• Definitive List of Dreamcast Shmups Games Shooters

    This alphabetical list of Dreamcast Shmups aims to be definitive. However, the Dreamcast scene persists, so it's possible new games will be released, so if you see a Dreamcast shmup that isn't on this list, please let us know. The amazing Rez (an on-rails shooter), Twinkle Star Sprites (a Vs shooter), Cannon Spike (a SmashTV style shooter) and Bangio-O (a multi-directional puzzle shooter) are not included in this very traditional list of vertical and horizontal scrolling shmups, but if you enjoy the games in this list you will almost certainly enjoy the above games too, so check them out! Where possible, we have included a link to our review. Some very brief information is provided for each title.

    The List:
    Border Down
    Chaos Field
    Fast Striker 1.5
    GigaWing 2
    Gunbird 2
    Last Hope
    Last Hope Pink Bullets
    Mars Matrix
    Psyvariar 2
    Radirgy (a.k.a. Radily)
    Shikigami no Shiro 2
    Triggerheart Exelica
    Under Defeat
    Zero Gunner 2

    Border Down
    Border Down is a horizontal shmup by G-Rev with the occassional bit of vertical scroll. It gets its name from the 3 "borders" that exist on each level, like alternate realities. At the start you can choose which border to assault. Choosing lower borders gives you less lives and more insane bullet patterns to get through, but give higher score potential. If you die within a level, you "border down" (if possible) to a lower border but the difficulty drops. At the start of each level you can then choose to go back up to a higher border if you milked the boss properly or a lower border if you are a nutter.
    There are only two weapons, one of which is an overly powerful laser which, when used, reduces the power of the standard shot once the laser runs out, potentially leaving you crippled. Interestingly, ship speed can be controlled by cycling button presses through three speeds. It's pretty, it's novel, and quite easy to understand the system, although going for high scores requires daft levels of risk.

    Chaos Field
    Chaos Field is a boss rush game, set vertically, by Milestone. Your choice of three ships feature standard attacks including a normal shot and a swipe which cancels bullets. In a tight spot, you can switch to the "Chaos Field" which gives a couple of seconds of invincibility and locks the field for twelve seconds, but gameplay is also more frantic and dangerous. Impacts remove chunks of energy before losing a life.
    A combo gauge can be filled and kept going for higher scores by using two power weapons: a shield defence which also cancels bullets and a lock-on laser which targets both enemies and bullets. To use the power weapons, you must pick up meta items and use of the power weapons depletes the meta stock which gradually builds up (a little faster in the normal field than in the Chaos field), but using the lock-on against bullets generates huge amounts of meta items, so waiting for the screen to fill with bullets before using it is the high score chaser's method. It looks detailed and sharp, but a little lacklustre, but the banging tunes are great.

    Drill is an unreleased vertical shmup by a group of French indie developers. It never got beyond the demo stage, but you can download the demo for free to try on your Dreamcast. Gameplay is interesting:
    A (tap) = shot and fast move,
    A (hold) = shot and slow move
    B (hold) = drill (decreasing) and slow move
    A+B (hold) = drill (increasing) and NO move
    The drill increases in size all the way up the screen on A+B and decreases in size as you just use B. Using the drill gets you the combos so points, but you are locked to slow or NO move. I would have loved to have played the full thing. Graphics are pretty ropey, but animation is cool, with lots of fairly original beetle/insect stuff. The mid level boss was completely missing when I played the demo - you just see the bullets! The end level boss fires bright green bullets - green is the way forward for bullets in shmups. If you like trance/techno, you will love the music.

    Dux is a horiztonally scrolling shmup by HUCAST.net, although you can play it vertically via an option if you fancy. Much of it takes place inside areas set out by walled barriers which must be navigated safely and there's a movable force shield. So yes, it's a little bit like R-Type.

    Using the shield to destroy bullets builds up the Hyper Soak meter, which can then be used to attact/soak bullets as an alternative type of smart bomb. Bullets soaked can be comboed if you are fast. The graphics are colourful and designed with VGA in mind, with some cool trance tunes in the background.

    Fast Striker 1.5
    Fast Striker is a vertical shooter by NG: DEV.TEAM which has a little Cave bullet-hell feel to it. However, it fill the whole 4:3 screen area. Tapping fires a spread of bullets while holding fires a laser. Bonus pick-ups will move towards you when you are not firing the laser. Some sections require you to shoot behind you with a different button.
    Graphics are colourful if a little indistinct on the foreground enemies and bullets are easy to see, but the backgrounds are fairly monotonous, with some by-the-numbers trance tunes to accompany you on your journey. There is also an online ranking via codes ( entered on the official site) for all four game modes, ranging through, novice, arcade, maniac and Omake. There is also a ranking system, so the game gets harder if you play better.

    Gigawing is a vertically scrolling 4:3 shmup with a steampunk aeroplane look and feel. The main feature is the reflect attack which when activated will send bullets back the other way, which can be used effectively to destroy bosses and survive large bullet swarms. This attack takes a few seconds to recharge so timing is critical, as well as taking a fraction of a second to activate initially after pressing the button. Power-ups can be grabbed to increase weapon effectiveness.
    A score multiplier is increased by collecting medals. The value of the medals increases a few times, resetting on loss of life, but the score multipler persists a credit is used up, so there is a large incentive to learn to 1cc the game rather than credit feed.

    Gigawing 2
    Gigawing 2 is another vertically scrolling 4:3 shmup. Instead of the 5 ships accessible in the original, there are 10 to choose from (with some to be unlocked) differing in firepower, bullet spread, and speed. A similar medal score multiplier structure as the original makes high scores very high, with combo being reset at the start of each level or after loss of life.
    If enough is destroyed to reach 110 medals on screen at any one time, a mode is activated that splits the medals into many higher scoring green medals. Exploiting this boosts scores quickly.

    Gunbird 2
    Gunbird 2 is a vertical shmup by Psiyko. Towns, villages and
    castles are rendered in a cartoon style and are populated by little sprites running around as the action takes place above. There are many difficulty levels to choose from, so you'll find one to suit.
    Levels are quite short, and there is very little depth to the game system, so learning the game should be easier than most Dreamcast era shmups. This will make it appealing to novices.

    Ikaruga is a vertically scrolling shmup by Treasure. It has a colour switching hook whereby choosing the same colour as an enemy, either black or white, allows you to absorb their associated bullets to power up homing shot. Choosing the opposite colour while allow your normal shot to destroy them more quickly but makes you vulnerable. At first this is quite easy to follow, but after a while there are many of both colours on screen and finding a pattern through the seemingly chaotic environment is key.
    Difficulty is high, especially if you want to go for high scores by chaining 3 of a colour in a row to build a chain count, although there is a suitable beginner mode. Gameplay has been been carefully thought out which makes for a great experience, but does mean it turns into a memory test rather than a seat-of-the-pants test. Graphically it is very crisp, albeit monochrome in the foreground due to the inherent nature of the hook, with some of the best looking bosses in the genre. The music is also highly memorable.

    Karous is a vertically scrolling shmup from Milestone. It has a cell-shaded look, but contains very little colour. Power-ups can be sword-swiped to change their type, thus you have control over the levelling process. Swiping bullets also builds the shield bomb meter which makes you invincible for a short period but also sucks up bullets for the same meter, thus you could use it again immediately it runs out if you are careful on the timing.
    Bullets are rarely aimed straight at you, and it is entirely possible to see a large portion of the game by doing nothing at all, seeing very little in the way of enemy activity either, but the harder you play, the more the game throws at you, so the only proper way to play Karous is for high scores, with multipliers rising in line with your power-ups.

    Last Hope
    Last Hope is a horizontally scrolling shmup by NG: DEV.TEAM, which stylistically owes a debt to the likes of R-Type, Pulstar and Last Resort. The graphics are superbly done, with stunning pre-rendered backdrops and some seriously good-looking, old-school sprites in the foreground. The music is fantastic
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. S3M's Avatar
      S3M -
      charlesr, no Cannon/Gun spike surely that should also be on this list?
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      It's not really the same type of game. It belongs in the opening statement though. I'll mention it there.
    1. MisterBubbles's Avatar
      MisterBubbles -
      No Rez either?
    1. averybluemonkey's Avatar
      averybluemonkey -
      In the first paragraph.
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      Yeah, I put a disclaimer in the opening paragraph about a few titles I knew people would mention. Obviously the list itself is so exciting that everyone bypassed that paragraph.