Gaming History 101

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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

Gradius Series (Konami)

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Responsible for plenty of attributes to the shmup genre, notably the space aesthetic, but the most significant thing I remember about the title “Gradius” is how often people mispronounced it.  Okay people, I’ve confirmed this with Konami, the pronunciation is “grah-dee-us”, not “gray-dee-us”, “grah/grey-die-oos” or any other awkward pronunciation.  It’s pronounced simply how it is spelled.

The Gradius series has withstood the test of time with the first technical iteration in 1981 and the most recent actual game released in 2008 (Gradius ReBirth on Wii).  In that time the series has graced almost every console and portable that has come out, although recent iterations have been predominantly collections.  Not only that, the series is responsible for a few offshoots including my favorite shmup of all time, Salamander (Life Force in US), and the Parodius series.  Despite critics rightfully complaining that each new title in the series seems to harken back to the original, I feel it is the series staples that keep dedicated fans and strong sales.  I grew up knowing this series on the NES, although I am told that in Japan and Europe it has a more significant presence on the MSX.  Like all shmups, it does bury its roots in the early days of the arcade and to me is still on that short list of video games you must play before you die.  Nowadays the list of titles is quite long, but after recently playing the series over last week, I still find the original title (not necessarily first in the series) to be the most significant.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 2, 2012 at 3:11 pm