Saturday, September 3, 2016

On Shmups

I don't like playing shmups. They don't feel right. On paper they might have neat rules and game mechanics that shake hands to make interesting gameplay, but personally I don't enjoy actually playing them. The controls are too simple - linearly mapping the arrow keys to the ship's position in 2D just makes it uninteresting. I know these games have a lot going for them on top of those simple controls, but I'm put-off by the lack of "game feel" in the moment to moment play. That familiar feeling when you press the jump button in a side-scroller, is missing. Shmups don't have that. Again, I'm not saying they need to deliver on this, I just think it'd be great to see a shmup that tries that.

I could say "they're not for me" and let it be. It was a lot easier to make one and see if there's a fun game to be had here. So I've had my fingers crawling on my keyboard for the last couple days and I feel like it's something worth pursuing. Few details are left untouched when you move from Gradius or R-Type to Ikaruga or any CAVE shooter. I'm looking to fiddle with those constants, at which point it might not fall into the "shmup" category of videogame anymore. That's not a problem, we can come up with another name for it.

Let's not forget that there's also a whole lot of tricks that shmup games have polished and perfected over the years. It's a genre of game that's been around for a long time now. It'd be foolish to dismiss all of its merits before trying a variation on the age-old formula. I think if we chisel away at it carefully, it should make enough room for something new.