Beat Any Shoot-Em-Up

Tactics for beating 2D shmups and tips for discovering your own.

Shoot-em-ups, or shmup s, have experienced a resurgence lately after years of neglect (not that we’re bitter) as 3D engines have risen to prominence, which was in part due to the efforts of homebrew and independent developers. The genre features a character, usually a spaceship, progressing through a 2D plane, either horizontally or vertically, dodging projectiles and eliminating enemies. While this is a very broad definition, the core of shmup gameplay lies in the 2D playfield. Classic games, such as Space War and the seminal Xevious, as well as modern games, including DoDonPachi, Ikaruga, and R-Type Final, are all shmups.

This twitchy gaming style requires good reflexes and quick thinking, but don’t despair: a little practice and a few tips can help you dodge and destroy screens full of alien invaders.

General Shmup Tips and Tactics

Learn the basic mechanics of the game, and adapt to them. Obviously, R-Type plays differently than Border Down. If the game offers some kind of defensive technique, such as a force pod or shield system, know exactly how it works and when to activate it. Are you invincible when firing a mega-laser? Find out. Take note of how long that invincibility lasts. Does the force pod stop every type of weapon, or can some lasers penetrate it? Find out.

Knowledge is power, and losing a life due to a stupid mistake can be costly in the long run. Not every shooter plays the same way; ...

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