Ikaruga is by no means the be-all and end-all of shmups.

Physician, heal thyself: then wilt thou also heal thy patient. Let it be his best cure to see with his eyes him who maketh himself whole.

Having cleared the game of philosophy,¹ I’ve finally become a philoshmupper. Though I will never be a shmage, I now love STGs. But before I get into that, first some personal history.

My first experiences as a gamer were on a friend’s Commodore 64. It had no controllers or “joypads”, but actual joy-sticks, with a single button. My brother and I started saving for a second-hand C64, but after a while my maternal grandmother showed us an ad for the NES Action Set, and we bought that instead. I was really excited about Duck Hunt, while Super Mario Bros. didn’t interest me much at all. This almost immediately turned around, though. Among many other things, what was so great about the NES and SMB was that they introduced a whole new dimension, featuring a second button which could modify the first. Even today I keep telling my nephews and niece that if they really wish to become any good at the 2D Mario games, they should have the run button pressed down by default.

Our next console was Sega’s 16-bit system, but though it was a step up in many respects, it wasn’t a dimensional leap in that regard. That only arrived with the Super NES—not because it had four face buttons instead of three, but because it introduced the L and R buttons. I’m really only thinking of Star Fox here. To be sure, though, the face buttons could serve as a kind of second D-pad. In this sense, it was Super Smash TV and not PlayStation which introduced yet another dimensional leap: dual directional controls.

For almost five years now, my single favourite game has been DiRT Rally 2.0. A friend who saw me play it when it had just come out, remarked that it seemed to be the next Street Fighter for me. Not only was I using the left analog stick to steer, face buttons to change gears, and L and R buttons to accelerate and brake, but I was even using the right analog stick to kick and thereby override the clutch. Later, I also added the handbrake to the right analog stick. And this year, TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3 (and RiMS Racing before it) enabled me to assign tuck in and tuck out—of the motorcycle seat—to left analog stick up and down, respectively. This, thus far, is the non plus ultra of controller gaming for me.

Now you may have noticed that I don’t use a steering wheel for racing games. I prefer a controller, just as I’ve always preferred one for fighting games. Or have I?—My newfound love of shmups has finally made me see that, for certain types of game, an arcade stick is really superior to a controller. If a shmup features analog movement, I still prefer a controller; but I prefer shmups that don’t feature analog movement.—The only fighting game I prefer an arcade stick for is Street Fighter II’ Turbo: Hyper Fighting; but that may well be the greatest fighting game ever, anyway.—I now prefer shmups over fighting games, though. In a way I’ve come back full circle to my Commodore days: although shmups often use more than one button, a good shmup may very well use only one.

Now for some examples of awesome shmups. First off, I recommend watching this video for thirteen minutes. Seriously, start here:
Devil Engine²

Or, if you would prefer a vertical shooter (or playing with a friend, for that matter):
Raiden Fighters Jet

Though the Raiden Fighters series can be enjoyed in Raiden Legacy—which originally is actually an Android app—, I recently bought an Xbox 360 especially for Raiden Fighters Aces, because it has the option to play the games at their original 54 fps frame rate.

I will end with some love for Sega’s 16-bit system, which had multiple arcade ports that not only played well enough, but whose music was arguably better than the arcade versions’ (e.g., Mortal Kombat and Super Hang-On):³

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3SuKur7b_Q[/youtube] Zero Wing

[size=95]¹ That is, having realized the sublation of philosophy as opposed to wisdom.

² The third, forest stage evidently was inspired by this stage from Thunder Force V:

³ And of course original games with great music and playability as well, like Warriors of the Eternal Sun and Bio-Hazard Battle:

Beholding this Being—the Choragus of all Existence, the Self-Intent that ever gives forth and never takes—resting, rapt, in the vision and possession of so lofty a loveliness, growing to Its likeness, what Beauty can the Soul yet lack?

And Friday night I discovered that the same goes for the second, city stage and the first stage of this astonishing game, respectively:
Last Resort

Like Raiden Legacy, this game is available on Android (and in the Microsoft Store, for that matter), but it isn’t free. An S-tier shmup that is free on Android is “classic back out zone”:


I wouldn’t recommend playing any of these games with a touch screen, though. And Out Zone has received an excellent port on Steam and GOG, and probably on all current and last gen consoles as well. You can rewind the game in real time, which is very welcome.

Shoot 'em ups are the gift that keeps on giving!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ew5hEMSzEw[/youtube] The Electric Underground, “Why Shmups Are the BEST Genre, Gameplay Density Matters!”

Christ, just imagine giving a shit

Christ, just imagine giving a shit

[quote=“Zeroeth Nature”][quote=“Zeroeth Nature”]Devil Engine²


² The third, forest stage evidently was inspired by this stage from Thunder Force V[/quote]

And Friday night I discovered that the same goes for the second, city stage and the first stage of this astonishing game, respectively:


Last Resort[/quote]

Last Resort is a Neo Geo game; and since then, I’ve explored some more of that system’s library. But first, I’ll admit I thought it was mostly inspired by The Terminator (one of my favourite film and series franchises of all time); but it turns out it was inspired far more by what’s always been my favourite anime by far:


NGH-024: Last Resort - Neo Geo Generation | Basement Brothers | Neo Geo Collection

Now before I get to the Neo Geo shmups I discovered in the meantime, I will first mention some honourable fighting games:

The last one is one of my favourites, second only to Street Fighter 6 (this is about fighting games I play with a controller). It’s by Visco Corporation, as is the first new shmup I discovered, Andro Dunos. Here’s its sequel, which came out almost thirty years later(!):


And lastly, for now, here’s a game I’ve jokingly called ‘Rez 2D Unlimited’:

Zed Blade

This boss, the second, reminds me of the fourth boss of Rez (Infinite):


And the music, that of the third level for example, reminds me of…


[size=1]SNES BioMetal (US FastROM), starting at the intro’s pilot profiles[/size]