A "shoot 'em up", also known as a "shmup" is a game in which the protagonist combats a large number of enemies by shooting at them while dodging their fire. The controlling player must rely primarily on reaction times to succeed. Beyond this, critics differ on exactly which design elements constitute a shoot 'em up. Some restrict the genre to games featuring some kind of craft, using fixed or scrolling movement. Others widen the scope to include games featuring such protagonists as robots or humans on foot, as well as including games featuring "on-rails" (or "into the screen") and "run and gun" movement. Formerly, critics described any game where the primary design element was shooting as a "shoot 'em up", but later shoot 'em ups became a specific, inward-looking genre based on design conventions established in those shooting games of the 1980s.
For our purposes, we will be considering the earliest defintion (i.e. a game where the primary design element is shooting) as a shoot-em-up! Feel free to head to the forums and debate the merits of each entry if you will but if there's shooting involved - it's a shmup!
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