Shmup Goodness Coming Soon

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In the heat of the fall games extravaganza everyone is waiting for the big games. Fallout, Gears of War 2. or is going broke from buying games that have already come out like Fable 2 and of course Deadspace.

There are people waiting for something else, something obscure, not usually for the average person from the West (as in not Japerneese). This month we are lucky enough to see the release of two amazing shmups (aka: shoot ’em ups).

What are shmups you might ask? They are those games that usually have ships that go vertically or horizontally on the screen and where the premise of the game is to shoot the other little enemy ships. Of course the description I just gave is a little insulting to true fans of the genre.

Shmups have been a great genre since the early 80s which got it’s start with Space Invaders and has evolved into somewhat of a cult genre, with loads of sub-genres ranging from Hentai to the so called ‘bullet hell’ shmups. Usually shmups the most expensive genre to try and collect with some games are costing collectors in excess of $400, this is a genre not to be messed with.

Back to the point at hand. This month is a milestone some people have been waiting for since the original PlayStation days. On the 30th of October, Thunder Force VI will be released on the PS2. Playasia has it coming, but due to the fact that it’s on a Sony format you are going to have to look somewhere else if you’re from Europe. You will probably have to get it off Ebay or a similar site…count me in with that group. Let’s not forget that you’ll need a Japanese PS2 or a modded PS2.

If you are not familiar with the Thunder Force series, watcht the video below so you can get the general idea.

That’s pretty fucking intense. Normal people generally underestimate these kinds of games when they see them. They may think to themselves “oh that’s easy stuff!” but I’m here to tell you that shmups are the kind of game that are easy to learn and incredibly hard to master. Some games take hours and days to get good just to complete the game. Even then you still have probably used all of your continues. Some people may find this genre stupid but some also crave the challenge.

Moving on to the second game, this one being considered a ‘bullet hell’ shmup. A ‘bullet hell’ shmup has the same style of play as a normal shmup, but with one big difference…pretty much the whole screen is filled with patterns of bullets leaving few places to hide. To play these kind of games you need split-second reactions and a great memory to know what to do.

One of the more famous developers of shmups is CAVE. Based in Japan, they are a true arcade game maker who make shmups almost exclusively. They publish their games on PCBs (printed circuit boards) which are compatible with almost any kind of modern arcade cabinets. These PCBs can cost from $500 to $2500 brand new, while some of their older titles retaining the same value, that is if all the stickers, boxes, and bags are included.

CAVE, being a forgiving company to the people that don’t have the money or supplies to buy their PCBs, also make ports. These ported versions are quite rare and if you find a second-hand one they are usually quite expensive as well (though nothing in comparison to the PCB prices). Most of CAVE’s ports are for PS2 but there have been CAVE games on systems as old as the SEGA Saturn.

CAVE has just now released a game for the DS and DS Lite called Ketsui Death Label, which makes it the only real worthwhile shmup on the DS. It is as hard if not harder than a CAVE arcade game. The game not only requires a truckload of skill to play, but also the ability to see pixel sized bullets on a tiny screen. This game is also available from PlayAsia and is region free. Lucky for us its not on a Sony platform so Europeans can enjoy as well.

Here is a little clip of just one of the bosses. This is the guy that I’m currently stuck on. It’s from the PCB version but this one and the one on the DS are similar

So if any of you are just getting in to the shmup genre or you think these kind of games look interesting you should take a look. These are two great games to start your shmup collection.

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