Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Shut the SHMUP up!

I was in GAME buying another PS3 joy-pad recently, and overheard two of the ‘gamers’ behind the counter discussing ‘shooting-games.’ They were of course talking about first-person shooters. They must have seen me roll my eyes or something, because I got a rather funny look from the bearded twenty-something.
Maybe it was the smirk on my face. Maybe that smirk said, “…and you call that a shooting game?”

So am I really that old, has the definition changed that much?
Now, I’m not against a good FPS. I remember the sheer awe of first playing DOOM on an Amstrad 386SX PC. I also think many of its modern descendants are vastly superior. You won’t find any rose-coloured glasses here folks, but a shooting-game…

Ok, technically I suppose they are correct, but technically a tomato is a fruit. Doesn’t mean it would go well with some double-cream in a fruit-cocktail does it?

To me a shooting-game will always be a good old horizontal, vertical, or otherwise scrolling Shoot ‘Em Up, or SHMUP.
It isn’t even as if the genre is dead and buried, and there is most assuredly still a market. Surely you only need to look at the hugely successful ‘Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved’ series to see their continued appeal. For something that started life as a mini-game in the ‘Project Gotham Racing 2’ Xbox title this has arguably spawned a much more long-lived and instantly recognisable well known, if not household-name, franchise.
There have always been a steady steam of home-brew developers and start-up companies only too happy to produce new SHMUPS, and contrary to popular belief they are most definitely not amongst the easiest types of game to program. Not if you want to do it properly anyway.

I admit it; I’m a bit of a SHMUP fan. But I’m not going to real-off my favourite games and their merits here, I may do so in the future, but this isn’t that rant!

I suppose this is about changing views and opinions. What does a ‘shooting-game’ mean to you? Is this purely an age thing, or is it dependant on how well-played you are? What do I mean? Well, there are those readers who would happily refer to themselves as well-read, and a certain proportion of them would look down upon what they see as the casual reader. ‘The type of person who reads Twilight,’ as I have, rather condescendingly, been told by one such person.
Now was I guilty of doing the same thing, or is this different? I dislike the terms hardcore-gamer and casual-gamer. I think both are rather derogatory. I’ve played computer games for a long time, and in that time I’ve came across many things, some I like more than others, some I have kept playing much longer than others. But I have a wife, and a life outside of computer games, so they are not allowed to eat-away at too much of my time. Shouldn’t we be getting away from stereotypes by this time? Or am I just creating more? Am I degrading the counter-staff’s opinion because their gaming experience is, seemingly, narrower than my own?
Is the one-time market-winning SHMUP destined to fall into obscutity, just because of the changing way people are seeing and talking about things. Or are shooting-games and SHMUP's now seen as diferent things. I don't think the genre is ready to give up yet. In fact I don't think it ever wll, but is it already marginalised?

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