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Euroshmup is a slang term applied to some shmups, usually in a derogatory manner, as a means to criticize or highlight perceived flaws within that game.


The bad name is for the specific period around the 80s. The gaming industry in Europe was quite small, focused on micro-computers (like the C64, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, etc.) and had little to no experience in game development compared to their japanese counterparts.

Those games were made by people who didn't necessarily have the same kind of understanding and experience of tighter arcade shmups, and as a result, there are several "features" in them that can be usually seen as big flaws for a shmup fan that's used to arcade games.

For this reason, European games that weren't up to the competition became marked by their design flaws.


Although there is no concrete definition, elements of a euroshmup may often include:

  • Ship physics / Ship momentum (inertia)
  • Player shields / Health bars
  • Unavoidable dangers (which are meant to be absorbed with health bars or shields)
  • No bullet patterns / Only simple aimed bullets
  • Limited weapon ammo, which usually also introduces shops and money management into the game
  • Lack of complex enemy ship AI such as ships that curve around the screen
  • Extremely high enemy HP
  • Very slow player bullets
  • Huge number of levels often with little variation between them
  • No scoring systems

Other examples of these features include Weak firepower (leading to unsatisfying enemy encounters), overly simplistic enemy behavior and level design (leading to less exciting gameplay experience), use of healthbars (replacing the life/extend system) and in-game shops as a crutch to make players be able to beat otherwise barely possible levels, overly big player hitboxes.


Some examples of “euroshmups”:

  • Tyrian (Epic Megagames, DOS, 1995)
  • Raptor: Call of the Shadows (Cygnus Studios, DOS, 1994)
  • Jets'n'Guns (Rake in Grass, Windows, 2004)
  • Sine Mora (Digital Reality, Windows, 2012)
  • Sky Force (Infinite Dreams, Symbian, 2004)