Friday, November 5, 2010

Next gen shmups: the 360 is burying the competition

Funny how times change, isn't it? Once upon a time, Microsoft was notorious for denying shmups any rights in the US.

Shikigami no Shiro 3, for instance, only received a US release on the Wii, because Aksys were denied rights to publish the 360 version by Microsoft.

And now? The 360 has the genre practically on lock, on both sides of the Pacific.

Trouble Witches Neo (XBLA)
US Release Pending

This PC doujin game got an arcade release, and is now coming to the Xbox courtesy of SNK. A write-up on the PC release can be found here.

Deathsmiles (360 Retail) - published by Aksys in the US
Cave's first official US released shmup in a really long time, if not ever.

Aksys, admitted shmup lovers(who also localized Shikigami 3) certainly took a gamble here, and deserve the support.

Radilgy Noir (aka Radio Allergy) - 360 Retail
US Release - Outlook Not Favorable
The sequel to an obscure Milestone shmup, which got an even more obscure US release on the misleadingly titled 'Ultimate Shooting Collection'.

Radio Allergy still has an interesting history to it. It was originally slated to be the final Gamecube game in the US, then was canceled and pushed to the Wii's UGS(aka the Milestone Collection) much, much, much later, published by UFO Interactive, long after anyone stopped caring.

Mushihimesama Futari - Xbox 360 Retail (Import)
US Release - Unlikely... but it's region free!

Another Cave gem resigned to 360-only status. Why? Who knows.

Supposedly this was their test at region-free 360 titles. Considering more are on the way, it seems the gambit was successful. Will Aksys bring this one over as well? Hopefully.

Dodonpachi Resurrection
US Release - ???

Another Cave shmup. Notable for being a Shikigami-esque 'flying people' shmup. No word on a US release.

But cj, some of you cry, who cares if they're localized? They're shmups!

Well, for one, I like knowing the story, and what's going on.

For two, recognition! US releases = higher profile = higher profits for all involved.

This is just scratching the surface. Among others, there's the Ikaruga release on XBLA, the forthcoming Radiant Silvergun release (bound to make Ebay Saturn game scalpers weep), Konami's Otomodius Excellent (also getting a release in the US), the Raiden titles(like Fighter Aces), and more announced on the regular. I could go on and on.

So what do the other consoles have to offer?

Not a whole lot. The PS3 and the Wii are the odd ones out.

The Wii's gotten some other mediocre shmups like Ilvelo and Saint localized by UFO(though Ilvelo was canceled), Shikigami 3, and the Milestone/Ultimate Shooting Collection in the US. The Bit.Trip team's forthcoming Fate title seems to have shmup influence, so there's that. There's also quite a few classic shmups on the Virtual Console, like Musha Aleste/M.U.S.H.A. and Gleylancer.

The PS3 has potential, but so far, it seems the PSN is getting vastly ignored in favor of XBLA. To the best of my knowledge, all it has is the Gundemonium Collection (PSN, a trilogy of decent-to-good doujin shmups), and PS1 downloadable releases of Cho Aniki, GaiaSeed, and 'Mobile Light Force'(really Gunbird 1).

The PSP has some standouts, like the new Darius game and the occasional port.

DS? All I know of are the Nanostray titles.

Why is the scene changing its tune now when the Xbox has always been the red-headed stepchild of Japan? Purportedly it has to do with lower licensing costs, Microsoft Japan's attempt to attract niche developers. Apparently it worked.


  1. Guwange is supposed to be out on XBLA next week, can't forget that one!

    PS3 is getting a release of G.Rev's Mamoru-kun with some added features.

    DS also has Ketsui Death Label.

    Can't really think of too many others that aren't on 360.

  2. hmmm, it seems Microsoft Japan really know what they're doing. But I wish I could see some PSN releases...

  3. The PSN just had another doujin shmup released on it today. The potential is there, if SCEA gets on the ball.

  4. Not to nitpick, but when you call
    Dodonpachi Resurrection a 'flying people' shmup, you may have been thinking of the Cave series ESPrade / espgaluda, which came out around the same time. Dodonpachi just uses traditional shmup ships.
    By the way I noticed Espgaluda 2 and Dodonpachi Resurrection are also on the iPhone amnd can be played on the iPad. The form factor is at least
    right to play the long screen version without flipping the television on it's side :-)

  5. This article makes me want to go buy 360.