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  • Is anyone else really annoyed with the elitism a lot of shmup fans have about their genre? "If it has 3D anything, it's not a shmup." Which means they refuse to talk about, review, or consider any games with a 3D element. If you look at Shmups! you won't see any mention of Star Fox, Panzer Dragoon, or other similar "tunnel shoot 'em ups." They get derided as "rail shooters," and are never discussed alongside other classic shmups--because they're 3D.

    I don't understand why they just don't accept that genres can develop and expand. We don't see this kind of elitism with Platform Games that made the jump from 2D to 3D. If shmup fans are so worried about the genre losing its definition by including games with 3D elements, why don't they just subdivide the genre? I see no reason why they can't simply specify a game as either a "horizontal shmup," "vertical shmup," "arena shmup," "isometric shmup," "tunnel shmup," "tube shmup," or what have you.
    • It's not just games with actual 3D environments. Many of them also refuse to acknowledge Zaxxon, and Space Harrier as shmups.
    • "Derided as 'rail shooters'"? First I've heard of this; you're implying that the term "rail shooter" is used negatively in the shmup fanbase. If you look at, for instance, Shmups Forum, there's a Sin and Punishment 2 thread with sufficient replies that aren't "hur hur sux". The term "shmup" is typically synonymous with something that has two-dimensional gameplay; rail shooters have enough difference in gameplay that they're considered a somewhat different genre. And note that I said different, not inferior.
      • It's derision in a fandom sense, because they are writing off a group of games--a large group of games which clearly fit the genre--as something that is "not relevant" to their fandom and therefore not worthy of focus on their sites, communities, or forums. Instead, these games get lumped in with other games and genres that are completely different.

        For example: The Star Fox series is mostly shmups, but they're usually written off as being exactly like lightgun games such as Operation Wolf, Area 51, or Lethal Enforcers--these games typically being what shmup fans call "rail shooters" (as opposed to the definition here on TV Tropes, which is thankfully a lot more accommodating) and therefore something outside the focus of their fandom. The only commonalities between Star Fox and such rail shooters is that they both have into-the-screen gameplay, but that's it--Star Fox shares most of its gameplay mechanics with more traditional two-dimensional horizontal and vertical shooting games. By all rights it should be considered part of the shmup genre, but most shmup fans don't think so. Very few would say they are. The rest, at their most charitable, consider them "borderline" shmups which are still rarely allowed the same kind of focus that they'd give to other titles.

        Imagine if most sites dedicated to Massively Multiplayer Online games excluded anything that was not based on World of Warcraft or Ever Quest's mechanics! There are definitely people out there who think that way, though thankfully they are rare in comparison--but it's a mentality very much like what permeates the shmup fandom. It's the close-minded "a game is only a shmup and only worth discussing on our sites if it follows a very strict set of rules" that is such a turn-off. Oh, sure, they might not bad-talk such games, but they still toss them into "non-shmup" corners of their site's forums, never giving them any focus on their sites. I mean, for Pete's sake, what about games like In The Hunt, a 2D horizontally scrolling shooter where the point of contention among shmup fans is that the screen doesn't scroll automatically?

        It's just too pedantic. Far too pedantic.
        • It's far from pendantic, it's how the conventions of the genre are. Shoot em ups operate in a 2D space and are fixed scrolling. Starfox, Panzer Dragoon, Sin and Punishment, Afterburner ect. are all rail shooters. They aren't "written off" as lightgun games since light gun games themselves are a subset of the genre of rail shooting. And how is it that Starfox doesn't share any commonalities with most rail shooters? And "In the Hunt" is more of a run and gun/ action shooting game like Metal Slug then it is a shoot em up, entirely because of the lack of fixed scrolling. People who are into the niche of shoot em ups might be more receptive to these genres than other people because of their similarities, but they remain seperate genres.
          • The above comment is exactly the kind of mentality that's been complained about. What you're doing is no different than writing off Super Mario 64 as "not a platformer but a multi-surface dimensional explorer" just because it has 3D gameplay compared to two-dimensional platformers. Or better yet, it's like the one guy who tried to declare that Phantasy Star Online was not a MMO Action RPG, but merely a Roguelike with an online component.

            It is not "far from pedantic," it is very much pedantic.

            It reflects negatively on shmup fans when they try to exclude games which share practically all the gameplay mechanics of horizontal and vertical shmups, save for one (In The Hunt's lack of scrolling, or Star Fox and Space Harrier's into-the-screen gameplay). It's reflects even more negatively when they then try to categorize those games in genres with which they have much less in common (above troper's claim that In The Hunt is more of a Run and Gun game like Metal Slug and Contra).
          • Why is it pendantic to have a strict definition of genres, that excludes certain games? A single mechanic can be absolutely vital classifying a game. A rougelike has a limited saving system, a TPS is different from an FPS because it is in third person. We've had genres born out of far less important mechanics. 3D platformers [i]are[/i] considered different then 2D platformers to the point where they have an entirely different audience. just like 2D and 3D fighters and 2D and 3D versus shooters. If rail shooters were called "3D shmups" we would still have the same division just a different name for them. I don't see how making this distinction reflects badly on anyone, the shmups forum people want to talk about what likes and interest them. Rather than force other people to include into the discussion whatever game you want to to talk about you could easily just go elswhere.
          • Genres are defined by more than one characteristic, not "one single absolutely vital mechanic." You cite Roguelikes in support of your claim that genres have one absolutely vital mechanic; the TV Tropes article on Roguelikes disagrees with you, instead giving a set of characteristics that define the genre. Few games considered Roguelikes follow all of those characteristics to the letter. The same can be said for any game, any genre: few games except the codifying ones are going to follow, to the letter, every defining characteristic.

            Works within a genre differ from one another based on which characteristics they follow or innovate upon. By continually dismissing anything that so much as deviates from or innovates on one of a group of mechanics that define a shmup, shmup fans are doing nothing but hurting the genre they profess to enjoy, because any game that doesn't strictly follow the entire set of "absolutely vital mechanics" is not worth discussing or acknowledging as part of the genre. Devs wanting to make a game catering to that fandom aren't left with much room to do anything new or unique, because those fans will write off anything that does one thing different from their pedantic standards. "Is the action into-the-screen rather than horizontal or vertical? The screen doesn't automatically scroll? Sorry! That can easily go elsewhere, it's not a shmup."

            In addition, the problem with shoving games like Star Fox, Space Harrier and other games like them into the "Rail Shooter" category is that this is also widely used--especially by shmup fans--to refer to games like Operation Wolf, which are usually lightgun games. Yet Star Fox, Space Harrier, and the like share much more in common with horizontal and vertical shmups than they do with lightgun games, the only real difference being their into-the-screen action. Meanwhile, lightgun games tend to play very differently from horizontal, vertical, tube, and "tunnel" (using a term made by another troper earlier; it's a good distinction from "rail") shooters in general; the only common mechanic they all tend to have is in shooting stuff. It's the equivalent of deciding that yellow apples should not be considered apples but lemons, due to the fact they're not red or green like other apples.
          • You can't have a game that's missing a vital aspect of a genre and still be part of that genre. Which is why I'm not contradicting the definitions of Rougelikes when I say that a game missing a permadeath type system is not a rougelike. A rougelike must have that mechanic, ergo a dungeon crawler without it can not be considered a rougelike. And a third person shooter can not be called that if it takes place entirely in first person. And why are all light and positional gun shooting games suddenlty so different from on other rails games without those peripherals? It's merely a controller. You can play the exact same version of Sin and Punishment 2 with or without a positional peripheral. Now who's making arbitrary exclusions?
          • Now who's making arbitrary exclusions? You're the one insisting that there's such a thing as "one single vital aspect of a genre" which you then apply to an entire set of game mechanics! You also completely ignored my first paragraph just so you could continue rationalizing your belief that one difference in a game that otherwise shares mechanics with other shmups automatically disqualifies the game as a shmup.

            You also failed to notice that I said games like Operation Wolf are usually lightgun games, and that such games tend to play very differently than horizontal and vertical shmups. I'm well aware that not all games played with a lightgun are like Operation Wolf, and I'm aware that such games often are playable without lightguns. That wasn't the point of my using the term.

            Calling them "lightgun games" was the best thing I could think of to specify the type of shooter I was talking about. I don't have a good term to use for games like Operation Wolf, Lethal Enforcers, Time Crisis, Area 51 or otherwise, because any term which could be used to specify "games whose characteristics include manipulating and firing weapons as the only real control the player has, the player has little or no opportunity to evade shots, and is fixed on a 'rail' that moves through the level be it 2D or 3D" is used by shmup fans to also mean games like Star Fox or Space Harrier, which play exactly like horizontal or vertical shmups save for the fact that they have into-the-screen action ("and therefore are not shmups" as most shmup fans would conclude).

            Which brings us right back to complaint posted by the original troper that shmup fans dismiss whole bunches of games which play like shmups as "not shmups," then lump them together with other games with greatly different game mechanics as "rail shooters," doesn't it?
          • No one has made the claim of their existing "one single vital aspect of the genre." what was mentioned was "a vital aspect" which there are many of for any given genre all of which if excluded from a game cause the game to not be included into that genre. This has already been adressed. You can't expect the rules of a genre to change simply becasue a new genre with similarities has been created.
          • No one has made that claim? "A single mechanic can be absolutely vital classifying a game." Those are your own words.

            By the way, are you aware of the concept of the Genre Turning Point? It was potholed by the original troper. Since you seem to think genres are rigid and immutable, I think it's prudent to call your attention to it. Funny that shmup fans are so adamant about upholding their pedantic standards that they claim any game with one thing that sets it apart from their standards is a "new genre."

            Shoot 'em ups like Star Fox did not defy genre classification just by having into-the-screen action.
        • (NARF Nra) Okay, I'm just going to say this: A Shmup is usually defined as having fixed scrolling, a main character who follows the scrolling and cannot change the way he scrolls(Usually armed with projectiles), and taking place on a 2-Dimensional plane. As far as I can tell, that is the generally agreed upon definition of a shmup, although Shmups.com does make some exclusions for arena shooters.

          Now, Star Fox is not a true shmup. It is a shooter. First of all, Star Fox DOES have fixed scrolling, a player character who follows the scrolling, and has movement in that plane. However, because Star Fox allows the player movement on a third plane, the player has far more options than a Shmup. The enemies also have sections on them that are 3 dimensional in shape, and it is possible to fly over or under things. This is not possible on most shmups.

          Before you say Raystorm, Raystorm is a shmup because it is technically a few 2D planes fitted together. You can argue that Star Fox is the same way, but the difference is that in Ray Storm objects do not occupy multiple Z levels. Since the same object occupies different levels in Star Fox, it is not a shmup.

          Space Harrier is similar in that one can move up and down. One could say that Space Harrier is closer because it contains less 2D planes, but the difference is that there are still multiplane occupying enemies. As such, it is still not a shmup.
          • "Now, Star Fox is not a true shmup."

            And the insistence on pedantic standards continues ...

            "... because Star Fox allows the player movement on a third plane, the player has far more options than a Shmup."

            No, the player is constricted to a two-dimensional plane for moving their ship. They can affect the rate at which they "scroll" through the mission temporarily by using boost or brakes, but there are also shmups--of all kinds--which have this feature too (see below for a further rebuttal).

            "The enemies also have sections on them that are 3 dimensional in shape ..."

            This is a non-factor. A number of horizontal and vertically-scrolling shooters with 3D environments have features like this, too. This simple fact also makes your point that "Space Harrier is closer because it has less 2D planes" irrelevant as well, because ...

            "Since the same object occupies different levels in Star Fox, it is not a shmup."

            ... using that logic, we would have to also rule out any shooter where there is some form of "altitude" or "distance" mechanic that does not let the player attack all enemies with the same weapons unless they use a special weapon made to attack "out-of-plane" enemies, or have the ability to shift into that plane to attack them. That rules out games like Pop n' Twinbee (where you have to use bombs to attack ground targets) as well as Zaxxon (isometric), Vertical Force (vertical), and D-Force (vertical) (where you have to change altitude to attack other targets/avoid obstacles). I'm sure there's plenty more it also rules out, but those are the games which immediately come to mind.

            Everything you cite as something that sets Star Fox and games like it apart as "not shmups" can and has been done in other, so-called "real shmups" as well. The only difference is the direction from which the action comes--that is, into the screen. So, to reiterate, shoot 'em ups like Star Fox did not defy genre classification just by having into-the-screen action.

            I believe this has been a good demonstration in just how harmful the shmup fans' pedantic standards are to the shoot 'em up genre. When they try to come up with ways to exclude shmups like Star Fox from their fandom, their exclusions would easily include games they would otherwise readily accept as shmups. This does not assuage the impression of elitism; it only strengthens it.
        • (NARF Nra)

          " That rules out games like Pop n' Twinbee (where you have to use bombs to attack ground targets) "

          You misunderstand me. In Twinbee, ground objects are ground objects. They are not also air objects, or underground objects, or anything else. You have a shot that damages the ground layer and a shot that damages the air layer. In Starf Fox, objects occupy multiple Z-Levels. For example, the first boss in the original Star Fox has a large square that can be hit at many different heights within it's range.

          " into the screen "

          Let us define the difference between into-the-screen and what is considered a shmup.

          In into-the-screen, a character moves within a 2D plane. At certain intervals, sections of this plane are considered "damaged" and will hurt the player. This occurs in a normal shmup, but also in platformers and other such games.

          The prime difference is the case of the enemies. In a shmup, the enemies occupy one location, be it one of several planes, but it is still one location.

          In Star Fox, enemies exist on multiple Z-Planes. In fact, the very idea of Z "Planes" does not really exist in a Star Fox game because the game is more open in its creation.
          • No, I didn't misunderstand you, and your definition does nothing to preclude into-the-screen shooters from being considered shmups, outside of sheer bias. All you're doing is underlining the pedantic nature of the shmup fandom's standards.

            You're trying to say that in a so-called "real" shmup, enemies will remain in whatever "plane of attack" upon which they entered the screen, and that Star Fox and other into-the-screen shooters are "not real shmups" because enemies can move about in all three axes.

            However, that also happens in vertical and horizontally-scrolling shmups, and that was what I was trying to point out earlier. There are games which shmup fans would not hesitate name as "true shmups" where enemies jump planes of attack. There are such games where the player can slide through different planes of attack. The point of bringing up such games was to demonstrate that multiple planes of attack is a game mechanic that is not unique to into-the-screen shooters, and does not differentiate them from so-called "true shmups," because there are "true shmups" that also make use of that mechanic.

            For all intents and purposes, "multiple planes of attack" is the same game mechanic regardless of how the visuals are presented. It can--and was--done in games before true real-time 3D rendering became available. It doesn't matter whether the game was made with sprites, Mode-7 graphics, full polygonal 3D, voxels, what have you--those are just means to present visuals, especially in the context of this genre. Hell, nowadays there are plenty of games which are ostensibly two-dimensional, using what appear to be sprites and background images, yet are really running on a 3D engine, sprites being textures mapped onto polygons.

            The ability for the player or their enemies to scale "altitude" relative to the screen in a vertically scrolling shooter is no different than the ability for enemies to move about in a into-the-screen shooter like Star Fox. There are horizontally-scrolling examples of moving in and out of various "depths of field," too; offhand I don't know of any that allow the player to do it, but there are many horizontally scrolling shooters where enemies move in and out of the plane of attack (Thunder Force V comes to mind immediately, as does Einhander, which also has a weapon that can attack enemies out-of-plane). The same is true for games in which the player has to interact separately with objects and enemies on other "planes of attack," like Pop'n Twinbee. Just because shooters like Pop'n Twinbee have distinct "air" and "ground" layers doesn't mean that they're not an example of shooters with "multiple z-layers."


Wow. Here's what makes a shmup a shmup. The player may use the joystick to move inside a plane parallel to the vector of scrolling. Starfox is not a shmup because the plane the player moves in is perpendicular to the direction of scroll. Space Harrier also is not a shmup for the same reason. the player's plane of motion is perpendicular to the direction of travel. Some later games may twist the camera and viewpoint around for a pseudo 3d, but as long as the player is locked into a plane that's parallel to the vector of scrolling, it's a shmup. You stay in that plane while pressing up, down, left, or right. A very few of them give the player an additional button which when pressed will move the player's ship into a different layer, or provide some method of transitioning from one layer to the other (R-Type 3 does this in one level). But having performed a layer transition, you are then bound to joystick control within that new layer, and it's also parallel to the scroll vector.

  • As far as this troper is concerned, any game that involves shooting everything that moves is some kind of shoot 'em up game. He will be content and happy with that opinion, instead of making essay-length arguments on wiki pages that devolve into verbal slap-fights.
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