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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:04 pm 



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edit

changed my mind and upped it to 25, but again only for games I own. Including emulation gives me way too many options.


Last edited by reckon luck on Mon Feb 04, 2019 4:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:35 pm 


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So far I really like Professor Ganson's and Bydobasher's lists. You two seem to have a taste in shmups that's similar to mine. It's interesting that you both like Xevious so much, as I never rally could get into Xevious-like game mechanics, even though I'd reall like to in the cases of TwinBee or Rayforce.

I think I've never done a writeup of my top 25 choices before, so if you're interested in my reasoning, here it is.

Spoiler: show
R-Type - Just a game that's honed to perfection. Everything just comes together to form a timeless classic. To see how ahead of its time it was on release, compare it to something like Exzisus, which came out at pretty much the same time. By no means a bad game, but there are world between it and Irem's masterpiece.

Apidya - Probably the best Amiga shmup, and a great game in its own right. If this had come out on the Mega Drive it would be considered a classic like TFIII today. I'm not sure that Apidya is as good as it is because the developers really understood the (obvious) inspirations or because they mimicked them successfully, but I tend to think it's the former.

Mr. Heli No Daibouken - Very unique game. I wish more games tried to break out of the ordinary like this. PCE version is particularly enjoyable due to its slightly easier original mode.

ZeroRanger - It's so full of everything that makes a shmup good, it's not even funny. It draws inspirations from pretty much all of shmup history, yet manages to be totally its own thing. Fantastic game that just keeps on giving.

Biohazard Battle - Eerily unsettling in both visuals and (especially) sound, this game oozes atmosphere. The game design is pretty great, too. The only thing I miss is a way of locking the pod into position, Last-Resort-style.

DonPachi - I like the more methodical pace compared to Cave's later games, and the announcer never gets old.

DoDonPachi - The quintessential shmup (almost) everyone can agree on. It's not a firm favourite of mine, but a game I keep coming back to.

Infinos Gaiden - Basically a 90s sidescroller released a couple of decades late, it ticks all the right boxes. Apart from ZeroRanger my most-played game of late.

Z-Out - Similar to Apidya, one of the few western-developed Amiga shmups of quality. Very catchy music and excellent graphics in the last two levels. In this case I'm pretty sure the quality comes from perfect imitation rather than deep understanding of its inspirations, though.

Gradius Gaiden - Best iteration of the classic Gradius formula.

Gunbird 2 - The best implementation of the late Psikyo style. I like the emphasis on melee. Dragon Blaze might be the better game, objectively, but I find myself enjoying Gunbird 2 much more.

Hydorah - Similar to Infinos Gaiden, a modern iteration of a classic formula with its own twists. I pondered whether to include Super Hydorah instead, but I opted for the original, because even though I like Super's additional levels I feel that regular Hydorah is the tighter package and more well-rounded overall.

Parodius Da! - I prefer this to the later games in the series because I feel it's better balanced. It's a pity that some of the quirkier characters aren't in it yet, though.

Power Strike II (SMS) - Compile really went out of their way to push the Master system to its limits and beyond. Having recently finished making a Master System shmup myself, I can appreciate the technical wizardry even more.

Radirgy - Once you master the ABS shield, the game sucks you into an almost trance-like flow. Feels fantastic. No other Milestone game (especially not Noa) managed to recreate this feeling.

Shikigami no Shiro II - How this is not on everyone's list is beyond me. The grazing mechanic is excellent and very well integrated into the level design.

Strikers 1945 II - Ugliest game in Psikyo's catalogue, but its gameplay combines the best aspects of early and late Psikyo styles.

Trizeal - Just a nice blend of oldschool and modern styles. Nothing that stands out particularly, but what's there is good.

Beamrider - My favourite single screen shmup. It's a bit like Tempest, but less trippy. In later levels it gets sufficiently frantic.

Mushihime-Sama - I don't really care about maniac and ultra modes, but original is pretty much Cave's Mahou Daisakusen. Just a straight-up survival shmup with a very unique theme.

Strikers 1999 - Another nice late Psikyo game.

Zanac (NES) - Another classic Compile shmup. Its proto-rank system is a lot of fun to experiment with.

Sonic Wings Special - Early Psikyo in all but (developer) name. The variety on display in both levels and player ships makes this particularly fun.

V-V - Finally a Toaplan game I could get into. One of the few games I played for the first time during STGT that stuck with me afterwards.

Gynoug - Beautiful creepy atmosphere and THE most iconic shmup boss apart from Dobkeratops. I also like the proto bullet-hell patterns that pop up here and there and that are very unusual for a game of its time.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:42 pm 


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Herr Schatten wrote:
So far I really like Professor Ganson's and Bydobasher's lists. You two seem to have a taste in shmups that's similar to mine. It's interesting that you both like Xevious so much, as I never rally could get into Xevious-like game mechanics, even though I'd reall like to in the cases of TwinBee or Rayforce.

I think I've never done a writeup of my top 25 choices before, so if you're interested in my reasoning, here it is.


I don't enjoy Xevious-like game mechanics as much in other games, but in Xevious itself I think it works brilliantly. In Namco's later Dragon Spirit and Dragon Sabre, I don't think it works as well. Taito's Ray games too: I like them (RayForce especially), but I don't find them as satisfying as Xevious.

Thanks for your comments, I enjoyed reading them! I see you've put ZeroRanger at the same level as Apidya and Mr. Heli, and knowing how much you like both those games (esp. from your shmups.com reviews), I'm mightily impressed. I am absolutely determined to buy ZeroRanger as soon as the devs make the Linux version available. I agree with you on the pace of DonPachi: I think it plays better than any of the later games, but I still don't like it enough to include on my list (also the music lacks punch, though the sound effects are good). Infinos Gaiden is intriguing . . . again I think there is no Linux version right now though. As for Gradius Gaiden, I still haven't learned to like that one; I prefer the original, II, III and V to that game, and maybe even the GameBoy titles! I agree Gunbird 2 is the best Psikyo game, but I was never able to get into any of them to any substantial degree. I also like Power Strike II very much, though I do think it looks/sounds better than it plays (which might be true of Blazing Lazers also, which is the Compile game which made my list this year).

You made a Master System game? What is it?


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 3:31 am 


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Amusingly, writing my reasoning led to me adjusting some of my scores :P Gunnail is just that good.

Thunder Dragon 2 - Nearly perfect game. The pacing is always just right, and the enemy behavior complements the game design perfectly. Absolutely gorgeous sprite work, and I never get tired of looking at the constant attention to detail throughout the entire game. The music is absolutely kicking, though obviously takes a tiny hit due to being essentially 2 stage songs, and the boss music being kind of boring. How can anyone resist the announcer either! Yeehaw, it's time to put in more coins man. :)

Hishouzame - The eternal classic. The grand-daddy of any traditional vertical shooter. The impact and influence of this game can't be overstated. Even aside from the historical context, it's a masterpiece. The rather simple aerial patterns of zako keep the game flowing, with the tanks being the meat of the game. The simplicity combined with the high speed action on higher loops is pretty much bliss.

Gunnail - A game with a few problems, but a lot of charm. The weapon system is thoroughly interesting, where each weapon has good specific uses, but any of them can be used for the whole game without making it significantly harder. The scoring is bizarre to say the least, but combined with the game's rather low difficulty makes the game quite exhilarating. Boss fights are epic in the most true sense of the word, with completely alien and bizarre mechanical designs that never cease to make me say "wow". The high-speed stages are interesting interstitials which adds an almost puzzle-like complexity to an otherwise quite free-form game. The music is out of this world great, easily some of the best shooting game music of all time in my opinion.

Battle Garegga - Do I even need to explain this one? The rank system, while extremely idiosyncratic, adds so much depth and complexity and flexibility to the game, it alone would at least put it in top 25. Thankfully, that's not all the game has to offer. The dot art, both on objects and backgrounds, is extremely detailed and really feels alive, giving the game a rather unique grungy dystopian feel. Anybody who knows anything about shooters of course knows the soundtrack, one of the finest in the entire genre.

Guardian Force - Highly underrated gem from Success. I don't know if I've ever played anything remotely like it, which is a shame because it's one of the most interesting and well executed diversions from the typical shooting game concept I've ever played. Having a strong forward shot with a fixed direction, and a freely rotated secondary turret adds a ton of interesting movement options to this game, which is something that is really rare to have at all in a shooter. The weapon balance may be a bit out of whack, but they are all at least fun to mess around with. You have to give it kudos for having an arrangement of Miserlou for its third stage song!

Raiden Fighters 2 - Again, does anything need to be said? One of the most fast paced games of all time, with pounding techno to pump your fists to. Definitely some of the most gorgeous pixel art of all time, with an incredibly distinct style. Any game could envy its dedication to consistency, fluidity, and underlying logic applied throughout the entire design. The ability to scroll the screen while the game performs its own auto-scrolling adds together for some really fun use of the camera to control enemies and plan your own attacks. The amount of secrets and scoring tricks in this game are rather mind boggling, and just trying to execute all of them is a joy.

Armed Police Batrider - Battle Garegga turned up to 11, with a healthy dose of vibrant color and life. Gone is the grim dark atmosphere high above the ground, replaced with bright colors, human environments, and plenty of nods to Akira. The dampening of the rank effects is welcome, given Batrider's otherwise amplified design. The Normal course is also a great addition, letting even beginner players reach an ending that doesn't feel like a consolation prize.

Varth - Another sleeper, definitely Capcom's best shooting game. The design inspiration from the 194X series is evident, but without any of the real idiosyncracies of them. The copious amounts of secrets, coupled with the invincibility frames they award, makes the game a real treat to play over and over, scouting for each new little bonus. The game's length is also a strength, given how varied and unique the game is; nothing ever feels boring or over-emphasized. The ability to design a 45+ minute game with over 30 unique stages is truly commendable.

Same!Same!Same! - The canonical sequel to Hishouzame. In some ways it reminds me of the step from Garegga to Batrider: it's similar at a base level, but with everything cranked way up. The game is hard right off the bat, making this hard to recommend to anyone but veterans, but the reward for sticking with it is a truly satisfying game. The ridiculous bullet speed, incredibly aggressive enemies, and masochistic stage design combine to create one of the most intense games of all time.

Gun Frontier - While Gun Frontier has some rather serious flaws, it is easy to forgive them due to the completely out of control thematic action. Futuristic wild west has always been a favorite theme of mine, and this scratches that itch thoroughly. The music has incredible emotion, matching so well with the action in-game that it almost feels like direction on par with high quality cinema.

Judgement Silversword - Proof that you don't really even need backgrounds to make a compelling shooting game. The weapon system makes this a standout, even if it's easily abused. The shield mechanic flows with the game design extremely well, neither being too strong nor too weak. It shows what M-KAI was truly capable of, easily eclipsing his previous MSX shooters (which are no slouches either!).

Macross II - One of the few arcade games based purely on score-attack, this is a real master class game. Being somewhat of an intersection between a caravan shooter and other NMK titles like Gunnail or Thunder Dragon 2, this game is both a dream for score play, or casual play (though maybe a bit too hard for the latter!). Unsurprisingly, the music is brilliant here as well.

Battle Bakraid - A significant departure from Batrider, we've returned to the somber military style of Garegga. The scoring has become much more complex, with a multiplier system that heavily encourages significant utilization of your resources. Keeping up with the times, the bullet patterns have become much more dense and complex, but never really straying too far into bullet hell territory.

P-47 Aces - Yet another NMK game, what a surprise :) Another evolution of the NMK horizontal shooting game style, with even higher difficulty. The emphasis on non-zako enemies makes for a rather distinct type of horizontal shooter. The artwork and visual effects are quite top-notch, especially for its time, and the over-the-top bosses are really something to behold.

Daioh - A game definitely inspired by Raiden and Tatsujin, but in my opinion beats both out. The weapons are balanced rather strangely, but in a way that does end up working anyways. Stage design and music are the real standouts here.

Raiden II - I would be surprised if there's anybody that has come to this forum without at least knowing about Raiden II. Easily one of the most satisfying video games ever made, just the pure destruction and carnage one can unleash is a real spectacle, backed by some of the best pixel art of all time. The difficulty is rather extreme though, in my opinion even eclipsing Same!Same!Same! in places.

Pink Sweets - The shooting game shitpost. There is quite a lot of problems with this game, but they draw me in rather than push me away. The idiosyncracy is hard to explain, but I have so much fun with this game despite how horrifically broken and poorly designed most of it is.

Strikers 1945 II - The pinnacle of Psikyo shooting games. Very straightforward game design, well detailed (though sometimes a little junky looking) graphics, well composed (though poorly instrumented) music, and just the right difficulty curve.

Darius Extra - Solved all the problems with the original Darius, whilst keeping all of its strengths. The width of the screen alone adds some very interesting stipulations to how the game is played, and the branching paths concept is very well executed. The variety and simplicity makes it easy to pick up and enjoy on a casual basis, but with lots of strategy.

R-Type Delta - My personal favorite R-Type, this game feels like it takes the audio-visual strengths of R-Type Leo, translates them to a fluently executed early polygon style, then give it the same sort of deep and interesting puzzle aspects that the original R-Type had. This game oozes style and I'll never pass on an opportunity to play it.

Nostradamus - Somehow Sankindou managed to figure out how to make a shooting game in the year or two between this and Sand Scorpion, and boy howdy did they. Beautiful artwork, a killer soundtrack, extreme variety between each of the 10 stages, and a compelling single-button weapon system make this a unique treat.

Darius Gaiden - An audiovisual masterpiece. The game design is a bit sloppy, but I can't help but forgive that given how fun and exciting it is to play. The low difficulty also makes it a bit more forgivable, it's something I like playing on a very casual level.

Zed Blade / Operation Ragnarok - For once, NMK decided to take it easy when making a horizontal shooter. The lower difficulty makes this much more approachable than most of their other games, and the excessive use of multi-object enemies is distinct and exciting. The music also fucking slaps.

Gemini Wing - A very underappreciated gem, one of the most interestingly complex shooters I've seen from the late 80s. The gun-ball system is completely unique, and forms the core of how the entire game is played and scored. The bug theme is well executed and culminates in one of the more bizarre last boss fights I've seen.

Strikers 1999 - Not quite on par with 1945 II, but otherwise shares many of the same qualities that make 1945 II great.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 4:07 am 


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Your descriptions here really have me wanting to revisit these. Great idea to provide a brief motivation for inclusion on the list.

Herr Schatten wrote:
Parodius Da! - I prefer this to the later games in the series because I feel it's better balanced. It's a pity that some of the quirkier characters aren't in it yet, though.

Power Strike II (SMS) - Compile really went out of their way to push the Master system to its limits and beyond. Having recently finished making a Master System shmup myself, I can appreciate the technical wizardry even more.

Radirgy - Once you master the ABS shield, the game sucks you into an almost trance-like flow. Feels fantastic. No other Milestone game (especially not Noa) managed to recreate this feeling.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:09 pm 


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trap15 wrote:
R-Type Delta - My personal favorite R-Type, this game feels like it takes the audio-visual strengths of R-Type Leo, translates them to a fluently executed early polygon style, then give it the same sort of deep and interesting puzzle aspects that the original R-Type had. This game oozes style and I'll never pass on an opportunity to play it.


So glad to read this. I love this game as well, very underrated.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:15 pm 


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Bydobasher wrote:
As for Gradius Gaiden, I still haven't learned to like that one; I prefer the original, II, III and V to that game, and maybe even the GameBoy titles!

The GameBoy titles are stellar, very underrated.

Bydobasher wrote:
I also like Power Strike II very much, though I do think it looks/sounds better than it plays (which might be true of Blazing Lazers also, which is the Compile game which made my list this year).

That's true, but as you say, it's more of a general Compile problem than one of the individual games. The technical and aesthetic sides of their games are always outstanding, but the gameplay usually is merely competent. Interestingly, the games with proto-rank systems (Zanac, Aleste) manage to hide this fact much better than those with fixed level designs, even though the latter, in theory, could be designed much tighter and more on point.

Bydobasher wrote:
You made a Master System game? What is it?

I made a thread about it here.


trap15 wrote:
Varth - Another sleeper, definitely Capcom's best shooting game. [...] The ability to design a 45+ minute game with over 30 unique stages is truly commendable.

I totally agree. Varth is very special. It may not be the best game ever, but it never gets boring for even a moment.

trap15 wrote:
R-Type Delta

Gameplay-wise, Delta is my second-favourite game of the series, but somehow I always feel repulsed by those ghastly jaggy polygons. Those graphics have not aged well.

trap15 wrote:
Gemini Wing - A very underappreciated gem, one of the most interestingly complex shooters I've seen from the late 80s.

Great choice. I like Gemini Wing a lot, as it really forces you to play in a totally different way. A really refreshing game.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:47 pm 


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Herr Schatten wrote:
Bydobasher wrote:
I also like Power Strike II very much, though I do think it looks/sounds better than it plays (which might be true of Blazing Lazers also, which is the Compile game which made my list this year).

That's true, but as you say, it's more of a general Compile problem than one of the individual games. The technical and aesthetic sides of their games are always outstanding, but the gameplay usually is merely competent. Interestingly, the games with proto-rank systems (Zanac, Aleste) manage to hide this fact much better than those with fixed level designs, even though the latter, in theory, could be designed much tighter and more on point.


Yes, in theory they could be. Oh well, they're still fun anyway. I've played Blazing Lazers twice this weekend and I had fun both times. I used the standard weapons in one game, and the 8-way shot in the other. Using the 8-way shot actually makes the first few levels more interesting, because you can't pick up any weapons or subweapons, and you don't have bombs. Then when you do pick up the 8-way shot somewhere in stage 2, now you probably want to avoid all those purple gels in stage 3. So in the first third of the game you're definitely more busy than if you use the standard weapons. After that, you pick up a few Ring powerups and the "F" subweapon and you've got very powerful attack and defense. I don't think I was touched after that, and it was great fun to play. I might even weight the game a bit heavier in my list after these playthroughs.

Herr Schatten wrote:
Bydobasher wrote:
You made a Master System game? What is it?

I made a thread about it here.

I will read with interest!

Herr Schatten wrote:
Gameplay-wise, Delta is my second-favourite game of the series, but somehow I always feel repulsed by those ghastly jaggy polygons. Those graphics have not aged well.

That's true of many games of that generation unfortunately. I do think the graphics get better as the game progresses, but definitely the first stage doesn't look good. It's still one of my all-time favourite shmups though -- which I never would have believed until I'd played it myself. I just didn't see how the tight gameplay of R-Type and R-Type II could be maintained in a polygonal environment. But they managed it brilliantly.

Herr Schatten wrote:
trap15 wrote:
Gemini Wing - A very underappreciated gem, one of the most interestingly complex shooters I've seen from the late 80s.

Great choice. I like Gemini Wing a lot, as it really forces you to play in a totally different way. A really refreshing game.

I like Gemini Wing too, though I haven't played it in years. I'll give it a go soon.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:29 pm 


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Trap15 inspired me to write a little blurb about each one of my picks, too.

RayForce
My all time favorite shmup. It’s an absolute masterpiece and I think far and away the best lock-on shmup.

Galaga
Of every late 70s/early 80s space shooter, this one holds up the best in my opinion. I have as much fun today with it as I did when I was a little kid. It’s simply timeless.

Under Defeat
Despite having a different gimmick, it plays remarkably like RayForce and RayStorm in terms of pacing, and has a similar top-down-3d approach. I love it to bits.

Galaga ’88
When I play Galaga these days, I generally fire up ’88. Take Galaga, add more enemy types and more variety and short scrolling segments to further break it up. It might even be better than the original, but it’s lower on my list because it’s not as timeless or original as the first game.

Mars Matrix
Of every manic shmup, this is the one I enjoyed the most. It’s also brutally difficult, so these days I opt to play GigaWing instead. But Mars Matrix is their masterpiece.

Nexzr
This was the first PC Engine shmup I really liked. It didn’t start too slowly, unlike a lot of the other shooters on the system. And its gameplay style and feel is surprisingly unique. This one sold me on a Duo.

Thunderforce III
If I could only play one side scrolling shooter forever, it would be this one. I consider it to be better than IV. Sure, the homing weapon is overpowered, but it has just the right amount of memorization-vs.-raw-skill for me.

Lords of Thunder
Simply rad. Great stage designs, lots of enemy variety, and an incredible soundtrack.

Thunderforce IV
Most people would put this over Thunderforce III, but I think a few design and performance issues let it down somewhat (too much memorization, a couple levels that needed editing, lack of hitflashes + blade = sadness, and a couple parts of the scenery that look solid but that you can move through). Still, it’s an excellent Thunderforce game.

Strikers 1945 II
I don’t usually click with Psikyo games, but this one grabbed me. The flow when you get the hang of using your secondary weapon feels great. It's not the most original shooter out there, but it plays incredibly well.

Soldier Blade
In my opinion, this is the best one in the Star Soldier series. The gameplay is crisp and the visuals and soundtrack push the PC Engine to new heights. The enemy and boss designs are inspired. It’s one of the greatest made-for-console shmups. My only nitpick would be that it’s slow to ramp up on normal difficulty.

Fire Shark
Somehow, I love the Genesis version of this game. The arcade one is great as well, but it’s the Genesis edition that I sunk so much time into, and I enjoyed every second of it. It can turn into a cruise ‘em up at times, but I think it’s one of Toaplan’s finest.

Batsugun
This one is the masterpiece. One foot in 80s shmup design, and one foot in the future. Batsugun is like if manic shmups moved really, really fast. I just wish it could have had another stage or two.

Alltynex Second
The Siter Skain games are all pretty great if you enjoy lock-on shmups like I do. Alltynex Second changes things up a little, but it gets the balance just right. The stages are varied and the design is just great. With a tiny bit more polish, Taito would've been happy releasing this in the arcades at their peak!

Soukyugurentai
Souky has brilliant enemy and stage design— the care that went into the levels and patterns is remarkable. It’s always a blast to play, but it’s weakened by the dodge-the-powerups rank control and that most web types are underpowered and useless.

Power Strike II SMS
A masterpiece of 8-bit shmup programming. This almost feels like a Genesis or PC Engine game, and I would take it in general over a lot of other Compile games. It might not have the flash of MUSHA, and might not grab players in quite the same way, but I think it plays better in strictly mechanical terms.

Darius Gaiden
OK, this one has a terrible weapon balance, you practically need the autofire cheat, but I still find it loads of fun. The stages and bosses are just great, it’s artsy as usual for Taito, and that soundtrack! Metal Black is probably a more solid, but this is the one I have the most fun with.

Thunderforce V
While visually it’s rougher than sandpaper (a victim of the 32-bit era and then some), it’s got it where it counts. Great level pacing, really cool weapons, and plenty of surprises. And it’s all balanced fairly well, too.

Ikaruga
This game is brilliant, and it’s responsible for making it clear to so many gamers that shmups have more than meets the eye. The only problem is that there isn’t a lot of flexibility in how it’s played: It’s a lot of fun to figure out how to chain the stages, but once you’ve done that, it can become tedious. The boss designs could have also been more inspired (*another* radial boss??). But, it’s still up there, and I found to be more polished and less cryptic than Radiant Silvergun.

Raiden Fighters
Out of all the Raiden games, this is the one I’ve liked the most. It’s just modern enough to add that fluidity that Raiden 1 and 2 lacked, and it has its own identity instead of being a Toaplan clone. It also isn’t feature (ship) overkill like the later RF games were.

Space Megaforce
Presented by Toho. It’s overall one of the tightest games Compile has released. The levels are clever, the weapon balance works well, and the levels never feel like they wear out their welcome. It’s not as much of a feat as Power Strike II, but it’s as good. Possibly better.

Zero Gunner 2
So, Under Defeat won my heart when it comes to swiveling helicopter shmups. But would Under Defeat have happened without ZG2? ZG2’s a little slow to ramp up, but once it gets going, it’s lots of fun. And it makes for a great 2p game. It’s marred a little bit by a couple parts with instant death lasers that have no warning. And if you dig this, check out Cannon Spike.

Elemental Master
Thunderforce In Vertical! Well, not quite. But it’s got Technosoft’s great sense of pacing and gives you cool weapons. And you can fire backwards. Great boss design, too.

Time Pilot ’84
This game is such a forgotten gem. It plays better than many, many later 360-degree shooters: If Thunderforce II's top view stages played as smoothly as this 1984 arcade game, it might have been remembered as a classic. And, it has so many scoring tricks and secrets to find, and a lot of enemy patterns to learn. It really holds up.

Battle Squadron (Amiga)
This 1989 Toaplan clone got a lot of things right and manages to offer many original touches. It has a decent balance, but suffers a little bit from a lack of popcorn enemies, big hitboxes, and a weakfinal boss. Still, the levels, enemies, and weapons are all quite cool and outdo many of its contemporaries. It also has an awesome soundtrack, great visuals that push the Amiga, and room-shaking explosions. You’d have to get a Genesis to find a better top down shooter at home back then. And don't play THIS one on Genesis because the port destroyed the game balance, among other problems.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:35 pm 


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professor ganson wrote:
Your descriptions here really have me wanting to revisit these. Great idea to provide a brief motivation for inclusion on the list.

Herr Schatten wrote:
Parodius Da! - I prefer this to the later games in the series because I feel it's better balanced. It's a pity that some of the quirkier characters aren't in it yet, though.

Power Strike II (SMS) - Compile really went out of their way to push the Master system to its limits and beyond. Having recently finished making a Master System shmup myself, I can appreciate the technical wizardry even more.

Radirgy - Once you master the ABS shield, the game sucks you into an almost trance-like flow. Feels fantastic. No other Milestone game (especially not Noa) managed to recreate this feeling.


Me too! I need to get into Radilgy. I remember liking it a lot, so I got Karous when it came out-- and it wasn't as good. What is it about Radilgy that is so magnetic?
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 6:56 pm 


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Reviewed like half of these b4. I'll keep it brief for forum though.

Double Spoiler:
It's the most engaging game for me with my favourite scoring system. Just in terms of what it wants you to do and dealing with RNG it's still the hardest shmup I've ever played. Thinking up solutions, mastering the controls, and executing scores to perfection puts it several levels above anything else. I also love the variety; all scenes are completely different in how you approach them. DS has infinite replayability and skill ceiling. Generally large amounts of variables to juggle.

Fairy Wars:
Might be the most "fun" game. The ice system remains unmatched in sheer ingenuity. The boss patterns RNG perfectly match the purpose of mechanics. Best resource system. Lots of different routes and difficulties to learn. There's a breezy and carefree quality to it. Playing it strikes a great balance between memorization and reaction. Lots of multitasking.

The Phantasmagoria of Dimensional Dream:
Might be the most "intense" game. This is bullet hell at its purest. High speed action full of multitasking. In terms of sheer engagement per second in a run I don't think any other game compares. Scoring system is a lot better than in PoFV.

Shoot the Bullet:
Scoring system leaves a lot to be desired when compared to DS. Unlike in DS, a lot of scenes in StB have more or less the same approach, and it isn't as deep and has a low skill ceiling in comparison. However, it is unarguably one of the most innovative shmups ever made, and it is in my opinion almost flawlessly conceived, and better than any arcade shmups. DS being better says more about DS than it says about StB.

Phantasmagoria of Flower View:
Versus gameplay is some of the most fun you can have, at least for a limited amount of time. High speed game. Single player is inferior to PoDD, but about half of a score run is still extremely engaging. Endless skill ceiling.

Perfect Cherry Blossom:
One of the most clever and well designed systems ever made. The stage and especially boss design complements the mechanics very well, resulting in ZUN's best maingame. A game that is graceful and deep with one of the highest score ceilings. This is the kind of game that makes you wonder how it is even possible that someone actually made it.

Guwange:
Brilliant mechanics and my favourite stage designs in the genre. The bosses aren't as good as the stages, except for the Catspider which is the best part of the game.

Armed Police Batrider:
The most casual-friendly game. If you just want to relax and revel in the personality of it all, Batrider is the best shmup out there, with the most impressive visuals and an insane OST. The gameplay could've been tightened up a bit, as a lot of the milking is rather dull among other problems, but on the whole it is still one of the best.

Dragon Blaze:
It feels like everything built up to this one. Psikyo improved game after game after game until they dropped Dragon Blaze which blew all their previous games away. The scoring system is brilliantly done, and the stage composition is tight. Great difficulty level. Too bad about wobbling player hitbox.

The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil:
Fantastic bosses and great scoring system. Some of the stages are rather dull, unfortunately.

Dangun Feveron:
Well designed game full of enjoyment.

EspGaluda:
I love the scoring system and stage design.

Gun.Smoke:
My favourite old shmup because it is a lot of fun to deal with the enemies in it. It's quite intense. Too bad that scoring has no legitimacy in this.

Crimzon Clover:
CloverTAC set out to make the ultimate shooting game and as far as I can tell he might just have succeeded. Boost mode is my favourite, but the other modes seem great too. I wish the bosses weren't quite so bloated; their length is not justified at all.

Imperishable Night:
Fantastic scoring system and Extra stage. ZUN's most beginner-friendly game, but also one of the better ones at a high level.

Undefined Fantastic Object:
Very clever mechanics and some great boss fights.

Flame Zapper Kotsujin:
Could it be the most underrated classic bullet hell? Medal system is better than anything Yagawa, in my opinion. Top tier OST.

ring^-27:
Fantastic and clever little game.

RayForce:
Some of the best visuals and a great score system.

Sexy Parodius:
Love the personality and stage design in this game. Visually breathtaking.

Strikers 1999:
I slightly prefer it to Strikers 1945 ii nowadays. Medals spinning animation makes chaining less cumbersome, and the snow stage in loop 2 is a Psikyo highlight.

Battle Bakraid:
I feel in love with the sheer insanity of the score system.

Gemini Wing:
A vibrant and creative old game which could use some more love.

DoDonPachi Daioujou:
Really tight game that I view as simply fantastic in almost every way, but which I subjectively don't appear to enjoy as much as many others do.

Mountain of Faith:
Great in every way but masterful in none.


And honorables:

Gundemonium Recollection:
I just really like it.

Strikers 1945 ii:
A great balance between early and late period Psikyo. I would consider a better ranking for it if the first loop didn't exist.

Twinkle Star Sprites:
The versus is brilliant. If I play it more I expect to put it on my Top25.

Aero Chimera:
I love the difficulty level in this game.

Battle Garegga:
Visually stunning and all that, but in terms of gameplay it's a poor man's Batrider. Still great and fascinating.

Twinkle Tale:
I really enjoyed speedrunning it.

Raiden II:
I think the difficulty level in it is really good. Feels kinda badass to play it.

Mars Matrix:
Great score system.

Akuu Gallet:
Simple, but great.

Ketsui:
Great score system.

I also considered these for honorable mentions: Dimahoo, Night Striker, Darius Gaiden, ChoRenSha 68k, Batsugun Special, Quantized Blaze, Gunbird 2, Raiden DX, Torus Trooper
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:29 am 


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I see a member named 2a03 put both Apidya and Gaiares at the top of his list. I gave great consideration to including Gaiares on my T25, but it didn't quite make it (I've included it several times before though). It's such an intriguing game, let down somewhat by a boss rush in stage 7 which -- in this instance -- feels kind of unwelcome.

louisg wrote:
Galaga
Of every late 70s/early 80s space shooter, this one holds up the best in my opinion. I have as much fun today with it as I did when I was a little kid. It’s simply timeless.

Galaga ’88
When I play Galaga these days, I generally fire up ’88. Take Galaga, add more enemy types and more variety and short scrolling segments to further break it up. It might even be better than the original, but it’s lower on my list because it’s not as timeless or original as the first game.

That's how I feel about those games too. '88 is delightful, but it's the original game that makes my list. All that being said, I never was as committed to the single-screeners as I was to the shmups that scroll in one direction or another (esp. Xevious and Time Pilot from that era, even something like Cosmic Avenger which I played a lot on a ColecoVision a long time ago...).

louisg wrote:
Thunderforce III
If I could only play one side scrolling shooter forever, it would be this one. I consider it to be better than IV. Sure, the homing weapon is overpowered, but it has just the right amount of memorization-vs.-raw-skill for me.

Thunderforce IV
Most people would put this over Thunderforce III, but I think a few design and performance issues let it down somewhat (too much memorization, a couple levels that needed editing, lack of hitflashes + blade = sadness, and a couple parts of the scenery that look solid but that you can move through). Still, it’s an excellent Thunderforce game.

I would also put III ahead of IV. IV is just ... too much.

louisg wrote:
Power Strike II SMS
A masterpiece of 8-bit shmup programming. This almost feels like a Genesis or PC Engine game, and I would take it in general over a lot of other Compile games. It might not have the flash of MUSHA, and might not grab players in quite the same way, but I think it plays better in strictly mechanical terms.

This has made my list many times before, though not this year. Technically it's simply -- and literally -- marvelous. I marvel at all the activity on screen, and the intricate musical arrangements. When compared to other shmups on SMS it causes cognitive dissonance ("how can these be for the same system??").

louisg wrote:
Time Pilot ’84
This game is such a forgotten gem. It plays better than many, many later 360-degree shooters: If Thunderforce II's top view stages played as smoothly as this 1984 arcade game, it might have been remembered as a classic. And, it has so many scoring tricks and secrets to find, and a lot of enemy patterns to learn. It really holds up.

I never did get into this like I did the first game. You've inspired me to try it again tonight.

chum wrote:
Gemini Wing:
A vibrant and creative old game which could use some more love.

And here's another vote for Gemini Wing! Okay, I'm going to play it right now....


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 3:29 am 


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Herr Schatten wrote:
Infinos Gaiden - Basically a 90s sidescroller released a couple of decades late, it ticks all the right boxes. Apart from ZeroRanger my most-played game of late.

As a result of this comment, I went and tried the demo using Steam Proton, and unlike with ZeroRanger it works perfectly fine. I was intrigued enough to buy the game and I've been playing it this evening. It certainly does give the impression of being made in 1993 and released 25 years late. Everything seems to have been done with some care, though I've only seen to the beginning of stage 5 so far. I don't think this would break into my T25, but I'm glad to have made its acquaintance.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 7:11 am 


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I see our contest coordinator Nifty has weighed in with his list. He's the second person to put Thunder Dragon 2 in the first position. And he voted for Kingdom Grandprix! That's such a weird mashup of shmup and racer . . . I love the music but the gameplay is so odd....


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:49 am 


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Kingdom GP was something of a late pickup for me. In retrospect it really did a lot of setup for Batrider in terms of bullet and pattern types and the sheer amount of style that it has. Winning the first loop is the only real roadblock, and it's not that hard.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 4:08 pm 


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Ketsui Deathtiny - Easily the best arrange mode I've ever played. Normally I don't really care about console modes, but this is a masterpiece.
Deathsmiles - I forgot I already had this above DS2 last year. I still think DS2 has more enjoyable mechanics, but the original is one of the deepest and most complete games Cave ever released, so it should be ranked higher.
Psyvariar - Went with Medium Unit since that's the one I put some effort into. I regret not playing it more, there's still nothing like Psyvariar.
Ketsui - Warmed up to this after learning the ura loop & clearing omote. Playing Deathtiny so much helped me like Ketsui itself more as well.
Mamorukun - Bumped this up a bit. I really liked this game in hindsight. It's too bad the arcade version is broken, otherwise I think it'd have some more fans.
Raiden V & Mahou Daisakusen - Cut a point off of both of them. I thought, are these games really as good as Espgaluda 1+2, DS2, Caladrius? Nah. If I wanted to be consistent, I'd rank Mahou lower because scoring is luck based and involves a bunch milking, but I like it a lot regardless.
MMP, Raiden IV, Garegga, Crimzon Clover - This seems to be the "good games hurt by tedious boss milking" tier.
Shikigami 3, Raiden DX, RFJ - And this is the "cool games I should play properly" tier.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 12:48 am 


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Bydobasher wrote:
I see a member named 2a03 put both Apidya and Gaiares at the top of his list. I gave great consideration to including Gaiares on my T25, but it didn't quite make it (I've included it several times before though). It's such an intriguing game, let down somewhat by a boss rush in stage 7 which -- in this instance -- feels kind of unwelcome.


Apidya is tempting. I like it a lot, but I've never gotten past the sewer stage. Gaiares also came close for me, but it's too hard for its own good IMO.

OK, I need to check out Gemini Wing at some point; people seem to really like it!

Herr Schatten wrote:
That's true, but as you say, it's more of a general Compile problem than one of the individual games. The technical and aesthetic sides of their games are always outstanding, but the gameplay usually is merely competent. Interestingly, the games with proto-rank systems (Zanac, Aleste) manage to hide this fact much better than those with fixed level designs, even though the latter, in theory, could be designed much tighter and more on point.


Yeah, though I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we've all gotten pretty good at shmups. I think when I were younger that I would've gotten more out of MUSHA or GG Aleste than a lot of other shooters-- Thunderforce III was simply too hard at that age. But, these days, they don't seem challenging enough and the stages tend to drone on. Zanac and Aleste cover it up by being a lot more vicious. If you turn your brain off a little and just soak in the sights and sounds, their easier games are still fun, but they won't keep you on your toes like so many other shmups do. I do appreciate Compile's enemy patterns; I think those are pretty solid, even though the stages are often too drawn out.

One thing I liked about Power Strike II is that the stages didn't feel messy. One of the worst offenders there is Robo Aleste, where it feels like they're haphazardly throwing overlapping enemies at you. Space Megaforce might be their tightest effort.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:41 am 


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I'm still considering Gaiares . . . I agree it's probably harder than it should be, but I still like it a lot. It may yet find a way on to my list before the deadline....

Interesting thoughts on Compile's games, louisg. I find myself largely in agreement. I used to play the "vicious" games more often, but I find I don't go back to the likes of Zanac and Aleste as often these days. The four that I play most often now are definitely MUSHA, Power Strike II SMS, Space Megaforce (presented by Toho :wink: ), and Blazing Lazers, in no particular order. And the one I admire most is still The Guardian Legend -- though I don't think of it as a shmup, primarily.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:56 am 


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List is exactly the same as last year though I might tinker with it a bit. Apart from a few days with R-Type Final I didn't really play any stg last year but I did get Raiden V for Christmas so maybe that can be on next year's list (not played it yet).


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:11 pm 


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Nifty wrote:
Kingdom GP was something of a late pickup for me. In retrospect it really did a lot of setup for Batrider in terms of bullet and pattern types and the sheer amount of style that it has. Winning the first loop is the only real roadblock, and it's not that hard.

IIRC you can only access the second loop if you win the race, right?
If you win the first three or so stages (using a bomb right at the beginning more or less knocks the competition out) I don't think the CPU can really come back from that.

The game is really nice, I agree. I wish the Saturn port didn't cut off the very top of the screen. I don't know if that affects speed or not or if they accounted for that in the port itself. I almost never used the extra mode that takes out the racing component - what's the point if you don't play the game with the janky mechanic sutured on to it? 8)
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 8:35 pm 


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I see a new member, dannycheeto, has posted his list, and it's one of the most old-school lists I've seen. He put Gorf in the first position! I used to play that one on ColecoVision.... Image Fight, Daioh, Dragon Spirit, Mr. Heli, Phelios . . . and Juno First! My goodness, I haven't thought about that vert scroller reminiscent of Defender in a long time.... 1942 and 1943. Terra Cresta and Dangar! (Our patron Malc will be happy to see that :) ). Eliminate Down (which I also considered for my own T25).

Hey dannycheeto, I think you voted for Ordyne twice!


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:31 am 


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Yeah, that was an interesting, unexpected list. Always happy to see love for shmups of the 80s.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:25 am 



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I love the 80s shmups i grew up with most, i just find them more addictive and fundamental. I mostly only play pcbs these days although i hear the emulation is good i just prefer the mot authentic way.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 9:48 am 


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Well, your list inspired to me try Gorf again, for the first time in years. I love the variety in that game! Shooting the core of the mothership is so satisfying.

Also, I had a game of Phelios, and I'd forgotten how much fun it is. When I think of Namco shmups from that era, I always think of Dragon Spirit/Saber first. I'm not sure why I don't think of Phelios too. It's got a different feel, since you don't have the shooting/bombing mechanic. But the charge shot and the special weapons are fun. The music is so dramatic, and everything looks good. It's even got some kind of "Mode 7" rotation and scaling effects! I'm glad you included this one.

And I see you replaced the extra Ordyne with X-Multiply. I'm a big fan of late '80s Irem, but this one I only came to appreciate quite recently. Now I love it though.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:10 am 


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FlyingFinn has posted his list. From the first six entries, it's immediately obvious this will be a good mix of older (Tiger Heli, R-Type, Xevious) and newer (Psyvariar Revision Unit, Mushihimesama, Gradius V). But farther down the list, he goes way back to Tempest, Defender, Zaxxon, and Phoenix.

Myself, I always think of Zaxxon as an isometric rail shooter, and not strictly as a shmup; but regardless, I've always liked it. It's yet another game I played much of on a ColecoVision. Playing the original version on MAME just now, it still looks good, firing your laser is very satisfying, having to constantly worry about fuel adds much tension, and beating the boss is so gratifying (if you can do it before he fires his shoulder-mounted rocket launcher).

As for Phoenix, I'd almost forgotten it existed. That's a cool game though. Definitely one of the earliest shmups to feature a boss character.


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:39 am 


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Finally able to vote ZeroRanger (aka final boss) thanks to the release, let's go. Everyone should give it a try, I think it could have a good chance of placing even top 3 despite being a very recent release.

Also kinda interested in soukyugurentai which seems like a cool game that could make my list, and now that the local arcade has it, I should probably give it a go there.
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 10:52 am 


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Hi Cagar, your list is full of the kind of stuff I've never been able to get into (with some exceptions, esp. Cho Ren Sha 68k), and I am so intrigued to see you put ZeroRanger at the very top. This game is more fascinating to me all the time . . . it's killing me I haven't been able to get it to work yet on my Linux machine.

ZeroRanger seems to appeal to both old-schoolers and new-schoolers....


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:15 am 


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Three more folks have submitted their lists, and I see two more votes for Robotron. That's another one I don't really think of as a shmup, but no matter: it's awesome. Has there ever been another game where you are so immediately threatened by so many enemies in every direction? That game is so feverishly intense; I've always liked it.

EDIT: Oh, and there's another vote for ZeroRanger too. This game is making an impact on our list this year....


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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:18 am 


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You might even want to give it a shot. :o

Going to need to make my list probably next weekend. I think there'll be a number of new games this year as I am considering a much different criteria for selection this time.

On an aside: It's too bad Psyvariar Delta won't be out long enough for me to absorb it. My only Psyvariar experience is Psyvariar 2 but I'm pretty happy with it, even if most people say the first is better!

Aside 2: I am this close to 'getting' Milestone. I've played their games on-and-off for years but with little commitment. Radirgy brings me back more than others. An HM mention for Radirgy? Maybe!
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 Post subject: Re: 16th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2019 7:27 am 


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EmperorIng wrote:
You might even want to give it a shot. :o


Oh, I want to try ZR desperately, but it just doesn't like my machine. I've tried various things (Steam Proton, running Steam via Wine and via CrossOver, running the ZR Demo via CrossOver), but nothing works. I'll probably just have to wait for Ebbo and eebrozgi to finish their Linux port.

EmperorIng wrote:
Going to need to make my list probably next weekend. I think there'll be a number of new games this year as I am considering a much different criteria for selection this time.


Very interesting! How will your criteria change from before?


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