What do you call a shooter?

When I first started getting into games shooters were side-scrolling titles like Gradius, R-Type, etc. I remember them being unforgiving in difficulty - developers were still used to making coin-munching arcade games so they didn’t have the difficulty drained out of them the way modern games do. Nowadays I hear people say all they play is shooters but what they mean are Call of Duty, Gears or War, or Medal of Honor - one of my favorite types of games has had it’s genre hijacked!

There are still tons of shooter games out there. My particular favorite sub-genre is the manic shooter or bullethell shooter. I want to highlight a few that I’ve had a lot of fun with and can still sit down and play any day. Since there are too many games to try covering, I’d like to choose a few by Cave. The reason for picking Cave is simple, they tend to be high quality.

Guwange (ぐわんげ)

1999 This title is based on Japanese folklore. The player must collect 5 talismans from evil demons and use them to counter the curse of their shikigami. I found it especially interesting because you’re not piloting a ship or otherwise flying through the air, you’re controlling a person walking on the ground and their shikigami.

This one works fine in MAME, but is also available on XBOX Live: http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/Guwange/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d80258410a78?cid=SLink

Progear

2001 In this title you’re a kid trying to take down the Motoruin sages. According to the wikipedia article they are immortal even though I have killed them over and over. Also, interestingly, this one is horizontal.

This one works fine in MAME.

Mushihime-sama Futari (虫姫さまふたり)

2006 In Mushihime-sama Futari, everything is related to insects for some reason. The graphics are stunning and the bullet patterns are intimidating. This one also happens to be region free and a platinum hit in japan, making it an inexpensive addition to anyone’s collection.

Buy Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.5 (Platinum Collection) (Xbox360) at Play-Asia.com

Deathsmiles (デススマイルズ)

2007 This title takes the questionable gothic lolita fad, and uses the theme for a fun manic shooter witch game. I was actually able to pick this up at a local Gamestop, and was very pleased. The different modes and bosses made this a game I played through more than 50 times. The sequel is also available on the XBOX marketplace.

Buy DeathSmiles [Limited Edition] (Xbox360) at Play-Asia.com

DeathSmiles2X available on XBOX Marketplace: http://marketplace.xbox.com/en-US/Product/DeathSmiles2-X/66acd000-77fe-1000-9115-d802435a07d9?cid=SLink

In closing

There are some new shooters coming out of Cave, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be region-free anymore. I don’t know the reasoning behind this, and I’m not sure how I’ll get to play them. The cost of a Japanese xbox is prohibitive in my opinion, so I may either miss these or have to play/obtain them by shady measures.

So anyways, what are your favorite shooters?