The versus shmup genre is a seldom-explored niche within a niche, but Rival Megagun looks like it might be one of the best takes yet. Released today and developed by Spacewave Software, it's a twin vertical shmup for one or two players, local or online. For those who've never played one before, the genre works a bit like a versus puzzle game blended with a vertical shooter - take out enemies in rapid succession on your side of the screen to attack the other guy. Or you can just transform into a screen-hogging boss, hop on over and attack directly. Check out the trailer below.
I've had my eye on Rival Megagun for a while now, as I've fond memories of old arcade shooters Twinkle Star Sprites and Change Air Blade, and this game looks to take elements of both of them. There's a combo-oriented passive attack system, inviting players to deliberately let baddies stack up for a larger possible attack. The boss transformations are definitely a nod to Change Air Blade, though, giving you the chance to play as the big bad for once, with a variety of bullet-pattern attacks that your rival will be trying to weave between.
Probably the biggest perk Rival Megagun has over past competition is offering both local and online multiplayer. While some emulators do allow you to play online, it's still far from ideal, especially for twitchy, competitive games like this. Newcomers can practice solo against bots in arcade mode, but this is absolutely a competitive multiplayer game at heart. Bring a buddy that knows how to weave a tiny hitbox trough a swarm of bullets and you'll probably have a good time, if what I've heard from folks who tried it at PAX is any indication.
Rival Megagun is out now on on Steam and costs £11.39/€12.49/$14.99. It's published by Degica.