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Shoot Em Ups

Shoot enemies and avoid being shot this general premis is the basis for a large percentage of video games. In some form or other shoot-em-ups involve shooting things with 'em' being short for 'them' as there is usually more than one enemy to be killed. Its a trend which started early on with Space Invaders and doesnt look like stopping, I guess we just like shooting stuff. Here we look at some of the best from the last 25 years with some important developments in video game history.

Space Invaders

Platform: Arcade

Developer: Taito

Released: 1978

Number of Players: 1

One of the first and most popular arcade games of all time. It had the first animated sprites and the first game to keep a high score.


Platform: Arcade

Developer: Namco Ltd

Released: 1979

Number of Players: 1

Unlike Space Invaders, the enemies in this game leave their positions in line and attack in groups of 3 swooping down towards you. This is a basic feature of most shoot-em-up games from then on. Enemies basically get more and more advanced in the way they try and avoid / shoot you.


Platform: Arcade

Developer: Williams Entertainment

Released: 1980

Number of Players: 1

Defender was an important milestone in that it was the first side scrolling game. It also happened to be fiendishly difficult to play compared to earlier games such as space invaders due to having not 1 but 5 buttons and a joystick. Not only did you have to move left right and fire, now you had to contend with buttons for reverse, hyperspace, smart bomb, thrust and fire. So good it is found on just about every computer or console ever made


Platform: Arcade

Developer: Atari

Released: 1980

Number of Players: 1

The first 1st person shooting game. Used wire models on a vector display for a tank battle with opposing tanks, missiles and the occasional saucer. Paved they way for the classic Star Wars Arcade. Supposedly used by the US military in early experiments with training simulations.


Platform: Arcade

Developer: Midway

Released: 1981

Number of Players: 1

1st game to have multiple levels.five separate missions. The first mission is like Space Invaders. The second mission pits the player against two squads of diving ships, each squad has a special ship that fires long laser beams. The third mission is like Galaxian. The fourth mission has the player fight a number of enemies that spiral toward the player shooting fireballs. The fifth mission has the player fight the Gorfian Flagship. The Flagship's shields must first be battered down, then the player must hit the Flagship in a tiny exhaust port in order to destroy it.


Platform: Arcade

Developer: Sega

Released: 1982

Number of Players: 1

Zaxxon, took scramble and added another dimension (left or right), it was very similar in concept but with great graphics and a playable game sega were onto another winner. This was the first isometric 3D game.


Platform: Arcade

Developer: IREM Corp

Released: 1987

Number of Players: 1-2

A true arcade classic that has been converted onto just about every platfor ever including the spectrum. There are 3 main arcade versions 1, 2 and Leo. Nothing revolutionary about the r-tpe series but they are all very polished games with some great end of level bosses.

Raiden DX

Platform: Arcade

Developer: Seibu Kaihatsu

Released: 1990

Number of Players: 2

At first glance Raiden may not seem that special but it is a superb example of a vertical scrolling shooter. Graphics are simple yet superbly detailed. Some classic end of level bosses such as the giant walking tanks on stage one of the DX version. There are a total of 6 games with the last being Raiden Fighters Jet.

Space Probotector

Platform: SNES

Developer: Konami

Released: 1992

Number of Players: 2

Konami produced some of the best games on the SNES and Super Probotector is probably the best of the lot. Up to two players blast through 6 amazingly varied levels of side-on or top down action. Good music really pushes the game along. There are loads of bosses from start to finish making great use of the SNES mode 7. An essential part of anyones SNES collection, still plays well today.

Sin and Punishment

Platform: N64

Developer: Treasure

Released: 2000

Number of Players: 1

One of the finest games on the N64 never to make it to the UK other than via import. Its an on-rails shooter much in the vein of starfox. Very cool Manga style graphics and story line. A classic game from treasure the dev house which brough us Gunstar Heros and Raidient Silver gun.


Platform: DC / PS2

Developer: Sega UGA

Released: 2001

Number of Players: 1

Inventive gameplay, Incredible music, Wonderful visuals, Lots of replayability despite most extra levels to be found being variations on a theme. Shots can be timed with the music.