A shoot ’em up is a type of video game in which you control a ship or sometimes a character and fight violently against enemy troops in an aerial battle that scrolls either horizontally or vertically. They can be very simple, where you just dodge, shoot, return fire, and maybe drop a bomb, or they can be very complicated, with counters, deflections, and combo systems.
In any case, they are always a way to use ridiculously huge amounts of firepower that never stops. Shoot ’em ups, like beat ’em ups, have been popular in arcades for a long time. When arcade machines stopped being found in laundromats, pizza places, and bodegas, home video game consoles gave these games a new lease on life.
There are a lot of different shoot ’em ups for PC and console gamers to choose from, from bullet hell to classic. This guide is a great place to start if you want to learn more about this well-liked genre and try it out for yourself.
What Is a Shmup?
For those who don’t know, a “shoot ’em up” is a type of video game where you take control of a ship (or sometimes a character) and fight against enemy forces, usually in scrolling air battles. They can be simple, like dodging, shooting, returning fire, and dropping the occasional bomb, or they can be very complicated, with counters, deflections, and combo systems. Think of Gradius, Super Star Soldier, or Thunderforce.
The type of shooter is the main thing that makes one different from another. At the moment, bullet hell is the most popular type of shooter. This is a style that is very hard for new pilots to handle. Enemies fill the screen with destructive coloured firepower, so you have to move with pinpoint accuracy and be aware of your surroundings. You can’t relax your sphincter. Still, if you like a challenge, bullet hell shooters are a great way to get a rush of adrenaline. Racketboy’s Shmups 101 page has information about fixed, rail, tube, and many other types of shoot ’em ups.
PC gamers can choose from a wide range of shoot ’em ups, from bullet hell to more traditional games. If you want to see what the genre has to offer, this guide is a good place to start.
Cave is a company that makes shmups, and Deathsmiles is one of the best games the company has made. Deathsmiles is a supernatural shooter where you play as one of five gothic lolitas who are trying to stop demons from taking over their land by using familiars and powerful magic.
The bullet-hell shooter scrolls horizontally and has six game modes, nonlinear progression, local co-op play, big enemies, big explosions, a counter system, and an exciting goth-rock score. Overall, Deathsmiles is a very fun PC shooter, even though it has some tight environments and sprites that were already considered a bit old when it came out in arcades in 2007.
Yes, Cave has made another old-school shooter. In the vertically scrolling game DonDonPachi Resurrection, you take control of one of three time-traveling pilots who are trying to fix a past that was changed by a rogue android trying to get away from humans who are holding it captive. Really, it’s not a good enough reason to blow up big enemy ships and robots.
This space shooter has powerful ways to attack and defend against aliens. There are three ships you can control, three ways to attack, and the bullet-cancelling Hyper Counter System. The game also has local co-op play and eight different ways to play.
Geometry Wars 3
Arcade shooters from the top have been a staple of video games for a very long time. Robotron: 2084 made the genre popular in the 1980s with its easy-to-use twin-stick controls. Smash TV added Arnold Schwarzenegger’s style and Paul Verhoeven’s flair to the genre in the 1990s. Not long ago, Halo or Gears of War were not the best shooters. Instead, Geometry Wars, a simple game, was a simple gem.
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions by Lucid Games really lives up to its name by bringing the addicting shape-shooting action into the third dimension in a way that is almost perfect. The game is made up of grids and wire-framed objects that explode into kaleidoscopic fireworks while a Daft Punk-like soundtrack pulses in the background. It’s a treat for all of your senses.
Treasure made a name for itself by making games that defined and broke genres during the 16-bit and 32-bit console generations. In 2001, they took their creative skills to the shoot-em-up genre and made the famous Ikaruga. The game didn’t get a PC port until 15 years after it came out, but the wait was worth it.
Ikaruga blends shoot ’em up and puzzle play by utilizing a unique color-switching mechanic that lets you absorb black bullets when your ship is black and white bullets when your ship is white. When you take in enough bullets, they fill up a gauge that lets you launch a big attack that does a lot of damage to the mechanical monsters. The only bad thing is that in some places, you can’t fly freely and instead have to go through obstacle courses that look like mazes and slow down the game.
If you hate bugs, Mushihimesama isn’t for you. Unless, of course, you’re crazy and want to kill as many as you can. In Cave’s fantasy shooter with a bug theme, you play as a princess who fights big bugs across five stages that scroll up and down.
There are three ways to play Mushihimesama. These are Novice, Normal, and Arrange. Novice is for people who have never played bullet hell before and may not be ready for the full-on chaos. It’s a more balanced version of the bullet hell experience. Normal is an exact copy of the classic Japanese arcade game. Arrange is a different way to play the game. When you start, you have the most firepower and bombs drop on their own. You can change how you attack with three types of weapons and two types of options.
Juicy Realm (PC/Mac OSX/PS4/iOS/Android/Switch)
It’s a good way to start the list because it’s friendly to new players and has a warm look. A Chinese independent game studio called SpaceCan Games made the roguelike video game Juicy Realm, which is sold by X.D. Network. You take control of one of four characters as they try to get back human land that has been taken over by smart fruits.
Each character has his or her own weapons, skills, and gear, which also makes them play a little bit differently. Explore the kingdom of the hostile fruits by going to places, meeting creatures, and doing other things that are made up by a set of rules.
You’ll fight a variety of dangerous, aggressive fruits as you collect weapons and gear. As you play, you’ll be able to make your camp bigger, giving you more weapons and tools to kill those evil fruits. If you hated it when your parents tried to force you to eat fruits as a kid, now is the perfect time to get back at them.
Ruiner (PC/Linux/PS4/Xbox One/Switch)
You don’t need to look any further if you want to read a brutal, moody blood orgy set in a perfect cyberpunk world. Ruiner is a cyberpunk shooter video game made by Reikon Games and published by Devolver Digital, which is known for putting out indie games like Hotline Miami that are well-known and loved by many.
The game takes place in Rengkok, a cyberpunk city, in the year 2091. Heaven, a not-very-nice and outright evil megacorporation, owns this futuristic urban jungle, which is styled in a cyberpunk way. Your brother has been taken hostage in this concrete hell that Heaven made and owns. It’s up to you to save him, no matter what.
You’re also not much of a saint, since it’s clear you’re psychopathic. As the story of the game goes on, this fact is looked at in a lot of depth. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that the story and setting are everything you’d expect and more from a game that is so cyberpunk. The game has lightning-fast combat that requires a careful balance of brute force and precise strikes to beat all kinds of wild enemies.
As an isometric shooter, it’s not at all like Doom, but the fighting is still great. During battle, you can use high-tech tools like the energy shield, dash augmentations, and switch gun to stun or hack your opponent onto your side. All of them are in it for the money. Grab this one-of-a-kind experience and blast away in a rain of cyberpunk blood!