SHMUP: It’s A Shmup

This looks like my kind of thing. My kind of thing being “games that make me feel like I’m incredibly good at games, even though I’m not.” IGF China finalist S.H.M.U.P. is, as the name suggests, a side-scrolling shooter. But! Rather than being a precision game of exhausting bullet-dodging, it’s one in which you unleash a sustained torrent of improbable explodey-death, with your avatar eventually consisting of a fleet of up to 15 ships. In other words, Press Button, Watch Everything Explode. Yay!

There’s a demo out now, which I’ll be firing up happily tomorrow (most of today having been lost to Windows 7 deciding that it’s entirely unnecessary for me to have any kind of GUI in my operating system, and that a black screen with a cursor on it is enough. Thanks, Windows 7), and the full game’s just gone on sale for ten of your American dollars. The trailer below is enough to have me thinking “fun!”, though I’ll admit I’m not sure about the look.

Anyone tried it yet?


  1. hamelin says:

    The look seems to me like that of the first level of Everyday Shooter, which I like. It’s sort of brown, sort of green. Organic. Vegetablish.

    I’ll take a deeper look once I have a better computer set up with Windows, as my netbook is under the basic sysreqs. The game looks like fun to me.

  2. Dominic White says:

    I hope that the full game keeps upping the ante, because that ‘boss’ there looked rather tame, sadly.

    The modern shmup is generally a exercise in self-improvement. Yeah, you have infinite continues and can ‘beat’ the game in half an hour, but you’ll do so with a tiny, tiny score. Why? Because each time you continue, that score goes back to zero.

    Thus, you challenge yourself, entirely on your own terms. You get further each try, you do better, you pull off combos and strings that you hadn’t thought possible, and then you die and have that crushing choice of sacrificing your score and trying to beat that part, or just accepting defeat and starting fresh.

    If this game has a scoring system that captures that spirit of entirely self-motivated improvement, then it’ll have captured the spirit of the genre.

  3. Dominic White says:

    As for a commerical shooter that embodies the ‘Press button, everything explodes’ mentality, you’ll be wanting Jets N’ Guns: link to

    Take Tyrian (ye olde shareware classic), turn it horizontal-style (oo-err, missus!), add a streak of bizarre eastern european humor, and about a hojillion weapons that just spray the screen with firepower. It also has a rather cool High-Res Amigaish aesthetic and a fantastic soundtrack by chiptune-meets-metal band Machinae Supremacy.

    • RobF says:

      Jets ‘n’ Guns makes me cry. Such a pretty game, such awful design.

      I don’t want to shoot crates. Shooting crates is rubbish.

    • Dominic White says:

      Bweh? Aside from a couple of rare instances where they’re directly blocking your path, I can’t think of any part of the game where you have to shoot crates. There’s a lot of buildings and scenery that you can destroy for a little extra money, but they’re not what’s shooting at you.

    • RobF says:

      Ok, space containers of some variety. They’re crates in all but name ;)

    • Richeh says:

      SPACE crates. Jets n guns is probably the best shrump I’ve played in years. Tbh, criticising it for being unoriginal is kind of missing the point, it’s a dumbass shooter with sexy graphics, tons of guns and varied, interesting levels.

      It’s sexy, it’s fun, it’s great in the sack. Granted I wouldn’t marry it, but… yeah. It’s still the best shoot em up I’ve played lately.

    • RobF says:

      To be honest, I don’t really go looking for originality in shooters – in fact, most of the time I’ll value “how wot it plays” over any innovation or originality. JnG though, I dunno – it’s hard to know where to start with it.

      Most of the time you’re in one of two states – ridiculously underpowered or ridiculously overpowered and inbetween the cosmetic destruction, it’s multi-hit baddie after multi-hit baddie and little else there. I brought the space crate example up because I’m not sure what kind of person when putting together a shooter thinks “oh yeah, what we need is a ‘you need to shoot x crates’ level now” y’know?

      It just feels like a checklist of things thrown in without any care as to whether they work -well- or not, at its best it appears to do the job, at its worst it’s a tedious experience for me.

      I should clarify that I don’t really fall into the “want complex scoring or a curtain of bullets” camp for the most part, although I do occasionally dip my toe into that sort of thing, I just like a more designed experience.

      There’s a wealth of better (and in many cases cheaper or free) shooters out there I’d recommend over JnG anyday.

  4. Demtor says:

    Ahhhh, always good to see someone giving the SHMUP genre some more love. Thanks for pointing this out!

  5. Bhazor says:

    That looked incredibly tame for an eastern shmup not just in terms of enemies in terms of firepower. I really can’t see how this gets it’s own post.

    Especially when Undefined Fantastic Object (released in august) hasn’t even had a mention.
    link to

    Speaking of bullet hell. The Bullet Hell mod for Unreal Tournament 2004 is a lot of dumb fun.

  6. Charcoal says:

    It was never meant to be in the same”area” as the many, many “bullet hell” SHMUPs out there.
    I liked the idea of piloting a ship and killing stuff, but found those SHMUPs to be too hard for me.

    So, I made this instead.
    In the later levels, it does get very more intense, but your ships can soak up hits just like the enemies can; making it a different game to the others out there.

    All I can say is try the demo.
    If you like it, yay!
    If you don’t like it, that’s still cool (but still tell your friends, please!).

  7. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Alec, the black screen of death is in no way windows 7’s fault, it’s yours as it’s caused by a few different pieces of malware and software screwing up the login stack.

    link to

    • jon_hill987 says:

      Yes, a lot of the media are reporting this as a Windows 7 bug when it is actualy mallware that can get you on XP or Vista (and probably 2000) as well

  8. ChampionHyena says:

    “Our Space Navy will not be effective unless all our starships fire directly forward.”

    I dunno how jazzed I am about this. As much a Kenta Cho fan as I am, I’ve never been much for the minimalist aesthetic so many SHMUPs have.

    Also, someone mentioned Tyrian. I’d like us to all take a second to bask in Tyrian’s greatness.


  9. DERP says:

    Sorry, I’ll stick with touhou.

  10. robrob says:

    Thindows 7.

  11. says:

    O shmups how i love thee. This genre still keeps to the old ways, where games were short, replaying meant improving your skills, mechanics provided (in good games) various levels of challenge, tiny hitboxes make you feel cool and things go boom! I’ve done quite a bit of research into this malarky ….self promo… link to link to
    Theres a purity of mechanics in shmups that is sadly being lost in our aspirations to ‘play movies’