Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 19, 2016

A Shmup Renaissance is coming…

The signs are there.

A wave of new space ship shooters (though simulators) coming out on PC. Star Citizen gets tons of investment from normal people (highest community sourced gamer ever). Despite the delays, Star citizen has devoted fans that keep investing in it.

No Man’s Sky, despite it being a disaster, had many believers at first which says there is interest in space games.

The dramatic uptick in demand for Turbografx 16 games and systems. The TG16 is the shmup console.

Expressed hatred and disdain at hardcore gamers for ruining shmups on hardcore gaming forums.

Did the shmups die or did the hardcore gamers (as always) destroy them?

Shmups used to be THE GAME to showcase console power. Shmups are easy to pick up and hard to master.

Dark Souls have popularized the idea that games should be hard again. Many new shmup players are strangely coming from Dark Souls (!).

Before you scoff at this, remember that people laughed at RPG games despite upticks in people buying and searching for the SNES RPGs like Earthbound or Chrono Trigger. This has a similar feel. Look at the prices for MUSHA or Aero Fighters or Magical Chase US version and tell me there is no demand. Look at what people are willing to pay for Aero Fighters 3 or Air Raid. “But Malstrom, some of those prices are for rarity and collectors, not for shmup fans.” Maybe. But money speaks. We must listen.

The question is whether shmup developers will be able to capitalize on it? Shmups have become lame because they have become more about strange anime girls and dodging screens full of bullets in geometric patterns. The fantasy needs to be brought back. Look at R-type and Gradius. A space shooter needs to be an adventure.

So much new stuff can be done with modern technology. What if shmups could go to different planets like a 2d version of No Man’s Sky (without the crap)? A procedurally generated shmup? Shmups and internet technology could be explored. How about shmup Zeldas such as Guardian Legend? How about combining adventure gaming and shmups making another Star Control 2? Shmups already share a common theme with RPGs as they are about upgrading your vehicle so shmup RPGs are on the table. There is so much that can be done, and there is a hot and ready market ready to buy it.

“But Malstrom, shmups are obsolete games. Only old people like those games now. Young people want games that are modern and not archaic.”

Excuse me, reader, but I have heard this before. I remember during the dark days of the Gamecube playing Super Mario Brothers 3 and a roomate comes in yelling at me, holding up a copy of a FPS game 2 and saying, “WHY DON’T YOU PLAY A REAL GAME?” I stared back, daggers, and replied, “I AM playing a REAL game!” I saw all that as prologue to the New Super Mario Brothers explosion.

I am sensing something similar. Gamers, even young gamers, love new types of games. Old becomes new again. Shmups are not well understood, but if Dark Souls is being understood, shmups are right around the corner. The renaissance is coming.

If you build it, they will come.


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