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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 3:08 am 


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Herr Schatten wrote:
Bydobasher wrote:
If you find time to write down thoughts for your own list, I very much look forward to reading and discussing them!

I wasn't going to, but your request motivates me to give it a try. Here we go.


Excellent! I am glad.

Herr Schatten wrote:
R-Type: R-Type also manages to incorporate the Giger-influenced aesthetics so popular at the time into its own style rather than outright plagiarizing them.


An important point! There are many games where the Giger-influence is too obvious (e.g. Contra, Z-Out, many others), but I've never felt like that with R-Type. R-Type just looks like R-Type to me (and I'm big fan of the original Alien film, and am very aware when it's being copied too blatantly).

Herr Schatten wrote:
Apidya: As a bonus, Chris Hülsbeck delivered one of his best soundtracks outside a Turrican game.


I like this soundtrack even more than any Turrican soundtrack I've heard -- though admittedly, I've never gotten into Turrican, so I definitely know the Apidya soundtrack better.

Herr Schatten wrote:
GG Aleste 3: It's not only the best 8-bit shmup I know, it's one of the best non-bullet-hell experiences period.


I agree with the second part. It's certainly one of the best 8-bit shmups also, though I'm not sure where I would place it exactly . . . still too new I guess. I probably need to play it more. If I include it, it will be at Blazing Lazers' expense. There's another couple of weeks before the lists are due, so we'll see....

Herr Schatten wrote:
Biohazard Battle: The game is very solidly designed, and its unique atmosphere (see a pattern here?) and eerie music never fail to impress. It also nailed the prerendered look two years before Donkey Kong Country, yet it has actually aged more gracefully. The only thing I'd love to have in the game would be some way of locking the option in position, Last Resort style.


Indeed, the atmosphere in BHB is quite something. From the moment you turn the console on, you are transported into its intimidating world. I've never gotten into the game, but if they had included a locking option, I might have....

Herr Schatten wrote:
DoDonPachi: Just a timeless classic. There may not be many people whose absolute favourite this is, but it's a game almost every one also likes. It's the mid-eighties Metallica of shmups, equally appreciated by thrashers and posers alike.


Haha, this analogy kills me! :D I barely play Cave games, but even I do kind of like this one....

Herr Schatten wrote:
Infinos Gaiden: This could easily pass as an arcade release from this time.


That's what I thought when I played it: that it was actually a game from 1993 that for some reason went unreleased for 25 years....

Herr Schatten wrote:
Gradius Gaiden: This is the pinnacle of classic (read: pre-V) Gradius. If you don't like this, you don't like Gradius.


Them's fightin' words Herr! :D I've got G and G2 on my list, and I hold G3 and G5 in high regard. But I do not like this game. I'm obviously missing something, because it's always been well-liked around here....

Herr Schatten wrote:
Hydorah: Another love letter to the genre. As good as you can rightfully expect from Locomalito, it's both a homage to the best and a great game in its own right.


I will look into this game....

Herr Schatten wrote:
Power Strike II (SMS): Before GG Aleste 3, this was the best 8-bit shmup I knew.


This has made my list many times throughout the years also . . . I do think GGA3 plays better though (based on my short time with it). Still, I find the audio and visuals just immensely impressive in this game.

Herr Schatten wrote:
Beamrider: Fast paced proto-shmup, great for a few minutes of blasting action.


Beamrider! Wow, I haven't played this in a decade I don't think . . . it is a fun game.

Herr Schatten wrote:
Zanac (NES): Another Compile classic. I think it's a bit too long for its own good, but it#s fun nonetheless.


Though I enjoy them, I do find the older Compile games -- like Zanac, along with Aleste and Aleste 2 -- are all a bit longer than they should be....

Thanks again for taking the time to write! As I said above, I will now look into this Hydorah game....


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 3:36 am 


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EmperorIng wrote:
If you can try it out on MAME, I'd recommend looking into Sonic Wings Limited, which imo is an even better game and 'remix' of Special. Something is wonky with SWS's autofire on the Saturn to me so it never quite felt right, but your mileage may vary.


I've got a Saturn Virtua Stick coming in my next shipment, so hopefully rapid fire issues won't be a thing for me going forward.


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:26 am 


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Sengoku Strider wrote:
Quote:
Sonic Wings Special: This acts as a stand-in for the early-era Psikyo style. I prefer it to most other Sonic Wings games due to the sheer variety on offer.


I've been looking at this on my Saturn wish list wondering if I should keep it on there or not. I already have Gunbird, Sengoku Blade & Strikers 1945 on Saturn (as well as the Alpha & Bravo boxes on Switch) so I keep thinking it might just come across as dated or irrelevant.

Honestly, if you already have the quintessential early Psikyo games, you don't really need this. It plays very similarly, maybe it's a bit more simplistic even. EmperorIng is also right in that Limited is probably the better one of the two SW remix games.

There's a reason, though, why this makes my list and the other games don't, and that's the aforementioned variety. SWS has a whooping 26 ships to choose from, which all play quite differently, each run is a mix of randomized and player-selected stages, and there are also some alternative versions of stages depending on the ship chosen. So what I really like about SWS is that it can offer me very different experiences to perfectly fit my mood of the day. Do I want a stiff challenge? I can have that. Do I just want to cruise relaxingly with the secret Aka-Usagi Ship and breeze through the stages? I can do that too. Have a look at my old guide. It should give you an idea about whether SWS might appeal to you.

Bydobasher wrote:
I will now look into this Hydorah game....

I think you won't regret it. Be aware that there are two versions of the game. The original Hydorah can be downloaded for free from Locomalito's website. Then there's the commercial version called Super Hydorah, that adds (I think) two additional stages. I actually prefer the original version, because I think it's the tighter package. The additional stages in Super are pretty cool, though.


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 10:33 am 


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Herr Schatten wrote:
Bydobasher wrote:
I will now look into this Hydorah game....

I think you won't regret it. Be aware that there are two versions of the game. The original Hydorah can be downloaded for free from Locomalito's website. Then there's the commercial version called Super Hydorah, that adds (I think) two additional stages. I actually prefer the original version, because I think it's the tighter package. The additional stages in Super are pretty cool, though.


Oh indeed, I don't regret it at all! After a short time with the game I'm liking this even more than Infinos Gaiden. Not sure how this one escaped my notice all these years, but it's really good....


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:24 pm 



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Just had to pop in to thank everyone who put Neko Navy on their list. Just picked it up the other day because of all the mentions and I’m having a blast. I’m pretty terrible at horis but it’s still just a joy to play every time.


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 8:39 pm 


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Neko Navy is a lot of fun! I've almost 1cc'd whatever the default difficulty is, and once i discovered the secret route into the alternate levels I was highly impressed. It's a good choice.
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 11:38 pm 



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EmperorIng wrote:
Neko Navy is a lot of fun! I've almost 1cc'd whatever the default difficulty is, and once i discovered the secret route into the alternate levels I was highly impressed. It's a good choice.
Secret route?? Pray tell

Sent from my Redmi Note 8T using Tapatalk


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2021 1:24 am 



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dmk1198 wrote:
EmperorIng wrote:
Neko Navy is a lot of fun! I've almost 1cc'd whatever the default difficulty is, and once i discovered the secret route into the alternate levels I was highly impressed. It's a good choice.
Secret route?? Pray tell

Sent from my Redmi Note 8T using Tapatalk


I know the pill level has a boss if you find a ticket somewhere. Maybe that gets the alternate levels?


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2021 12:55 pm 


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Following what was said in this thread I finally gave PCE Mr. Heli a try, it's indeed an excellent conversion. Graphics are slightly less good but it's no big deal (after 10 seconds I don't really care anymore). The most interesting part is that it's manageable difficulty-wise, maybe I'll finally be able to clear this game or get close to it. :o
This will probably bump the game up a few spots in my ranking :)

Also, I agree about what was said about Kotsujin: it's indeed an excellent game and more people should try it if they want some late-Toaplan-like or Raiden-like action. Some music tracks are so great too (it's what made me try the game actually).
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:51 am 


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It's time again to deliver a final week of voting notice. I advise against banking on an extension this year, I really don't feel like doing it again unless the final tally is absolutely nowhere near adequate.
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 2:06 pm 


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Mine will be coming when I'm next on a computer, a couple of days before the deadline.


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 4:20 pm 


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Right, I need to make mine in the next day or so. I've been playing a lot and I've been busy irl, so it's given me little time to think about the games I want to add/subtract. I've had a draft made a few weeks ago that already feels inadequate!

Quote:
Shikigami no Shiro II: Unlike the first game, that's a little too rough around the edges for my taste, and the third, which introduces new gameplay elements that compromise its purity, Shiki II perfectly nails the unique "get close to bullets to increase strength" mechanic. Counterintuitive? Hell, yes, but it's so much fun.


I think you are more or less right. My only regret is that I haven't played Shiki 2 enough to really feel like I could 'vote' for it... Maybe that feeling will change? I have grown to love the first game, warts and all. And of course, Sisters Royale being a direct homage of Shiki 2's mechanics will make it on to my list.

If y'all haven't you really need to play Sisters Royale. Best new shmup in years.

I'm also half and half on adding Rolling Gunner to my list like I did last year. It's an extraordinarily accomplished shmup but I personally find it too difficult after all the hours I have spent on the game. That said, the "casual" difficulty is just about right for what I like in a game, without all the stupid shitty TLB requirements that I almost always hate in shmups when they go beyond "1cc to the final stage." If a game locks you out for using bombs or losing lives, but then proceeds to give you bombs and lives, what's the point? Might as well make it fucking Turbo Force where bombs don't exist and the lives don't matter (you're going to die at 1-6 anyway). For some reason Cave developers and former cave dwellers (like the Rolling Gunner designer) really jerk themselves off over that design philosophy.
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 12:08 am 


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After much deliberation and some very deliberate revisiting of my collection, only some minor tweaks for me.

Spent a good amount of time this year with the Psikyo and Darius collections on Switch but... only Strikers 1945 gets on my list. If anything putting a conscious effort into revisiting a few on the xbox 360 bumped things around much more. I really wish Darius II didn't strip all your power levels on death though, or it'd probably make it.

Do want to spend a bit more time with R-Type this year. Rented Super R-Type back in the day which put me off as I didn't really get on with it, but revisited the series via the PC Engine Mini - enjoyed that enough to get the SNES Super R-Type/R-Type III re-release. But still haven't spent enough time with any of them with my newfound glow of non-hatred to justify a top 25 slot.


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:58 pm 


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With Psikyo for me I kinda went overboard; I think maybe two of them were superfluous additions but sometimes it's hard to think of a game past the 15th spot, know what I mean? Maybe that is a sign I should have only voted on 15 games, i dunno. There's definitely some 'strategic voting' going on in my ballot anyway. 8)

Getting the Gunbird 1ALL was one of the highlights of last year for me in terms of my shmup journey, so after spending so much time with that game it really sticks out in terms of how much I like it. Gunbird 2 is the all around better game that I have not 1ALL'd (maybe this year!), and deserves its spot at the top of my list. Kind of an apotheosis of late Psikyo's style before they branched out into interesting deviations (Dragon Blaze, Zero Gunner 2).

Zero Gunner 2 gets on there, perhaps a little too low on my ballot, because of how unique it is, and how successful it translated the psikyo style into a 360 arena-style game. Kind of shows how successful they were getting at adapting their shmup style to new formats and willing to push and experiment, even towards the end of their run. I know a lot of people say that Psikyo games are all the same (these people are kind of idiots, in my opinion), but to me Psikyo liked to experiment a lot more than some of their contemporaries, even if a lot of those experiments didn't pan out.

Like, did cave really 'experiment' after Guwange? Maybe you can say so about Pink Sweets/MMP but most of it is refinement to me. You'd never see some of the other big dawgs making something like a Sol Divide (LOL) or a Zero Gunner 1/2, or even a Gunspike!
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 2:36 am 


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this is the year of hellsinker


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:01 am 


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C'mon folks, lets get to 70 votes! :twisted:

buggle wrote:
this is the year of hellsinker


in ur dreamz!
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:48 am 



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EmperorIng wrote:
C'mon folks, lets get to 70 votes! :twisted:

I'm going to vote next year when I have more shmups on my list of games I've played recently.

I'm surprised GG Aleste 3 didn't storm through with a bunch of votes. I think it's borderline perfect and it comes with recency bias. I'm happy for Ginga Force getting love though. I also see a lot of votes for Caladrius. I've been on the fence about buying it. I just can't get over how drab I find the backgrounds. I've also been on the fence about buying Sisters Royale. I see somebody gave it 25 points. That's tempting me.


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 12:25 pm 


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Hahey an actual late push, been a while since that's happened

That's the lot for this year, the tally will be ready in the usual-ish amount of time
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:00 pm 


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Here are the rationales behind my picks. Thank you very much for the save draft function.

[1] [Gunbird 2]

This game, to me, does everything right. The sprite work & animation are fantastic. The music (especially the remixed version) suits it perfectly and never seems to becoming tiring or overly intrusive to the action rather than accompanying it. The sound design - one of the most important elements of an STG, and yet one of the most ignored - is impeccable, the firing & hit registration sounds just making it fun to pick this game up and shoot at stuff. The chime that sounds when picking up a coin at just the right frame is up there with the best I can think of in gaming - like NiGHTS getting a star, Mario's 1up or Sonic getting that extend after a bonus stage. The characters have mountains of personality, and offer enough variety in play style and effectiveness to keep things interesting. Beyond that, the mechanics mixing charge shots, melees, bombs and several types of standard shots give the player a number of options to tackle each situation.

And did I mention this game is hard as balls? Even Very Easy difficulty will stomp you into the ground until you learn to route it. I'm seriously considering making this my first PCB, as there is no question that it will provide years of play just getting to that 2-All on normal. What's most remarkable to me is that I never gravitate towards this type of aesthetic. I remember looking at it thinking "who is this even for?" When I found out how difficult it was I became even more confused. Until the game sucked me in, and after dozens of hours and months of play made me the very answer to that question. A true classic which deserves to be appreciated not just within the genre, but beyond it.


[2] [Super Aleste / Space Mega Force]

The Mega Drive & PC Engine are held up as the standard bearers for the 16-bit STG, and rightfully so. But while the SFC didn't have the horses to run with those two, I have always felt, both then and now, that it did sport one particular programming miracle that topped the whole genre in that generation. Super Aleste is Blazing Lazers with an infinity gem. Despite only hitting in '92, the visuals were among the best of the generation, with all sorts of graphical trickery and brilliant use of colour which lets it shine over the other Aleste game which usually takes the lion's share of the praise, Musha Aleste. The soundtrack was one of those few where the composer made the SFC sound chip pump out compositions that sound like they could have been on a CD game of the era. It always baffled me that Streets of Rage got so much praise while Super Aleste was largely ignored while doing a better version of the same early 90s house music style.

Beyond that, the weapon selection was the most creative Compile ever did for one of these games. The

It also had a suicide bullet mode that made it play like an early danmaku, somehow defying the SFC's reputation for slowing to a crawl the moment a second sprite came on screen:

Image

This is where the Aleste series peaked. After Super, there was just the somewhat unloved Robo Aleste on the Mega CD, then with Power Strike II & the lovely GG Aleste II the series was put into cryo-freeze for decades, only de-thawing thanks to M2 just 2 months ago. For so many reasons, I think this is Compile's crown jewel, and deserves to be at the top of a best-of-genre list.


[3] [Esp.Ra.De Ψ]

I had never played this game until the ShotTriggers release, on account of it had never been released anywhere until the ShotTriggers release. Aside from the amount of work, care & options put into it by M2, the game itself is marvellous. The game has as much personality as a Cave title ever had - Irori's "Yurusahen dee!" and "Power uppy!" absolutely make the game for me. It feels smooth as butter. The scoring system is unique, having you tag enemies with psychic bubbles before shooting them down to keep the chain going. The last boss is epic and memorable. And if you've played it, I know that the moment I mention those level-complete montages with the newspapers, fashion plate images and the tune that plays, they'll start running through your head. My favourite Cave game.


[4] [Blazing Star]

I messed around with a billion versions of this list. I knew exactly what my top 3 would be, but after that there were about a dozen other games that all felt like they should also be in the top 10. But only one game kept landing in my top 5 on pretty much every iteration of the list, Yumekobo's brilliant Blazing Star.

Every time I thought that #4 seemed a little too high for it, I'd realize that one of its tunes had been running through my head half the day. I'd think about its particulars and how its characters & ship design were a better collective effort than most any game in the genre. I thought about that weird, quirky, esoteric scoring system. I thought about the ways it pushed Neo Geo visuals to places nobody looking at that system's games in '91 would have ever thought possible. And then I reflected on the fact that somehow, the announcer's "BOHNAS!!" voice, which should have become instantly annoying yet through some mysterious audio sorcery never did. And finally, I thought about that fact that it was always top of mind when I was putting these lists together because it was just so damn fun, the grown up party-time version of R-Type. So here it is.


[5] [Vasara 2]

This is a game with a cult following, and one which deserves to be even bigger. It's the Samurai Shodown of STGs, taking an established genre and making it all about SKVZERCH-y sword slashes of such dramatic intensity that they make you feel kind of bad for your opponents. The game does a bit of everything: shooting, bullet grazing, melee attacks, chain combos, Psikyo style shine-cycling score pickups, dramatic showdowns between characters, and a bounty system built on downing major enemies all based on real life Sengoku era samurai generals. It's another one that's incredibly intense and hard as heck, but in a much fairer way than initially appears as your melee attacks can typically dispatch bullets. But what really makes this game for me is the sound design. The SKVZERCHes are in full effect here, and Takeda's rapid fire death-storm of blades sinking into hapless opponents at 24 SKVZERCHes per second just gives you an outright buzz. And it's getting that fix that keeps me coming back to it again and again even though stage 5 has had my number for months.


[6] [Radiant Silvergun]

Ding - Dong - DING DONG! Ding Dong, Ding Dong Ding-Dong DING!!

$300 well spent.


[7] [Thunder Force AC]

This is a game that just kind of crept up on me as I played it. TBH the Thunder Force ship designs aren't particularly unique or recognizable. Some of the sound effects are cool, some of them oddly lack punch. The bosses are the push-overiest push-overs the genre has ever seen. But I kept going back to it. The difficulty is in a perfect sweet spot for just sitting down & chilling with - I've seen people call it easy or "babby's first shmup" etc., but the reality is it's right in line with your average console game of its era (despite being the arcade version of this title). The soundtrack is as balls-out vidjagame rockin' as that chipset ever got. And the level design that requires constant weapon & speed switching (unless you just cheese it out with the homing weapon) to really nail gives it a degree of ship-piloting control that's uncommon. It all adds up to a game that just hits the genre bullseye in a manner which holds up very well 3 decades later and makes a great recommendation for someone getting into shooters.


[8] [Tengai / Sengoku Blade]

Tons of style, cool characters and enemies, tough difficulty, really enjoyable pacing - I like everything about this game except the character hitboxes, which can be tough to judge and are a little larger than they should be for a game that loves to bait you into a clear path through a pattern then snipe you with blazing fast aimed shots. Still, the overall feel of the game is fantastic and is one of my very favourite titles.


[9] [Ikaruga]

Obscure title you probably haven't heard of. Check it out if you get the time.


[10] [Soukyuugurentai]

What do you get when you take Aleste DNA, splice it with Donkey Kong Country pre-rendered visuals, bolt on Layer Section's lock on lasers, then slap disorienting amounts of kanji in the Evangelion mincho font at 78 point size all over it? A pretty frickin' damn cool game is what. It should rate much higher on this list but: A) I don't like rank systems that punish you for powering up your ship, which is one of the core attractions of the genre to begin with, and B) shooting stuff with said weapons is super fun in this game but the scoring system discourages you from using anything other than the lock on. Ah well. Still a great time.


[11] [Dodonpachi]

Obscure title you probably haven't heard of. Check it out if you get the time.


[12] [Shippuu Mahou Daisakusen Kingdom Grand Prix]

I don't understand how this game is as low profile in the genre as it is. It's well liked among those who've played it. It has character overlap with genre titan Battle Garegga. It has the Compile/Raizing pedigree. It's on Saturn, a platform most every player rolls with. And in a space where people are talking about getting STGs into speed running or competitive play, here's a title with a ton of visual personality that's literally a race. Yet it remains largely unspoken of, while lesser titles get a spotlight. That probably oughtta change.


[13] [R-Type]

I'm not sure there's any other title from the 1980s that is as timeless as this one. The artwork is still brilliant. The enemies striking. The ship design is as iconic and recognizable as they get - literally the only thing hampering it in that area is how massively copied it's been in the years since. The soundtrack sets the mood perfectly. And the strategic gameplay is still above most of what the genre has to offer. As evidence you don't have to look any further than the R-Type Dimensions EX release which puts a 21st century coat of paint over it, and it feels like it could've been released yesterday and would still have people talking. R-Type is just about universally appreciated for very good reason.


[14] [Strikers 1945]

Downing entire air forces worth of aliens with World War II mechs from the cockpit of an RAF Spitfire is pretty much the use-case for why video games should exist.


[15] [Crimzon Clover: World EXplosion]

Visuals, music, mechanics, scoring, this game is impeccable in every department. Though it does wear its influences on its sleeve, written in neon spraypaint. It would rate much higher, but the slot machine-like assault of cascading shiny medals and flashing lights become optically exhausting for me after a while. Still, more than good enough to rate belonging on this list.


[16] [GG Aleste 3]

I struggled with this one given how late an arrival it was. But it does so much so well, and unlike most games of this stripe does it so honestly they were able to print it out on a cart and run it on an actual Game Gear, that it makes an immediate case for best 8-bit STG that's hard to argue against. Next year it might well rate even higher.


[17] [Gradius III - SFC]

Where this title separates itself from the arcade version is balance - that version is just un-funly difficult. Yes, the SFC version's got massive slowdown & flicker. But with that out of the way, let's talk about how absolutely beautiful this game is. Its 'shining in the darkness' (apologies to Camelot) aesthetic defines the Super Famicom for me. Those blue metallic gradients glowing against deep black backgrounds had me staring at magazine screenshots for months in anticipation of the Super Nintendo launch as a kid. They were always what came to mind when I thought about the system's graphics, those palettes made the images jump off the page in a way Genesis stuff never did (for me at least).

Then there's the massive bosses, inventive obstacle-based stages, customizable power up system combining the best from Gradius & Life Force, and the soundtrack - oh man, that epic soundtrack. It ran a vast field from classic Gradius tunes to orchestral bombast. It used instrumentation that went from that PC Engine-style buzz you feel in your veins to the reverb-ey trademark SFC sound, mercifully without overdoing it. But what sets it as a masterful soundtrack are the pace-setting determination-in-the-face-of-dread filled marches and mood-setting pieces placing you in emotionally alien spaces, all of which become as much a part of the environment and stage design as anything the visuals are doing.

...wait, why didn't I set this higher? Maybe next year.


[18] [Gunbird]

If Gunbird 2 gets #1 all-time, the game that established its framework at least rates a spot somewhere in the top 25. The one element I don't like is the time limit for the max power shot, a mechanic they abandoned in the sequel.


[19] [Galaga]

There are a few games from the golden age that were so tightly designed that they still hold up in this era despite their codebase being small enough to write out on the back of an envelope. Asteroids, Yar's Revenge, Missile Command, but this is the best of them imo. Those echoing fanfares were so perfectly designed to punch through a noisy arcade and into the back of your brain - in a pleasant way - that a decade and a half later they were still able to provide effective emotional punctuation throughout the Ridge Racer series. The gameplay is sanded and polished to perfection, challenging and able to wipe you out in the blink of an eye, but still have you coming right back to get it right the next time. Its fixed shooter scoring gameplay is as pure as they come, and its loop-de-looping waves of enemies provide elements which would become ubiquitous components of STG design. If there's a golden age shooter that deserves all-time recognition for much more than just being there before other stuff, it's this one.


[20] [Ordyne]

While this was a bonafide arcade hit in its day (#2 in Japanese arcades in 1988) I'll fully cop to the fact that this one's primarily a nostalgia pick in 2021. I used to play through the TG-16 version again & again. Yes, that version omits elements of the arcade game that it just couldn't handle. Its shop & weapon mechanics are suspiciously similar to Fantasy Zone's. The ship controls are alright but not fantastic, TBH I didn't even really like the game that much at first. Your hit box is huge. Yet the game itself is pretty darn easy. So what was it?

The visual design is wonderful, in a super deformed anime Yellow Submarine kind of way. The stage design was just fun to master. The weapons were great, like the giant flaming green bullets that stuck their tongue out at the enemy, or actual Pac Man attaching to the front of your ship & eating all the enemy bullets. But most of all was the music and especially the ending, which just made me happy for the main characters and no word of a lie contained one of the most emotionally poignant songs I've ever heard. That pitch-bendy synth and forlorn echoing bell sounds get me every time. I used to play through the game over & over just to get to that.


[21] [Deathsmiles]

The first time I stumbled across this in a Kyōto arcade I loved it from the first coin. The gameplay & controls are just brilliant.


[22] [Pulstar]

If I like R-Type and I like Blazing Star it's only fitting I like the game sandwiched in between them. Built much more along the R-Type template than Blazing Star, it's also much tougher. But it's still filled with fantastic hand-drawn sprite work and is the 2nd best STG on the Neo Geo to my mind.


[23] [Gaiares]

While I mentioned the SNES impressing me in magazines more than the Genesis, this was the one game from early on that had me jealous of Sega owners. The massive bosses, cinema screens, cool mechanics, it was a cut above everything on home systems when it was released, and is still a standout to this day.


[24] [Nano Assault Neo]

Nano Assault was originally a DS game by German demo scene deities Shin'en. Neo was a shiny super polished upgrade that appeared as an eShop exclusive at the Wii U's launch and was legit one of the best reasons to own that system - a further upgrade called Nano Assault Neo EX has subsequently appeared on PSN. A score-based twin stick shooter that has you navigating a large planet-like sphere (but is in fact a microbe as you're nano-sized as per the title), it has some spectacular visuals filled with glistening, pulsating bacterial enemies and many based on real-life microscopic insectoids. I played this game tons, and it helped get me through the initial Wii U software drought handily.


[25] [Kikikaikai/Pocky & Rocky - SFC]

You like this game. I like this game. All decent people like this game, which is why it's known to repel vampires and malicious ghosts.


Honourable Mentions:

[Blazing Lazers]

One of Compile's very best, the true TG-16 flagship.

[Gate of Thunder]

The awesome Turbo Duo title which more than deserves a re-release.

[Firepower 2000 / SWIV]

Silk Worm successor, and one of the best on the SNES.

[Soldier Blade]

Some say this is the best PC-Engine shooter. Not me, but people. Still, I like it a bunch.

[Zanac]

Never having played Gun Nac, I would peg this as maybe the most intense 8-bit shooter.

[Fantasy Zone]

A whole sub genre was built off its back, and it still holds up wonderfully.

[Darius Gaiden]

I recently got very into this game after previously not being very into this game. Not enough time spent with it yet that I could put it in my top 25, which I figure is the sort of thing honourable mentions are for.

[Gradius Gaiden]

If you wanted to say this was the best Gradius, I wouldn't argue. Still never played V for comparison though.

[Darius Twin]

Honourably mentioned here because it's a decent enough game that has probably my favourite Zuntata soundtrack.

[Asteroids]

Briefly mentioned in the Galaga comment, another golden age stalwart.


Last edited by Sengoku Strider on Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2021 11:13 pm 


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I'll be probably playing a lot more games again this year and finally will take part of the vote again in 2022.
of course going to be pushing for progear and muchi muchi pork (and hopefully progear makes it back to the top 25 after the capcom stadium release today)

can't wait to see the list and thanks for putting this together as always nifty
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:03 am 


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EmperorIng wrote:

in ur dreamz!


dreams become reality :)


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:57 am 


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Sengoku Strider wrote:

(...)

[8] [Tengai / Sengoku Blade]

Tons of style, cool characters and enemies, tough difficulty, really enjoyable pacing - I like everything about this game except the character hitboxes, which can be tough to judge and are a little larger than they should be for a game that loves to bait you into a clear path through a pattern then snipe you with blazing fast aimed shots. Still, the overall feel of the game is fantastic and is one of my very favourite titles.

(...)



Great read. I love the little details you talk about like the sound design in Gunbird 2, which reminds me of the pleasure of collecting coins in Dragon Blaze. In fact, Psikyo in general adds many details like those that enhance everything else.

Fully agree with you on Sengoku Blade. And speaking of details, I love the running animation instead of flying when you touch the botton of the screen, or the dynamic backgrounds that change the light as if you start stage 1 in the morning and reach the end later at night (which gives another layer to the random first stages).
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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2021 1:05 pm 


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@Sengoku Strider: Thanks for your reasoning behind your choices. It's always fascinating to read about this. As you can guess, there's a lot I can agree with.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
Super Aleste is Blazing Lazers with an infinity gem.

This is very true and it got me thinking. I wonder if it was a smart move on behalf of Compile to just start calling almost any release an 'Aleste' game. For me, there are actually at least three different strands in which the games feel similar enough to be part of the same series but different enough from the other strands.

1. Classic strand: Aleste, MSX Aleste 2, Power Strike II, GG Aleste 1-3. (Maybe Gun-Nac? Haven't played it enough to judge.) Basically everything that evolved from Zanac.

2. Soldierlike strand: Gunhed/Blazing Lazers, Super Aleste/Space Megaforce

3. Mecha strand: Musha Aleste, Dennin/Robo Aleste, maybe Spriggan (?)


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:04 am 


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Sengoku Strider wrote:
Here are the rationales behind my picks. Thank you very much for the save draft function.
And thank you for writing them up!

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[1] [Gunbird 2]
The sound design - one of the most important elements of an STG, and yet one of the most ignored - is impeccable, the firing & hit registration sounds just making it fun to pick this game up and shoot at stuff. The chime that sounds when picking up a coin at just the right frame is up there with the best I can think of in gaming - like NiGHTS getting a star, Mario's 1up or Sonic getting that extend after a bonus stage.
Indeed yes! I haven't played in years, but as soon as I read this, I could hear that coin sound....

Sengoku Strider wrote:
And did I mention this game is hard as balls?
Maybe this is why I never got into this or any Psikyo game to any considerable degree (with the exception of Zero Gunner 2): it just kills me :lol:. Somehow I always did better with the Aero Fighters games, but I never developed much skill for Gb2....

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[2] [Super Aleste / Space Mega Force]
This has made my list many times, though it didn't this year (Blazing Lazers did instead). I agree completely about the soundtrack, it's a jewel on SNES (and there are many remarkable soundtracks on SNES, both in terms of composition and in arrangement/quality due to the singular SNES soundchip). The weapons are just awesome. But I do find the game a bit long, or perhaps repetitive, and I don't find the environments quite as interesting as its predecessor. But it's a Super Blazing Lazers for sure.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[3] [Esp.Ra.De Ψ]
I haven't played psi, but I understand this is some kind of updated port of the original game? In any case, I think the original has the most intriguing "character" of any Cave game I've played -- and I agree it plays incredibly smooth. You're right about the final boss too -- certainly one of the best. I also appreciate the graphics in this game; there's something about them that comes across as being especially sharp, though I'm not sure why . . . something about the way things are drawn . . . I'm not sure, but it makes me do a double-take whenever I see it.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[4] [Blazing Star]
I thought about the ways it pushed Neo Geo visuals to places nobody looking at that system's games in '91 would have ever thought possible.
In '91, we certainly didn't know what we would eventually be in for, but when I think of 2D artwork I always think of this system first: of course Pulstar and Blazing Star, Samurai Shodown II, The Last Blade, Metal Slug 2 and 3 . . . just amazing to look at both in still shots and in motion. As for this game, it's been on my list before, but not for some years; I do prefer the more methodical Pulstar.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[6] [Radiant Silvergun]
I played this very seriously during the past 4 weeks for the first time in my life. It exceeded all expectations (even 23 years worth!). If I was making another list today I'd put it right beside R-Type at the very top. It left an immense impression on me.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[7] [Thunder Force AC]
It all adds up to a game that just hits the genre bullseye in a manner which holds up very well 3 decades later and makes a great recommendation for someone getting into shooters.
I got a Genesis Mini about a year ago and rediscovered TFIII. Though I'm not a huge fan of the series, the famous third installment is certainly the one I enjoy playing most. It's not very hard, but it sure is fun to play and win.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[8] [Tengai / Sengoku Blade]
Tons of style, cool characters and enemies
Absolutely, and I love SPM's subsequent comment about the characters running at the bottom of the screen (and hey, I always appreciated Mr. Heli's walking around on the ground too!). I also like the different paths you can select. This always stood out for me from the rest of the Psikyo library for being a side-scroller.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[12] [Shippuu Mahou Daisakusen Kingdom Grand Prix]
I don't understand how this game is as low profile in the genre as it is.
Because it's so utterly weird! :lol: I do like the way it looks and (especially) sounds though....

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[13] [R-Type]
I'm not sure there's any other title from the 1980s that is as timeless as this one.
Yes, I think so too. It's not necessarily my all-time favourite game irrespective of genre (though it's one of them), but as far as being a timeless design -- aesthetically (colours and lighting), mechanically (ship and weapons), and structurally (placement of enemies and obstacles) -- this is a paragon.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[17] [Gradius III - SFC]
Its 'shining in the darkness' (apologies to Camelot) aesthetic defines the Super Famicom for me. Those blue metallic gradients glowing against deep black backgrounds had me staring at magazine screenshots for months in anticipation of the Super Nintendo launch as a kid. They were always what came to mind when I thought about the system's graphics, those palettes made the images jump off the page in a way Genesis stuff never did (for me at least).
Oh yes! With time I've come to view the Genesis as having had a more creative library of games -- more experimental, sometimes with rough edges but always interesting -- but when it comes to graphics I do think of the SNES first. The pictures of G3 (and Super Castlevania IV) were amazing to me . . . the bubbles . . . the lasers . . . the crystal boss. Which reminds, that's one of my favourite tracks. G3 has made my list many times, but I do have some complaints with it that kept it off the list for this year. Namely, your hitbox is too big unless you use Reduce, the game is probably slightly too long, and I find a couple of the checkpoints a mite unfair with limited credits. But I've had much fun with this game and will always come back to it.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[19] [Galaga]
If there's a golden age shooter that deserves all-time recognition for much more than just being there before other stuff, it's this one.
This is a great choice, I've voted for it many times (though I've voted for Gorf instead the past couple of years). Maybe if I was better at this game I would include it again, but I've never been particularly good at it. I love to watch someone really skilled though. Unlike with so many of our shmups, shooting is critical in this game (more so than dodging). Shooting accurately, not wasting shots to enable you to shoot "faster" . . . watching a master of the game annihilate field after field is amazing.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[20] [Ordyne]
I love this pick! A friend of mine was really into this game back then, and I also liked it -- more than Fantasy Zone. Oh, and I heartily agree about the ending theme.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[22] [Pulstar]
If I like R-Type and I like Blazing Star it's only fitting I like the game sandwiched in between them. Built much more along the R-Type template than Blazing Star, it's also much tougher. But it's still filled with fantastic hand-drawn sprite work and is the 2nd best STG on the Neo Geo to my mind.
We're agreed on that last sentence, though Last Resort gets my top spot for Neo shmups. In pace it's certainly more like R-Type, and aesthetically it often reminds of R-Type, but without having a Force Device you can manipulate (except for self-destruct), it doesn't play much like R-Type. The ship is really slow before you get a speedup (definitely slower than R-Type). Some of the checkpoints are really hard. Still, I love the look and sound of this game, and it usually makes my list (including this year).

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[23] [Gaiares]
While I mentioned the SNES impressing me in magazines more than the Genesis, this was the one game from early on that had me jealous of Sega owners. The massive bosses, cinema screens, cool mechanics, it was a cut above everything on home systems when it was released, and is still a standout to this day.
Absolutely yes! It just missed my list this year, but screenshots of those bosses made a staggering impression on me back then. Remember those fabulous advertisements? :lol:

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[Blazing Lazers]
One of Compile's very best, the true TG-16 flagship.
Simply, yes. As for Herr's insightful comment:

Herr Schatten wrote:
1. Classic strand: Aleste, MSX Aleste 2, Power Strike II, GG Aleste 1-3. (Maybe Gun-Nac? Haven't played it enough to judge.) Basically everything that evolved from Zanac.

2. Soldierlike strand: Gunhed/Blazing Lazers, Super Aleste/Space Megaforce

3. Mecha strand: Musha Aleste, Dennin/Robo Aleste, maybe Spriggan (?)
I agree with this. Definitely Gun-Nac does belong in the classic Zanac/Aleste category, and definitely Spriggan belongs in the Mecha category. Actually, with the exception of MUSHA, I'm not too fond of the games in that Mecha category. The Classic category I like very much (esp. MSX Zanac and MSX Aleste, PSII and GG3). But broken down like this, I do like the Soldier category best. It's too bad they only ever made two games of that kind (and while I do enjoy the actual PCE Soldier games, I don't like them as much as these).

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[Zanac]
Never having played Gun Nac, I would peg this as maybe the most intense 8-bit shooter.
I like Zanac lots, and it is intense (I would say more so on NES than on MSX). But my vote for most intense 8-bit shooter is emphatically going to Recca.

Sengoku Strider wrote:
[Asteroids]
This dates from 1979, but I don't think the principle of momentum has ever been more expertly conveyed in a game than in this instance.

Thanks again for writing!


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 10:08 pm 



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Sorry to return to this only vaguely on-topic subject long after the fact, but I did look up an earlier CO2-PRO game: Last Breakers. It's clearly more amateurish than Kotsujin and not top 25 material, but it's still quite good with 8 ships, simple medal chaining and some strong moments including one extremely cool boss. It's also quite a bit harder; some of the late patterns are threatening, and as in Kotsujin higher difficulties add a lot of suicide bullets, but you don't get a bullet hell hitbox in LB nor any bombs, so you can't bullshit your way through things quite as easily.

The reason I'm bringing this game up is that it bears more similarity to a Compile game than Kotsujin does, with common ground on a few design elements but specific similarities with the obscure game Bydobasher mentioned, Rude Breaker. The two have similar names, they both involve toggling between a pair of preset shot types via transforming, they both have medal collection and an end-of-stage bonus tally, and most distinctively they're both PC-98 games. It's reasonable to assume that Last Breakers is a case of CO2-PRO paying tribute to the one Compile game that ended up on their system of choice, much like how Kotsujin is a tribute to Tatsujin and Batsugun. Except... Last Breakers predates Rude Breaker by two years. I don't know if that says more about CO2-PRO or the burgeoning state of Compile's STGs in '94.

Anyway, pretty decent game, worth a try if you're interested in this sort of thing.


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 Post subject: Re: 18th Annual Top 25 Shmups of All Time - Discussion Threa
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:46 am 


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Very cool! Watching a video of this Last Breakers right now, and I like what I see. I'll have to try it myself later....

I didn't know anything about these PC-98 shmups until this thread....


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