Board FAQ & Glossary of terms

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Zach Keene
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Board FAQ & Glossary of terms

Post by Zach Keene »

Many thanks to incognoscente for being the original author of this FAQ. - ZK

It is not necessary to read this article at once. It is meant to complement the board rules, but you can read the sections you want at your own pace.

Every now and then you'll see something like Topics to Avoid at #SFE.1
Type the code into your browser's search function (typically Control-F) to jump to the relevant section. Searching for ::: will jump you to the next topic.

Shortcut to the glossary

:::About This Forum (#SFA)

This is the forum for This is an international community, but we prefer discussions to be in English so more people can read them. Please don't worry if your English is not perfect. :)

Important people to know:
  • is owned by Malc.
  • This forum is owned and maintained by bloodflowers.
  • The moderators are: incognoscente, Shatterhand, BulletMagnet, Ghegs, nZero and undamned.
    Please contact them if you have a forum-related problem.
  • The administrators are: Ghegs and bloodflowers.
    Please contact them if you have problems changing your account e-mail address, want to change your username, or need assistance with similar technical issues. If you're not sure whether to ask an administrator for help, please contact a moderator and they will assist you.

Shmups: shoot 'em ups, shooters, STGs, or scrolling shooters like Raiden, Gradius, R-Type, Flying Shark, or Dodonpachi.
On this forum Metal Slug, Rolling Thunder, Virtua Cop, and Rez are not considered shmups, though you are free to discuss these games and others in the Off-Topic section.

:::Your Account and You (#SFA.5)

Getting your account up and running:

In order to fight against spammers we've had to enable some features that allow us to weed out the unwanted accounts better. One of these is the manual approval of the first post of every new user - until a moderator or an administrator has approved your first post, your posts will not be displayed and you are unable to access Trading Station or send private messages. The approval process doesn't usually take long, sometimes only minutes, sometimes a few hours depending on how our staff is online. After the approval your account is fully enabled.

Your first post can be done in any subforum or thread (other than Trading Station), but you can also just say "Hi" to everybody in general, which leads us to...


If you'd like to introduce yourself, please do that here instead of opening a new thread for the same purpose. If you'd like to hit the ground running with a response or a question of your own in a different thread instead, feel free.

Other threads you may wish to look at or add to:

:::Table of Contents (#SFB)

Organization (#SFC)
Manners (#SFD)
Topics to Avoid (#SFE)
Getting the Most Out of the Search Feature (#SFF.1)
Importing (#SFG)
Superguns (#SFH)
Emulation (#SFI)
Superplays (#SFJ)
Tate (#SFK)
The Quick List of Systems and Games (#SFN)
Other Resources (#SFO)

:::Organization (#SFC)
  • Please keep posts on-topic with the current thread and forum section.
  • Post threads in their proper sections. Moderators will move threads that are considered to be in the wrong place:
    • High Score boards on this forum are for shmups only. Sorry, no Rez or Metal Slug threads.
      High Scores are single credit only!
    • Shmups Chat is for shmups discussion only. Discussion of other games goes in the Off-Topic section.
    • High Score threads may contain strategy discussion with scores, but if the discussion is long and involved, please move it to the Strategy section. Please mark new strategy threads with the appropriate tag.

:::Manners (#SFD)
  • When starting a thread, please be clear in your topic title. "Seeking opinions on new ABA game Titanion" is more helpful than "Check this out!"
  • When possible, search for answers to your question on Google or using the forum's search feature (more details: #SFF).
    If you have a question that relates closely to an existing topic, you may ask it in the same thread. ("Necroposting" is okay on this forum.)
  • Be polite or friendly when possible.

:::Topics to Avoid (#SFE.1)

Some people get annoyed by answering the same questions or seeing the same flamewars erupting again. Here are some topics we suggest you avoid:
  • What are the best shmups ever?
    This is a perennially contentious topic that spawned the Top 25 Shmups of All Time voting to abate flamewars.
  • What are the worst shmups ever?
    Example 1, Example 2
  • Is Radiant Silvergun overrated?
    Example 1, Example 2 (a little hard to follow now as the original thread was cut in two. laurie47 asked for opinions on Radiant Silvergun and received... that.)
  • Which version is better?
    1 2 3
    1 2 3
    Gunbird 2:
    1 2
    Strikers 1945 I and II:
    1 2 3
  • Why are all the shmups on Xbox 360? (circa 2010)
    Example 1
  • Complaining about Battle Garegga and its rank (roughly: its dynamic difficulty):
    Example 1, Example 2
    For direct information on how the rank system works, please consider the Battle Garegga treatise.
  • Sticks vs. pads vs. keyboards (In the end it comes down to your own preference):
    Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4, Example 5

:::Searching (#SFF.1)

You can find the Search function at the top of each page.
On the Search page itself, you have several options available to you.

How to search:

The text you're looking for always goes in the top text field, even if you change other options.
One of the first things I do before each search is change the Search for any terms or use query as entered option to Search for all terms.

If you want information on Dodonpachi stage 2 chaining, you will get about 3,000 results with the default option. With this option changed, you will get about 20. You should have a lot less threads to look through before finding what you're looking for.

You may also want to change the "Display results as:" option from Topics to Posts to see what the content of the results are.

What to search:

It helps to know specifically what you're looking for. If you are looking for help with Radiant Silvergun's final boss, try radiant silvergun xiga or radiant silvergun final boss.

Try to avoid unnecessary words or phrases like "the", "an", or "help me". In a general search matching any word, they will cause too many threads to show in the results. In a specific search matching all words, one or more of those words may not be in a post that's perfect for you.

Try to be specific, but don't go overboard. If you are asking the search to match all words and get nothing, try removing a word or two at a time. There may be another way to write what you're looking for.

Related Searches

Also be aware that some players may use abbreviations or nicknames for certain games. Sometimes you'll find more if you search with these. Here are some examples:

Batrider = Armed Police Batrider
Garegga = Battle Garegga
DDP = Dodonpachi
DOJ or DDPDOJ = Dodonpachi daioujou
GB2 = Gunbird 2
Mushi = Mushihime-sama
RF2 = Raiden Fighters 2
RFJ = Raiden Fighters Jet
RSG = Radiant Silvergun
S1945 = Striker 1945
S1945II = Strikers 1945 II
S1999 = Strikers 1999 (Strikers 1945 III)
Souky = Soukyugrentai
V-Five (Toaplan's V-V)

:::Importing (#SFG)

Most shmups are developed in Japan and many are only released on consoles or in arcades in Japan. Many fans import games or hardware to get around these geographic restrictions.

Most arcade boards use the JAMMA standard, so the boards should be fit to use with any JAMMA-compliant cabinet or supergun. Importing arcade boards can be tempting if the game was never released outside of Japan or if the Japanese version is preferred by the player. Some boards can have their region changed by DIP switch, but this is a specific and advanced topic outside the scope of this article :)

For consoles, some players in PAL territories prefer to play 60Hz games in their original 60Hz presentation (not all games have a 50Hz/60Hz option). Other reasons for importing may range from wanting the game in another language to wanting the best version of a game. But often with Japanese games, the reason is because the games simply aren't sold in other territories.

There are a few ways to play import games, but which options are possible depends on the system in question.

Some systems may have a special adapter catridge that can be set to override the game's regional encoding to match that of the player's system. Some consoles can be modified directly with a switch to perform the same function. Others have more elaborate regional protection schemes and may need a mod chip or boot disk to bypass.

Mod chips can be difficult to install. They take a steady hand, soldering skill, and patience.
Region switches can also be difficult to install as they typically require soldering and minor modifications to the console's casing.
Some boot disks require little to no physical modification to the console, but they require a special disk to be loaded each time an import game is to be played.
Adapter catridges require very little work to use but only work on cartridge-based systems.

Note: mod chips may not be legal in your country. This is something to check before pursuing that option.

For more information or answers to questions, please consult the forum's Hardware section. You may also want to consult the Import Gaming section of the Other Resources (#SFN) at the end of this post.

:::Supergun (#SFH)

A supergun is basically a smaller, more portable arcade cabinet without a dedicated monitor. These are often built in a modular fashion to allow multiple controllers, monitors, and speakers to be hooked up over time.
Superguns can be built with the right parts and patience.

Commercial models exist, but the Mas Systems Super NOVA should be avoided like the plague. Beyond that, search or ask!

:::Emulation (#SFI)

Software emulation is a process to allow programs written for one hardware to run on another. An emulator is a program that performs this function.

Gens emulates the Sega Genesis / MegaDrive hardware on a PC.
MAME emulates various arcade hardwares on a variety of platforms depending on the version of MAME used.
SSF is a Sega Saturn emulator for the PC.

To use an emulator, you need a few things:
1) an emulator written for a computer or console that you own that emulates your choice of hardware.
2) a ROM or disc image (ISO).
3) sometimes ROM files for the BIOS or system ROM of the target hardware.
4) patience and an ability to follow instructions.

Most emulators are written by programmers primarily for their own use, so they often have quirks or tricks you may need to use to get them to work. Readme.txt files will often explain how to use the emulator they are bundled with.

On this forum, discussion of emulation is okay, but discussion of where to get ROMs and disc images is not.

"Hey, I was playing Air Gallet in MAME and I was wondering... what are the end-of-game bonuses?" = okay.
"WHERE CAN I DOWNLOAD DODONPACHI????1???" and "Hello, you can download Dodonpachi at..." = not okay.

Remember: ROM and disc image distribution is considered illegal in many countries and you are legally responsible for anything you post here. Don't try to sneak around these rules. Use common sense.
If you are unsure if something is okay to post, please contact one of the forum moderators.

:::Superplay (#SFJ)

If a replay is simply a video playback of someone playing a game, a superplay is a replay by someone possessing great skill. A superplay typically concentrates on score and scoring systems above all else, but the player may also clear the game without dying even if this is not integral to scoring. Several world record attempts were released as superplay videos.

Replays come as three main types: commercial DVD or VHS, video files, and input files (INPs).
  • Replay DVDs and replay DVD purchasing may be discussed. Links to DVD rips are not allowed. Play-Asia and CocoeBiz/VGM World often have a selection of replay DVDs in stock.
  • Videos are generally hosted on personal websites with limited bandwidth, so be courteous and please do not download too much from one server in one day.
    Most replays are recorded by Japanese players and the ability to read Japanese can help greatly in finding replays.
  • Inputs are for use with MAME, but the viewer supplies his own ROMs for the game in question. In command-line MAME, inputs are replayed with the command-line format: (MAME.exe) [game name] -playback [replay name].
    MAME32 variants have an option in the File menu to "Playback input...".

    When the MAME core undergoes major revisions, controls for some or all games may prevent .INPs from working in newer versions. It is therefore important to note which version the game was recorded with and to try to match that. Personally, I've found that in terms of .INP content, most MAME builds with the same version number (eg: 0.67) will play the same replays. If MAME32 0.67 is easier to find than the exact build in question, it may still work. has replays for many games. Make sure to always note the MAME version used and please don't ask for ROMs.

:::Tate (#SFK)

Many vertically scrolling shooters use a display that is taller than it is wide (aspect ratio 3:4). That is tate in Japan. This is accomplished by using a standard display rotated 90 degrees.

Tate or the colloquial verb tateing can be accomplished with many televisions and monitors and can increase the visual fidelity in home ports of vertically scrolling shooters that support this display type.

Be aware that not all televisions can safely be rotated in this way and there are potential risks involved.

(The North American version of Raiden Project is infamous for having its true tate mode disabled. Information on re-enabling it via a cheat device can be found here.)

:::RGB (#SFL)

Red, Green, Blue -- refers to a very nice type of video signal.

As opposed to Composite (A/V) or S-Video signals, an RGB signal does not compromise image quality to save wires or bandwidth. For low-resolution console and arcade games, a properly-configured RGB monitor will give you the best image possible. For personal computers and select arcade and console hardware, RGB connections have been superceded by VGA support.

Questions about RGB signals, RGB monitors, and anything else about RGB should be posted in the Hardware section.

:::PCB (#SFM)

Printed Circuit Board.

Inside modern computers, digital watches, calculators, and other portable electronic devices are sheets of compact fiberglass or plastic-like material with many intricate lines of copper connecting various electronic components. These are printed circuit boards.

Inside arcade cabinets are bundles of wires leading to the monitor, speakers, controls, and power supply. All of these wires lead eventually to the arcade game's hardware, often in the form of a single printed circuit board.

Most arcade games past 1986 will be compliant with the JAMMA (Japan Amusement Machinery Manufacturers Association) standard and will have a JAMMA connector to manage the bundles of wires necessary for the game to operate. This means that most JAMMA-compliant games can be easily installed in any JAMMA-compliant cabinet, even if the cabinet still bears the artwork of another game.

It is because of this that many enthusiasts on this forum seek the PCB version of a game. They are looking for the actual arcade hardware without wanting to buy the entire cabinet. Some collectors go beyond this and want the entire kit--the actual cardboard box in which the game shipped to arcade operators and all related materials contained within. These are rarely cheap and may not exist for older titles.

Nowadays, many arcade games are being sold as a dedicated hardware system with the games coming on special discs or drives to save on manufacturing costs. While it is easy to think of PCB as a simple designation for an arcade release of a game, it is not always accurate.

:::Quick List of Systems and Games (#SFN)

There are shmups for most systems, but there are a few systems blessed with many shmups or a good number of quality shmups.

Here are some popular consoles for shmups and some sample titles for each system. These lists aren't meant to be exhaustive, but may help if you're starting out with a system, new to the hobby, or simply looking for something to try.

Discussing favorite games, hidden gems, or even other systems can be fun, so don't limit yourself to only these. See the Xenocide Files (#SFN.8) for more titles.

  • Blazing Lasers / GunHed
  • Gate of Thunder (PC-Engine CD)
  • Kyukyoku Tiger
  • Lords of Thunder / Winds of Thunder (PC-Engine CD)
  • Nexzr / Nexzr Special (PC-Engine CD)
  • Soldier Blade
  • Spriggan (PC-Engine CD)
  • Super Star Soldier
MegaDrive / Genesis:
  • Biohazard Battle / Crying
  • Fire Shark / Same! Same! Same!
  • Gleylancer
  • Gynoug / Wings of War
  • MUSHA Aleste
  • Thunder Force 3
  • Thunder Force 4 (Lightening Force in the USA)
  • Truxton / Tatsujin
  • Batsugun
  • Battle Garegga
  • Darius Gaiden
  • Dodonpachi
  • Hyper Duel
  • Radiant Silvergun
  • Rayforce / Galactic Attack / Layer Section
  • Soukyugurentai
  • Strikers 1945
  • Thunderforce V
  • Donpachi
  • Dodonpachi
  • Einhander
  • G-Darius
  • Gradius Gaiden (one stage runs slow on the PS2)
  • Raiden DX
  • R-Type Delta
  • R-Types
  • Strikers 1945 II
  • Toaplan Shooting Battle (runs at the wrong speed on the PS2)
  • Zanac X Zanac
  • Border Down
  • Giga Wing
  • Gunbird 2
  • Ikaruga
  • Mars Matrix
Playstation 2:
  • Dodonpachi Daioujou
  • Dragon Blaze (via the Psikyo Shooting Collection vol. 3)
  • ESPGaluda
  • Gradius V
  • Ibara
  • R-Type Final
  • Shikigami no Shiro 2
  • (plays most of the PS1 games)
  • 1942
  • 19XX: The War Against Destiny
  • Armed Police Batrider
  • Battle Garegga
  • Blazing Star
  • Darius Gaiden
  • Dodonpachi
  • Dragon Blaze
  • Flying Shark
  • Giga Wing
  • Gradius
  • Gunbird 2
  • Guwange
  • Mahou Daisakusen
  • Mars Matrix
  • Parodius Da!
  • Progear no Arashi
  • R-Type
  • R-Type Leo
  • Raiden
  • Raiden Fighters
  • Rayforce / Gunlock
  • Salamander
  • Strikers 1945 (also try the sequels!)
  • Truxton / Tatsujin
  • Twin Cobra / Kyukyoku Tiger

Other Lists:(#SFN.8)

For more shmups on various systems, please see the Xenocide files. As Malc is busy for now, you may also want to look through the Xenocide Files Updates thread to see what's missing.

If you were wanting a "Best of" list, try the community voted Top 25 Shmups of All Time. (You may also want to look through the voting, discussion, and vote commentary threads.)

:::Other Resources (#SFO)

Danmaku Gata [closed] - Japanese site giving up-to-date shmups news. Frequent updates.

Arcade game information:
(MAWS - only lists games currently in MAME)

Emulation information: - MAME official site.

PC Shmups:
Shoot the Core

Import Gaming:
Elixir's Guide to owning a Japanese Xbox 360
Xbox 360 Region Compatibility Guide - RGB video and console importing information

gamengai - features several translated interviews with Cave staff and other Japanese gaming information

I Records di Gamest - arcade records as recorded by GAMEST and Arcadia. GEMANT closed this site, but most of the shooting game records can be seen in this list maintained by Plasmo.

Company-Specific Fansites

Cave, Raizing/Eighting, and Psikyo: - The Sheep's site, now maintained by rtw.

Seibu Kaihatsu: - Raiden DX (in Japanese) - Raiden Fighters series, Raiden DX, and Viper Phase 1 (in Japanese) [dead] - Alluro's tribute to Seibu Kaihatsu's games and Psyiko's Strikers series.

Huge Darius Battleships - devoted to bosses in the Darius series.

Shooting Star -- very nice Toaplan fan site in Japanese.


Official Sites
Alfa System Co., Ltd.
Cave Co., Ltd.
G.rev Ltd.
Irem Software Engineering Inc.
Milestone Inc.
Moss Ltd.
Shin'en Multimedia
SKonec Entertainment Co., Ltd.
Taito Corp.
Takumi Corp.
Treasure Co., Ltd.
Triangle Service

Forums in other languages:

FAQ creation and discussion thread here.
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Unofficial Shmup Glossary

Post by BulletMagnet »

Glossary discussion thread

The Glossary


90-Degree Laser: A recurring type of laser weapon with limited homing properties, which both players and enemies can sometimes use in certain shmups: such weapons usually fire a beam which travels straight ahead of the craft like most weapons do, but if it “senses” an enemy to either side of it, it will “bend” at a 90-degree angle to follow and attack it.

Aimed Shot: An enemy shot which is aimed at a specific spot onscreen, usually directly at the player’s craft. Essentially the opposite of spam.

Alternate View: Type of shmup which features both horizontally- and vertically-oriented levels, though not necessarily in a directly “alternating” order.

Arcade Mode:
1) Most commonly used to describe the “main” play mode available in a shmup which has been ported to a home system from the original arcade game: “arcade mode” is generally a near-exact reproduction (taking into consideration the limits of the home platform in question) of the original arcade release.

2) Can also be used to refer to a shmup’s screen/viewing orientation: in such cases it usually serves as an alternate term for tate mode.

Arena Shooter: (also Free-Roaming Shooter) A shooting game, usually top-down oriented, which takes place within a confined area, sometimes consisting of separate, linked “rooms,” through which the player usually progresses manually, at his own pace, rather than having a scrolling screen to “nudge” him along, although there is often a time limit in play. Smash T.V. is one example. Not considered “pure” shmups by some players; sometimes grouped under borderliners.

Arrange Mode: General term for an “extra” play mode found in some console shmups, alongside the “normal” or “arcade” mode. Usually plays in a relatively similar fashion to the “regular” game, but may also include extra stages or selectable craft, new enemy formations or attacks, a different graphical and/or aural presentation, different scoring mechanics, or other features not found in the “standard” mode. The unique (or semi-unique) names which are used in different shmups to label their own arrange modes vary widely.

Autobomb: (also Autoguard) Feature in some shmups (or modes therein) which causes a bomb to automatically activate, without player input, when an enemy shot hits the player’s craft, or comes close to doing so, thus saving the player from losing a life as long as he has bombs in stock. Can be useful for practice, but since it lowers the game’s challenge significantly, shmuppers generally do not allow it to be used in score competitions, “legitimate” 1CC attempts, or the like.

Autofire: (also Auto-Shot, Rapid Shot, Rapid Fire) A feature found in some shmups which allows you to fire shots continuously by holding down the “fire” button, or a separately-designated “auto-fire” button, instead of tapping the “regular” fire button repeatedly. Depending on a weapon’s fire rate, and the situation at hand, using auto-fire may or may not be to a player’s advantage at all times.

Autofire Hack: A hardware hack most commonly used on arcade machines, with which players will enable extra buttons not used by default on a certain shmup to gain certain advantageous autofire functions not otherwise available in said game. As such, in many cases high score competitions will list “autofire” and “non-autofire” scores separately for applicable games, since using an autofire hack often gives a player a significant advantage over one who does not use it.

Autofire Rate: Despite sounding similar, this is NOT the same thing as fire rate. Refers specifically to the amount of shots fired in a single “burst” when using autofire: in some shmups this setting is adjustable in the Options menu (or even in-game), while in other cases players will engineer an autofire hack to set extra buttons to different autofire rates to use in different situations.

Auto-Target: (also Auto-Aim, Auto-Track, Tracking) Property of certain shmup weapons, often options, which allows them to automatically aim themselves at targets without the player having to manually control them. Different from homing weapons, since the actual shots fired by these weapons usually do not have homing properties, and can have some trouble hitting fast-moving enemies; regardless, many consider auto-targeting weapons a type of homing weapon.

Base Point Value: Term usually found in shmups with some type of multiplier as their scoring system; it refers to the “basic” amount of points that an enemy is worth when shot down, without being affected by the multiplier or anything else that would alter its value.

Blast-‘em-Up: Term used to describe a shmup, usually an older one, which generally does not include any type of scoring system beyond shooting enemies and perhaps collecting set-amount score items. Generally not played “for score” (especially since many such shmups do not include limits on milking and other potentially counter-stopping techniques), but instead with the exclusive goal of a one-credit in mind.

Bomb: (also Bomber)
1)A special weapon available in limited numbers or at limited intervals, which causes large amounts of damage, covers a wide area, or both. In many cases also cancels bullets and/or gives your ship an invincibility window while it’s activated. A particularly powerful bomb which automatically damages or destroys every enemy onscreen is sometimes called a “smart bomb,” “nuke,” or “mega crush.” Items which can be collected to add spare bombs to a player’s stock are often called “bomb(er) icons.”

2) A weapon which drops to the ground and explodes to attack targets there, most commonly featured in horizontal shmups.

Bomb Delay: In some shmups, a small amount of “setup time” or “lag” that occurs between the instant a player pushes the bomb-activation button and the moment when the “bomb” action actually occurs onscreen. An excessive bomb delay can more or less limit the bomb to purely pre-planned, offensive use, since a last-second defensive utilization to prevent being shot down is rendered all but impossible, due to the delay’s enabling a close-range threatening bullet to sneak in and hit the player during the “window” between the command and the action.

Bomb Stock:
The maximum or default amount of bombs that a player can hold in reserve at one time: many times this amount is set in stone for the duration of a game, but in other cases it can either be increased through certain gameplay actions or adjusted in an Options menu. Important to note, since in most (though not all) shmups if a player is shot down he will have his bombs restocked to their default number, even if he has more (or less) bombs than that in stock upon being shot down.

2) More casually, refers to the number of bombs a player possesses at a given time, whether the stock is at maximum/defaults or not.

Borderliner: Broad term used to describe “shooting” games that many, but not all, players do not consider to quite qualify technically as shmups. Examples include “Run n’ Gun” shooters (Contra, Metal Slug), “Rail” shooters (Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox), and “Tube” shooters (Gyruss). As with shmups themselves, there really is no hard-and-fast definition of what exactly constitutes a “borderliner,” and individual conceptions of it vary widely.

Boss Alley:
1) Stage or group of stages within a shmup which are comprised entirely of “boss” fights, though they’re sometimes interrupted by brief “recharge” sections filled with power-ups between battles. Unlike a Boss Attack, a “boss alley” is not a separate mode, but is a section located within the “regular” game, usually in the final stages.

2) A rare type of shmup composed entirely of boss fights, with few or no “minor” enemies or other sections of consequence in between successive bosses. When the term is used in this context (to describe an entire shmup, instead of just one section of it), it usually indicates that the game goes a step beyond what is usually defined as a Boss Fest.

Boss Attack: (also Boss Rush, Boss Only Mode, Boss Gauntlet) A play mode available in some shmups which allows the player to fight the stage “bosses” only, usually in successive order. Often requires a code or some gameplay-related task to unlock it, and has a separate ranking screen from other game modes. Sometimes the mode is timed, which also makes it a variation on Time Attack mode, in those cases.

Boss Fest: Term, usually derogatory in nature, used to describe a shmup composed largely or completely of (often lengthy) boss battles, while the remaining portions of levels therein, while present, are usually comparatively short and inconsequential.

Boss Timer: (also Boss Counter) A countdown timer which appears during boss battles in some shmups: once it reaches zero, the boss will Time Out, quickly ending the battle. Some shmups feature invisible boss timers, and as such the player cannot tell when a boss fight will automatically end without prior experience.

Bullet: The basic, most common unit of firepower in a shmup, usually refers to enemy weaponry but can also be used to describe the player’s weapons, usually the vulcan. Usually appears as a brightly-colored or flashing circle, or “blob,” but its appearance varies greatly depending on the shmup in question, or even when it comes to individual craft within a single shmup. Most varieties are indestructible. Sometimes the term “shot” or “fire” is used to describe bullets, but the previous terms are farther-reaching, referring to various types of offensive projectiles, while “bullet” is more specific.

Bullet Cancel: (also Bullet Eater) Property of certain shmup weapons which allows them to destroy enemy bullets which are not otherwise destructible; in many shmups the bomb or melee weapon has this ability.

Bullet Hell:
Over-arching label that encompasses all types of manic shmups, i.e. any title which is notable for the large amounts of bullets that the player is required to avoid.

2) Informally, refers to any particularly bullet-heavy attack, i.e. “The second boss unleashes some nasty bullet hell on his third phase.”

Bullet Maze: An especially large (often covering most or all of the screen) and/or tight bullet pattern through which the player has to move very carefully, and often nearly nonstop, to escape without being hit.

Bullet Pattern: (also Bullet Formation) A specific recurring formation of enemy bullets, or other types of shots, produced either by a single enemy or a group of enemies working in tandem, which often must be dodged in a rather specific way to be avoided.

Bullet Time: Yes, “Matrix” fans, it means pretty much what you think it means – a player’s (limited) ability to slow down enemies and/or their shots while maintaining his default movement speed, giving him a notable advantage while active. The ESPGaluda games are perhaps the most famous shmups to utilize this mechanic.

Caravan Mode: “Umbrella” term which can be used to denote both Score Attack and Time Attack modes. Originates from a group of Compile-developed shooters (Super Star Soldier and Final Soldier, among others) which both included such modes as extras alongside the “regular” games and released them alone, in limited quantities, as “Caravan” editions.

Chain: Any of a number of various repeated techniques a player can perform to increase the points awarded for shooting enemies, collecting items, or other things under the right circumstances: the most common varieties involve shooting down many enemies (or enemies of a specific type) quickly in a row, or collecting a certain type of score item many times in a row. Often utilizes a multiplier. Sometimes called “combos.”

Chain Counter: (also Combo Counter) A visible onscreen counter which keeps track of how big/long your current chain is: the bigger/longer the chain gets, the more points are awarded. Often accompanied by a combo time display.

Character Shmup: A shmup which prominently features one or more specific “animate” playable characters, as opposed or in addition to “inanimate” ships, planes, or the like: usually (but not always) has a more involved plot than “non-character” shmups, though the storyline in a shmup is generally not considered very important either way.

Charge Attack: (also Charge Shot) A type of weapon attack, usually more powerful than “regular” shots, which usually requires the player to hold down the shot button, or a separate “charge” button, for a certain amount of time before it can be released and used: in a few cases, however, the player has to actually let go of the shot button completely for a certain amount of time for the charge attack to be prepared. Sometimes this type of attack can be used an unlimited amount of times, in other cases it requires the player to collect a certain amount of items or destroy a certain amount of enemies before it can be utilized. In some shmups bomb attacks can also be “charged,” either to “place” the effect area or increase their power.

Checkpoint: A set point within a level from which a player can restart from after being shot down after reaching or passing it, rather than being sent back to the very beginning of the level. Usually featured in memorizers.. Some use the term “checkpoint” to refer to the respawn feature, but the term is more accurately used to describe a specific, “set in stone” restart point in a level, as opposed to any random instant-restart point.

1) When used as a noun, sometimes more specifically called “chip damage.” Refers to the fact that in some shmups you are awarded a small amount of “chip points” just for causing your shots to successfully hit a target, whether or not it destroys it completely; thus, in some cases using a weaker weapon which requires many hits to destroy enemies can, over time, increase a player’s score substantially.

2) When used as a verb, refers to the specific act of attacking an enemy (or part of an enemy), usually a boss, which cannot be damaged; while this obviously does not help to destroy the target, the player still receives “chip points” for doing so, and thus some players will use “chipping” to milk certain enemies for extra points before actually destroying them.

3) “Chips” is sometimes used as an alternate term for shrapnel.

4) In a few shmups, certain items are referred to as “chips,” though they generally serve the same types of purposes as comparable items in most any other shmup.

Clear Bonus: (also All Clear Bonus, End Bonus, Game Over Bonus) Bonus points given after finishing the last stage (either of a single loop or altogether) of a shmup (sometimes other genres as well). Can sometimes make up a large percentage of one’s final score. Usually gives the highest awards for remaining lives or bombs, or of certain special items collected. As with the stage end bonus, not all shmups award such a bonus upon completion.

Collect-‘em-Up: Term sometimes used to describe a shmup which places more emphasis on collecting lots of items to increase scores than most shmups do. Dangun Feveron is one game which is often associated with this title.

Combo Slop: Refers to a feature of certain types of chain systems in some shmups. In these cases, when combo time expires, a player’s chain counter will not immediately reset itself when a chain is broken, but will instead gradually decrease until it either runs out completely or the player resumes forming the chain, at which point it will begin increasing as before.

Combo Time: Window of opportunity that exists for a player to continue collecting items, shooting enemies, etc. to keep certain types of time-dependent chains alive: once the combo time has expired, the chain ends (unless combo slop is in effect) and any related cumulative score bonuses reset themselves. Sometimes the combo time is displayed onscreen, often in the form of a meter, while other times the player must keep track in his head, based on experience.

Oddly, while “chain” is usually the term used to describe the sequence itself, “combo” is the most commonly-used word for the time allowed for it. Generally, though, a “combo” and a “chain” in a shmup are essentially the same thing.

Continue Service: A feature found in some shmups (and sometimes even in other genres) which gives players some extra incentive to use an additional credit (or several) to continue their game after losing all their lives: usually causes lots of extra powerups and the like to appear in order to quickly get the player’s craft back up to full strength if the player chooses to continue.

Co-Op Play: Sometimes condensed into CoOpPlay. Generally, refers to playing a shmup (or other type of game) with a second player, working cooperatively. Generally not used, understandably, to refer to competitive two-player action, as in a versus shmup. More specifically, it can also be used to label a replay featuring the sort of cooperative gameplay defined above.

Core: More or less the universal term for an enemy’s main weak spot, usually that of a boss, within a shmup. Stereotypically looks like some kind of orb, but there are endless variations on this.

This term was coined by the 1985 shmup “Gradius,” in which a recurring boss with a crystalline orb-shaped weak point named “Big Core” would appear: sequels to Gradius would prompt players to “Shoot the Core!” whenever such a boss would show up. Since then, “core” has become widely used beyond its original series.

Counter Stop: Very difficult scoring achievement, only possible in certain shmups. Occurs when a player scores so many points during a run that the score counter simply cannot go any higher, and is thus forced to stop counting points scored before the run is over. Often requires very heavy milking to achieve.

Craft: (also Avatar) Semi-universal term for the onscreen object which the player controls in a shmup, whether it is meant to represent a person, a vehicle, or something else: some shmuppers use the term “plane” or “ship” in a similar manner, since the majority of shmups use some sort of flying machine as their craft. Onscreen adversaries can also be referred to as “craft,” “ships,” etc., but usually the term “enemy” is attached to them so as to differentiate them from the player.

Credit Feed: To take advantage of a shmup which allows unlimited continues, by continuing over and over again until the game is finished, no matter how many times one is shot down. A practice which is frowned upon by many shmuppers; some purists, in fact, dislike the practice of ever continuing at all, even for practice.

Credit Muncher: Casual term for a shmup which is especially difficult to finish, and requires most players to use a large number of “credits,” or “continues,” to complete the game (arcade-release shmups of this type also have the more general gaming term “quarter munchers” attached to them). Can have either a positive or negative connotation, the former when the game is accessible and fair, yet highly challenging; the latter when the game engine makes seemingly unfair efforts (such as inadequate weaponry, unforgiving hit detection, hard-to-see enemies and shots, etc.) to all but force the player to continue several times before he can complete the game, regardless of his level of skill or experience.

Crowd Control: Refers to any type of weapon which is most useful for dispatching large numbers of minor enemies and usually covers a lot of onscreen space, but is generally lacking in raw power and less effective against bosses and stronger adversaries.

Curtain Fire: (also Danmaku)
1) Tightly-packed bullet formation which moves steadily towards the player’s craft and covers most of the screen; could be considered something of a cross between a wave and a bullet maze. Such a formation MUST be “waded through” by the player, since it’s impossible to avoid entirely.

2) Used as a sub-category label for certain manic shmups which tend to use such formations frequently.

Literally, “danmaku” is the Japanese word for “barrage,” though it is sometimes also translated “bullet curtain.” It is generally believed that the oft-used “curtain fire” term first came from a mistranslation featured on the loading screen of the popular homebrew shooter Perfect Cherry Blossom.

Cute-‘em-Up: A shmup whose overall presentation and subject matter is intended to be “cute” or at least not very serious, though the gameplay is usually not radically different from, or less challenging than, most shmups in general. Examples are the Twinbee and Parodius series.

Cutoff Mark: Invisible line located near the bottom (in verts) or left side (in horizontal shmups) of the screen which, in some shmups, will prevent enemy craft from being able to fire any shots if they move past it (ostensibly, very close to where the player likely is). Included to help prevent point blank deaths.

Dead Zone: In certain shmups, the point at which a player’s craft is close enough to an enemy to prevent the latter from firing at the former, or releasing suicide bullets upon being shot down; this is sometimes (but not always) built into a game’s engine to reduce or prevent “point blank” deaths to the player. Often becomes smaller and harder to exploit on successive loops or when rank increases.

Defaults: (also Full Defaults, Normal Settings) Term used to describe the “default” settings for difficulty, extra lives, etc. found on a shmup’s “options” menu when they have not been adjusted at all by the player; most “official” high score competitions and such will only accept score entries obtained on default settings. In a few cases the “default” setting on a shmup will not be viewed as “official” (for instance, if the home port of an arcade shmup is by default set up differently than the original arcade version), but this varies from shmup to shmup. In some cases separate score tables are kept for varying difficulty settings, etc., but in most any case the “full default” table is at least the “main” one. Generally such options as the view mode or button configuration are viewed as “okay” to change, since they don’t affect the “core” gameplay at all, but simply cater to the player’s personal gameplay preferences, though again, attitudes on this vary from game to game and from player to player.

Dismantle: (also Deconstruct) Refers to the act of destroying all smaller “pieces” of a large enemy, usually a boss, for extra points, rather than solely targeting the core to destroy the enemy more quickly. Some consider this a form of milking, but most consider dismantling too “obvious” (for lack of a better term) an activity to be put in the same category as the usually more difficult and obscure “milking” techniques.

Double Play: Sometimes condensed into DoublePlay. Describes the act of a single person playing a shmup (or other type of game) while controlling both the 1P and 2P craft at the same time, using one hand for each set of controls - more to the point, the act of doing the aforementioned with enough skill to excel, or at least succeed, in conquering the game in question. As one might expect, a very difficult and rarely-mastered skill.

More specifically, refers to a replay (almost always considered a superplay) of a person performing said feat.

Drill: Refers to a type of weapon which has qualities similar to piercing, but slightly different; while a “piercing” weapon usually passes directly through an enemy without slowing down at all, a “drilling” weapon will slow down as it passes through an enemy it hits (and sometimes will not make it all the way to the other side of the enemy before dissipating). The advantage of this is that it will usually do more damage to the enemy as it slowly works its way through than a quicker piercing weapon would do, especially if the enemy is very large in size; the disadvantage is that it’s usually not as effective as a piercing weapon for attacking enemies positioned in “rows,” directly behind one another.

Dual Play: Sometimes condensed into DualPlay. Over-arching term for both double play and co-op play replays, i.e. any replay in which more than one craft is being controlled.

Enclosure Attack: (also Trapping Attack) General term for any enemy bullet pattern or other attack which is designed to trap the player’s craft within a very small area, to limit its range of movement. Most commonly used to describe (but not limited to) net-type patterns.

A shmup created by a European developer.

2) More generally, describes a shmup which contains features commonly found in European-developed shmups, even when the game in question is not actually European in origin. Some commonly-cited features are horizontal orientation, hand-drawn graphics, an energy bar (either in addition to or instead of lives), few popcorn enemies, simple level/enemy designs, slow pacing, and uneven weapon balance and challenge. Frequently used as a derogatory term, though those with fond memories of the era of the Amiga and other such computer systems (during which the “Euroshmup” style was most frequently utilized) will disagree.

Extend: Term used in shmups to refer to an extra life or 1-Up, usually when awarded for reaching a certain score (though the term can refer to item-based extra lives as well); as such, the setup of score intervals at which extra lives are awarded in a shmup is sometimes called the “Extend Rate.”

Fire Rate: (also Shot Rate) Refers to how quickly in succession single shots can be fired when using a particular weapon. Weapons with the most powerful individual shots usually have slower fire rates, but not always. Often affected by the game’s innate shot limit.

Focus: A feature most commonly found in manic shmups, which allows the player to slow down his craft’s movement while a button (often the “shot” trigger) is held down, allowing for more precise maneuvering in exchange for raw speed. In amny cases, doing this also condenses the player’s shots into a more focused, powerful stream, hence the name.

Friction: A programming/mathematical quirk which causes one’s craft, in many shmups, to move more slowly when pressed up against the edges of the screen while a diagonal direction is being held. In many games, when moving diagonally the craft’s horizontal and vertical movement speeds are “combined” mathematically in some way to determine how quickly it moves – when the diagonally-moving craft hits an edge and cannot move any farther in that one direction, that portion of the “diagonal formula” is eliminated, and the craft is slowed down by the innate programming by default.

Full Screen Mode: Something of an umbrella term sometimes used to describe any view mode in a shmup which utilizes the entire screen area (most commonly tate mode), without “letterboxing” or any other such limitations.

“Ghetto Tate”: Popular term for a “view mode” (of sorts) used by certain players who want to play vertical shmups in tate mode, but do not want to deal with the risk factors of rotating their television sets; as such, they adjust the game to put its display in tate mode, but instead of rotating their TV, they simply lay on their side and play from there, in effect “rotating” themselves instead of their televisions.

Ghost: Refers to any enemy craft which a player can pass his craft over or through without being damaged. In most shmups this principle applies to nearly all ground-based enemies, but the term “ghost” is more often used in descriptions of shmups in which only enemy shots can harm the player, while enemy craft, flying or not, are completely harmless. To make up for this increased amount of safe movement options for the player, such shmups often feature especially large amounts of bullets to dodge.

(also Turret, Cannon) A semi-universal term for a common type of shmup enemy which is usually immobile and attached to the ground or a ceiling, but is often able to fire in several directions, and can be difficult to shoot because it is often required that the player to get very close to obstacles to have a shot at them.

2) Can also refer to small (and often destructible) weapon parts found on a boss or other major enemy.

3) Is sometimes used to describe certain types of options, most frequently, as one might suspect, ones which resemble guns.

Hentai Shmup: From the Japanese “hentai,” which translates to “pervert.” A shmup which contains graphic nudity and/or sexual content, and is obviously intended only for “mature” players.

Herd: (also Hoard, Lure) A strategy commonly used in manic shmups, which involves remaining still at one point on the screen for a short time, in an effort to prompt all onscreen enemies to fire their aimed shots at you simultaneously, converging their attacks on a relatively small area: thus, if you can move away and escape the barrage just in time, there will remain a large amount of open onscreen area to move around and attack in before the enemy can adjust its aim.

Hitbox: (also Collision Detection, Hit Detection, Hit Area)
1) The specific area within a shmup’s onscreen craft which will register as a “hit” when a shot or other onscreen obstacle touches it. In some shmups the hitbox is (or can be made) separately visible from the rest of the craft, while in others the player must rely on experience to know where it is. The term can refer to such areas as they exist within enemy craft, but almost always refers to the player craft.

2) The specific area within a visible shot, usually near the center, which will register as a hit if it touches a craft’s hitbox. In most shmups a shot’s entire onscreen image serves as its hitbox, but in some, especially certain manic shmups, the edge of a shot can overlap a craft’s hitbox and it can still escape without being damaged or destroyed.

For both of the above definitions, it’s worth noting that, despite the name, the hitbox does not have to be a perfectly square “box” shape (though it often is); in many cases it is rectangular, circular, or some other kind of shape altogether.

Homebrew: (also Doujin) Refers to a shmup (or other type of game) not produced by an “official” video game developer or “formally” released for the arcade or home market. Usually developed and distributed over the internet by amateur programmers or fans, although some eventually receive limited commercial releases if they become popular enough. While some homebrew shmups include innovations seldom seen in any existing “official” shmup, many include homages to (or ripoffs of, whichever way you care to see it) the creators’ favorite “official” shmups. Also sometimes called “freeware” shmups, since they are usually available, at least in demo form, free of charge.

For the record, originally, the term “doujin” (literally, a group of people with shared interests or hobbies, sometimes translated as “clique,” “coterie,” etc.) was used to exclusively describe fan-made works based off of an already-existing product: over time, however, “doujin” has become acceptable to use to describe completely original fan-made products as well. Also, the word “doujin” by itself can technically refer to ANY fan-made product (books, comics, etc.), not just games (a more “proper” term is “Doujin Soft”), but since “doujin” by itself is the most commonly-used term (and the context of its usage can usually tell you exactly what’s being spoken of), that is the one chosen for this glossary entry.

Homing: (also Seeking) Characteristic of certain shmup weapons (specifically their shots), usually ones which must be collected as powerups, which allows them, when shot, to automatically seek out and damage enemies, usually the nearest ones first, without the use of a lock-on (many, however, will classify lock-on weapons as a sub-type of homing weapon). Usually doesn’t have as much raw power as other available weapons, in exchange for not having to worry about aiming them.

Horizontal Shmup: ( also Side-Scroller) “Horzie” for short. A shmup where the action progresses, via background scrolling, from left to right, and is generally seen from a “side view” by the player.

Hybrid Attack: Rather rare feature found within a handful of shmups, which allows two players playing together to somehow combine their abilities in a specific manner to enable new attacks or other abilities which are not possible when only a single player is present. Several variations exist on exactly how this occurs, obviously, considering the vastly different inherent gameplay systems present in the shmups which include this feature, but in nearly all cases the hybrid attack, as the name suggests, is offense-oriented.

Inertia: A seldom-seen shmup mechanic which pulls the player’s craft slightly backwards from the last “sideways” direction moved once movement ends and the craft is at a standstill. Almost universally disliked among shmuppers, as it makes dodging more difficult to execute precisely.

Invincibility Window: A specific timeframe during gameplay, set off by a specific event, during which a player’s craft cannot be shot down or otherwise damaged. In some shmups taking advantage of brief invincibility windows is vital to survival. Sometimes called a “flash window,” since the player’s craft will often flash or blink while it’s invincible.

Invisi-bullets: (also Invisible Bullet Syndrome) Term used to describe a shmup situation wherein the color of enemy bullets, especially small ones, either match or are very close to the color of the background graphics, which makes them very difficult to distinguish and avoid, especially when the screen is crowded. Sometimes only becomes a factor in certain parts of a game, and in other cases is an issue throughout; either way, it is more or less a universal turnoff to shmuppers.

Isometric Shmup: An uncommon type of shmup in which the action is viewed from a “3/4” angle by the player, and the background usually scrolls diagonally down from the upper-right corner of the screen to the lower-left. Viewpoint is one example of this setup.

Item: More or less a universal term for any type of icon or the like which can be collected and utilized by the player within a shmup; includes score items, powerups, and just about anything else that the player can obtain and use. In almost all cases simply flying one’s craft over the item is enough to collect it, and collected items are used automatically, but some items, such as most bombs, require activation by the player after being obtained. Items are generally designed to help the player in some way, but in some cases, especially games with particular rank systems, shmuppers will want to avoid certain items if they are not well-suited to the task at hand.

Item Carrier: While in some shmups items appear either at random or at specific intervals when the player destroys enemies or progresses to a certain point, in many cases there exists a specific type (or a few types) of (technically) enemy craft, which will periodically appear, carrying items which, in most cases, it releases after being shot or automatically after a certain amount of time. In some cases item carriers cannot harm the player’s craft, while in other games they can shoot at it and/or crash into it just like any other enemy.

Jerk: (also Cutback) Technique similar in concept to herding, but rather than attempting to “condense” enemy aimed shots, a player uses the “jerk” to create an “escape hole” in an otherwise-inescapable aimed stream of enemy shots. As the enemy moves the onscreen stream in the player’s direction, the latter makes a sudden, brief movement in a certain direction: as a result, the enemy will readjust its aim momentarily, and if the player is quick enough he can then backtrack and slip through the momentary gap in the enemy’s shots to the other side of the stream, escaping being trapped at the edge of the screen by the stream’s movement.

1)Refers to certain minor enemies which usually do not shoot at the player, but rather charge directly towards his craft very quickly in an attempt to crash into it and damage or destroy it that way.

2) Type of shmup enemy which explodes especially violently either on its own or upon being shot down by the player, in an effort to either catch the player’s craft in the explosion and defeat him that way, or release suicide bullets or harmful shrapnel to bring him down.

3) Sometimes used as an alternate term for suicide, especially when the task is accomplished by crashing into an enemy craft, as opposed to a wall or bullet.

Kusoplay: A notable replay which does not reach the “level” of a superplay, due to mistakes or incompleteness, although it can sometimes still showcase considerable ability on the part of the player.

From the Japanese “kuso,” which means “excrement,” or some stronger/coarser descriptive variation thereof (use your imagination).

Laser: A common type of shmup weapon which generally utilizes some kind of energy beam (as such, they are sometimes called “Beam” weapons). Often possesses piercing abilities, but there are endless varieties of this weapon with widely-differing properties and abilities.

Technically refers to a bullet pattern being fired from a single source, but the term usually comes into play when there are several different patterns (“layers”) of bullets present, which often overlap each other and must all be dodged simultaneously.

2) Sometimes used to denote the foreground or background “plane” of a shmup’s playing field, since in certain cases some enemies can attack from the background “layer,” and you are only able to shoot back from the foreground “layer” with certain types of weapons.

Describes the act of either a player or an enemy craft aiming its shots not directly at their intended target, but rather close by, ideally within the target’s upcoming movement path, in hopes that it will accidentally run into the shot by the time it arrives at that spot.

2) Sometimes used as an alternate term for Herd.

Letterbox Mode: Viewing mode found in many vertscrollers, usually those converted from an arcade version to a console format, which, when the game is played on a horizontal screen, “condenses” the playing field on the left and right, to simulate the vertical orientation of an arcade monitor, though often at the cost of some quality of the game’s graphics and/or viewing area. Most shmup players prefer tate mode to this in most games, although in some cases letterbox mode is the only option available.

Lock-On: A specific type of homing weapon which will automatically seek out and damage enemies, but only after you’ve “locked on” to them by passing over or shooting them with some type of targeting device, which varies in style and usage from shmup to shmup.

Loop: A successful completion of all of a shmup’s levels that are available for one “trip” through the game, from the first level to the last. The term “loop” is most commonly used when a shmup starts itself over at the first stage after a player completes it, thus sending them through a second “loop,” or “lap,” of the game, which is usually more difficult than the first. Some shmups offer several consecutive “loops,” sometimes even ad infinitum, though most have a maximum of one or two. Successive “loops” of a shmup will usually leave the player’s score from the previous “loops” intact, enabling him to reach even higher scores.

Some shmups require a player to one-credit the game in order to reach a successive loop, while others will send the player to it no matter how many times he has to continue to finish the initial run. Sometimes “loops” which occur after the initial trip through the game will only require the player to progress through a limited portion of the game’s total stages, though most of the time they involve all stages; in other instances, later loops can contain a number of various things (sometimes a True Last Boss) not seen in earlier ones.

It’s worth noting that some shmuppers do not consider the first, or “original” trip through a game’s stages as a “loop,” but only the successive ones: Thus, to them, the second successive run through is the “first loop”, the third is the “second loop”, and so on. However, most feel free to refer to the original run through a game’s stages as the “first loop,” and progress in succession from there.

Also worth noting is that, in games which contain one or more loops, the way stages are listed oftentimes also notes which loop the stage is in: most of the time, the loop is listed first, and the stage second. For instance, the first few stages in the initial loop of a game would be listed as “1-1,” 1-2,” 1-3,” etc., while the same stages in the second loop would be “2-1,” “2-2,” “2-3,” and so on.

Manic Shmup: (also Bulletsprayer, Dodge-em-Up) A type of shmup which is characterized by very high numbers of bullets and/or enemies being present on the screen at one time; forces the player to rely on quick reaction time and on-the-spot dodging skills, rather than memorization of where things are within a level, to survive. Due to the highly restricted amount of safe space for the player to move around in, manic shmups almost always feature relatively small hitboxes, usually located near the very center of the player’s craft..

Max Power: (also Full Power)
1)Rare type of power-up which instantly increases a player’s weapon power to its maximum level. Sometimes appears as a continue service.

2) Can also describe the state of one’s craft being at its maximum power level, for weapons or something else, at which point scoring settings or the like sometimes change. (i.e., collecting further power-ups will now increase score).

Melee: As in other video game genres, is used to describe (rather uncommon) shmup weapons which are intended to be used at short range, and often resemble swords or other “traditional” weaponry. Risky to use due to the decreased dodging room the player is given at close range, but often boast high offensive power, bullet eating abilities, or other advantages over longer-range weaponry.

Memorizer: (also Memory Shmup) A type of shmup, usually horizontal in orientation, which forces a player to repeatedly play its levels and memorize its layout in order to perform effectively, though quick reflexes are also a factor to an extent. The R-Type games are the most well-known examples.

Milk: (also Leech) To “milk” an enemy, usually a boss, is to gain as many points from the fight as possible by taking advantage of infinite (or semi-infinite) sources of points which are present: in most cases, this involves leaving the enemy alive for as long as is possible, rather than destroying it quickly and moving on. Examples include continually grazing shots or repeatedly destroying any endlessly respawning weaker enemies or sub-parts for the duration of the battle, while avoiding attacking the core and ending the encounter. In some cases, a player will have to take additional “unorthodox” actions (such as suicide or power down) to milk most effectively. Even disregarding this, milking can still be risky, since some milkable enemies become more difficult to defeat if they’re left alive too long; the practice can also, simply put, be boring to the player, due to its highly repetitive nature. Also, if there is a boss timer in effect, in most cases the player will want to be sure to stop milking and focus on destroying the boss before it runs out, or else forfeit the points that the boss would have been worth.

For the record, “milk” is the term which tends to be attached almost exclusively to bosses, while “leech” more often refers to enemies in general: however, since most instances of milking/leeching center around bosses, “milk” is used as the primary term here, since it’s used most often.

Mine: A type of shmup weapon which is usually used by enemies, but can sometimes be utilized by the player. A “mine,” when released, will usually either stay in one place or move very slowly; after a) a certain amount of time has passed, b) its target moves close enough to it, or c) it is hit by a shot or otherwise touched, it will self-destruct, leaving behind either a large, damaging explosion, suicide bullets, or some other such nasty “parting gift.” In some cases, enemy “mines” can be prevented from doing this if the player is able to destroy them quickly enough. Certain enemy craft which are able to self-destruct in a similar manner are sometimes classified as “mines.”

Missile: A wide-reaching term for a common type of shmup weapon, usually represented as some kind of rocket, with varying properties, though oftentimes it is a homing weapon and/or does splash damage. When used by enemies, missiles can often be destroyed by a player’s shots, but not in all cases.

Multiple: A specific type of option which duplicates the weaponry that the player’s main craft has equipped, and increases in power as the aforementioned does, essentially doubling (or tripling, quadrupling…) the player’s firepower when activated.

Sometimes used as a synonym for the more general term “option,” but this is technically incorrect.

Multiplier: Any variation on a scoring device, implemented to varying degrees in different shmups, which somehow multiplies the base point value awarded for shooting enemies or collecting items, or both, when taken advantage of by the player. Often the central component to a shmup’s scoring system, especially common in more recent offerings.

Naked: Refers to the state of a player’s craft when it has not obtained any power ups or other enhancements, or has recently lost all that it had by being shot down or some such event, and is equipped with only minimal weaponry. Thus, remaining in such a state for very long is usually considered a highly dangerous practice, although some players, in certain shmups, choose to remain “naked” for certain stretches to keep the game’s rank down.

Needle: A certain type of laser weapon which fires several short, thin beams at a relatively rapid clip, in a similar manner to bullets, as opposed to the more stereotypical lengthier, slower laser beams. Sometimes also has spread, homing, or other characteristics.

Net: (also Grid) A type of bullet pattern which makes use of several criss-crossing streams of shots, which form a “lattice” pattern similar to the stitching of a net. Often covers the entire screen, or most of it. To survive it, the player must watch the incoming shots and quickly judge where the spots in between the streams will be: if he positions himself correctly, he will be surrounded on all sides by the enemy’s shots and unable to move very much (if at all), but can then wait until the attack passes (or, in some cases, be forced to move along with it).

No Miss: The successful completion of a single level of a shmup without dying once; sometimes rewards the player with extra bonus points. Can also be used as a verb (“Now that I’ve practiced enough, I can no-miss level 4.”). Not to be confused with “No Miss Clear” (see One-Life).

Old-School: (also Raiden-Style) Label for shmups usually characterized by enemies which shoot few (but fast), mostly aimed shots, large hitboxes, and simple scoring mechanics, as opposed to manic shmups, which tend to embody opposite traits. As the name suggests, most shmups of this style were produced at least relatively early in the genre’s lifespan.

“Raiden Style” refers to the Raiden shmup series, which is often cited as a template or standard for this type of shmup.

One-Credit: (also All Clear, Single-Credit Clear, SCC) Short for “one-credit completion” or “one-credit clear” (abbreviated “1CC”) which refers to a player’s having managed to complete all stages (one loop or more) of a shmup without losing all of his lives, thus not needing to continue at all. Often used as a verb, i.e. “I managed to one-credit R-Type for the first time yesterday.”

In most players’ opinions, to 1CC a game is the only “real” way to be able to say that one has “beaten” it. Additionally, in most situations, to “officially” one-credit a game, a player must do so with the game on default settings.

One-Life: (also No Miss Clear, Single-Life Clear) Successful completion of a shmup (or a single loop of a shmup) without ever losing a life; even more difficult, obviously, to accomplish than a one-credit, since it requires near-perfect play as far as survival (if not scoring) is concerned. Sometimes abbreviated “1LC” or “SLC.”

Option: A wide-reaching term referring to various types of satellites or other miniature craft which are in some cases omnipresent and in others must be collected as items by the player. Options usually either serve to absorb certain types of enemy fire (sometimes they can absorb unlimited amounts of shots, other times they can be destroyed and must be replenished), extra sources of firepower, or a combination of the two.

The term “Option” was first used to describe the orange ovals available as power-ups in “Gradius” (by Konami, first released in 1985), but has since become more or less the genre’s standard term for any similar accoutrements in most any shmup. Different shmups have varying individual terms for such accoutrements (“Bit,” “Helper Craft,” etc.), but “Option” and Multiple are by far the most widely-used words when referring to them “in general.”

Not to be confused with the “Options” menu found in many shmups, and other types of games as well, which allows you to adjust a game’s difficulty level, button functions, and other such settings.

Paint: A technique used for certain types of continuous-fire weapons, such as flame-throwers, which involves the player continuously moving back and forth while firing to “paint” the enemy with broad “strokes” of ammunition to spread out the damage or accomplish some other goal.

Pan: Refers to a type of scrolling found in a shmup, usually a vertical one, in which the actual playfield is wider than what is depicted onscreen; as such, when the player moves his craft far enough towards the edge of the visible screen, the latter will scroll, or “pan,” along with it for a certain distance until it reaches the “true” edge of the playfield (if wrap-around scrolling is not present). One might consider it an inverted wobble mode, though unlike the aforementioned this feature is usually built into the game’s core “engine,” and cannot be adjusted to any other setting.

Panic Bomb: A “technique” of sorts usually used by players who have consistent difficulty escaping certain bullet patterns, usually during a boss fight. As soon as a player sees the pattern begin to form, he will use a bomb to nullify it, without making any effort to dodge it. Against bosses which hurl such patterns nearly non-stop, players may simply use bombs one right after the other, with little to no gap between them, until their supply runs out, in hopes that the enemy expires before then.

Panorama: Term used by some shmuppers to describe a view mode present in home ports of some vertical shmups. In this mode, the “physical” screen remains “4:3” horizontal, and the “in-game” screen is downsized to fit inside of it, as in letterbox mode; however, in this case the latter is also “stretched” horizontally, so as to completely fill the screen. Causes on-screen objects to appear disproportionately “wider,” to varying degrees, though the actual area you’re able to see is technically the same as it would be on an actual vertical screen.

Pea Shooter: Semi-derogatory term for a weak, rather useless weapon that has not been (or cannot be) adequately powered up. Often used to describe the player’s primary weapon at the very beginning of a game, or after powering down.

Phase: Different “stage” or “form” which a boss takes during the course of a battle, usually changing its appearance and/or attacks. A change of phase is usually prompted by the degree of damage done to the boss, but sometimes it depends simply on how long the battle has lasted.

Pierce: (also Penetrate) Feature of certain weapons which allows their shots to completely or partially pass through enemies while damaging them, thus allowing them to also hit other targets behind the ones “in front.” Laser weapons often (but not always) possess this feature. Sometimes only certain enemies (usually smaller/minor ones) can be “pierced” by weapons with this feature, while others (usually larger/stronger enemies) cannot.
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Re: Unofficial Shmup Glossary

Post by BulletMagnet »

Glossary discussion thread

Part 2 (it won't all fit in one post anymore!)


Sometimes used to refer to item carriers, i.e. “item pods.”

2) Can also refer to certain types of options, such as the “Force Pod” in R-Type.

3) In some shmups, some collectable items themselves are referred to as “pods,” although their function is essentially no different from comparable “items” found in other shmups.

Point Blank:
1) To move very close to an enemy craft and fire rapidly, in order to increase a weapon’s fire rate and maximize damage. Especially useful when utilized with spread weapons, as at close range the entire spread can hit a single enemy and do much more damage than usual. Also, obviously, increases the player’s risk of being hit by the enemy’s shots (or the enemy itself), so it must be used with discretion.

2) A particular type of sneak kill which involves being shot down by a very close-proximity enemy, oftentimes one which charges quickly at the player for just such a purpose. Frustrating to many players, since such a situation gives them little or no time to dodge shots at such close range.

Point Blank Range:
1) The point at which a player’s craft is close enough to an enemy that using the point blank technique is able to do the most damage possible.

2) Sometimes also called the “Point Blank Safe Zone.” Alternate term for an enemy’s dead zone.

Popcorn: (also Cannon Fodder, Zako) Term to refer to common, weak enemies which appear in large numbers at a time during the course of a shmup, but only take a shot or two apiece to destroy, and can thus be taken out in bulk (or “popped”) fairly easily.

Literally, “zako” is the Japanese word for “small fry,” as in fish.

Power Down: Any occurrence in a shmup which causes the player’s weaponry to lose some or all of the enhancements that it’s gained. In shmups without the Retain feature, for instance, players “power down” after being shot down; in other cases touching an enemy craft (as opposed to a shot) will power down the player’s craft rather than destroying it; in still other cases, the player’s weapon will power down automatically if extra power-ups aren’t regularly collected to maintain it. Other variations aside from these exist in different shmups. In some games in which the rank is affected by how powered-up one’s craft is, players will sometimes “power down” on purpose to keep the rank from rising too fast.

1) Very broad term referring to any type of item whose purpose is to directly increase the abilities of your craft. These include different types of secondary weapons, enhancements for those weapons, and some types of options, speed ups and shields, plus others. Some players also group score items and other unrelated collectables under “power-ups,” but most don’t.

2) The act of utilizing power-up items, or other types of power-up systems (such as an “experience” system) to enhance one’s craft, i.e. “I powered-up my ship by collecting the red icon.”

Also spelled/phrased as “Power Up” and “Powerup.”

Primary Weapon: (also Main Gun) Usually refers to a single weapon (often a vulcan) available to a player at the very start of the game, and which usually remains omnipresent in some form through the duration of the entire game; often categorized (and derided) as a pea shooter until it is powered up or supplemented by secondary weapons.

Proto-Shmup: Term used to classify certain very old “shooting” games which possess some qualities found within the “modern” shmup genre, but do not fit the bill completely. The reason they are given a separate definition from the usual borderliner is because they were developed so early on; many of the gameplay elements pioneered within such games have become standard issue for more recent shmups, and as such the “proto shmups” are not said to be merely “almost” shmups, but are listed separately by many as the forerunners of the genre.

Puzzle-‘em-Up: A seldom-used term, referring to a shmup which also includes gameplay elements common to the “puzzle” genre, which involve more strategy and planning ahead, as opposed to simply blasting everything in sight, than most shmups. Twinkle Star Sprites is the plainest example.

Rank: Underlying gameplay system found in many shmups which will automatically adjust the game’s difficulty in accordance with the player’s performance: for example, in many cases more enemies will appear (and/or existing enemies will attack more aggressively, among other things) when the player is fully powered up. Some more “extreme” rank systems require that the player purposely avoids powering up, shooting down enemies, etc. in order to effectively increase his chances of survival, although often at the cost of higher scoring opportunities.

Some rank systems are controlled directly by the player’s status (such as survival time) and can change relatively quickly, while others will continually increase depending on the player’s actions until they “max out,” and efforts to control them can only slow down how fast they increase. There is almost always no onscreen display showing exactly how the rank is progressing, and the player must generally rely on experience and observation to roughly determine it.

Rank Counter: Refers to the usually-invisible “counter” which a game uses to keep track of the progress of its rank; generally, the higher the counter gets, the more difficult the game becomes. Certain actions by the player can usually either increase or decrease it by some amount, though, again, the actual counter usually cannot be directly monitored by the player.

Ranking: NOT a verb form of rank, as defined above. Fancy name for the high-score list (or several lists, kept for separate modes or difficulties) of a shmup, where players’ top achievements (and initials) are saved and displayed for all to see. Most often employed via the phrase “internet ranking,” which is a high-score display posted on a website, usually either for a game played exclusively online, or for scores submitted via the internet for non-online games.

1) Feature found in some shmups (and occasionally other types of games) which allows players to record their onscreen gameplay for a set amount of time and save it (usually on some type of memory card) as a file to be viewed later, either by the player himself or by others. Used by many shmuppers to obtain and save visual tips on how to improve their skills (or just show off).

2) More generally, a visual file of any sort which contains shmup replay footage of any length or quality. It does not have to be recorded “directly” from the game software itself, although for the sake of image quality this is generally preferable; some replays are recorded by onlookers via video cameras or other such equipment, though the aforementioned quality issues and background noise can be detrimental.

There are several different categorizations for different types of replays: see Co-op Play, Double Play, Dual Play, Kusoplay, Superplay.

(also Instant Respawn) The ability in a shmup to immediately resume play at the exact spot, or at least at a set “respawn point” in the screen area, where one is shot down, usually with a brief invincibility window. In some cases this only comes into effect when individual lives are lost, and does not apply when using continues.

2) Can also refer to “respawning” enemy craft (or enemy parts) which are continually and automatically replaced ad infinitum after being shot down by the player: such targets are often prime territory for milking.

Restart: A feature found in some shmups which allows a player (usually from an option found in the “pause” menu, other times by simply pushing a specific “restart” button) to quickly restart either the entire game or a particular level over, without having to go through the normal startup and selection menus; players attempting a high score run will sometimes use this feature if they make a major mistake. Most shmups also have the option to “restart” the game completely from the title screen, but then again, so do many non-shmups.

Retain: The ability in some shmups to keep some or all of the power-ups that one has collected after being shot down, instead of being brought back naked to “square one” and forced to collect all enhancements again.

Ride: A variation on the point blank technique. When a player possesses an invincibility window during a major battle, usually a boss fight, either from having been recently shot down or having used a bomb, he can “ride” the enemy craft by positioning his own craft directly on top of it and firing repeatedly, in order to ensure that the weapon’s fire rate is maximized and the boss thus takes maximum damage. Must be used with caution, however, since the player becomes vulnerable once his invincibility runs out and will likely be killed instantly if he is still “riding” the boss at that point.

Run: Usually refers to a single specific attempt by a player to one-credit a shmup, and/or a specific effort to obtain a high score; a player who makes a “run” at a shmup will usually refuse to continue after losing one credit, and often restarts if he messes up at an early or vital point. Informally, though, the term “run” can be used to describe any single session playing a shmup, even if a high score or “one-credit or bust” isn’t specifically what the player has in mind.

Scatter Shot: Refers to any sort of weapon, used either by the player or by enemies, that fires large shots (usually one at a time) which split into multiple smaller shots to cover more area, either once it’s traveled far enough or hits a target. Can be somewhat tricky to utilize effectively, but can give the player considerable versatility if used well.

Score Attack:
1) (also Stage Attack) A selectable play mode available in some shmups which allows the player to play through a single level (often with an unlimited amount of lives in reserve) in an effort to obtain the highest score possible for that stage alone. Sometimes extra multipliers or other things not included in the “regular” game are added into this mode. (In some games, high scores for individual stages played during the “regular” or “full” game are recorded automatically alongside the “general” high score board, but a separate Score Attack mode is not present.)

2) Sometimes refers to another type of game mode, generally found in a home port of a shmup; it plays more or less exactly like the “normal” game does, but is intended to be used by players attempting to participate in some kind of “official” score contest for the game in question. In this type of “score attack” mode, the game can only be played on default settings, and the player cannot continue after losing all his lives; also, after the game is over, the player usually receives a password of some sort, which can be entered on the contest’s web site, and allows the player to submit his score to be displayed and counted.

Score Item: Any collectible item which is used primarily or exclusively to increase the player’s score; collecting many of them can sometimes activate a chain or multiplier. Many shmups use various types of “medal” icons as their score items, and as such some players use the term “medals” casually to refer to score items as a whole, and call the practice of utilizing certain types of medal-related chains “medaling.”

Score Reset: Shmup feature which “resets” a player’s score to zero when he continues his game after losing all of his lives. Considered a necessity for any respectable shmup by many players, since it ensures that every player’s high score will always represent one credit of play time, and thus prevents the obtaining of high scores by continuing multiple times rather than surviving by skill.

Even in some shmups which do not altogether reset one’s score after continuing, however, the game will record how many times a player has continued over the course of a game via the last digit of the score column: in most shmups, all points scored by the player are received in multiples of ten, and thus the last digit of the score is normally a “0.” For instance, however, if a player continues his game for the first time the score will restart at “1” instead of “0,” and if he continues a second time it will restart at “2,” and so on. (To the best of my knowledge, no one’s come up with a specific, “accepted” term for this.)

Scoring System: Broad term which encompasses any sort of “device” which the game uses to affect how a player can increase his score, beyond simply shooting down enemies with inflexible base point values. Includes, but is not limited to, utilization of score items, multipliers, and chains: if more than one such “device” to increase score is present within a single shmup, all of them are collectively considered parts of the game’s “scoring system.”

Scrape: (also Graze, Buzz, Scratch) Used to describe the act of a craft’s being touched by an enemy shot which glances or passes over the visible onscreen object but misses the hitbox. In some shmups it can be done intentionally by the player in order to earn extra points or power up their craft.

Single-Screen Shmup: A shmup, usually viewed from a top-down perspective, in which the player controls a craft, collects items, and shoots enemies as in other types of shmups, but the background does not scroll to indicate progress. Space Invaders is probably the best-known example.

Shield: General term for an enhancement that a player’s craft can use for defensive purposes. In some games “shields” are synonymous with “lives,” or serve as an “energy meter” for the player craft, but most of the time a shield must be collected as a power-up or otherwise earned, and serves specifically to protect the player from enemy attacks to some extent. Some shields protect the entire craft, others only a certain portion of it; likewise, some shields can withstand an unlimited amount of enemy shots, while others will disappear after a certain amount of hits or a set span of time. Some shields also only protect against certain types of enemy shots and are useless against others; some can also be used offensively to a degree, while others cannot. Some players also use the term “barrier” or “force field” to refer to shields in general, though others use the terms separately to denote specific types of shields.

Shmup: Short for “shoot-‘em-up.” Semi-official classification for video games in which a large amount of shooting is involved, and the gameplay is executed in a 2-dimensional style (though the graphical objects onscreen can be 3-D), and controlled strictly from a third-person perspective. Most shmups automatically scroll the background in a certain direction to create the impression of movement as the player progresses, and involve taking control of a plane or spacecraft (as such they are sometimes called “Space Shooters”), as well as collecting various power-ups,, but there are many, many exceptions to and variation on this. Though some use the term “shooter” by itself to refer to shmups (in Japan, in fact, shmups are usually called “Shooting Games,” or “STG’s” for short), this sometimes gets them confused with first-person shooters or light gun shooters.

Different gamers have vastly different hard-and-fast definitions of what a “shmup” technically is (or even whether the term “shmup” should be used at all), but the above covers most of the essentials. Players and/or fans of the genre are often called “shmuppers” or “shmup-o’s,” and gatherings of said aficionados together to compete or otherwise engage in “shmuppery” are sometimes called “shmupmeets,” or “shmeets” for short.

Shot: All-encompassing term for any projectile weapon used in a shmup, by either the player or the enemy. Includes bullets, missiles, lasers, and just about any other such weapon.

Shot Limit: Pre-programmed limit on how many shots from a specific weapon can be onscreen at one time: for instance, if a player hits the “shot” button four times in rapid succession before the first fired bullet leaves the screen or otherwise disappears, but the shot limit for that weapon is three, no successive shots will be fired after the third until the first bullet is gone. Sometimes exists solely due to hardware limitations, while in other cases it’s designed to limit exploitation of particularly powerful weapons. Since shots vanish more quickly when the player’s craft is closer either to the far side of the screen or to an enemy, games with low shot limits often encourage frequent use of point-blanking.

1) Programming phenomenon commonly found in shmups, in which all onscreen action slows down and/or the framerate drops when high amounts of separate elements (i.e. enemies, bullets, etc.) appear at once. Can be used to a player’s advantage by giving him more time to react to what’s going on, but can seriously hamper a game’s playability when found in abundance. The amount of slowdown present can be adjusted in some console shmups via the ”Wait” option. Usually an unintentional/unavoidable “side effect” of software programming and/or hardware limitations, but is sometimes deliberately added to certain highly difficult points of a game by developers on purpose to make them more manageable.

Shrapnel: (also Debris) Graphical touch found in some shmups, in which “shards” or “chunks” of enemy craft appear to be blown off of them when they are shot or destroyed. In most cases shrapnel is included for purely presentational reasons and cannot directly harm the player, but it can still be a hindrance if enemy bullets are not very distinct, as they can blend in with the shrapnel and become hard to spot.

Snake: A common type of enemy found in shmups (and other video game genres as well), which consists of several “sections,” usually circles or spheres, joined together into an unbroken “chain.” Some “snake” enemies can be destroyed section by section, while others have a specific weak spot (often the “head”) that must be targeted to do any damage. Sometimes called a “shooter snake.”

Sneak Kill: Term used to describe particularly frustrating circumstances of demise while playing a shmup, which the player often feels he has no fair chance to avoid: may encompass Invisible Bullet Syndrome, point blanks, snipers, and other such things. Commonly also known as “cheap shots” and various other names, many of which are not suitable for print here.

Sniper: Common label for any shmup enemy which periodically appears at a player’s most vulnerable side (usually behind him) and attacks from there. Quite difficult to handle without proper weaponry, especially when one is already dealing with attacks from other sides as well.

Spam: (also Bulletspam, Bullet Barf) Clusters of enemy bullets which are not aimed directly at the player’s craft, but are shot off in various or random directions, often at varying speeds, to take up space on the screen and limit the player’s range of movement. Especially difficult to dodge through if the player is caught up in the middle of it.

Speed Adjust: (also Speed Select)The ability, found in some shmups, of the player to instantly adjust the moving speed of his craft at any time, between a certain amount of available speed settings. Generally uses a specific button set aside for this task, and can be used an unlimited amount of times without the aid of items.

Speed Up: A specific type of power-up which increases the movement speed of a player’s craft when collected/used. Generally found in shmups which lack a speed adjust feature, although many shmups do not allow the player to adjust his craft’s speed at all (though sometimes they allow him to select between several craft with varying preset speeds at the outset). A handful of shmups also contain “speed down” items, which more or less do exactly what they sound like they should do (these, however, are not the same as the slow down feature).

Speed Zone: Certain stages (or parts of said stages) in some shmups in which the background scrolls by notably more quickly than the rest of the game: in some cases it serves more or less as a mere graphical effect and doesn’t drastically alter the way you need to play in order to survive, but in other cases these “zones” also cause enemies and walls to come at you faster than usual, which gives you less time to react to them. Use of the term “speed zone” generally refers to the latter.

Splash Damage: Damage done to an enemy by certain weapons after they initially hit, and proceed to explode, or “splash.” The explosions usually linger onscreen for several moments rather than immediately fading, damaging enemies that fly into their range (or sit there underneath them) until they finally fade out. Bomb and Missile weapons are the most common possessors of this feature.

Spray: Specific type of bullet formation which fires a tightly-packed group of shots, often of varying speeds, which spreads out slightly as it travels: as such, not only is its initial salvo difficult to dodge through without avoiding it completely, but the slower-moving bullets often linger onscreen, making it tougher to avoid the enemy’s next attack if it occurs before they leave the screen.

Spread: Describes any weapon or bullet pattern which covers a wide area with many separate shots; can refer to either player or enemy weaponry.

Stage End Bonus: Any bonus points awarded upon successful completion of a stage/area/zone/etc. of a shmup: includes bonuses for amounts of enemies shot down (sometimes called the “shoot down percentage” or “kill rate”), amount of items collected, time remaining on the boss timer, and just about any other points awarded between stages. Not all shmups offer such bonuses.

Stage Select:
Mode featured in some shmups which serves effectively as a “practice” or “training” mode, in which the player can select any individual stage (sometimes only those which have already been completed via “normal” play) to play through by itself, in order to better prepare himself for the “full” game. This mode often grants certain “perks” that the main game does not offer (extra displays, unlimited lives, etc.), and in other cases the player can adjust several different settings (amount of power-ups or bombs obtained, current rank counter, etc.) in order to more precisely recreate a specific scenario, as it were, from the “full” game and thus have a more accurate setting for practice.

2) Sometimes serves as a synonym for Score Attack mode, especially when the levels from the “normal” game are individually selectable.

In a few cases, both definitions of this term overlap, as “Stage Select” mode can serve both as a practice mode and also record individual stage high scores.


Most often refers to a constant torrent of shots (usually an enemy’s, and specifically bullets), which is fired in such rapid succession that the separate shots appear to form a single, unbroken line. Usually impossible for a player to dodge his craft directly through without being hit. Is also sometimes used to describe tightly-packed “lines” of enemies, but usually relates to shots instead.

2) Can also refer to a specific type of herding, most frequently utilized in manic shmups, in which the player starts at one side of the screen and slowly works his way across to the opposite end, moving just quickly enough to keep the enemy’s aimed shots barely missing him.

Striker: Refers to any shmup enemy which quickly appears onscreen, fires a shot (or several shots), and then quickly rushes back offscreen, out of the player’s range. Notoriously difficult to successfully shoot down. Especially loathed by players attempting to obtain certain stage end bonuses which require them to destroy every enemy in a level.

Subweapon:) (also Secondary Weapon, Support Weapon) Usually used to describe any weapon not immediately available to the player at the start of a game, which must thus be collected or otherwise earned to be used. In many cases they are not retained, at least not at full power, after the player is shot down. Some subweapons can be used at the same time as the player’s primary weapon, and serve as a supplement, while in other cases the subweapon replaces the primary weapon altogether when collected/used.

Also spelled “Sub-Weapon” or “Sub Weapon.”

Suicide: The act of a player purposely allowing himself to lose a life, generally for the purpose of controlling rank, doing extra damage to an enemy, taking advantage of a resulting invincibility window, or simply ending a game more quickly.

Suicide Bullet: (also Death Bullet, Return Bullet, Revenge Bullet) Bullet instantly released by an enemy which has either self-destructed or been shot down, usually aimed directly at the player’s craft, in a last-ditch effort to defeat the player. Some enemies can release more than one suicide bullet at a time, usually at higher difficulty levels or later loops.

It’s been noted that “suicide bullet” is technically not a very “accurate” term, since in most cases an enemy which shoots one has not killed itself, but notwithstanding it is the most commonly-used term, and as such it’s listed here as the primary term.

Superplay: A replay made by an exceptionally skilled player, whose featured run is perfect or near-perfect in execution, or especially impressive for some other, often less practical reason. While many are available for download online, some superplays are sold commercially (officially or unofficially), or come packaged with certain games as a “freebie,” either as a separate disc or an extra feature on the game disc itself. The term is not exclusive to shmups, but is arguably most often applied to them.

Sweep: (also Strafe) Technique sometimes used against bosses or large groups of weaker enemies, which involves the player moving his craft back and forth (left to right in a vert,, or up to down, in a horizontal shmup) in lengthy, “sweeping” movements, covering most of the screen’s available width/height, firing constantly. Allows the player to spread his shots out over a wide area and at the same time avoid staying in one place too long, so as to give enemies using aimed attacks a more difficult target to hit.

Tailgun: General term for a weapon (usually a variation of the vulcan) which fires out of the rear side of a player or enemy craft (as opposed to most other weapons, which usually focus their power more towards the front of the craft), though some varieties also fire a few shots out of the front end or side areas in addition to the “main” salvo out the back.

Tate: (also True Tate, Vertical Mode) Viewing mode available in some vertscrollers which displays the playing field at full size, rotated 90 degrees to the right. Designed to be utilized by certain monitors which can be turned on their sides, so as to display the game on a vertically-oriented manner similar to a vertically-oriented arcade monitor. The preferred screen format of most vertical shmup players, but it cannot be safely used on most televisions, since turning standard sets on their sides can break them.

Can be used as a verb to describe the actual turning of one’s monitor or television on its side, as in “I tated my monitor to play this game.” Also sometimes presented as “Arcade Mode” or “Full-Screen Mode.”

The word “tate” comes from a Japanese adjective which means “vertical,” and is pronounced “tah-teh,” though the common mispronunciation of “tayte” has gained semi-acceptance. Also commonly spelled with all capital letters (“TATE”), though it is not an acronym.

There are two incorrect “origins” of the word which are commonly heard: one states that “tate” simply comes from the English word “rotate,” and the other states that the word comes from the Japanese verb “tateru,” which means “to stand.” Both are false.

Tateyoko: Unofficial term referring to a “combination” viewing mode in which players can play a vertical shmup in tate mode without flipping their screen to its side. In this mode the screen is rotated to “3:4” tate mode, but the game’s directional controls are also rotated 90 degrees, so that the game can be played in similar manner to a horizontal shmup, in full screen. Not exactly an “authentic” experience, but it does allow those without the ability to play in “true tate” to experience a shmup in its originally-intended view mode, just from a different angle, so to speak.

Throw: More of a hardware term then a shmup-specific definition, but it’s an issue of especial importance to many shooter players so I figured it ought to be here. The “throw” is the amount of movement away from the “neutral” position required to register directional input on a joystick – a stick which registers on-screen movement with little action on the stick is said to have a “short throw,” while one which takes a longer push to detect the input is said to have a “long throw.” Generally “short throw” sticks are considered preferable, since they allow for a shorter gap between a player’s hands’ movements and the results onscreen.

1)Term used to describe certain types of melee weapons with a very short range, but usually a lot of power, which protrude at a constant clip from the player’s craft, and are designed to be utilized at high risk for high-end results, requiring players to fly very close to enemies to do continuous damage.

2) “Tickling” is sometimes used as an alternate term for chipping an enemy.

Time Attack:

A selectable play mode available in some shmups, in which the player can access a single, unique, endless stage available only in this mode; usually he is given infinite lives, but also a strict time limit, during which he tries to score as many points as he can before the timer runs out (in some cases, the player can extend the time he has left by performing certain in-game tasks), or else to reach a certain score mark as quickly as possible. High scores for this mode, as in Score Attack mode, are usually recorded on a separate list from that of the “main” game.

Some players prefer to use the term “Score Attack” to describe these sorts of modes, as the purpose is to acquire a high score, albeit within a limited time – others prefer “Score Run” or “Score Rush.”

2) An alternate setup to the aforementioned type of “extra” mode – while the player is still given a unique stage and unlimited lives, the goal is to reach a certain amount of points within the shortest amount of time (thus, the record which is saved afterwards is the time spent, rather than points scored).

Time Out: The departure or self-destruction of a boss enemy after a set amount of time, sometimes displayed via a Boss Timer. Intended to limit the amount of possible milking during boss battles, or at least keep the game moving, especially when a player lacks sufficient weaponry to destroy a boss in a reasonable amount of time. “Timing out” a boss, however, usually forfeits a lot of the points that destroying it would have awarded.

Top-Down: (also Overhead) Over-arching term used to describe any shmup in which the action is seen from a “bird’s eye view,” directly overhead.

True Last Boss: “TLB” for short. Not a feature completely unique to shmups, but likely most commonly found within this genre. A “special”, especially difficult boss enemy which the player can only face, at the very end of the game (usually after defeating the “normal” final boss), after completing specific, and usually highly difficult, criteria. Defeating the TLB often triggers an alternate game ending, along with especially high clear bonuses.

Twitch: (also Tap, Tap Dodge) Dodging technique which requires the player to move his craft back and forth in very short increments at a rapid pace to dodge tight bullet formations: usually requires only a very light, sensitive “tap” or “nudge” on the control pad or joystick to perform effectively. Manic shmups in particular often require frequent use of this technique.

Uphill: (also Quarter-Top View)In-game viewing perspective found in some vertscrollers, in which the background plane appears to be “tilted” towards the player, which gives the effect that the onscreen craft is moving “uphill”, instead of flying parallel over a flat area, as is the case in most vertical shmups.

Versus Shmup: A rare sort of shmup which usually pits the player one-on-one against a single, relatively powerful enemy craft at a time, instead of against many minor ones plus a boss, as most do. Not the same as a boss fest or boss rush, since the abilities and power levels of the player and the enemy are generally relatively even, as opposed to the seeming mismatches found in boss fights. More notably, most versus shmups are considered best-enjoyed when played against another person, rather than the computer, an option rarely found in other shmups. “Change Air Blade” and “Senko No Ronde” are two examples of this subgenre.

Vertical Shmup: (also Vertscroller, Vert) Any shmup, usually viewed from the top-down perspective, in which the screen scrolls (at least primarily) from top to bottom.

Term sometimes used to describe a vertical shmup which is designed with a wider 4:3 (yoko) ratio playfield instead of the “traditional” 3:4 (tate)vertical ratio, so as to be played exclusively on a yoko screen. Not to be confused with tateyoko or panorama mode, or “ghetto tate.”

2) An alternate term for an alternating view shmup.

Vulcan: Common term for a weapon that is often a craft’s default or “main” armament (or subweapons similar to it): generally shoots “regular” bullets straight ahead of the craft, though some “vulcan” weapons have a spread quality to them. Often the “standard” weapon by which others in a shmup are judged in terms of power, coverage, etc.

Wait: An option found in some console shmups which allows the player to adjust the amount of slowdown present in the game: when “wait” is turned on, the slowdown, usually as it existed in the game’s original arcade manifestation, is present, and when it is off, the slowdown is reduced or eliminated altogether.

Wall: All-encompassing term for any “neutral” obstacle in a stage (as opposed to actual enemies), usually refers to said obstacles which have the ability to damage your craft if it touches them. This characteristic varies from shmup to shmup (and even from area to area within a single shmup), but regardless the term “wall” is generally used to describe any ceiling, floor, outcropping, or other “foreground” surface or object which your craft can interact with, as opposed to background elements which cannot affect you.

Common term for a type of shmup weapon which covers a wide area with one or more solid, often crescent-shaped, energy beams of some sort.

2) A specific group of enemies (or several groups) which appears at a certain point in a stage.

3) An enemy bullet formation which forms a tight line or “front” across all or most of the width of the screen, and moves towards the player in a manner similar to the way an ocean wave moves towards shore. Requires precise movement to successfully dodge.

Wobble Mode: (also Scroll Mode) Unofficial but widely-used name for a viewing option available in some vertical shmups, which is set up in similar fashion to letterbox mode, but causes the screen to scroll a limited distance to “follow” the player’s movements in either direction, creating a “wobbling” effect when the player moves up and down.

Wrap-Around Scrolling: A variation of sorts on the pan feature found in some shmups; in this case, the actual playfield is also larger than the visible area onscreen, but there is no real “edge” of the screen to be reached, since the playfield is actually composed of an infinite, repeating pattern of background area. It’s something like moving around the edge of a sphere or cylinder; if you move in one direction long enough, you’ll eventually end up back at the point where you started, ad infinitum.

(also Widescreen) Far-reaching term for any viewing mode of a shmup, horizontal or vert, intended to be displayed on a horizontally-oriented screen. Sometimes also called “4:3” mode, since a horizontal screen’s area is based on a ratio of 4 (width) to 3 (height), as opposed to the inverted “3:4” ratio of vertical screens. Horizontal shmups as a whole are intended to be played exclusively on a yoko screen; certain vertical (“vertizontal”) shmups are made the same way. Some verts originally created to play in tate orientation can be played on a yoko screen as well, but with certain limitations (i.e. letterbox mode, panorama mode, etc.). The term “yoko” encompasses all such view modes made to play on a horizontal screen.

The word “yoko” comes from a Japanese adjective which means “horizontal.”

Yo-Yo: (also Boomerang) An uncommon type of shmup weapon which launches a projectile (or several) which travels a fixed distance and then returns to the player’s craft to be launched again. Often has the ability to pierce enemies and cause damage on both the initial launch and the return trip, but the fire rate is often slow and the player can be easily left open to enemy attack in between shots. Some enemies, usually bosses, use attacks of this type as well.