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Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Twenty of the best freeware shooters released in 2006 and early 2007, ordered alphabetically.
[Top 50 shmups page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4, the entire list]

11. Arachnos
12. Asougi
13. Beautiful World
14. Exceed 2nd Vampire
15. Excellent Bifurcation
16. Guxt
17. Hyper Wars: The Mega Firestorm
18. La Soeur de Barrage
19. Touhoukokuhuugi
20. Virtual

11. Arachnos

Arachnos is an effort by BootanSoft that is reminiscent of arcade shmups from the early 80's. I could not get this to work full screen, but changing to a lower desktop resolution helps. Controls are shown under the configuration menu. Set BLT scale to double for a larger game display window.

The graphics may appear to be bland but does improve after the second level. Several weapons most commonly found in Konami's classic shooters make their appearance here, such as ripple lasers and options to name but two. Your ship does not explode immediately when hit, allowing options to be recovered after the loss of a life.

End level bosses have several attack patterns, guaranteed to test your bullet dodging skills. The asteroids in stage two can actually be used as a temporary shield during the boss battle, assuming that you don't crash into any of them.

Name: Arachnos
Developer: Bootansoft
Size: 5.61 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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12. Asougi

Asougi is a freeware vertical shooter that resembles ESP Ra.De., a Cave arcade favorite featuring characters with the ability to fly and amazing psychic powers.

Some of the bullet patterns are rather unique and not the sort commonly found in recent shmup releases. It's also rather friendly to beginners as the number of continues are set to unlimited, though progress past stage three is only allowed to players using three credits or less.

The executable file with a longer name is the version with less effects for slower computers.

Name: Asougi
Developer: Asougi Project Team
Size: 120 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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13. Beautiful World

Beautiful World is a relatively unknown shooter from Project Boueigun, featuring the usual array of power-ups, collectibles end level boss encounters.

Hold down the left shift key to shoot and press the Z key to launch a bomb. Scroll down slightly past the screenshots to get the latest version.

Name: Beautiful World
Developer: Project Boueigun
Size: 4.25 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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14. Exceed 2nd Vampire

eXceed2nd-VAMPIRE- is a brilliant shmup by FLAT which mimics the polarity gameplay system made popular by Ikaruga. The color of the circle surrounding your character can be changed by tapping the C key. This will determine the type of enemy bullets that your ship absorbs while charging the special weapon in the process.

Press the Z key to shoot and use the V key to bring up the pause menu. There are only four stages in this trial version, unfortunately. The 70MB file package may take a while to download, but rest assured that it's one shooter well worth the effort especially for fans of Treasure's classic.

Note: the color change button has to be remapped to C again using the in-game control setup option. FLAT updated the demo recently and messed up the original key configuration setting.

Name: Exceed 2nd Vampire
Developer: FLAT
Size: 88.1 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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15. Excellent Bifurcation

In Excellent Bifurcation, the aliens have attacked and their ability to exist in either or both of their world and ours has given them an almost unsurpassable advantage. Take command of a special fighter craft capable of existing in both realities at once and drive them back!

The form your fighter takes on the left has double fast-firing cannons and can charge to release up to eight seekers. It is ideal for destroying small and weak but numerous enemies. The right-hand form has a single powerful cannon which fires slowly but does far more damage, and is more suited to taking out larger enemies. It can charge up to release a wave which passes through things, damaging them as it goes. You can switch them between the worlds depending on what kind of firepower you need where.

The only vulnerable parts of your ship are the white parts at the centre. This means that the small form is much better at dodging than the large one. The only dangerous parts of bullets are the brightest (yellow or white) parts. Also, if you are shot down the form which was hit emits a green shockwave instead of a yellow one.

Press the Z key to shoot, X key to charge the special weapon, and C key to switch between two forms. Use the A key to activate autofire. You can change settings, like windowed vs fullscreen and whether it uses vsync, by editing the init.txt file.

Name: Excellent Bifurcation
Developer: Linley Henzell
Size: 0.96 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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16. Guxt

Guxt is a new vertical shooter by Pixel, the famed creator of Cave Story and Ikachan.

Click on the first text to download. Use the arrow keys to move your ship, and tap the left control key repeatedly to shoot. Screen size can be adjusted by selecting the menu tab. A key configuration option is included as well.

Power-ups can only be collected after you've destroyed their protective shells. Autofire is possible once your ship gains it's first weapon upgrade.

Name: Guxt
Developer: Pixel
Size: 0.25 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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17. Hyper Wars: The Mega Firestorm

Warning: Contains strong language.

Hyper Wars: The Mega Firestorm is a vertical shooter by CK which uses only two colors throughout the entire game. There are plenty of power-ups to choose from and several bosses to defeat at the end of each level. The demo only showcases four stages, but expect more in the near future as development continues.

Name: Hyper Wars: The Mega Firestorm
Developer: CK
Size: 2.35 MB
Download page: Click here

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18. La Soeur de Barrage

La Soeur de Barrage is a pretty decent shooter with emphasis on boss fights and accessible controls. Use the mouse to move the character and hold the left button to shoot.

There's plenty of save points and unlimited continues to assist beginners, plus a super easy mode has been included which allows the player to resume a game with twenty-four lives. Three long stages.

Name: La Soeur de Barrage
Developer: Tocoroten
Size: 54.3 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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19. Touhoukokuhuugi

Touhoukokuhuugi is a pretty good Shoot the Bullet clone developed by President Room, requiring impossible bullet dodging and photography skills just to get past the first few levels.

Take pictures by holding the Z key when your camera is ready, indicated by a percentage shown above the crosshair. Use the X key to make your character move slower, or press both buttons to charge your weapon faster. Only photos with bosses are considered valid. Still early in production, the game is very playable even without any background music or sound effects.

Originally Shoot the Bullet was supposed to occupy this spot, but no demo was ever released so this decent substitute gets the nod instead.

Name: Touhoukokuhuugi
Developer: President Room
Size: 4.53 MB
Download page: Click here

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20. Virtual

Virtual by Vector Games is a shooter with a mix of gameplay elements from Japanese shmups, Every Extend and Tron. Hard to imagine, but pretty fun nonetheless. When pressing the left control key, your ship will warp and create a small circle. Any round objects with the same color caught in it will basically go offline and disappear.

Enemies leave trails when traveling, and your ship will be terminated if it crosses these lines with another color. Press the left shift key to change your ship's color. Lives are replaced with logins, which can be acquired by using the same warp action on square objects.

Name: Virtual
Developer: VectorGames
Size: 1.68 MB
Direct download link: Click here

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note: a shmup has to offer least two playable levels to qualify for a place on this list

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2 Comments:
Anonymous Anonymous said at 3/07/2007 05:10:00 PM:  
Bit more than 2 colors in that Hyper Mega Super Special Deluxe whatevers. Nice game though.
Blogger Jimmy said at 3/08/2007 02:52:00 AM:  
Maybe you should mention that Guxt is still just a beta? Seems a bit unfair not to, since it won't be obvious from following the links ...