Space Invaders: Birth of the SHMUP

Matt Barton's picture

Okay, folks. This damn book was due like a week ago, so ante up with your thoughts on Space Invaders. I know Mark has posted some great stuff on shmups that I intend to look at for this chapter, but if you have any "YOU GOTTA MENTION THIS" type crap, type it up. What I'm probably going to focus on is how the game was so appealing to the general public (instead of "hardcore" gamers), the importance of the high score, and a bit about how it inspired a whole genre of games that is still around today. Just to let you know now, though, there is no way in hell this is going to be a comprehensive look at all shmups, or even all the really good ones. I'll be lucky to get in the top five, so help me out with that if you will.

I'm kinda curious, too, about the psychological aspects of the game. Some things I've read suggest that there's something deep about the way the aliens just keep on coming, and our need to "clean up" by eradicating them one-by-one. It's like maintaining order or the status quo against the relentless forces of progress or revolution. In short, WHY was/is this game so damn addictive?

All ideas welcome. Just do it quick.


Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Golden age?

@Bill, Matt Just look at the stuff I wrote earlier in the article on Shmups. That actually reminds me that I was working on a second part on the 'golden age' of shmups which took place in the late 80's and 90's. Are you going to write about the 16 bit glory of shmups too?

It is quite weird to see that Western Shmups from the 'Golden age' always have something lacking from the gameplay that is definitely there in the Eastern/Asian Shmups. Be it bullet patterns, alien attack formations or a combination of those. In Asian games they do seem to be so much more organic in nature and often the screen is just riddled with bullets with just some parts of the screen being safe areas. The 'Manga'/'Anime' theme is also a big part of the presentation and perhaps the way spaceships and laser guns are used in the 'ZeichenTrickFilme' / Cartoons - showing lots of bullets, lots of fire, big guns, huge explosions, hordes of attackers resulting in sheer over the top action - is reflected in the Asian Shmup being more over the top and frantic, more organic than Western games often are.

Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc.


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