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 Post subject: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 11:51 pm 


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We all know that shmups are an extreme niche genre, but a valid question is: why? These are really good games, but nobody knows about them. Looking at the genre as a whole, and comparing it to more mainstream titles, I've come up with what I think are the reasons why this is still such an extreme niche genre.

1.Difficulty. Unlike most games, shmups appear to have become harder rather than easier over time. That doesn't mean the older ones were easy either. R-type, while generally well liked, is far harder than Halo or Call of Duty. More modern shmups tend be bullet hell, such as mushihime-sama, which makes Battletoads look easy. Even easier bullet hell games, such a the Touhou series, are still much more than most modern games, even on easy. The few games that are easy enough for the average gamer tend be terrible euroshmups, which tend give them bad impressions.

2.Perception. The above mention euroshmups are all most people hear about in terms of shmups. They're told the genre as a whole is generic, derivative garbage that you can clear while blindfolded. Some of them have their only experience from videos like this one, probably having seen only this one, and think that all shmups are completely impossible and that only a lunatic would play them. The reviews often don't help, and always have the same complaints.

3.Length. A shmup lasting more than an hour is rare. Because score hunting is something most people are unused to, and instead they only care that they beat the boss rather than caring by how much they beat the boss, They generally see it as “the end” once they manage to credit feed through the final boss. They normally don't even attempt to 1cc a game, and consider having used 50 continues on the last level alone good enough.

4.Multiplayer. Shmups feature almost exclusively co-op play, with online scoreboards to put scores on. Most gamers are concerned more with proving their better than someone else by beating them in direct competition, and as such co-op is something they hate. Since they don't play for score, the scoreboards are meaningless to them. Since they can't go online and beat tons of new players to make them think they're good, they tend to hate the game.

If you can think of anything else, please tell me. I'm also thinking of modifying this slightly and posting on more mainstream gaming boards, so if you have any suggestions for that, I would also like to hear them.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:02 am 


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It's a niche genre because it never fell into catering to bad players who want hour-long cutscenes and various other modern game pitfalls.

1. Difficulty is a good thing as long as it's balanced enough to have an easy mode for beginners.

2. Can't change the perception of an entire population of idiots who think Raiden was the last shmup ever made, aside from Ikaruga. And that every shmup ever made was a quarter muncher (There were actually very few quarter munchers in arcades, additionally they were mostly USA-made games or USA versions of shmups) that were ruined) Shmup re-education camps anyone? :P

3. Shmups that last forever are watered down crap like the Euroshmups you previously mentioned, which have long boring levels that toss a few popcorns at you every minute or so. :P


Last edited by Udderdude on Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:02 am 


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The simple answer is that, to the main gaming populace, shooters (I refuse to call them "shmups") have had their day. Back in the 80s and 90s shoot em up's comprised of a large chunk of the arcade releases, almost drowning out other genres. You couldn't get a more popular genre of game and therefore developers kept on making them. As time went on, technology became more advanced and as new genres of game came around (sandbox, etc) the humble 2D shooter was left floundering. With kids therefore growing up with the GTAs and the Saints Rows (unfortunately) nobody wants to play these supposed "simple" shooters anymore.

The adage of it being a niche genre isn't entirely true. It is just well remembered by a certain age bracket or by some adventurous gamer who is bored of the countless football or Fiddy Cent games out there. Today is the age of nostalgia.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:52 am 


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I think the games industry has moved on while shmups pretty much stayed the same. People started looking for flashy 3d graphics, in depth stories with plenty of cut scenes and a 20hr campaign they were almost guarenteed to see the end of. Shmups didn't really offer any of that and players went elsewhere.

The problem is that as the fan base dwindled, the devs started catering more and more to the harcore supporters which is only serving to make the genre innaccessable to newcomers (in my opinion), I mean show someone who hasn't really encountered the genre before a modern (by that i mean late 90s +) bullet hell and they'll probably feel pretty daunted.

The other problem of course is that a lot of younger gamers simply never grew up with the genre and never really have access to the games now (few make it to the US and fewer to the EU), unless they were actively seeking them out the whole genre would likely pass them by unnoticed.
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:59 am 


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Casual audience doesn't take shmups seriously (as opposed to The Sims and Petz, hell yeah). It usually thinks that shmups are all the same, and one-liners like 'another space shooting game with speceship in space, it's boring!' are the only response to any attempt to talk about shmups. They just don't get the sense of playing - as they think - over9000 same games about the spaceship in space shooting other spaceships. Hell, they can't even tell the difference between Raiden and DoDonPachi, but once you say smth like 'True Crime: Streets of LA is the GTA ripoff better than GTA itself because it's NOT sandbox', you'll be torn into shreds

But on the other hands, it saved our favorite genre from the same fate as first-person shooters. Shmups did not and will never turn into mindless graphics card ads. Such companies as Cave, Taito, Konami with their PSP collections, Psikyo and others make the games for the community, not for quick buck/yen, and this is awesome. Sure, Sengoku Cannon was horrible in audiovisual department, but it's still hardcore and appealing, appealing to shmup fans only. It's not the product for Petz and Crysis fans and housewives

Bottom line: To be honest, I don't want shmups to get the mainstream recognition nowadays. I don't want commercialism to consume the talents. But most of all... I don't want shmups to be played by people who compare consoles by their internals, not by their games, because that's the audience that made first-person shooters and GTAs soulless :(
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:28 am 


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Cave is pretty much whoring it's properties out like no one's business. I don't recollect seeing rRootage "fuck pillows" :lol:

Shoot em up's have been in the position that the GTA's and the COD's have had before. Back in the old days you couldn't move for shooters. I distinctly remember old game mags commenting on the wealth of shooters available, almost to the extent of "oh no, here's another one" What has happened is, quite simply, the progression of technology. Consoles that can perform greater graphics and sound are being used in favour of bigger and bigger gameworlds. Shoot em up's are then perceived as "archaic" and "simple". To the average joe these games are from yesterday, they want the games from tomorrow.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:39 am 


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monkeyman wrote:
I think the games industry has moved on while shmups pretty much stayed the same. People started looking for flashy 3d graphics, in depth stories with plenty of cut scenes and a 20hr campaign they were almost guarenteed to see the end of. Shmups didn't really offer any of that and players went elsewhere.


I don't see how you can say that shmups have "pretty much stayed the same.," unless you're going to say the same about every other genre. Obviously, the attributes that define the genre (in this case shooting and moving) will remain the same, but shmups released today are for the most part very different from shmups from 20 or even 10 years ago. The simple answer, as has been stated above, is that most gamers these days don't like to play hard games. You can of course expand that into a more complicated answer, but you can be sure that it's not the genre's fault that most players no longer want to be challenged.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:50 am 



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I don't know. Geometry wars 1, Geometry wars 2, Charlies Games, Grid Runner++++++++++++, 0Day, Ion Assault, Shred Nebula, Death By Cube, I made a game with zombies, 1up, Duality (whenever it may come out), Leave Home, Platypus, Atomhex etc etc...while many games coming out are arena shooters, they are still being made. It's just all there are, are bullet hell/manic shooters and unfortunately, they do not cater to a wide audience. I bet you bring back some games like R-type, Gradius, Thunder Force and life force styled games - the genre would grow. Maybe not drastically but over time it would seem plausible.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:59 am 


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As someone else basically said, I think it's because the genre is "outdated" (but still fun). To most gamers today, 2-D is outdated and the shmup genre is old. Also, I can personally attest to Exarion's point #2, as that was the reason I never played any bullet hell games for a long while. I saw them and they looked too stupidly frustrating and hard to be any fun at all. But, one day I played the Flash game Frantic and noticed I was having an unusually high amount of FUN! After that day, my perspective on the genre was completely changed and I now greatly enjoy such games as DoDonPachi and Dragon Blaze, though only in moderate amounts.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:27 am 


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I dunno about you guys, but it was a video of Mushihimesama that got me interested in shmups. I was intrigued by the difficulty, and it turned out that I fell in love with the genre.
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:27 am 


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Quote:
Geometry wars, Charlies Games, Grid Runner++, Ion Assault, Shred Nebula


Confuses "Giant visual clusterfuck" with bullet hell. (Also any game which calls itself "the true next-gen shoot-em-up experience" can suck my balls on a stick.)

Quote:
0Day, I made a game with zombies, Platypus, Atomhex, Leave Home


Not bullet hell

Quote:
Death By Cube, 1up


These just look fucking stupid

Quote:
Duality


Really more of a Raiden homeage

Quote:
It's just all there are, are bullet hell/manic shooters


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:31 am 


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The genre needs a way to scare off casuals and add more newcomers to the community. The genre needs to become a force to be dealt with. Where's that Treasure when they're so desperately needed? The genre needs a new Radiant Silvergun 8)
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:37 am 


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EinhanderZwei wrote:
The genre needs a way to scare off casuals and add more newcomers to the community. The genre needs to become a force to be dealt with. Where's that Treasure when they're so desperately needed? The genre needs a new Radiant Silvergun 8)


People might pay attention if Treasure made a new shmup, but if it was Radiant Silvergun 2.0 you can bet the vast majority of gamers would flee in terror. RSG is a strict as hell memorizer where you HAD to play for score, or your weapons would be useless later on whether you credit fed or not. (This is excepting the Saturn mode on the Saturn port (duh) , where your weapons kept growing in power over the course of multiple game sessions.) Also your ship was absolutely molasses slow.

The only reason RSG gets any notice is because 1. It was stupidly rare and 2. People worship Treasure for some bizzare reason. I can bet you 99% of "RSG fans" never even played it.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:47 am 


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RSG is one of the rarest examples of 'best game in a genre' pick that I agree with :) When I've rtied it out on Saturn emu on my friend's PC (he hates shmups, but he was asleep at that monent :lol: ), I felt that my life will never be the same. Yeah, this game is merciless. And yeah, it's of the dying breed of games that take the player seriously. So that's what the shmups do need: not the games that are taken seriously, but the games that take US seriously (rephrasing the Nostalgia Critic quote)
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:50 am 


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EinhanderZwei wrote:
And yeah, it's of the dying breed of games that take the player seriously. So that's what the shmups do need: not the games that are taken seriously, but the games that take US seriously (rephrasing the Nostalgia Critic quote)


Uh, yeah, there are tons of shmups that do that. If you want more shmups with high level play, instead of the kind of watered down "casual" "indie" shmups TodayIsForgotten was rattling out, trust me, you WANT shmups to remain niche. Shmups going "mainstream" will only end in tears for people who actually play and enjoy them.

A new RSG-style game would get the same treatment every modern shooter has in the mainstream. "Wahh, it's too hard. Wahh, it's too short. Wahh, I credit fed and saw the ending and saw no reason to play it again." Don't kid yourself.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:57 am 


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Udderdude wrote:
If you want more shmups with high level play, instead of the kind of watered down "casual" "indie" shmups TodayIsForgotten was rattling out, trust me, you WANT shmups to remain niche. Shmups going "mainstream" will only end in tears for people who actually play and enjoy them.


This is exactly the same point I've talked about earlier in this topic ;) I do want shmups to remain niche and I will definitely be one of the cry-babies over the genre's corpse stuffed with bucks if they will go mainstream
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:10 am 


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I think something like another Ikaruga would be good. Ikaruga was the first shmup I really liked, and I believe it's what got me interested in the genre. It also, by some miracle, managed to get good reviews, and I'm certain the XBLA version attracted other people to the genre. As for what Treasure is doing now, they just released Sin and Punishment 2 in Japan, so I'm not sure what they're doing. Hopefully their next project has the effect as Ikaruga.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:11 am 



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Shmups going casual will really water down the experience. It means they have to make them accessible to everyone, including my grandmother. Imagine there being a Raizing Auto-bomb on a more extreme scale in a shmup geared towards casuals.

I'm fine with shmups remaining a niche genre.
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:14 am 


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Shmups are sooper sekrit club, no girls allowed!
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:16 am 


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EPS21 wrote:
Shmups are sooper sekrit club, no girls allowed!


Girls are allowed, as long as they don't complain that it's not as easy as barbie horse adventures and/or hello kitty online.

:P


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:18 am 


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EPS21 wrote:
Shmups are sooper sekrit club, no girls allowed!


Tell that to her :mrgreen:
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 3:19 am 


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Exarion wrote:
I think something like another Ikaruga would be good. Ikaruga was the first shmup I really liked, and I believe it's what got me interested in the genre. It also, by some miracle, managed to get good reviews, and I'm certain the XBLA version attracted other people to the genre. As for what Treasure is doing now, they just released Sin and Punishment 2 in Japan, so I'm not sure what they're doing. Hopefully their next project has the effect as Ikaruga.


It should come with an hour long DVD explaining that everything they know about shooters is wrong. :P

Hell, maybe I should just go and make something like that myself. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:06 am 


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I think Pointman hit the nail on the head for this one.

My cousin recently came over from Europe and he is only about 3 years younger than me. I lent him my old Xbox so he had something to play since he was staying at my parent's place and I thought he would get quite bored.

I booted it up for him and showed him the emulators etc, then I fired up a shmup, started playing, and I asked him 'Pretty cool huh?' - His reply was "Yeah... Pretty cool in the early 1990s maybe". :evil:

It's simply a public perception thing. They believe the games are old and simple. They group them together with stuff like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:18 am 


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Eurpoeans and the japanese are the only smart ones that sing praises of shmups....us dumb americans are the only ones hiding in the cracks....... importing whatever shmup that we can get our handfs on without making much noise.

Its a shame. :roll:
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 5:20 am 


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spl wrote:
I think Pointman hit the nail on the head for this one.

My cousin recently came over from Europe and he is only about 3 years younger than me. I lent him my old Xbox so he had something to play since he was staying at my parent's place and I thought he would get quite bored.

I booted it up for him and showed him the emulators etc, then I fired up a shmup, started playing, and I asked him 'Pretty cool huh?' - His reply was "Yeah... Pretty cool in the early 1990s maybe". :evil:

It's simply a public perception thing. They believe the games are old and simple. They group them together with stuff like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.


I personally think there's more too it than just that, and i'll be asking more average gamers as to why they think the genre is stuck in niche status tomorrow. If I find anything interesting, I'll post it here. If not, i'll just say what they said.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:59 am 


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I can't understand how anybody would want shoot em up's to remain unknown when I see lots of threads about people praying that more copies of, let's say Futari, are bought so that future Cave games remain region free. It like they want the people to buy the games and then instantly forget about them so that the fans can still have their niche hobby but in a easier to reach location. That is hardly hardcore. If you want hardcore then all arcade games should remain in pcb form and said punter should fork out for a new kit to be able to experience that something special. But we all know that won't happen.

I welcome the exposure that shooters are getting, it means more games all round. And remember, nobody is going to take the classics away from you.


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:08 pm 


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Pointman wrote:
I can't understand how anybody would want shoot em up's to remain unknown when I see lots of threads about people praying that more copies of, let's say Futari, are bought so that future Cave games remain region free.

It's not that people want shmups to be obscure or underground. They just don't want them to be radically changed to make them more appealing to the masses (i.e., watering them down), which is what developers would have to do to make normal people like them, and even that probably wouldn't get many people interested. Given the choice between shmups being good and shmups being popular, most of us would rather have them be good.

Deja vu?
http://shmups.system11.org/viewtopic.php?p=388493#p388493


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:13 pm 


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linko9 wrote:
monkeyman wrote:
I think the games industry has moved on while shmups pretty much stayed the same. People started looking for flashy 3d graphics, in depth stories with plenty of cut scenes and a 20hr campaign they were almost guarenteed to see the end of. Shmups didn't really offer any of that and players went elsewhere.


I don't see how you can say that shmups have "pretty much stayed the same.," unless you're going to say the same about every other genre. Obviously, the attributes that define the genre (in this case shooting and moving) will remain the same, but shmups released today are for the most part very different from shmups from 20 or even 10 years ago. The simple answer, as has been stated above, is that most gamers these days don't like to play hard games. You can of course expand that into a more complicated answer, but you can be sure that it's not the genre's fault that most players no longer want to be challenged.


I really didn't mean that as a critisism of the genre, and I appreciate that there have been incremental changes to the games over the years, mainly in the increasing complexity of scoring mechanics. I just don't think the 3d tech and increased memory capacity of CDs that the Playstation era bought in revolutionised the genre as it did for some others others.

But yeah, difficulty is the big problem, either the game doesn't allow credit feeding and people whinge it's too hard because they have to start over, or it does allow credit feeding and they whinge it's over too quickly. Modern games have conditioned people tp think a game is all about seeing the end cinematic or unlocking a new feature, when shmups are about score and - shock horror - enjoying the gameplay, which are characteristics now considered out-dated and archaic by many.

Like i said, I'm not trying to bad mouth the genre, i love shmups even if I'm no good at them, I'm just saying why I believe most people don't bother with them nowdays.
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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 12:31 pm 


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Reminds me when SNK "fans", were complaining about the first accurate ports on Saturn and Dreamcast, because "their" games were suddenly more accessible to a wider audience. After they had complained that SNK went bankrupt, of course.

ROBOTRON wrote:
Eurpoeans and the japanese are the only smart ones that sing praises of shmups....us dumb americans are the only ones hiding in the cracks....... importing whatever shmup that we can get our handfs on without making much noise.

Its a shame. :roll:



In Europe people don't even know what a shmup is, they don't even know the meaning of the word "arcade".


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 Post subject: Re: Why shmups are such a niche genre
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 1:28 pm 


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EinhanderZwei wrote:
EPS21 wrote:
Shmups are sooper sekrit club, no girls allowed!


Tell that to her :mrgreen:

That bitch can't even hold her chain. (no bondage pun intended)
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