Shoot them Up

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As the title says...

The Shoot them up are often simply called Shmups or Shooters

It involves "ranged" mode of destruction and "one player against an army" concepts.

Yet it can also include elements from other styles of Action games, mostly Platform games, but also (why not ?) RPG.

Birth of a genre

Space Invader (Taito ?) arcade game from 1978 is known as the inventor of the genre.

Basically it was a vertical non-scrolling shooter with pre-defined enemies patterns.

2D Shooters

Most Shooters are 2D games because it was simpler to achieve on 8 bit computer, and because it was good.

Scrolling or not

Such games were often displaying a scrolling.

Yet some of them were more some kind of maze games so fixed screens could work fine.

  • Examples of non scrolling/Maze shooters :
    • Cybernoid series

Horizontal scrolling

The horizontal setting was easier to achieve on a CPC.

This often allows to put the HUD on top or bottom of the screen, thus enabling Raster mode or colours changes, or even multi-layered scrollings (parrallax).

Also this may be easier to achieve nice graphics in Mode0 (wide pixels) in Horizontal settings.

Vertical scrolling

Many vertical scrolling shooters displayed large vertical HUD, thus few of them could get parrallax multi-scrolls or Mode/Raster colour changes.

Multi-directionnal scrolling

Some shooters managed multiple scrolling (Vertical And horizontal) yet remaining vertical or horizontal settings.

This is a way to enlarge the game's window.

  • Copter 271 : it allows to scroll on the sides of the screen yet remains a vertical shooter.

Multi-directionnal shooting

Some Shooters were multi-directionnal shooters, meaning your sprite could be oriented to fire in all 8 directions.

  • Blasteroids
  • Forgotten Worlds

Mixed styles

Run and guns are some sort of Shooterz but foot soldier oriented.

Some of them are also platform games.

  • Midnight resistance : also platform game, multi directionnal scrolling and shooting.
  • Commando : Multidirectionnal shooting vertical scroller.

Starfield and background

A 2D horizontal (mostly) shooter often use a starfield in order to fill the background.

Such mechanic achieve a pseudo parallax effect, a sort of deepness, or just simply screw the game.

This is more simply a pragmatic way to fill the backgrounds without requiring system heavy tiles Data, as well as to get a high-speed feeling.

Quite used in low colours Mode 1 games and shamefull speccy ports, but also in Star-Sabre (which is not shamefull nor Speccyied)

Enemies patterns

R-type is well known for the technical challenge of it's fixed patterns.

Other games use more random enemies waves.

3D shooters

3D shooters may vary from real/pseudo 3D combat flight simulation

  • Gunship (microprose)
  • Starglider

Also the pseudo/fake 3D effect from Racing/car games can combine with shooter genre :

  • Space harrier
  • Fire and forget


An introduction to shoot'em ups on the CPC