Shumps are tough genre to nail down becasue there are just so many amazing ones. It's also even in Japan a mostly forgotten Genre. Trigger Heart and Omega 5 on Live Arcade and Every Day Shooter and Soldener X on PS3 are helping to revive the Genre but the purest form of the video game is mostly forgotten by idiots that play Call of Duty 4 (not that it's a bad game) and every single Madden even though it's THE SAME DAMNED GAME EVERY YEAR.
Now before you ask about why Ikaruga isn't here I'll tell you EXACTLY why. Ok NO Power Ups,
frustrating flip system, The Music is bland as hell besdies the first and last levels (which incidentally IS THE SAME SONG) Also designs on the enemies and levels are pretty generic. It's a good starting point if you're getting into Shmups but it can't compete with Cave greatness. I like Ikaruga but I don't consider it one of the Greatest Shmups of all time.
Here are a ton I do:
Psyvariar 2: The Will to Fabrecate
This game is simpler than Ikaruga so why is it listed and Treasure's so called Masterpiece isn't.
Well Buzzing this game requires you to risk it all for the big points. Your mech has like NO hit boxes (yet I always seem to be dying) and it's really entrhalling to get real close blast the shit out of everything that moves and get a huge ass score. I also think the Generic techno is better than the Synth Orchestral that Ikaruga has.
This game is on Dreamcast an an expanded version is on PS2 (hard to find as is the DC version) and an XBOX port which is easy to find but incompatable with 90% of all XBOXes.
What if say Metal Slug was an Overhead Shooter and it was with a plane? You get Cave's master piece Dodonpachi. Musically it's alot like Metal Slug, Style wise it's alot like metal slug only it's an over head shmup. Cave is the unsung hero of the Shmup Genre and DoDonPachi is one of the best. there are 2 sequels and one of them is on PS2. The original can be had on Saturn.
Here's some footage
G Darius/Darius Gaiden
Do you hate fish? I mean do you utterly dispise the stench of a fish market? Yeah everybody hates the fishy Smell. Darius is a game about Blowing up giant fish.
Unlike the other 2 this is a side scroller akin to the Gradiuses and Parodiouses of the world.
The Coolest thing you can do is tear black holes to suck enemies into. I love doing that.
Then you have branching paths, Fucked up endings and AMAZING and I mean AMAZING music done by Taito's legendary Zutata. Both G Darius and Darius Gaiden are found on Taito Legends 2 and you owe it yourself to pick it up just for these 2 games there are also a ton of other great Shmups in that collection as well. Be warned though, you have unlimited credits....but that doesn't mean these games aren't mind numbingly difficult.
An uber rare and expensive spritual successor to Darius G. Rev is made up of the team that made G Darius then Left Taito. What seperates Border down from other side scrolling Shmups is that when you die......you go to a different level entirely and usually it's harder than the one you just died in. Some say it's Genius I say it's the developers being assholes.
I still enjoy it and It's here because well......I need to justify why I spent $80 on 1 game...
Senko No Ronde
G Rev's Best game to date. I am one of the crazy people that spent $60 on this game the second it came out and that Ubisoft's renamed version with the shitty box art. It was worth it. Senko does a few things differently. First it's more akin to say Virtual on in a 2d Plane
with elements from a obscure Shmup from 1999 made by Sammy called Carrier Airwing which was all boss battles. Simular to that is the Freeware classic Warning Forever also all boss battles. Senko does something different There are some parts in story mode mostly t hat are just Throw your controller at the screen hard. Mark of a great shmup. It's unique it has AMAZING music so I'd say pick it up. It's cheap now but it could be one of those uber rare $300 in good condition games in a few years.
This is going to come as a HUGE shock to some of you but believe it or not there was a time when Square used make games other than RPGs. YES before they were whoring out Final Fantasy remakes Square was publishing groundbreaking fighting games, Action RPGs and this game. An AMAZING side scrolling shmup called Einhander. One of the most graphically impressive PS1 games. With one of the best Soundtracks. Sadly the US version is very expensive. It's not Rare it's just greedy sellers want to bleed you dry on anything Square for PS1. The Japanese version isn't too hard to find as reprints on some games in Japan are not uncommon. I need to pick up a copy ASAP
here's some footage
GOD I LOVE PARODIUS. Gradius is great but Parodius is something different. I WISH Konami would stop hogging and release this wacky game here. Weeaboo's would gobble this up like Crazy. Basically Parodius is a parody of Gradius it's a long running series and here it's in it's entirety complete with save states on 1 UMD. I wish It had gotten a PS2 release but there's nothing like blowing up huge half naked Anime babes in a public bathroom stall when the Chinese food you just ate catches up to you. You owe it to your self to get this game. Hell a PSP is worth it JUST FOR THIS COMP.
Oh man I could just keep going all day I LOVE Shmups and I barely scratched the surface.
Here are some other I love but Don't have room or time to write about
Zero Gunner 2
Shikigami No Shiro 2
Giga Wing 1 and 2
Gunbird 1 and 2
the Strikers 194X series
ESP RA DE
R Type Final
Maybe I'll cover those next time.....