SHOOT \'EM UP (also known as SHMUP or STG ) is a subgenre of the shooter genre of video games . In a shoot 'em up, the player character engages in a lone assault, often in a spacecraft or aircraft , shooting large numbers of enemies while dodging their attacks. There is no consensus as to which design elements compose a shoot 'em up. Some restrict the definition to games featuring spacecraft and certain types of character movement; others allow a broader definition including characters on foot and a variety of perspectives. Shoot 'em ups call for fast reactions and for the player to memorize levels and enemy attack patterns. "Bullet hell" games feature overwhelming numbers of enemy projectiles .
The genre's origins can be traced back to Spacewar! , one of the earliest computer games, developed in 1962 and eventually released in amusement arcades in the early 1970s. Later in 70s, games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids popularized the genre. Shoot 'em ups were popular throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. In the mid-1990s, shoot 'em ups became a niche genre based on design conventions established in the 1980s, and increasingly catered to specialist enthusiasts, particularly in Japan.
* 1 Definition
* 1.1 Common elements
* 2 Types
* 3 History
* 3.1 Origins and rise * 3.2 Golden age and refinement * 3.3 Bullet hell and niche appeal
* 4 Notes * 5 References
A "shoot 'em up", also known as a "shmup" or "STG" (the common Japanese abbreviation for "shooting games"), is a game in which the protagonist combats a large number of enemies by shooting at them while dodging their fire. The controlling player must rely primarily on reaction times to succeed. Beyond this, critics differ on exactly which design elements constitute a shoot 'em up. Some restrict the genre to games featuring some kind of craft, using fixed or scrolling movement. Others widen the scope to include games featuring such protagonists as robots or humans on foot, as well as including games featuring "on-rails" (or "into the screen") and "run and gun" movement. Mark Wolf restricts the definition to games featuring multiple antagonists ("'em" being short for "them"), calling games featuring one-on-one shooting "combat games". Formerly, critics described any game where the primary design element was shooting as a "shoot 'em up", but later shoot 'em ups became a specific, inward-looking genre based on design conventions established in those shooting games of the 1980s.
Shoot 'em ups are a subgenre of shooter game , in turn a type of action game . These games are usually viewed from a top-down or side-view perspective, and players must use ranged weapons to take action at a distance. The player's avatar is typically a vehicle under constant attack. Thus, the player's goal is to shoot as quickly as possible at anything that moves or threatens him. In some games, the player's character can withstand some damage; in others, a single hit will result in his destruction. The main skills required in shoot 'em ups are fast reactions and memorising enemy attack patterns. Some games feature overwhelming numbers of enemy projectiles and the player has to memorise their patterns to survive. These games belong to one of the fastest-paced video game genres .
Large numbers of enemy characters are typically featured. These enemies may behave in a certain way dependent on their type, or attack in formations that the player can learn to predict. The basic gameplay tends to be straightforward and many games offset this with boss battles and a variety of weapons. Shoot 'em ups rarely have realistic physics. Characters can instantly change direction with no inertia , and projectiles move in a straight line at constant speeds. The player's character can collect "power-ups " which may afford the character greater protection, an "extra life ", or upgraded weaponry. Different weapons are often suited to different enemies, but these games seldom keep track of ammunition. As such, players tend to fire indiscriminately, and their weapons only damage legitimate targets.
A screenshot from
Shoot 'em ups are categorized by design elements, particularly viewpoint and movement:
FIXED SHOOTERS (such as Space Invaders) restrict the protagonist to a single axis of motion, enemies attack in a single direction (such as descending from the top of the screen), and each level is contained within a single screen. These games are sometimes called "gallery shooters". Atari's Centipede is a hybrid, in that the player can move freely, but that movement is constrained to a small area at the bottom of the screen, and the game otherwise meets the fixed shooter definition.
RAIL SHOOTERS limit the player to moving around the screen while the game follows a specific route; these games often feature an "into the screen" viewpoint, with which the action is seen from behind the player character , and moves "into the screen", while the player retains control over dodging. Examples include Space Harrier (1985), Captain Skyhawk (1990), Panzer Dragoon (1995), Star Fox 64 (1997), and Sin and Punishment (2000). Light-Gun games that are "on-rails" are not in the shoot-em-up category but the FPS category, and the term has also been applied to scripted events in first-person shooters such as Call of Duty .
TUBE SHOOTERS feature craft flying through an abstract tube. Technically, most tube shooters are also fixed shooters, because the player is still constrained to left/right movement, but it's mapped to the shape of the tube.
SCROLLING SHOOTERS include vertical or horizontal scrolling games.
* VERTICALLY SCROLLING SHOOTERS: In a vertically scrolling shoot 'em
up (or "VERTICAL SCROLLER "), the action is viewed from above and
scrolls up (or very occasionally down) the screen.
* HORIZONTALLY SCROLLING SHOOTERS: In a "HORIZONTAL SHOOTER" or
"SIDE-SCROLLING SHOOTER ", in which the action is viewed side-on and
* ISOMETRICALLY SCROLLING SHOOTERS: A small number of scrolling
shooters, such as
MULTIDIRECTIONAL SHOOTERS feature 360 degree movement where the protagonist may rotate and move in any direction. Multidirectional shooters with one joystick for movement and one joystick for firing in any direction independent of movement are called "twin-stick shooters."
BULLET HELL (弾幕, danmaku, literally "barrage" or "bullet curtain") is a shoot 'em up in which the entire screen is often almost completely filled with enemy bullets. This type is also known as "curtain fire", "manic shooters" or "maniac shooters". This style of game originated in the mid-1990s, and is an offshoot of scrolling shooters.
CUTE \'EM UPS feature brightly coloured graphics depicting surreal settings and enemies. Newer, particularly Japanese, cute 'em ups may employ overtly sexual characters and innuendo. Cute 'em ups tend to have unusual, oftentimes completely bizarre opponents for the player to fight, with the Parodius franchise being an example.
RUN AND GUN (or "RUN \'N\' GUN") describes a shoot 'em up in which the protagonist fights on foot, perhaps with the ability to jump . Run and gun games may use side scrolling , vertical scrolling or isometric viewpoints and may feature multidirectional movement.
ARENA BASED SHOOTERS or area based shooters take place in a single screen, e.g. Robotron: 2084 , Smash TV .
ORIGINS AND RISE
Spacewar!, an early computer game featuring shooting and spacecraft
The genre's exact origins are a matter of some confusion. Video game journalist Brian Ashcraft pinpoints Spacewar! (one of the very earliest computer games) as the first shoot 'em up, but the later Space Invaders is more frequently cited as the "first" or "original" in the genre. Spacewar! was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961, for the amusement of the developers; it was, however, remade four times as an arcade game in the early to mid-1970s. The game featured combat between two spacecraft. Space Invaders (1978) set the template for the shoot 'em up genre
However, it was not until 1978's seminal Space Invaders, created by Nishikado at Japan's Taito Corporation , that the shooter genre became prolific. Space Invaders pitted the player against multiple enemies descending from the top of the screen at a constantly increasing rate of speed. The game used alien creatures inspired by The War of the Worlds (by H. G. Wells ) because the developers were unable to render the movement of aircraft; in turn, the aliens replaced human enemies because of moral concerns (regarding the portrayal of killing humans) on the part of Taito Corporation. As with subsequent shoot 'em ups of the time, the game was set in space as the available technology only permitted a black background. The game also introduced the idea of giving the player a number of "lives ". Space Invaders was a massive commercial success, causing a coin shortage in Japan, and gaining mainstream popularity in America. It popularised a more interactive style of gameplay with the enemies responding to the player-controlled cannon's movement, and it was the first video game to popularise the concept of achieving a high score , being the first to save the player's score. The aliens of Space Invaders return fire at the protagonist, making them the first arcade game targets to do so. It set the template for the shoot 'em up genre, and has influenced most shooting games released since then.
GOLDEN AGE AND REFINEMENT
See also: Golden age of arcade video games
In 1981, Defender established scrolling in shoot 'em ups, offering
horizontally extended levels. Unlike most later games in the genre,
the player could move in either direction. The game's use of
scrolling helped remove design limitations associated with the screen,
and though the game's minimap feature had been introduced before,
Defender integrated it into the gameplay in a more essential manner.
Konami 's Scramble , released in 1981, is a side-scrolling shooter
with forced scrolling. It was the first scrolling shooter to offer
multiple, distinct levels .
Vertical scrolling shooters emerged around the same time. Namco's Xevious , released in 1982, is frequently cited as the first vertical scrolling shooter and, although it was in fact preceded by several other games of that type, it is considered one of the most influential. Xevious is also the first to convincingly portray realistic landscapes as opposed to purely science fiction settings. While Asteroids (1979) allowed the player to rotate the game's spacecraft, 1982's highly acclaimed Robotron: 2084 was most influential on subsequent multi-directional shooters.
Sega's Space Harrier , a rail shooter released in 1985, broke new ground graphically and its wide variety of settings across multiple levels gave players more to aim for than high scores. 1985 also saw the release of Konami's Gradius , which gave the player greater control over the choice of weaponry, thus introducing another element of strategy. The game also introduced the need for the player to memorise levels in order to achieve any measure of success. Gradius, with its iconic protagonist, defined the side-scrolling shoot 'em up and spawned a series spanning several sequels. The following year saw the emergence of one of Sega's forefront series with its game Fantasy Zone . The game received acclaim for its surreal graphics and setting and the protagonist, Opa-Opa, was for a time considered Sega's mascot . The game borrowed Defender's device of allowing the player to control the direction of flight and along with the earlier TwinBee (1985), is an early archetype of the "cute 'em up" subgenre. R-Type , an acclaimed side-scrolling shoot 'em up, was released in 1987 by Irem , employing slower paced scrolling than usual, with difficult levels calling for methodical strategies. 1990's Raiden was the beginning of another acclaimed and enduring series to emerge from this period.
Shoot 'em ups such as
Ikari Warriors (1986) featuring
characters on foot, rather than spacecraft, became popular in the
mid-1980s in the wake of action movies such as Rambo: First Blood Part
II . The origins of this type go back to Sheriff by
BULLET HELL AND NICHE APPEAL
A new type of shoot 'em up emerged in the early 1990s: variously
termed "bullet hell", "manic shooters", "maniac shooters" and danmaku
(弾幕, "barrage"), these games required the player to dodge
overwhelming numbers of enemy projectiles and called for still more
consistent reactions from players. Bullet hell games arose from the
need for 2D shoot 'em up developers to compete with the emerging
popularity of 3D games: huge numbers of missiles on screen were
intended to impress players.
Batsugun (1993) provided the
prototypical template for this new breed, with Cave (formed by former
employees of Toaplan, including Batsugun's main creator Tsuneki Ikeda,
after the latter company collapsed) inventing the type proper with
DonPachi . Manic shooter games marked another point where the
shoot 'em up genre began to cater to more dedicated players. Games
Gradius had been more difficult than
Space Invaders or
Xevious, but bullet hell games were yet more inward-looking and aimed
at dedicated fans of the genre looking for greater challenges. While
shooter games featuring protagonists on foot largely moved to 3D-based
genres, popular, long-running series such as Contra and Metal Slug
continued to receive new sequels. Rail shooters have rarely been
released in the new millennium, with only
Treasure's shoot 'em up,
Radiant Silvergun (1998), introduced an
element of narrative to the genre. It was lavished with critical
acclaim for its refined design, though it was not released outside
Japan and remains a much sought after collectors' item. Its
Ikaruga (2001) featured improved graphics and was again
acclaimed as one of the best games in the genre. Both Radiant
Ikaruga were later released on
Xbox Live Arcade . The
Touhou Project series spans nineteen years and twenty-four games as of
2015 and was listed in the
Guinness World Records in October 2010 for
being the "most prolific fan-made shooter series". The genre has
undergone something of a resurgence with the release of the
Xbox 360 ,
PlayStation 3 and
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