90-Degree Laser: A recurring type of laser weapon with limited homing properties, which both players and enemies can sometimes use in certain shmups: such weapons usually fire a beam which travels straight ahead of the craft like most weapons do, but if it “senses” an enemy to either side of it, it will “bend” at a 90-degree angle to follow and attack it.
Aimed Shot: An enemy shot which is aimed at a specific spot onscreen, usually directly at the player’s craft. Essentially the opposite of spam.
Alternate View: Type of shmup which features both horizontally- and vertically-oriented levels, though not necessarily in a directly “alternating” order.
1) Most commonly used to describe the “main” play mode available in a shmup which has been ported to a home system from the original arcade game: “arcade mode” is generally a near-exact reproduction (taking into consideration the limits of the home platform in question) of the original arcade release.
2) Can also be used to refer to a shmup’s screen/viewing orientation: in such cases it usually serves as an alternate term for tate mode.
Arena Shooter: (also Free-Roaming Shooter) A shooting game, usually top-down oriented, which takes place within a confined area, sometimes consisting of separate, linked “rooms,” through which the player usually progresses manually, at his own pace, rather than having a scrolling screen to “nudge” him along, although there is often a time limit in play. Smash T.V. is one example. Not considered “pure” shmups by some players; sometimes grouped under borderliners.
Arrange Mode: General term for an “extra” play mode found in some console shmups, alongside the “normal” or “arcade” mode. Usually plays in a relatively similar fashion to the “regular” game, but may also include extra stages or selectable craft, new enemy formations or attacks, a different graphical and/or aural presentation, different scoring mechanics, or other features not found in the “standard” mode. The unique (or semi-unique) names which are used in different shmups to label their own arrange modes vary widely.
Autobomb: (also Autoguard) Feature in some shmups (or modes therein) which causes a bomb to automatically activate, without player input, when an enemy shot hits the player’s craft, or comes close to doing so, thus saving the player from losing a life as long as he has bombs in stock. Can be useful for practice, but since it lowers the game’s challenge significantly, shmuppers generally do not allow it to be used in score competitions, “legitimate” 1CC attempts, or the like.
Autofire: (also Auto-Shot, Rapid Shot, Rapid Fire) A feature found in some shmups which allows you to fire shots continuously by holding down the “fire” button, or a separately-designated “auto-fire” button, instead of tapping the “regular” fire button repeatedly. Depending on a weapon’s fire rate, and the situation at hand, using auto-fire may or may not be to a player’s advantage at all times.
Autofire Hack: A hardware hack most commonly used on arcade machines, with which players will enable extra buttons not used by default on a certain shmup to gain certain advantageous autofire functions not otherwise available in said game. As such, in many cases high score competitions will list “autofire” and “non-autofire” scores separately for applicable games, since using an autofire hack often gives a player a significant advantage over one who does not use it.
Autofire Rate: Despite sounding similar, this is NOT the same thing as fire rate. Refers specifically to the amount of shots fired in a single “burst” when using autofire: in some shmups this setting is adjustable in the Options menu (or even in-game), while in other cases players will engineer an autofire hack to set extra buttons to different autofire rates to use in different situations.
Auto-Target: (also Auto-Aim, Auto-Track, Tracking) Property of certain shmup weapons, often options, which allows them to automatically aim themselves at targets without the player having to manually control them. Different from homing weapons, since the actual shots fired by these weapons usually do not have homing properties, and can have some trouble hitting fast-moving enemies; regardless, many consider auto-targeting weapons a type of homing weapon.
Base Point Value: Term usually found in shmups with some type of multiplier as their scoring system; it refers to the “basic” amount of points that an enemy is worth when shot down, without being affected by the multiplier or anything else that would alter its value.
Blast-‘em-Up: Term used to describe a shmup, usually an older one, which generally does not include any type of scoring system beyond shooting enemies and perhaps collecting set-amount score items. Generally not played “for score” (especially since many such shmups do not include limits on milking and other potentially counter-stopping techniques), but instead with the exclusive goal of a one-credit in mind.
Bomb: (also Bomber)
1)A special weapon available in limited numbers or at limited intervals, which causes large amounts of damage, covers a wide area, or both. In many cases also cancels bullets and/or gives your ship an invincibility window while it’s activated. A particularly powerful bomb which automatically damages or destroys every enemy onscreen is sometimes called a “smart bomb,” “nuke,” or “mega crush.” Items which can be collected to add spare bombs to a player’s stock are often called “bomb(er) icons.”
2) A weapon which drops to the ground and explodes to attack targets there, most commonly featured in horizontal shmups.
Bomb Delay: In some shmups, a small amount of “setup time” or “lag” that occurs between the instant a player pushes the bomb-activation button and the moment when the “bomb” action actually occurs onscreen. An excessive bomb delay can more or less limit the bomb to purely pre-planned, offensive use, since a last-second defensive utilization to prevent being shot down is rendered all but impossible, due to the delay’s enabling a close-range threatening bullet to sneak in and hit the player during the “window” between the command and the action.
1) The maximum or default amount of bombs that a player can hold in reserve at one time: many times this amount is set in stone for the duration of a game, but in other cases it can either be increased through certain gameplay actions or adjusted in an Options menu. Important to note, since in most (though not all) shmups if a player is shot down he will have his bombs restocked to their default number, even if he has more (or less) bombs than that in stock upon being shot down.
2) More casually, refers to the number of bombs a player possesses at a given time, whether the stock is at maximum/defaults or not.
Borderliner: Broad term used to describe “shooting” games that many, but not all, players do not consider to quite qualify technically as shmups. Examples include “Run n’ Gun” shooters (Contra, Metal Slug), “Rail” shooters (Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox), and “Tube” shooters (Gyruss). As with shmups themselves, there really is no hard-and-fast definition of what exactly constitutes a “borderliner,” and individual conceptions of it vary widely.
1) Stage or group of stages within a shmup which are comprised entirely of “boss” fights, though they’re sometimes interrupted by brief “recharge” sections filled with power-ups between battles. Unlike a Boss Attack, a “boss alley” is not a separate mode, but is a section located within the “regular” game, usually in the final stages.
2) A rare type of shmup composed entirely of boss fights, with few or no “minor” enemies or other sections of consequence in between successive bosses. When the term is used in this context (to describe an entire shmup, instead of just one section of it), it usually indicates that the game goes a step beyond what is usually defined as a Boss Fest.
Boss Attack: (also Boss Rush, Boss Only Mode, Boss Gauntlet) A play mode available in some shmups which allows the player to fight the stage “bosses” only, usually in successive order. Often requires a code or some gameplay-related task to unlock it, and has a separate ranking screen from other game modes. Sometimes the mode is timed, which also makes it a variation on Time Attack mode, in those cases.
Boss Fest: Term, usually derogatory in nature, used to describe a shmup composed largely or completely of (often lengthy) boss battles, while the remaining portions of levels therein, while present, are usually comparatively short and inconsequential.
Boss Timer: (also Boss Counter) A countdown timer which appears during boss battles in some shmups: once it reaches zero, the boss will Time Out, quickly ending the battle. Some shmups feature invisible boss timers, and as such the player cannot tell when a boss fight will automatically end without prior experience.
Bullet: The basic, most common unit of firepower in a shmup, usually refers to enemy weaponry but can also be used to describe the player’s weapons, usually the vulcan. Usually appears as a brightly-colored or flashing circle, or “blob,” but its appearance varies greatly depending on the shmup in question, or even when it comes to individual craft within a single shmup. Most varieties are indestructible. Sometimes the term “shot” or “fire” is used to describe bullets, but the previous terms are farther-reaching, referring to various types of offensive projectiles, while “bullet” is more specific.
Bullet Cancel: (also Bullet Eater) Property of certain shmup weapons which allows them to destroy enemy bullets which are not otherwise destructible; in many shmups the bomb or melee weapon has this ability.
1) Over-arching label that encompasses all types of manic shmups, i.e. any title which is notable for the large amounts of bullets that the player is required to avoid.
2) Informally, refers to any particularly bullet-heavy attack, i.e. “The second boss unleashes some nasty bullet hell on his third phase.”
Bullet Maze: An especially large (often covering most or all of the screen) and/or tight bullet pattern through which the player has to move very carefully, and often nearly nonstop, to escape without being hit.
Bullet Pattern: (also Bullet Formation) A specific recurring formation of enemy bullets, or other types of shots, produced either by a single enemy or a group of enemies working in tandem, which often must be dodged in a rather specific way to be avoided.
Bullet Time: Yes, “Matrix” fans, it means pretty much what you think it means – a player’s (limited) ability to slow down enemies and/or their shots while maintaining his default movement speed, giving him a notable advantage while active. The ESPGaluda games are perhaps the most famous shmups to utilize this mechanic.
Caravan Mode: “Umbrella” term which can be used to denote both Score Attack and Time Attack modes. Originates from a group of Compile-developed shooters (Super Star Soldier and Final Soldier, among others) which both included such modes as extras alongside the “regular” games and released them alone, in limited quantities, as “Caravan” editions.
Chain: Any of a number of various repeated techniques a player can perform to increase the points awarded for shooting enemies, collecting items, or other things under the right circumstances: the most common varieties involve shooting down many enemies (or enemies of a specific type) quickly in a row, or collecting a certain type of score item many times in a row. Often utilizes a multiplier. Sometimes called “combos.”
Chain Counter: (also Combo Counter) A visible onscreen counter which keeps track of how big/long your current chain is: the bigger/longer the chain gets, the more points are awarded. Often accompanied by a combo time display.
Character Shmup: A shmup which prominently features one or more specific “animate” playable characters, as opposed or in addition to “inanimate” ships, planes, or the like: usually (but not always) has a more involved plot than “non-character” shmups, though the storyline in a shmup is generally not considered very important either way.
Charge Attack: (also Charge Shot) A type of weapon attack, usually more powerful than “regular” shots, which usually requires the player to hold down the shot button, or a separate “charge” button, for a certain amount of time before it can be released and used: in a few cases, however, the player has to actually let go of the shot button completely for a certain amount of time for the charge attack to be prepared. Sometimes this type of attack can be used an unlimited amount of times, in other cases it requires the player to collect a certain amount of items or destroy a certain amount of enemies before it can be utilized. In some shmups bomb attacks can also be “charged,” either to “place” the effect area or increase their power.
Checkpoint: A set point within a level from which a player can restart from after being shot down after reaching or passing it, rather than being sent back to the very beginning of the level. Usually featured in memorizers.. Some use the term “checkpoint” to refer to the respawn feature, but the term is more accurately used to describe a specific, “set in stone” restart point in a level, as opposed to any random instant-restart point.
1) When used as a noun, sometimes more specifically called “chip damage.” Refers to the fact that in some shmups you are awarded a small amount of “chip points” just for causing your shots to successfully hit a target, whether or not it destroys it completely; thus, in some cases using a weaker weapon which requires many hits to destroy enemies can, over time, increase a player’s score substantially.
2) When used as a verb, refers to the specific act of attacking an enemy (or part of an enemy), usually a boss, which cannot be damaged; while this obviously does not help to destroy the target, the player still receives “chip points” for doing so, and thus some players will use “chipping” to milk certain enemies for extra points before actually destroying them.
3) “Chips” is sometimes used as an alternate term for shrapnel.
4) In a few shmups, certain items are referred to as “chips,” though they generally serve the same types of purposes as comparable items in most any other shmup.
Clear Bonus: (also All Clear Bonus, End Bonus, Game Over Bonus) Bonus points given after finishing the last stage (either of a single loop or altogether) of a shmup (sometimes other genres as well). Can sometimes make up a large percentage of one’s final score. Usually gives the highest awards for remaining lives or bombs, or of certain special items collected. As with the stage end bonus, not all shmups award such a bonus upon completion.
Collect-‘em-Up: Term sometimes used to describe a shmup which places more emphasis on collecting lots of items to increase scores than most shmups do. Dangun Feveron is one game which is often associated with this title.
Combo Slop: Refers to a feature of certain types of chain systems in some shmups. In these cases, when combo time expires, a player’s chain counter will not immediately reset itself when a chain is broken, but will instead gradually decrease until it either runs out completely or the player resumes forming the chain, at which point it will begin increasing as before.
Combo Time: Window of opportunity that exists for a player to continue collecting items, shooting enemies, etc. to keep certain types of time-dependent chains alive: once the combo time has expired, the chain ends (unless combo slop is in effect) and any related cumulative score bonuses reset themselves. Sometimes the combo time is displayed onscreen, often in the form of a meter, while other times the player must keep track in his head, based on experience.
Oddly, while “chain” is usually the term used to describe the sequence itself, “combo” is the most commonly-used word for the time allowed for it. Generally, though, a “combo” and a “chain” in a shmup are essentially the same thing.
Continue Service: A feature found in some shmups (and sometimes even in other genres) which gives players some extra incentive to use an additional credit (or several) to continue their game after losing all their lives: usually causes lots of extra powerups and the like to appear in order to quickly get the player’s craft back up to full strength if the player chooses to continue.
Co-Op Play: Sometimes condensed into CoOpPlay. Generally, refers to playing a shmup (or other type of game) with a second player, working cooperatively. Generally not used, understandably, to refer to competitive two-player action, as in a versus shmup. More specifically, it can also be used to label a replay featuring the sort of cooperative gameplay defined above.
Core: More or less the universal term for an enemy’s main weak spot, usually that of a boss, within a shmup. Stereotypically looks like some kind of orb, but there are endless variations on this.
This term was coined by the 1985 shmup “Gradius,” in which a recurring boss with a crystalline orb-shaped weak point named “Big Core” would appear: sequels to Gradius would prompt players to “Shoot the Core!” whenever such a boss would show up. Since then, “core” has become widely used beyond its original series.
Counter Stop: Very difficult scoring achievement, only possible in certain shmups. Occurs when a player scores so many points during a run that the score counter simply cannot go any higher, and is thus forced to stop counting points scored before the run is over. Often requires very heavy milking to achieve.
Craft: (also Avatar) Semi-universal term for the onscreen object which the player controls in a shmup, whether it is meant to represent a person, a vehicle, or something else: some shmuppers use the term “plane” or “ship” in a similar manner, since the majority of shmups use some sort of flying machine as their craft. Onscreen adversaries can also be referred to as “craft,” “ships,” etc., but usually the term “enemy” is attached to them so as to differentiate them from the player.
Credit Feed: To take advantage of a shmup which allows unlimited continues, by continuing over and over again until the game is finished, no matter how many times one is shot down. A practice which is frowned upon by many shmuppers; some purists, in fact, dislike the practice of ever continuing at all, even for practice.
Credit Muncher: Casual term for a shmup which is especially difficult to finish, and requires most players to use a large number of “credits,” or “continues,” to complete the game (arcade-release shmups of this type also have the more general gaming term “quarter munchers” attached to them). Can have either a positive or negative connotation, the former when the game is accessible and fair, yet highly challenging; the latter when the game engine makes seemingly unfair efforts (such as inadequate weaponry, unforgiving hit detection, hard-to-see enemies and shots, etc.) to all but force the player to continue several times before he can complete the game, regardless of his level of skill or experience.
Crowd Control: Refers to any type of weapon which is most useful for dispatching large numbers of minor enemies and usually covers a lot of onscreen space, but is generally lacking in raw power and less effective against bosses and stronger adversaries.
Curtain Fire: (also Danmaku)
1) Tightly-packed bullet formation which moves steadily towards the player’s craft and covers most of the screen; could be considered something of a cross between a wave and a bullet maze. Such a formation MUST be “waded through” by the player, since it’s impossible to avoid entirely.
2) Used as a sub-category label for certain manic shmups which tend to use such formations frequently.
Literally, “danmaku” is the Japanese word for “barrage,” though it is sometimes also translated “bullet curtain.” It is generally believed that the oft-used “curtain fire” term first came from a mistranslation featured on the loading screen of the popular homebrew shooter Perfect Cherry Blossom.
Cute-‘em-Up: A shmup whose overall presentation and subject matter is intended to be “cute” or at least not very serious, though the gameplay is usually not radically different from, or less challenging than, most shmups in general. Examples are the Twinbee and Parodius series.
Cutoff Mark: Invisible line located near the bottom (in verts) or left side (in horizontal shmups) of the screen which, in some shmups, will prevent enemy craft from being able to fire any shots if they move past it (ostensibly, very close to where the player likely is). Included to help prevent point blank deaths.
Dead Zone: In certain shmups, the point at which a player’s craft is close enough to an enemy to prevent the latter from firing at the former, or releasing suicide bullets upon being shot down; this is sometimes (but not always) built into a game’s engine to reduce or prevent “point blank” deaths to the player. Often becomes smaller and harder to exploit on successive loops or when rank increases.
Defaults: (also Full Defaults, Normal Settings) Term used to describe the “default” settings for difficulty, extra lives, etc. found on a shmup’s “options” menu when they have not been adjusted at all by the player; most “official” high score competitions and such will only accept score entries obtained on default settings. In a few cases the “default” setting on a shmup will not be viewed as “official” (for instance, if the home port of an arcade shmup is by default set up differently than the original arcade version), but this varies from shmup to shmup. In some cases separate score tables are kept for varying difficulty settings, etc., but in most any case the “full default” table is at least the “main” one. Generally such options as the view mode or button configuration are viewed as “okay” to change, since they don’t affect the “core” gameplay at all, but simply cater to the player’s personal gameplay preferences, though again, attitudes on this vary from game to game and from player to player.
Dismantle: (also Deconstruct) Refers to the act of destroying all smaller “pieces” of a large enemy, usually a boss, for extra points, rather than solely targeting the core to destroy the enemy more quickly. Some consider this a form of milking, but most consider dismantling too “obvious” (for lack of a better term) an activity to be put in the same category as the usually more difficult and obscure “milking” techniques.
Double Play: Sometimes condensed into DoublePlay. Describes the act of a single person playing a shmup (or other type of game) while controlling both the 1P and 2P craft at the same time, using one hand for each set of controls - more to the point, the act of doing the aforementioned with enough skill to excel, or at least succeed, in conquering the game in question. As one might expect, a very difficult and rarely-mastered skill.
More specifically, refers to a replay (almost always considered a superplay) of a person performing said feat.
Drill: Refers to a type of weapon which has qualities similar to piercing, but slightly different; while a “piercing” weapon usually passes directly through an enemy without slowing down at all, a “drilling” weapon will slow down as it passes through an enemy it hits (and sometimes will not make it all the way to the other side of the enemy before dissipating). The advantage of this is that it will usually do more damage to the enemy as it slowly works its way through than a quicker piercing weapon would do, especially if the enemy is very large in size; the disadvantage is that it’s usually not as effective as a piercing weapon for attacking enemies positioned in “rows,” directly behind one another.
Dual Play: Sometimes condensed into DualPlay. Over-arching term for both double play and co-op play replays, i.e. any replay in which more than one craft is being controlled.
Enclosure Attack: (also Trapping Attack) General term for any enemy bullet pattern or other attack which is designed to trap the player’s craft within a very small area, to limit its range of movement. Most commonly used to describe (but not limited to) net-type patterns.
1) A shmup created by a European developer.
2) More generally, describes a shmup which contains features commonly found in European-developed shmups, even when the game in question is not actually European in origin. Some commonly-cited features are horizontal orientation, hand-drawn graphics, an energy bar (either in addition to or instead of lives), few popcorn enemies, simple level/enemy designs, slow pacing, and uneven weapon balance and challenge. Frequently used as a derogatory term, though those with fond memories of the era of the Amiga and other such computer systems (during which the “Euroshmup” style was most frequently utilized) will disagree.
Extend: Term used in shmups to refer to an extra life or 1-Up, usually when awarded for reaching a certain score (though the term can refer to item-based extra lives as well); as such, the setup of score intervals at which extra lives are awarded in a shmup is sometimes called the “Extend Rate.”
Fire Rate: (also Shot Rate) Refers to how quickly in succession single shots can be fired when using a particular weapon. Weapons with the most powerful individual shots usually have slower fire rates, but not always. Often affected by the game’s innate shot limit.
Focus: A feature most commonly found in manic shmups, which allows the player to slow down his craft’s movement while a button (often the “shot” trigger) is held down, allowing for more precise maneuvering in exchange for raw speed. In amny cases, doing this also condenses the player’s shots into a more focused, powerful stream, hence the name.
Friction: A programming/mathematical quirk which causes one’s craft, in many shmups, to move more slowly when pressed up against the edges of the screen while a diagonal direction is being held. In many games, when moving diagonally the craft’s horizontal and vertical movement speeds are “combined” mathematically in some way to determine how quickly it moves – when the diagonally-moving craft hits an edge and cannot move any farther in that one direction, that portion of the “diagonal formula” is eliminated, and the craft is slowed down by the innate programming by default.
Full Screen Mode: Something of an umbrella term sometimes used to describe any view mode in a shmup which utilizes the entire screen area (most commonly tate mode), without “letterboxing” or any other such limitations.
“Ghetto Tate”: Popular term for a “view mode” (of sorts) used by certain players who want to play vertical shmups in tate mode, but do not want to deal with the risk factors of rotating their television sets; as such, they adjust the game to put its display in tate mode, but instead of rotating their TV, they simply lay on their side and play from there, in effect “rotating” themselves instead of their televisions.
Ghost: Refers to any enemy craft which a player can pass his craft over or through without being damaged. In most shmups this principle applies to nearly all ground-based enemies, but the term “ghost” is more often used in descriptions of shmups in which only enemy shots can harm the player, while enemy craft, flying or not, are completely harmless. To make up for this increased amount of safe movement options for the player, such shmups often feature especially large amounts of bullets to dodge.
1) (also Turret, Cannon) A semi-universal term for a common type of shmup enemy which is usually immobile and attached to the ground or a ceiling, but is often able to fire in several directions, and can be difficult to shoot because it is often required that the player to get very close to obstacles to have a shot at them.
2) Can also refer to small (and often destructible) weapon parts found on a boss or other major enemy.
3) Is sometimes used to describe certain types of options, most frequently, as one might suspect, ones which resemble guns.
Hentai Shmup: From the Japanese “hentai,” which translates to “pervert.” A shmup which contains graphic nudity and/or sexual content, and is obviously intended only for “mature” players.
Herd: (also Hoard, Lure) A strategy commonly used in manic shmups, which involves remaining still at one point on the screen for a short time, in an effort to prompt all onscreen enemies to fire their aimed shots at you simultaneously, converging their attacks on a relatively small area: thus, if you can move away and escape the barrage just in time, there will remain a large amount of open onscreen area to move around and attack in before the enemy can adjust its aim.
Hitbox: (also Collision Detection, Hit Detection, Hit Area)
1) The specific area within a shmup’s onscreen craft which will register as a “hit” when a shot or other onscreen obstacle touches it. In some shmups the hitbox is (or can be made) separately visible from the rest of the craft, while in others the player must rely on experience to know where it is. The term can refer to such areas as they exist within enemy craft, but almost always refers to the player craft.
2) The specific area within a visible shot, usually near the center, which will register as a hit if it touches a craft’s hitbox. In most shmups a shot’s entire onscreen image serves as its hitbox, but in some, especially certain manic shmups, the edge of a shot can overlap a craft’s hitbox and it can still escape without being damaged or destroyed.
For both of the above definitions, it’s worth noting that, despite the name, the hitbox does not have to be a perfectly square “box” shape (though it often is); in many cases it is rectangular, circular, or some other kind of shape altogether.
Homebrew: (also Doujin) Refers to a shmup (or other type of game) not produced by an “official” video game developer or “formally” released for the arcade or home market. Usually developed and distributed over the internet by amateur programmers or fans, although some eventually receive limited commercial releases if they become popular enough. While some homebrew shmups include innovations seldom seen in any existing “official” shmup, many include homages to (or ripoffs of, whichever way you care to see it) the creators’ favorite “official” shmups. Also sometimes called “freeware” shmups, since they are usually available, at least in demo form, free of charge.
For the record, originally, the term “doujin” (literally, a group of people with shared interests or hobbies, sometimes translated as “clique,” “coterie,” etc.) was used to exclusively describe fan-made works based off of an already-existing product: over time, however, “doujin” has become acceptable to use to describe completely original fan-made products as well. Also, the word “doujin” by itself can technically refer to ANY fan-made product (books, comics, etc.), not just games (a more “proper” term is “Doujin Soft”), but since “doujin” by itself is the most commonly-used term (and the context of its usage can usually tell you exactly what’s being spoken of), that is the one chosen for this glossary entry.
Homing: (also Seeking) Characteristic of certain shmup weapons (specifically their shots), usually ones which must be collected as powerups, which allows them, when shot, to automatically seek out and damage enemies, usually the nearest ones first, without the use of a lock-on (many, however, will classify lock-on weapons as a sub-type of homing weapon). Usually doesn’t have as much raw power as other available weapons, in exchange for not having to worry about aiming them.
Horizontal Shmup: ( also Side-Scroller) “Horzie” for short. A shmup where the action progresses, via background scrolling, from left to right, and is generally seen from a “side view” by the player.
Hybrid Attack: Rather rare feature found within a handful of shmups, which allows two players playing together to somehow combine their abilities in a specific manner to enable new attacks or other abilities which are not possible when only a single player is present. Several variations exist on exactly how this occurs, obviously, considering the vastly different inherent gameplay systems present in the shmups which include this feature, but in nearly all cases the hybrid attack, as the name suggests, is offense-oriented.
Inertia: A seldom-seen shmup mechanic which pulls the player’s craft slightly backwards from the last “sideways” direction moved once movement ends and the craft is at a standstill. Almost universally disliked among shmuppers, as it makes dodging more difficult to execute precisely.
Invincibility Window: A specific timeframe during gameplay, set off by a specific event, during which a player’s craft cannot be shot down or otherwise damaged. In some shmups taking advantage of brief invincibility windows is vital to survival. Sometimes called a “flash window,” since the player’s craft will often flash or blink while it’s invincible.
Invisi-bullets: (also Invisible Bullet Syndrome) Term used to describe a shmup situation wherein the color of enemy bullets, especially small ones, either match or are very close to the color of the background graphics, which makes them very difficult to distinguish and avoid, especially when the screen is crowded. Sometimes only becomes a factor in certain parts of a game, and in other cases is an issue throughout; either way, it is more or less a universal turnoff to shmuppers.
Isometric Shmup: An uncommon type of shmup in which the action is viewed from a “3/4” angle by the player, and the background usually scrolls diagonally down from the upper-right corner of the screen to the lower-left. Viewpoint is one example of this setup.
Item: More or less a universal term for any type of icon or the like which can be collected and utilized by the player within a shmup; includes score items, powerups, and just about anything else that the player can obtain and use. In almost all cases simply flying one’s craft over the item is enough to collect it, and collected items are used automatically, but some items, such as most bombs, require activation by the player after being obtained. Items are generally designed to help the player in some way, but in some cases, especially games with particular rank systems, shmuppers will want to avoid certain items if they are not well-suited to the task at hand.
Item Carrier: While in some shmups items appear either at random or at specific intervals when the player destroys enemies or progresses to a certain point, in many cases there exists a specific type (or a few types) of (technically) enemy craft, which will periodically appear, carrying items which, in most cases, it releases after being shot or automatically after a certain amount of time. In some cases item carriers cannot harm the player’s craft, while in other games they can shoot at it and/or crash into it just like any other enemy.
Jerk: (also Cutback) Technique similar in concept to herding, but rather than attempting to “condense” enemy aimed shots, a player uses the “jerk” to create an “escape hole” in an otherwise-inescapable aimed stream of enemy shots. As the enemy moves the onscreen stream in the player’s direction, the latter makes a sudden, brief movement in a certain direction: as a result, the enemy will readjust its aim momentarily, and if the player is quick enough he can then backtrack and slip through the momentary gap in the enemy’s shots to the other side of the stream, escaping being trapped at the edge of the screen by the stream’s movement.
1)Refers to certain minor enemies which usually do not shoot at the player, but rather charge directly towards his craft very quickly in an attempt to crash into it and damage or destroy it that way.
2) Type of shmup enemy which explodes especially violently either on its own or upon being shot down by the player, in an effort to either catch the player’s craft in the explosion and defeat him that way, or release suicide bullets or harmful shrapnel to bring him down.
3) Sometimes used as an alternate term for suicide, especially when the task is accomplished by crashing into an enemy craft, as opposed to a wall or bullet.
Kusoplay: A notable replay which does not reach the “level” of a superplay, due to mistakes or incompleteness, although it can sometimes still showcase considerable ability on the part of the player.
From the Japanese “kuso,” which means “excrement,” or some stronger/coarser descriptive variation thereof (use your imagination).
Laser: A common type of shmup weapon which generally utilizes some kind of energy beam (as such, they are sometimes called “Beam” weapons). Often possesses piercing abilities, but there are endless varieties of this weapon with widely-differing properties and abilities.
1) Technically refers to a bullet pattern being fired from a single source, but the term usually comes into play when there are several different patterns (“layers”) of bullets present, which often overlap each other and must all be dodged simultaneously.
2) Sometimes used to denote the foreground or background “plane” of a shmup’s playing field, since in certain cases some enemies can attack from the background “layer,” and you are only able to shoot back from the foreground “layer” with certain types of weapons.
1) Describes the act of either a player or an enemy craft aiming its shots not directly at their intended target, but rather close by, ideally within the target’s upcoming movement path, in hopes that it will accidentally run into the shot by the time it arrives at that spot.
2) Sometimes used as an alternate term for Herd.
Letterbox Mode: Viewing mode found in many vertscrollers, usually those converted from an arcade version to a console format, which, when the game is played on a horizontal screen, “condenses” the playing field on the left and right, to simulate the vertical orientation of an arcade monitor, though often at the cost of some quality of the game’s graphics and/or viewing area. Most shmup players prefer tate mode to this in most games, although in some cases letterbox mode is the only option available.
Lock-On: A specific type of homing weapon which will automatically seek out and damage enemies, but only after you’ve “locked on” to them by passing over or shooting them with some type of targeting device, which varies in style and usage from shmup to shmup.
Loop: A successful completion of all of a shmup’s levels that are available for one “trip” through the game, from the first level to the last. The term “loop” is most commonly used when a shmup starts itself over at the first stage after a player completes it, thus sending them through a second “loop,” or “lap,” of the game, which is usually more difficult than the first. Some shmups offer several consecutive “loops,” sometimes even ad infinitum, though most have a maximum of one or two. Successive “loops” of a shmup will usually leave the player’s score from the previous “loops” intact, enabling him to reach even higher scores.
Some shmups require a player to one-credit the game in order to reach a successive loop, while others will send the player to it no matter how many times he has to continue to finish the initial run. Sometimes “loops” which occur after the initial trip through the game will only require the player to progress through a limited portion of the game’s total stages, though most of the time they involve all stages; in other instances, later loops can contain a number of various things (sometimes a True Last Boss) not seen in earlier ones.
It’s worth noting that some shmuppers do not consider the first, or “original” trip through a game’s stages as a “loop,” but only the successive ones: Thus, to them, the second successive run through is the “first loop”, the third is the “second loop”, and so on. However, most feel free to refer to the original run through a game’s stages as the “first loop,” and progress in succession from there.
Also worth noting is that, in games which contain one or more loops, the way stages are listed oftentimes also notes which loop the stage is in: most of the time, the loop is listed first, and the stage second. For instance, the first few stages in the initial loop of a game would be listed as “1-1,” 1-2,” 1-3,” etc., while the same stages in the second loop would be “2-1,” “2-2,” “2-3,” and so on.
Manic Shmup: (also Bulletsprayer, Dodge-em-Up) A type of shmup which is characterized by very high numbers of bullets and/or enemies being present on the screen at one time; forces the player to rely on quick reaction time and on-the-spot dodging skills, rather than memorization of where things are within a level, to survive. Due to the highly restricted amount of safe space for the player to move around in, manic shmups almost always feature relatively small hitboxes, usually located near the very center of the player’s craft..
Max Power: (also Full Power)
1)Rare type of power-up which instantly increases a player’s weapon power to its maximum level. Sometimes appears as a continue service.
2) Can also describe the state of one’s craft being at its maximum power level, for weapons or something else, at which point scoring settings or the like sometimes change. (i.e., collecting further power-ups will now increase score).
Melee: As in other video game genres, is used to describe (rather uncommon) shmup weapons which are intended to be used at short range, and often resemble swords or other “traditional” weaponry. Risky to use due to the decreased dodging room the player is given at close range, but often boast high offensive power, bullet eating abilities, or other advantages over longer-range weaponry.
Memorizer: (also Memory Shmup) A type of shmup, usually horizontal in orientation, which forces a player to repeatedly play its levels and memorize its layout in order to perform effectively, though quick reflexes are also a factor to an extent. The R-Type games are the most well-known examples.
Milk: (also Leech) To “milk” an enemy, usually a boss, is to gain as many points from the fight as possible by taking advantage of infinite (or semi-infinite) sources of points which are present: in most cases, this involves leaving the enemy alive for as long as is possible, rather than destroying it quickly and moving on. Examples include continually grazing shots or repeatedly destroying any endlessly respawning weaker enemies or sub-parts for the duration of the battle, while avoiding attacking the core and ending the encounter. In some cases, a player will have to take additional “unorthodox” actions (such as suicide or power down) to milk most effectively. Even disregarding this, milking can still be risky, since some milkable enemies become more difficult to defeat if they’re left alive too long; the practice can also, simply put, be boring to the player, due to its highly repetitive nature. Also, if there is a boss timer in effect, in most cases the player will want to be sure to stop milking and focus on destroying the boss before it runs out, or else forfeit the points that the boss would have been worth.
For the record, “milk” is the term which tends to be attached almost exclusively to bosses, while “leech” more often refers to enemies in general: however, since most instances of milking/leeching center around bosses, “milk” is used as the primary term here, since it’s used most often.
Mine: A type of shmup weapon which is usually used by enemies, but can sometimes be utilized by the player. A “mine,” when released, will usually either stay in one place or move very slowly; after a) a certain amount of time has passed, b) its target moves close enough to it, or c) it is hit by a shot or otherwise touched, it will self-destruct, leaving behind either a large, damaging explosion, suicide bullets, or some other such nasty “parting gift.” In some cases, enemy “mines” can be prevented from doing this if the player is able to destroy them quickly enough. Certain enemy craft which are able to self-destruct in a similar manner are sometimes classified as “mines.”
Missile: A wide-reaching term for a common type of shmup weapon, usually represented as some kind of rocket, with varying properties, though oftentimes it is a homing weapon and/or does splash damage. When used by enemies, missiles can often be destroyed by a player’s shots, but not in all cases.
Multiple: A specific type of option which duplicates the weaponry that the player’s main craft has equipped, and increases in power as the aforementioned does, essentially doubling (or tripling, quadrupling…) the player’s firepower when activated.
Sometimes used as a synonym for the more general term “option,” but this is technically incorrect.
Multiplier: Any variation on a scoring device, implemented to varying degrees in different shmups, which somehow multiplies the base point value awarded for shooting enemies or collecting items, or both, when taken advantage of by the player. Often the central component to a shmup’s scoring system, especially common in more recent offerings.
Naked: Refers to the state of a player’s craft when it has not obtained any power ups or other enhancements, or has recently lost all that it had by being shot down or some such event, and is equipped with only minimal weaponry. Thus, remaining in such a state for very long is usually considered a highly dangerous practice, although some players, in certain shmups, choose to remain “naked” for certain stretches to keep the game’s rank down.
Needle: A certain type of laser weapon which fires several short, thin beams at a relatively rapid clip, in a similar manner to bullets, as opposed to the more stereotypical lengthier, slower laser beams. Sometimes also has spread, homing, or other characteristics.
Net: (also Grid) A type of bullet pattern which makes use of several criss-crossing streams of shots, which form a “lattice” pattern similar to the stitching of a net. Often covers the entire screen, or most of it. To survive it, the player must watch the incoming shots and quickly judge where the spots in between the streams will be: if he positions himself correctly, he will be surrounded on all sides by the enemy’s shots and unable to move very much (if at all), but can then wait until the attack passes (or, in some cases, be forced to move along with it).
No Miss: The successful completion of a single level of a shmup without dying once; sometimes rewards the player with extra bonus points. Can also be used as a verb (“Now that I’ve practiced enough, I can no-miss level 4.”). Not to be confused with “No Miss Clear” (see One-Life).
Old-School: (also Raiden-Style) Label for shmups usually characterized by enemies which shoot few (but fast), mostly aimed shots, large hitboxes, and simple scoring mechanics, as opposed to manic shmups, which tend to embody opposite traits. As the name suggests, most shmups of this style were produced at least relatively early in the genre’s lifespan.
“Raiden Style” refers to the Raiden shmup series, which is often cited as a template or standard for this type of shmup.
One-Credit: (also All Clear, Single-Credit Clear, SCC) Short for “one-credit completion” or “one-credit clear” (abbreviated “1CC”) which refers to a player’s having managed to complete all stages (one loop or more) of a shmup without losing all of his lives, thus not needing to continue at all. Often used as a verb, i.e. “I managed to one-credit R-Type for the first time yesterday.”
In most players’ opinions, to 1CC a game is the only “real” way to be able to say that one has “beaten” it. Additionally, in most situations, to “officially” one-credit a game, a player must do so with the game on default settings.
One-Life: (also No Miss Clear, Single-Life Clear) Successful completion of a shmup (or a single loop of a shmup) without ever losing a life; even more difficult, obviously, to accomplish than a one-credit, since it requires near-perfect play as far as survival (if not scoring) is concerned. Sometimes abbreviated “1LC” or “SLC.”
Option: A wide-reaching term referring to various types of satellites or other miniature craft which are in some cases omnipresent and in others must be collected as items by the player. Options usually either serve to absorb certain types of enemy fire (sometimes they can absorb unlimited amounts of shots, other times they can be destroyed and must be replenished), extra sources of firepower, or a combination of the two.
The term “Option” was first used to describe the orange ovals available as power-ups in “Gradius” (by Konami, first released in 1985), but has since become more or less the genre’s standard term for any similar accoutrements in most any shmup. Different shmups have varying individual terms for such accoutrements (“Bit,” “Helper Craft,” etc.), but “Option” and Multiple are by far the most widely-used words when referring to them “in general.”
Not to be confused with the “Options” menu found in many shmups, and other types of games as well, which allows you to adjust a game’s difficulty level, button functions, and other such settings.
Paint: A technique used for certain types of continuous-fire weapons, such as flame-throwers, which involves the player continuously moving back and forth while firing to “paint” the enemy with broad “strokes” of ammunition to spread out the damage or accomplish some other goal.
Pan: Refers to a type of scrolling found in a shmup, usually a vertical one, in which the actual playfield is wider than what is depicted onscreen; as such, when the player moves his craft far enough towards the edge of the visible screen, the latter will scroll, or “pan,” along with it for a certain distance until it reaches the “true” edge of the playfield (if wrap-around scrolling is not present). One might consider it an inverted wobble mode, though unlike the aforementioned this feature is usually built into the game’s core “engine,” and cannot be adjusted to any other setting.
Panic Bomb: A “technique” of sorts usually used by players who have consistent difficulty escaping certain bullet patterns, usually during a boss fight. As soon as a player sees the pattern begin to form, he will use a bomb to nullify it, without making any effort to dodge it. Against bosses which hurl such patterns nearly non-stop, players may simply use bombs one right after the other, with little to no gap between them, until their supply runs out, in hopes that the enemy expires before then.
Panorama: Term used by some shmuppers to describe a view mode present in home ports of some vertical shmups. In this mode, the “physical” screen remains “4:3” horizontal, and the “in-game” screen is downsized to fit inside of it, as in letterbox mode; however, in this case the latter is also “stretched” horizontally, so as to completely fill the screen. Causes on-screen objects to appear disproportionately “wider,” to varying degrees, though the actual area you’re able to see is technically the same as it would be on an actual vertical screen.
Pea Shooter: Semi-derogatory term for a weak, rather useless weapon that has not been (or cannot be) adequately powered up. Often used to describe the player’s primary weapon at the very beginning of a game, or after powering down.
Phase: Different “stage” or “form” which a boss takes during the course of a battle, usually changing its appearance and/or attacks. A change of phase is usually prompted by the degree of damage done to the boss, but sometimes it depends simply on how long the battle has lasted.
Pierce: (also Penetrate) Feature of certain weapons which allows their shots to completely or partially pass through enemies while damaging them, thus allowing them to also hit other targets behind the ones “in front.” Laser weapons often (but not always) possess this feature. Sometimes only certain enemies (usually smaller/minor ones) can be “pierced” by weapons with this feature, while others (usually larger/stronger enemies) cannot.
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Glossary / Discussion / The Bizaar / Vasara HS
Last edited by BulletMagnet on Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:20 pm, edited 12 times in total.