shooter). If it's boring, it usually gets put farther down on my personal "best of/favorites" list.

 

It is interesting to see you rank Super R-Type over R-Type III... you don't usually see that. I haven't played much of R-Type III, myself. The first R-Type is my favorite of the R-Type games I've played.

 

Yeah, Super R-Type is my favorite shooter on the system, so I'm a little biased towards it. That said, I do find that earlier graphic style more appealing overall (in a Super Castlevania IV/Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts kind of way), and the audio is much more appealing to me. I feel the tunes are much more intricate overall and memorable, and they have real weight to them (bass), whereas the audio sounds pretty hollow in R-Type 3. The checkpoint system is pretty awful, but it doesn't bother me today because I can usually roll through the game with just dying once or twice--that and R-Type III is hard as **** and I find myself getting stuck at areas like I do in the arcade R-Type 2. Truly hair-pulling kind of stuff, haha. Since I did this video I have been playing a lot more R-Type III though, so maybe it will eventually eclipse Super R-Type for me. Probably not though, there are just too many things I enjoy about Super.

 

So yeah, compared to the video I disagree most strongly about BlaZeon. I know most people consider it slow and boring, but I love the game. It's an A-grade game for sure on my list! :) Second on that list would be Space Megaforce, which deserves every bit of its high reputation.

 

Interesting take on BlaZeon! But hey, if you enjoy it, then you enjoy it--can't fault you for that. :)

After doing this video, I came to the realization that I just don't like Compile shooters all that much. MUSHA is the only exception and remains my favorite on the Genesis, but I just can't get into the original Aleste style games, or their 16-bit era games like Blazing Lazers, Space Megaforce, etc. I like the visuals and sounds for the most part, the gameplay just doesn't grab me. It's totally different from something like UN Squadron or R-Type (or even Raiden). Everyone's tastes are different though, and I see Space Megaforce at the top of many lists.

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Space Invaders is most certainly a shmup, as you stated--that's why I referred to it as "the Grandfather of the genre". In modern day terms though, single screen shooters are sometimes referred to as meta-shmups. To me it didn't really fit the theme of the rest of the shooters, which is forced scrolling, point A to B type of gameplay. I thought about including more guidelines in the video but figured it would just slow things down.

Agreed. But perhaps my all time favorite single screen SHMUP is Galaga though. I see a definite evolution from Space Invaders -> Galaxian -> Galaga even though Space Invaders was not Namco.

 

Then there are games like Gyruss where you orbit the center of the screen Tempest style.

 

When did SHMUPs first evolve from single screens with two-ways to vertical or horizontal scrolling stages with full 8-way control? What was the first arcade SHMUP in the traditional sense?

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