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"1cc" stands for "1 Credit Clear or 1 Coin Clear", and refers to completing all of the stages of a game on a single credit (no continues).

Another term that is used is "x-ALL", where x represents the number of loops completed in a single run on a single credit. An example of an ALL is completing both loops of a game like DoDonPachi, which features two loops; completing a 1cc on both loops of the game is referred to as a 2-ALL.



An arrange mode is an alternate version of a game, commonly either included with console ports, or made as part of special events, where mechanics, artwork, and various aspects of the game are "remixed" and modified in various ways.

Arrange modes typically don't have enough changes to be considered completely different games, as they are often re-conceptualizations of stages and mechanics, but in some cases, they do have enough differences to be given separate leaderboards, strategies, and stage routing.


Also called Auto-Shot or Full Auto.

A feature found in some shmups which allows you to fire shots continuously by holding down the “fire” button, or a separately-designated “auto-fire” button, instead of tapping the fire button repeatedly. Depending on a weapon’s fire rate, and the situation, using auto-fire may or may not be to a player’s advantage at all times. Older shooters (or depending on a weapon that is gathered) usually required continuous button pressing to keep firing. Rapid fire can be gathered by either turning it on in an options menu, obtaining a certain weapon power up, or flipping on a turbo fire switch on a control pad (Usually a third party pad).

Auto-fire rate

Despite sounding similar, this is NOT the same thing as fire rate. Refers specifically to the amount of shots fired in a single “burst” when using auto-fire : in some shmups this setting is adjustable in the Options menu (or even in-game), while in other cases players will engineer an auto-fire hack to set extra buttons to different auto-fire rates to use in different situations. Usually, the auto-fire rate is represented in Hz, representing how many times the shot button is pressed per second. For instance, a 30hz auto-fire rate means that the shot button is being pressed 30 times a second.


Bidirectional Shooters

A subset of scrolling shooters where the player is able to move and attack bidirectionally across the x or y axis. Typically horizontal, though vertical variants do exist. This is distinct from tailgun mechanics as the player is able to completely reverse the axis of movement. Major examples include Defender, Juno First, and Fantasy Zone.


A bomb is the generic term for a limited-use weapon, usually one that does large amounts of damage, typically granting some amount of invincibility for use in emergency situations. Bombs are often stored in stocks similarly to lives, though sometimes they operate on a meter or even just a cooldown timer. They will often be replenished each time the player loses a life.

Bullet Cancel

In some games, destroying certain enemies or meeting specific conditions will result in bullets being deleted from the screen, known as a bullet cancel. Bullet cancels are typically used as a part of a game's scoring system, as cancelled bullets will often increase score, release point items, or create other similar effects.

Bullet Hell

Also called Danmaku or Manic Shooter.

A type of shoot-em-up characterized by large numbers of bullets, often in intricate patterns. Innovated in large part by the developers of Toaplan and CAVE, and with DonPachi, released in 1995.

Bullet Herding

Bullet-herding is a basic technique in shoot-em-up play that involves positioning the player's ship at different places on the screen with the intent to adjust the trajectory of bullets or lasers that are aimed towards the player. This is commonly used by high level players to create "safe" areas of the screen that the player can move towards incrementally, allowing them to have more space to move around when action becomes hectic.

Bullet wobble

Bullet wobble is a colloquialism adopted by much of the shmups community to describe a design quirk in some scrolling shmups where bullets/power-ups/enemies/anything follows the physics of screen space rather than the physics of world space. For instance, in a vertical shmup with "bullet wobble" and with left-right screen scrolling controlled by the player's left-right motion, if a bullet is fired straight down from the top center of the screen, that bullet will remain horizontally centered on the screen no matter how much the player scrolls the background (world space) left or right, because the bullet is only treated as being on a static non-moving area (screen space).


Caravan Shooter

Caravan Shooters, or Caravan Mode if featured as part of a larger title, are style of shmup geared towards fast-paced, timed, competitive high-score gameplay. Gameplay typically consists of two to five minute sessions comprised of either levels in the primary game or levels specifically made for the mode or event. The name is derived from the Hudson All-Japan Caravan Festival, which in its early years featured this style of contest for Star Force and the Star Soldier series. Similar games were made for the Summer Carnival events held by Naxat Soft.


Also called Combos.

Any of a number of various repeated techniques a player can perform to increase the points awarded for shooting enemies, collecting items, or other things under the right circumstances: the most common varieties involve shooting down many enemies (or enemies of a specific type) in a row, or collecting a certain type of score item many times in a row.


Specific areas of a stage where the player is sent back to on death / respawn. Although checkpoints may function differently in different games, they typically reduce your power level back to the starting level, as well as replenish resources such as bombs. Checkpoints frequently appear in many Toaplan titles (such as Tatsujin), as well as early horizontal shmups like Gradius and R-Type (the former of which even has a term associated with its brutal checkpoint difficulty, known as "Gradius Syndrome" in the fandom).


A "counter-stop", counterstop, or CS refers to when a score counter reaches the maximum amount that it is able to reach, commonly displayed on a HUD as a series of 9s in each score digit. When a counter-stop is achieved, in most cases, the game stops counting score for the player. It is not possible to score higher than a counter-stop, so often players will stop using scoring techniques upon reaching it.

Games with particularly exploitable counter-stop strategies due to oversights in game design, such as Dogyuun, are in many cases not played for high scores, or are played in ways that specifically avoid counter-stop strategies.



Any artwork made by independent Japanese creators, often a small group or even a single person. Many famous shooting games, such as the Touhou Project series, are doujin works. While often conflated with the Western concept of indie, many doujin creators consider themselves philosophically different from indie creators.



Full article: Euroshmups

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

  • Ship physics / Ship momentum
  • 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


"Extend" is a term used primarily in arcade games (and especially in shooting games) to describe extra lives / 1UPs. In shooting games, extends are usually rewarded after earning a certain score, or after completing specific in-game tasks.



A style of shooter where the player and enemy formations are held at set distances from each other, and where the player has highly limited to no y-axis mobility. Background elements may imply movement, but these have no impact on enemy movement or gameplay. These are mostly early entries in the genre made in the late 70s and early 80s, though later and modern examples do exist.

Major examples include Space Invaders, Galaxian, Galaga, and Centipede.

Tube Shooter

A rare but unique subset of fixed shooters where player movement is restricted to the the rim of a polygonal or cylindrical axis with fixed enemy placement. Typically used to simulate 3D enemy and shot movement.

Major Examples are Tempest and Gyruss.

Full Extent of the Jam

A notorious misspelling of "Full extent of the law" found in the terribly written legal notices of early CAVE shooters. Has been parodied by CAVE themselves in the legal notices for ports of their games, such as Mushihemesama on PC.

Frame button

A button provided (generally externally) that allows pressing an input for a single frame. These are most commonly set to trigger lever inputs, to allow for precise movement that can't easily be done via the lever.


Gradius Syndrome

Also known as Power-Up Syndrome , One-Life Game

Refers to a game where dying once leads to the player losing most or all of their power ups, and where recovery from such a state is extremely difficult even if the game provides a large number of extends. Notable games that have this aspect include Gradius and Darius II/Sagaia


See the history page for more details.

Grazing is a mechanic present in some shooting games, in which some effect is produced by getting extremely close to, but not touching, enemy bullets. Grazing may be used in games to increase score, provide items, or even slow down bullets, among other effects.



A hitbox is a typically invisible box or region, used by a game to calculate whether objects have collided or not. They are typically made of simple shapes, and are used to simplify and add consistency to collision detection, as using every pixel of a sprite or model for collision detection would be both computationally more intensive and mechanically unwieldy. Player ships, enemy ships, bullets, environment, and so on, can all have hitboxes. Hitboxes are often much smaller than the objects might appear, so developers will often add some sort of visual feature to hint at hitbox location - such as a bright cockpit on a ship, an ornament on a character's back, or even displaying the hitbox itself with a small dot. Bullets may also have their hitboxes indicated via a different colored region toward the center of the bullet, that more closely matches its true hitbox.

Horizontally Scrolling Shooters

A style of shooter that presents gameplay from a side-on perspective with the screen scrolling on the x-axis. Typically, movement is from left to right, but can also be right to left.

Major examples include Scramble, Defender, Gradius, R-Type, and Darius.

Hyper System

See the history page for more details.

"Hyper system" or hyper refers to a game mechanic where the player can spend a gauge or power-up that grants them increased power, invulnerability, or various other enhancements for a limited time.

In more non-traditional uses of the term, hyper may be used to refer to any temporary, powered-up state.



Shmup re-releases and variations, particularly those produced by CAVE, are often referred to as (something) Label, most commonly Black Label. Whilst there is no true terminology behind the usage of different prefixes, most 'Label' games follow the pattern below;

White Label - Refers to original release (unofficial, mostly used for Dodonpachi DaiOuJou)

Black Label - Improved Re-release of the original game, sometimes changes are more significant.

Death Label - Boss Rush version of the game with no stages

Blue Label/Red Label - Arranged versions typically made for festival events.

The usage of "Labels" in this manner appears to be inspired by whiskey production and sale.


Also called Round.

A successful completion of all of a shmup’s levels that are available for one “trip” through the game, from beginning to end. The term “loop” is most commonly used when a shmup starts itself over at the first stage after a player completes it, thus sending them through a second “loop,” or “lap,” of the game, which is usually more difficult than the first “loop.” Some shmups offer several successive “loops,” sometimes even ad infinitum, though most have a maximum of one or two. Successive “loops” of a shmup will usually leave the player’s score from the previous “loops” intact, enabling him to reach even higher scores.

Some shmups require a player to one-credit the game in order to reach a successive loop, while others will send the player to it no matter how many times he has to continue to finish the initial run . Sometimes “loops” which occur after the initial trip through the game will only require the player to progress through a limited portion of the game’s total stages, though most of the time they involve all stages; in other instances, later loops can contain a number of various things not seen in earlier ones.

It’s worth noting that some shmuppers do not consider the first, or “original” trip through a game’s stages as a “loop,” but only the successive ones: Thus, to them, the second successive run through is the “first loop”, the third is the “second loop”, and so on. However, most feel free to refer to the original run through a game’s stages as the “first loop,” and progress in succession from there.

Also worth noting is that, in games which contain one or more loops, the way stages are listed oftentimes also notes which loop the stage is in: most of the time, the loop is listed first, and the stage second. For instance, the first few stages in the initial loop of a game would be listed as “1-1,” 1-2,” 1-3,” etc., while the same stages in the second loop would be “2-1,” “2-2,” “2-3,” and so on.


Memory shmup

Also called Memorizer.

A type of shmup, usually horizontal in orientation, which forces a player to repeatedly play its levels and memorize its layout in order to perform effectively, though quick reflexes are also a factor to an extent. The R-Type games are the most well-known examples.


Two forms of approaching dodging enemy fire. Micrododging refers to precisely weaving your way through enemy projectiles, focusing on a small portion of the screen and threading yourself through the small openings in the pattern with delicate subtle movements and positioning, likely heavily involving grazing. Macrododging meanwhile refers to dodges where the player focuses on the entire screen in order to find larger openings or blind spots in the enemy fire that allows them to avoid the bullet pattern entirely with large, quick movements that circle around the dense fire.


Also called Leech.

To “milk” an enemy, usually a boss, is to gain as many points from the fight as possible by taking advantage of infinite (or semi-infinite) sources of points which are present: in most cases, this involves leaving the enemy alive for as long as is possible, rather than destroying it immediately. Examples include continually grazing shots and repeatedly destroying any endlessly respawning weaker enemies or sub-parts for the entire duration of the battle, rather than attacking the core and ending the encounter quickly. In some cases, a player will have to take additional “unorthodox” actions (such as suicide or power down ) to milk most effectively. Even disregarding this, milking can still be risky, since some milkable enemies become more difficult to defeat if they’re left alive too long; the practice can also, simply put, be boring to the player, due to its highly repetitive nature. Also, if there is a boss timer in effect, in most cases the player will want to be sure to stop milking and focus on destroying the boss before it runs out, or else forfeit the points that the boss would have been worth.

Multidirectional Shooters

The earliest form of shooter. A subgenre of shooter where the player is able to move and shoot in a full 360 degrees. Typically involves either constant forward movement or turn-and-thrust mechanics.

Major Examples are Spacewar!, Computer Space, Asteroids, Bosconian, and Time Pilot.



In shooting games (and many games that originate in Japan), a "miss" refers to player death; achieving a No-Miss means going through the entire stage, game, or boss fight without losing a life.

Many games offer significant bonus points for achieving a No-Miss at the end of the stage, or at the end of the game. In games that feature a True Last Boss or other hidden content, a No-Miss is occasionally a requirement to unlock said content.



An "option" is an augment to a player's ship that grants additional firepower. In some games, options can also be used to block bullets. Options are usually represented by a pod-like object or a small ship that flies with the player's ship.



"Point-blank" is a term used by shooting game players to describe getting as close to an enemy as possible while shooting at them.

In most cases, this concentrates all of their firepower on a singular enemy, increasing the rate of damage dealt to the enemy, in exchange for putting themselves at greater risk of receiving damage from enemies, and dealing less damage to other enemies coming into the screen. Some games will directly reward you for this kind of aggressive play, such as Ketsui and its proximity chip scoring system, or DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu and its Hyper Counter system, which allows you to quickly charge/recharge your Hyper Meter by point-blanking with your Laser / Hyper Laser.


Also called Cannon Fodder, Zako.

Term to refer to common, weak enemies which appear in large numbers at a time during the course of a shmup, but only take a shot or two apiece to destroy, and can thus be taken out in bulk (or “popped”) fairly easily. Literally, zako is the Japanese word for “small fry,” as in fish.


When a game is converted to a platform different that for what it was originally produced. For Shmups, this most commonly refers to games being ported from Arcade platforms to a home platform. Ports of arcade titles that perfectly replicate the original are sometimes referred to colloquially as "arcade perfect".


Conversion is method of porting where a game is rebuilt from the ground-up for a specific platform. Conversion was primarily utilized during the second, third, and fourth console generations, a time when arcade hardware was more powerful than console hardware by some orders of magnitude. The ideal result is a game that captures the core gameplay and visuals of the original title in spite of compromises made of the lower-end hardware.

Common differences from the original versions are visuals, changes to certain portions of the game, quantity and function of power-ups, limits to on-screen enemy and shot quantity, more significant slowdown, audio compromises, fewer animation frames, glitches and exploits unique to the console port, etc..


Emulation is method of porting that involves using software to run a title's ROM data on an alternate platform by simulating the environment of it's original platform. Typically more hardware/CPU intensive than conversions, this method porting rose to prominence during fifth and sixth generations, when console hardware began to catch up to and in some cases exceed the power of arcade hardware. While the results can vary in accuracy vs. the original, this is still the most common method of porting when it comes to arcade and retro-console titles. Emulation can also allow for enhancements from the original platform, such as simulating overclocking to reduce slowdown and removal of sprite limits. High-level emulation that perfectly replicates the original platform is referred to as cycle accurate in reference to simulation accuracy down to the hertz of the original platform's motherboard/CPU.

Major commercial examples of emulation in Shmup ports are Hamster's Arcade Archives titles, M2's work with Namco, Sega, and Konami, City Connection's Saturn Tribute series, Nintendo's Virtual Console/Switch Online, Namco Museum, Taito Memories/Legends, and many other arcade and console game compilations.

Emulation software is also freely available to the public through numerous pieces of software, such as MAME, though users must supply their own ROM data and BIOs.

Source Port

A source port is a method of porting where the source code to a game's engine is recompiled to run natively on an alternative/modern platform. The key differentiation between Source Ports and Decompilations is that, in the case of source ports, ROM data is left unaltered/untouched. Most source ports are community made and focus on PC platforms, though conversions of the software to other platforms also exist.

Examples of Shmup source port projects are OpenTyrian/OpenTyrian2000, PyTouhou, and ReC98.


Decompilation is a method of porting a title where a game's ROM data is decompiled into universal code and then reassembled it to run natively in different engines and/or on different platform. This method is considered to be the highest quality and accuracy, but also the most labor intensive and is only applicable to one title at a time. In contrast, emulation can be utilized to replicate entire platforms and run multiple titles, so is generally used by most commercial developers for the sake of convenience and cost-efficiency. Still, there are many examples of decompilation, particularly in recent times.

Major examples of shmup decompilations are Digital Eclipse's Eclipse Engine titles (eg. Atari 50 and the Gold Masters Series), Code Mystics' arcade ports, and Capcom's Arcade Stadium volumes.



Gameplay system found in many shmups which will automatically adjust the game’s difficulty in accordance with the player’s performance: for example, in many cases more enemies will appear (and/or existing enemies will attack more aggressively) when the player is fully powered up. Some more “extreme” rank systems require that the player purposely avoids powering up, shooting down enemies, etc. in order to effectively increase his chances of survival, although often at the cost of higher scoring opportunities. Some rank systems are controlled directly by the player’s status and can change quickly, while others will continually increase depending on the player’s actions until they “max out,” and efforts to control them can only slow down how fast they increase.

Revenge Bullets

Also called Suicide Bullets or Death Bullets.

Bullets spawned by enemies upon destruction, usually by the player. The amount and their properties may vary depending on the difficulty and rank.


Also known as Randomness

Short for Random Number Generation, RNG is a term that broadly describes any behaviors in game that are influenced by randomness. Though less prevalent in shmups than in some other genres, randomness is still a significant factor in many games. Any element which differs significantly between two runs could be an indicator of RNG; shmups with very little randomness and high consistency between runs are known as Memory Shmups or Memorizers, because learning a fixed route can 'solve' the entire game. Common shmup elements that can be driven by RNG include, but are not limited to:

  • Boss movements - In many games, the direction and/or speed at which bosses move is influenced by RNG.
  • Boss attack patterns - In addition to movement, many games allow bosses to choose their attack patterns at random from a small pool of possible attacks.
  • Point values - Some games feature collectible items or destructible targets with values that are randomly chosen from a small pool of options.
  • Bullet aiming - Instead of being aimed at a player, bullets might be fired in a random direction.
  • Enemy spawns - Spawn locations for enemies may sometimes be driven by randomness, often within a specific range to keep things somewhat fair.



A "safe-spot" refers to a place on the screen that you can place your ship to completely avoid damage from incoming bullet patterns. Safespots are typically the result of system exploits, game design oversights, or glitches/bugs.

Particularly egregious safespots can often allow a player to completely avoid damage while still damaging enemies and bosses for the duration of an encounter, which can completely nullify the difficulty of said encounter.


In many shooting games, enemies have to be a certain distance away from the player before they will fire. Getting inside of this range will stop the enemy from shooting completely. This is commonly referred to as "bullet sealing".


Also called Debris.

Graphical touch found in some shmups, in which “shards” or “chunks” of enemy craft appear to be blown off of them when they are shot or destroyed. In most cases shrapnel is included for purely presentational reasons and cannot directly harm the player, but it can still be a hindrance if enemy bullets are not very distinct, as they can blend in with the shrapnel and become hard to spot.


  • Programming phenomenon commonly found in shmups, in which all onscreen action slows down and/or the frame rate drops when high amounts of separate elements (i.e. enemies, bullets, etc.) appear at once. Can be used to a player’s advantage by giving him more time to react to what’s going on, but can seriously hamper a game’s playability when found in abundance. The amount of slowdown present can be adjusted in some console shmups via the ”Wait” option.
  • In this case, usually presented as two words (Slow Down). An ability found in some shmups, which enables the player to deliberately slow his craft’s movement speed, to assist in dodging tight and/or slow-moving bullet patterns; sometimes also changes the effect of the weapon the player is firing when in use. A few shmups also contain a built-in “slow down” function which can slow enemies and their attacks, but utilization of these is almost always considered a form of cheating.


Tick Points

Many games provide the player with a small, but consistent, point bonus as long as the player's shots hit an enemy. Even if the enemy is not damaged or destroyed, the player may still gain points just because their bullets are contacting an enemy; these are known as 'tick points'. Though in most situations tick points are a minor scoring element, in some games this can be a valuable source of points, especially when used against invulnerable enemies or bosses.


A "time-out" refers to a situation where a boss or mid-boss flies off the screen when it continues to survive for a certain period of time. Some games, such as Ikaruga, feature an invincible boss that must be timed-out in order to win, forcing the player to rely on their dodging skills and pattern recognition. In most other games, time-outs typically exist in order to prevent the player from earning unlimited amounts of points from milking.

True Last Boss

Many shooting games include a "True Last Boss (TLB)," a hidden boss encounter that only appears to highly skilled players. Reaching the TLB of a game often requires meeting a series of requirements, such as achieving a "no miss-no bomb (NMNB)" run, playing a harder difficulty mode, reaching a certain score threshold, destroying certain objects, entering a certain "path", or other objectives that can range from the obvious to the esoteric.

On some shmups, TLBs tend to have a bomber-proof shield, either on last phase or in all phases. When the player deploys a bomb, the TLB will trigger a shield that will grant the boss an amount of i-frames, just like the player.

Even just reaching the TLB is a high achievement, and defeating them is, in some cases, a much greater challenge than an ordinary clear of the game.

In certain shmups, getting a 1cc requires the TLB to be defeated as well.


Vertical Scrolling Shooter

A style of shooter where action is presented in a top-down manner. Movement and firing takes place on the y-axis, typically from bottom to top. Descendant from early Fixed Shooters like Space Invaders and Galaxian, vertical scrolling has since gone on to become the dominant style of shooter.

Major examples include Xevious, River Raid, Mega Zone, Star Force, 1942, and Tiger-Heli.



See Popcorn


Name for the often maligned Trumpet samples used in many of the Touhou games. Named after their developer, ZUN