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30 Genres of Christmas
Shoot-Em-Ups
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on November 27, 2009   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're counting down the days until Christmas by looking at 30 different video game genres. From the most popular games to the tiniest niche titles, everything fits into a genre and we're going to be there to shed absolutely no new information about that genre in this month-long feature. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 30 Genres of Christmas!



Well ... it was the 1970s, right?
How Do You Know You Are Playing a Shoot-Em-Up? Are you flying through the air shooting down anything that gets in your way? Did the instruction manual suggest that you were the only one that could save humanity? Are you packing a lot of experimental equipment that may or may not work? It sounds like you're stuck in the middle of a shoot-em-up and you're about to battle a gigantic, multi-screen boss. Brace yourself, because you're about to die and go to bullet hell!

Patron Saint: Spacewar! ... or Space Invaders, depending on who you ask.

Typical Story: You are an unnamed rookie pilot who only recently got his own fighter jet. It turns out that, for whatever reason, YOU are the Earth's last hope and in order to save humanity you will need to kill thousands of space ships and a few big bosses. Don't worry that you're only a teeny tiny attack ship, because you've been equipped with the

Not only is R-Type one of the greatest shooters of all time, but it has one of my favorite bosses!
state-of-the-art experimental weaponry and gadgets that will make it easier on you. Just remember, you're Earth's one and only hope, so there's absolutely no pressure.

What Your Grandfather Would Think: Your pop-pop is going to HATE the shoot-em-up genre! The guy can barely keep track of the non-stop action in Jeopardy, how is he expected to dodge enemy ships, avoid fire and memorize boss patterns? His eyes aren't going to take it, it will be enough to make him yearn for the sweet relief of the afterlife. One thing he will like is the ability to turn his hearing aide off so that he doesn't have to hear the annoying sounds associated with your typical 8- and 16-bit shooters.


You don't stand a chance, so why even try?
Not a Shoot-Em-Up Game: R-Type Command looks and sounds like a standard shoot-em-up, but don't be fooled. It turns out that this moderate selling space shooter is actually a tactical RPG. I love the idea of turning a traditional genre like the 2D shooter on its head, even if the outcome wasn't as spectacular as I hoped for. Hopefully the R-Type Command sequel will get the intriguing concept right, and maybe even sell a few units this time around.

Then vs. Now? They don't make shooters like they used to. There are a few Japanese companies continuing to make traditional old school shooters (including Cave), but these games are never as good as their old school counterparts. Perhaps the last great traditional shoot-em-up was Ikaruga, a decade-old action game that proved to be a big success on the Xbox Live Arcade recently. That's not to take anything away from games like Space Invaders Extreme or Big Bang Mini, but no matter how good they are they don't quite match the output of the 1980s and early 1990s. There's no doubt about it, 21st century developers have forgotten how to make a fresh and compelling shoot-em-up.
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