Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘fantasy zone

Podcast: What the Shmup

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One of the oldest and most popular genres in gaming is the “shoot-em-up” or “shmup” for short.  Whether you’re a space ship, a young girl, or even a winged pod the basic goal is to navigate the screen, rack up points, and don’t die.  Fred and Jam dive into the origins of the shmup, the sub-genres that exist, and some of their personal favorites.

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Anatomy of a Cute ‘Em Up

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By now you hopefully have the overall concept of a shmup down, if not then you probably missed our article on that very subject, so now it’s time to talk about the different facets (or genres, if you will) that shmups can take.  Enter probably the most popular contemporary concept: the cute ’em up.  No, they don’t have any clever nicknames like the shmup, but that’s mostly because shmup is a perfect definition of these games.  Cute ’em ups are for gamers that like a little aesthetic to accompany their hardcore shooter, even perhaps a little sexuality or titillation.  Bright colors, anthropomorphic animals and big bouncy breasts are just par for the course in a cute ’em up.  Don’t stray from these titles simply because you feel their gameplay or difficulty will adjust according to their look, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  In fact, for the most part, cute ’em ups are some of the most challenging shmups one can find.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

Fantasy Zone (Sega)

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So many shmups have heavy music, vast spacescapes and horrid alien bosses, but not Fantasy Zone.  One of Sega’s first shooters to grace arcades in 1986 it’s also one of the best titles that explains exactly what you’re going to get.  Fantasy Zone breaks the mold for such a popular title – it was ported to almost everything imaginable in the late 80s – and still manages to be a fun and addicting shmup.  Forget the brutal challenge and seriousness of other shmups (like Gradius, which has been owning my soul all morning) and instead wander over to a colorful bubbly world with protagonist Opa-Opa.

Looking like a hybrid between a space ship and a small winged creature with legs, Opa-Opa has been somewhat of a sidekick for Sega, even getting an appearance in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing.  In Fantasy Zone you will control this little ship in a scrolling world (think Defender) while defeating bad guys to collect money and upgrade your ship.  As you move along certain boss battles will unlock that move you on to the next world, each new one as unique as the one before it.  Fantasy Zone is littered with bright colors and funny looking enemies that get it categorized as more of a “cute ’em up”.  To this day I still don’t know exactly where to unlock each boss, but I do know that they appear before you have spent too much time thinking about it.  That’s the thing, unlike many other shmups you’re not trying to reach a goal per se, but rather exploring a world and letting it take you on a ride.  I know plenty of people who didn’t think there even was a world beyond the first and still pumped quarters into the machine to play it anyway.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm