I picked up the latest issue of Retro Gamer and was excited to see that as well as featuring awesome art by Oliver Fray (who I have really like) it had an article on shoot 'em ups. Whilst reading the article and munching on old skool treats I got to thinking about the genre. My first experience at the arcade was when I was 6 and it was at my local video store, there was Pacman and Space Invaders. I suppose that was my first intro to shoot 'em up games, that little sit down cocktail cabinet.
They've always held a special place in my heart as once the enemy patterns are learnt and memorised you can look like a boss completing a game. I have a vivid memory of playing Rtype at Heathrow airport and getting to level 3, that huge base ship. I bought the game on the Amstrad CPC 464 and felt like a bad-ass as my little ship took down a warship that was bigger than a screen, in fact it was a whole level in and of itself. Over the years I bought RType again on the Master System and then progressed to the Megadrive where I continued my love of shoot 'em ups.
Unfortunately over the last few years bullet hell games have taken over, I like them as I feel Zen when I play them but they are not the same as shoot 'em ups. Bullet hell games, especially the ones that have made their way West in the last few years on console including Deathsmile and Akai Katana have a place but they do feel stagnant compared to Dodonpachi and Ikaruga, the true exciting innovators of bullet hell. But generally bullet hell games have a different feel and mechanics.
So here these are some of my favourite shoot 'em ups, there are no SNES shoot 'em ups as I only had a Master System and Megadrive growing up and only got a SNES later in life. I'm playing some of the SNES shoot 'em ups now so this list will be updated later.