Shmups

This is where you can deliberate anything relating to videogames - past, present and future.
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ratsoalbion
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Re: Shmups

Post by ratsoalbion » June 23rd, 2019, 12:37 pm

We’ve steadfastly managed to avoid pointless PC v console (and console v other console) debates on here for over seven years, I’d really rather we kept it that way.

Every platform has its pros and cons, and everyone has their own preferences. That’s all anyone needs to know.

In particular, can we keep this thread as a discussion/celebration of a beloved, stalwart genre please?

Much appreciated, folks.

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KSubzero1000
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Re: Shmups

Post by KSubzero1000 » June 23rd, 2019, 1:45 pm

Of course, my bad.

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clippa
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Re: Shmups

Post by clippa » June 23rd, 2019, 4:35 pm

Sorry, ratty, it was just a bit of pantomime really.
Sundays are so booooring. I must have fallen asleep.

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Re: Shmups

Post by Stanshall » June 23rd, 2019, 4:51 pm

To get back on track, I've been playing Futari for score again. It's such a fantastic game, and the most exciting way to play it. Point blanking bigger enemies before they appear on screen and have a hurt box, so the little gems start tumbling before you even start to do damage and get the big gems. The level design is beautifully balanced to encourage you to switch between shots at the right time and it's just even more exciting playing in the top third of the screen and watching your score rocket.

I've been consistently hitting the first 100m extend on the stage 2 boss which means I've crushed my 1-All high score of 140m by the end of stage 3. It's not actually that much harder in terms of the bullet speed, it's more that playing so aggressively means you need to know exactly what's coming or you get point blanked in return. On the other hand, it's helped me find a number of safer routes up and around the screen rather than micrododging through the overlapping waves. I've kind of started again from scratch in terms of my progress but I'm looking forward to hopefully developing some strategies to overcome stage three, and then it's a roll of the dice and fingers crossed my resources last.

Also, gone back to DDP DOJ to try to chain stage one. I've had a couple of decent efforts but I feel like I'm probably weeks of practice away. Such an amazing game but totally unforgiving.

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Re: Shmups

Post by clippa » June 23rd, 2019, 5:31 pm

Aw, wait for me, I have to do black label first.
edit: Oh, you're still talking about black label, aren't you?
Stanshall wrote:
June 23rd, 2019, 4:51 pm
I've been consistently hitting the first 100m extend on the stage 2 boss which means I've crushed my 1-All high score of 140m by the end of stage 3.
Sake.
I love the green meadowy bit at the start before you pick your guy, I want to live there. Cave really went all out with this one. The sprite, the way the lass kicks her little legs about when she's riding on the flying beetle. Haha.

At the start of stage 3 it sounds like palm says "Urgh! She's just a mouldy old cauldron!", which is a great insult for a witchy old ratbag like me. I go "tch, charming" whenever he says it. I wonder what he really says.

Ha, of course someone's translated everything they say. The internet gets a lot of stick, but it's canny good sometimes.

"Uwaa, they are the Shinju's Forest's Beetle Beast!"

"Uwaa", yeah, that's a better stab at the noise he makes.

You know how at the end of the stage, it always floats your character down to the bottom middle of the screen? I treat that like a little mini game, I try to position my guy on the exact pixel so that it doesn't get moved at all before the score screen comes up.
Anyway, I'm convinced that it's rigged and it'll do a little shimmy anyway even if you're in the right spot, because I'm sure I would have managed it by now otherwise. Those coconuts are nailed down, I'm sure of it. These little things all add up, your mind can be unravelling for years without you realising.
I hope you're not the type of person who will read that and have to do it yourself from now on and your entire world starts to fall apart.

How come you have work even on a sunday? What sort of living hell is that? None of my business, I suppose. They're working you like a dog, man! Hope you get plenty of time to smell the flowers, it's not right.

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Re: Shmups

Post by clippa » June 24th, 2019, 12:23 am


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Re: Shmups

Post by hazeredmist » June 24th, 2019, 8:26 am

Back from holiday. Hello fellow shmuppers! Agree with Ratso, platform battles are pointless. Everyone knows consoles are the best :D

On-topic queries:

- Are the Psikyo games (Gunbird, Tengai etc) on Switch adjusted at all or just straight arcade ports? Difficulty in MAME is high, I wonder if it's due to wanting more of your quarters, or if home ports kept the same level of difficulty / introduce any QOL at all...

- When did you change from just doing runs and experiencing games, to chasing scores / 1cc? Is 1cc the most important thing to you now?

- How did you "git good" at shmups - just repeat play on or seeking advice / guides? Are there any general tips you can offer on how you progressed from just darting about like a maniac on coke to something more considered and strategic with bullet evasion?

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Re: Shmups

Post by ratsoalbion » June 24th, 2019, 8:55 am

The Psikyo/ZeroDiv games are fairly much straight emulations, but you have a choice to play on one of about seven (?) difficultly settings before you start every single game, which I believe correlate to DIP switches found on the original boards (and therefore in MAME).

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Re: Shmups

Post by clippa » June 24th, 2019, 9:12 am

Look into the dip switches in the mame options in game, you can change the difficulty there, or go into service mode (f2 by default).

I'd recommend using shmupmame for the psikyo games if you have that installed, much nippier.

The switch ports have lots more difficulty options (lowest is called "monkey!"), input lag is said to be pretty bad though, confirmed by marks tests - http://electricunderground.io/shmup-input-lag-database/
I've heard people describe them as "utterly unplayable" and "totally fine, what are you talking about?"
We all have our own threshold of tolerance. I'm assuming you've just got a bog-standard version of mame running on your pi with vsync enabled. I'd say if you're fine playing them on there, you'll be totally fine with the switch ports.

I think I've always played games to beat them, getting through to the end was always the goal. Not just shmups, I mean all games. If a games really hard, I'll just concentrate on making it to the end before I even think about scoring, but scoring is often tied to surviving since it's how you get extra lives and extra hypers and stuff.
You just do whatever feels right, and everything will come together. Just credit feed, or maybe pretend you've got 50p in your pocket at the arcade so you're only allowed 4 continues so you have to make it count.

Just practise, you'll teach yourself everything you need to know just from experimenting and fannying about. It's always the best way to learn anything as it totally sticks.
Micro-tapping is a good skill to learn, doing little taps of the stick to move a tiny bit and keep doing it, it's handy for dealing with aimed fire and easing your way through dense bullet patterns.
Don't worry if the screen is full of bullets, don't panic, you only have to dodge the ones that are right next to you.
I've got go and do something so this is a bit rushed, I'll have a think of any tips I can think that would have been useful when I first started.
Stanshall wrote:
June 23rd, 2019, 4:51 pm
little gems start tumbling
Oh wow, you're right! I thought I couldn't push it any further, turns out I'm not pushing it hard enough.

Bogey shower!

Got a nice little bump on my stage 1 record since I started mining the old nose gold - 42,691,272

I caught myself growling at a turtle just before "gimme all your bogies, ya bastard" and started cracking up. It's not long before they cart me off, I reckon.

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Re: Shmups

Post by clippa » June 24th, 2019, 11:01 am

clippa wrote:
June 23rd, 2019, 5:31 pm
You know how at the end of the stage, it always floats your character down to the bottom middle of the screen? I treat that like a little mini game, I try to position my guy on the exact pixel so that it doesn't get moved at all before the score screen comes up.
COME ON!

Certainly knocks Stanshall's 1cc into a cocked hat. I'm sure we can all agree on that.
Just tapped to the right at the last minute there, I knew I was close but I shut my eyes and just let my soul guide me. I always knew I was special. I'd like to thank gaad, my mom and dad for raising me so right, and most importantly, you, the fans. I couldn't have done it without you. Follow your dreams, peace out.

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Re: Shmups

Post by Stanshall » June 24th, 2019, 12:16 pm

No time to reply properly but that really made me laugh. Bravo.

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Re: Shmups

Post by hazeredmist » June 24th, 2019, 1:25 pm

"no time to reply"

Sounds like Stanshall is learning from his buddy Big Shot Mark :D

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Re: Shmups

Post by KSubzero1000 » June 24th, 2019, 2:38 pm

hazeredmist wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 8:26 am
- When did you change from just doing runs and experiencing games, to chasing scores / 1cc? Is 1cc the most important thing to you now?
Well, I can't claim to be at that level yet. I'm still in the experimental phase on all of my CAVE games without a single 1CC under my belt on those, for example.

As to what is the most important thing to me, it really depends on the game's specific design philosophy. When I was playing Resogun, I focused primarily on the game's open-ended endurance mode. With Nex Machina I wanted to get the 1CC with my favorite weapon. With Assault Android Cactus, I never bothered about the scoring in and of itself, but I knew I wanted to get all the S+ ranks under my belt. I've never even finished Ikaruga because I was having too much fun trying to optimize the first chapter's chaining mechanic instead. Ghost Blade's Arcade mode is decent, but Score Attack totally grabbed me. I'm playing Futari at the moment, and even though I am slowly but surely making my way towards the 1CC, there's still an entire layer of scoring optimization even beyond that which I barely understand but would like to dive into at some point.

1CC'ing is definitely the universal gold standard of shmup achievements, which is why it gets mentioned so often. But it's also important to keep in mind that this is a surprisingly varied and complex genre that has a lot of different types of experiences to offer. Even if 1CC isn't your thing, you can still find plenty to enjoy and get lost into.

hazeredmist wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 8:26 am
- How did you "git good" at shmups - just repeat play on or seeking advice / guides? Are there any general tips you can offer on how you progressed from just darting about like a maniac on coke to something more considered and strategic with bullet evasion?
It might be a boring answer, but I think the secret to getting better is to start by choosing one game you really enjoy. The one that you feel the most comfortable with. For me it was Resogun, perhaps for you it'll be Ghost Blade or Shikhondo or Danmaku Unlimited 3. Or maybe even something else! And then I would simply suggest to try and get the most out that one game until you've reached your skill ceiling. Most games have a variety of content catering to different skill levels, such as difficulty modes. Start with the lowest one and work your way up. Set simple goals at first, one step at a time. Alternative / challenge modes can also be surprisingly engaging, so don't brush them off too quickly.

As time goes on, you will become more and more proficient at it and those skills will in all likelihood transfer to more complex and challenging games afterwards.

I don't know that I have that many tips, but I'll say that the most important thing is to try to be in control of the situation as much as possible. Randomly darting about the screen in shmups is probably the equivalent of button mashing in Street Fighter. It might get the job done and be a lot of fun at first, but it'll prevent you from learning the game and get better at it. Know where you're flying to and why. As a general rule, it's probably better to die and learn than to squeeze through a challenging part through sheer luck that you won't be able to replicate. Basically, don't panic. Even if a situation looks impossible at first, there's always a way out.

Slooowly dodging bullets sideways little by little can often prevent you from being trapped in a corner later on.

It may sound really silly, but one of the most important things is to know where to look. If you stare at your ship for too long, you will die from a stray bullet sooner or later. Same if you only focus on the faraway enemies. It's difficult to explain, but there's a really sweet spot in-between where you can focus on the incoming bullets while still keeping track of your ship's hitbox. And of course, that varies from game to game.

Also, don't hesitate to temporarily move further up the screen when necessary if you're playing a vertically-oriented game. Some bullet curtains are designed to catch players that only stay at the very bottom of the screen, especially on certain bosses. If a pattern seems undodgeable at first, try positioning yourself differently on the next try.

Watching superplays is a double-edged sword. They can be very entertaining and useful when trying to learn advanced techniques and strategies, but they can also be equally confusing and inscrutable when starting out. As a rule of thumb, I would only recommend watching super high skill videos of games you're either already familiar with or don't plan on playing any time soon.

Lastly, don't underestimate the importance of individual stage select modes for training purposes!


Hope this helps! I'll see if I can think of something else. :)

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Re: Shmups

Post by Stanshall » June 24th, 2019, 5:55 pm

clippa wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 9:12 am
Got a nice little bump on my stage 1 record since I started mining the old nose gold - 42,691,272
Just got my best on stage 1, too. You pushed me to go all out and get my conk right up the screen. It's so much fun playing this way. Lost all my lives almost immediately on stage 2. Great success! On reflection, looks like the difference is basically the number of little fellas tumbling.

47.47m

Gutted for you with that other screenshot by the way. Yeesh. That's brutal. Couple of pixels in it!

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Re: Shmups

Post by Stanshall » June 24th, 2019, 6:44 pm

hazeredmist wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 8:26 am
- When did you change from just doing runs and experiencing games, to chasing scores / 1cc? Is 1cc the most important thing to you now?

- How did you "git good" at shmups - just repeat play on or seeking advice / guides? Are there any general tips you can offer on how you progressed from just darting about like a maniac on coke to something more considered and strategic with bullet evasion?
This is a great post and really made me think. Some superb advice from KSub but given you know how valuable my own precious time is, I'll hand over to my renowned colleague, Mark_MSX, whose latest shmup podcast episode is on exactly this topic:

https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/el ... sQthl0rJn/

It's a really interesting episode and one that I took a lot from. The stick and buttons chat was particularly interesting to me, but your questions and a number of other relevant ones are discussed in some depth. Well recommended.

Personally, I've been getting into shmups for about two years or so. The first one I properly committed to though was Ikaruga. That was probably about a year ago, almost to the day. For the first six months or so, though, I was just keen to play any shmup, credit feed to the end, broaden my experience and just have fun. Partly, I was also chasing the high I got from playing Dodonpachi DaiOuJou at Arcade Club in Bury. I'd never experienced anything like that and for a long time, that was the untouchable gold standard. Until I got a 360 and started playing Cave games, I must be honest, nothing quite scratched that itch.

However, I did start to really spend time with a couple of games. Danmaku Unlimited 3 was one, the closest I had to a bullet hell on the Switch, and I worked on scoring and clearing Easy Mode. It wasn't too tough to clear and so I started to focus on scoring and found it more enjoyable that way. I didn't get especially far with it, though, and I was happy to keep mixing things up.

Ikaruga came out on the Switch and I decided to learn to play it properly after bouncing off a couple of times over the years and, without repeating thought from another thread, it suddenly clicked. It's an odd game, not many of the skills are transferable and it demands to be played in a very very specific way, but that also meant that my progress was very linear and very measurable. I set myself the goal of hitting S Rank on Chapter One and as the weeks went by, I saw my max chain increase, my score increase and my execution tighten up. I became a little obsessive about it, thinking about the route and feeling the muscle memory in my thumbs. I became braver, faster, cleaner and I felt I was making progress.

What at first seemed insurmountable gradually seemed to be within my grasp. KSub then joined me in the chase and that pushed me harder. I have to be honest, it was really fucking stressful in a way because he learned so quickly and caught up with me in seemingly no time at all. One day I was giving a little bit of explanation about my route and the next we were neck and neck. That he eventually beat my high score was galling indeed, but I console myself that I got there first! :D

S Rank in Ikaruga is probably the hardest thing I've done in any game but it's also one of the most satisfying and rewarding by far. Also, I have to be frank, once I did it, I almost lost all motivation to play the game any more and even now, looking at the icon kind of makes me mentally tired. That's not just me being dramatic. The psychological associations are of being bleary eyed, wrecked, and running through the route in my dreams. I spent about twenty five hours on the game and probably only played past chapter one ten or twenty times. Some people think that's a bit odd and I get it but it's about your own motivation and what you find most stimulating with the game. For me, it wasn't the 1CC or the overall score, really, it was that S Rank, and I don't really know why.

Moving on, Psyvariar Delta and Rolling Gunner scratched are similar itch and I got really into playing the first stage and trying to optimise and attain a similar goal. For Psyvariar, I wanted to get 1000 MAX BUZZ and once I got it (1105), I kind of dropped the game for a while and now I only play it casually. For Rolling Gunner, I got a few casual 1CCs and Novice 1CC is just a damn good blast, but I've never been that driven to 1CC Normal Mode. Instead, I tried to squeeze every last point out of stage one. I guess it kind of became my thing and my way of aiming high without too great a commitment, to be honest. Clippa once called me 'ichimen bancho' elsewhere, which is an ironic nickname for someone who is really good at the first stage of of a shmup but ineffectual beyond that. It was funny because it was so spot on and I love that it's a term. Ichimen means 'front page' which can refer to the first stage but also the cover, ie. the superficial exterior and bancho means a gang leader or boss. It seems to have something of the sense of 'flat track bully' in cricket with a 'weekend warrior' ironic tinge.

Fast-forward then to getting a 360 finally and waiting weeks for Mushihimesama Futari to arrive from Japan. I'd started watching a lot of STG Weekly and I absolutely adored the Futari Ultra episode with Gus:

https://youtu.be/ZZeRl3NXsUQ

The game is fucking dazzling, in my opinion. The music, the colours, the atmosphere (as clippa mentioned above), it's dreamy, intense, psychedelic. Anyway, it's the one which ultimately prompted me to get the 360 and get a stick and so on and so on. I've gone back to various games and I love a lot of shmups but this one seems to really scratch an itch and tickle my brain in new ways. I started playing the first stage for score because I never thought I'd be able to 1CC it but as I practised more and started having a little bit of joy, it just became a pleasure to keep trying and seeing how far I could get. I got a couple of flukey runs into stage 4 and then stage 50 on the edge of my seat, barely breathing, and I found it so exhilarating, I wanted more and more.

Unlike Ikaruga, it hasn't really consumed me in an especially stressful way. I even relegated it to casual 'see how it goes' occasional runs because it was just fun to play, while I gave Dodonpachi DaiOuJou and Ketsui and others a bit more focus, but it was always there and I knew I wanted to get the 1CC and it would require some focus. No false modesty, I'm not naturally any good at these games but I'm persistent and I'm motivated to learn and remember stuff if the game clicks with me. I also found through playing a lot of bullet hell that a lot of what I learned was very transferable and my approaches to various patterns worked across different titles. That meant that even when I wasn't playing Futari, I was still making some kind of progress, especially when I was learning stick. Anyway, I got the 1CC and it was really really satisfying but unlike with Ikaruga, I haven't crashed, it's just made me want to get stuck in even further and play for score now, and play Maniac Mode and try to clear stage one on God Mode and stuff, but that's the game. That's my motivation, the joy of playing that particular game. The 'achievement' in itself means nothing, it's because I really love playing that particular game (as I have with several others to a slightly lesser degree).

Yeah, so that's my entire life story instead of writing some more appraisal reports because fuck it, this is what life is really all about. Having fun and shooting the shit. All the best with it mate, and looking forward to hearing more of your tales in future.

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Re: Shmups

Post by Stanshall » June 24th, 2019, 7:00 pm

And that Ikaruga thread where KSub caught up and overtook me in no time at all:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=2195&hilit=Ikaruga

Really fun reading it back, lovely reminiscences and enjoyed the back and forth challenge and sharing of strategies until I remembered that the disrespectful upstart actually ended up with S+ Rank! Honestly, no sense of decorum...

A colossal effort, though. My cap remains doffed.

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Re: Shmups

Post by hazeredmist » June 24th, 2019, 9:03 pm

Ah guys, some amazing insights from you all here, thanks for taking the time!! I’ll address properly with more time but know that I appreciate it.

I have that podcast downloaded now! Focusing on a game is noted - I do need to do this. I’ve got incrementally better at Neko Navy and can do the first 4/5 stages without breaking sweat now, it’s only really 6 that fucks me (the boss in particular). Just got to day 7 for the first time and it took a lot out of me meeting a big boss that seems IMPOSSIBLE with the homing bullet sprays etc but I know it’s big progress even getting there at all. I think I may focus my efforts on this one.

More banter on this tomorrow, I need to calm down and sleep!

Also Stan - appraisals! Christ. I’m delivering many appraisals myself over the next few days in my world, I feel your pain!

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Re: Shmups

Post by KSubzero1000 » June 24th, 2019, 9:37 pm

hazeredmist wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 9:03 pm
I’ve got incrementally better at Neko Navy and can do the first 4/5 stages without breaking sweat now, it’s only really 6 that fucks me (the boss in particular). Just got to day 7 for the first time and it took a lot out of me meeting a big boss that seems IMPOSSIBLE with the homing bullet sprays etc but I know it’s big progress even getting there at all. I think I may focus my efforts on this one.
Perfectly respectable choice. I don't know if Neko Navy has an individual stage select option, but I would strongly recommend making use of it until you can finish stages 6 and 7 consistently if it has one. You might run the risk of burning yourself out on the first few stages without making any meaningful progress on those that are giving you trouble otherwise. Once you feel comfortable with those, all that'll remain will be to chain them all up in Arcade for that much-coveted 1CC.

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Re: Shmups

Post by hazeredmist » June 24th, 2019, 9:46 pm

Yeah there’s a training mode, I’ve now unlocked up to and including day 6, I think you need to finish the stage to train on it. But improving at day 6 is the only way I’m gonna get anywhere - so many lives lost there on this run I was left with very little for 7.

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Re: Shmups

Post by clippa » June 25th, 2019, 2:07 am

I get the sinking feeling that this has all been preordained by some mischievous trickster god purely to drive ksub towards a nervous breakdown, but the steam summer sale starts in 14 hours.
I don't think there are many regulars here who play on pc, but I'll recommend some of the discounted shmups if anyone's interested. Sometimes you can get some half decent games for less than a quid.
Stanshall wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 5:55 pm
47.47m
Wow, nicely done! Don't know if I can beat that but I'll give it a bloody good go.
Slightly worried that your introducing me to the more risky mechanics and blowing my first stage score out of the water is purely a ruse to slow me down and keep that 1cc out of reach. Pretty sure the toasters been looking at me funny as well, need to get that looked into.
KSubzero1000 wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 2:38 pm
And then I would simply suggest to try and get the most out that one game until you've reached your skill ceiling.
Yeah, that's a good call. I tend to get a bit obsessed over things so that probably just happened naturally for me, I've been known to buy a double album and the second disc hasn't gotten a spin for a whole year until I've thoroughly sucked the marrow out of the first one.
"Ted, were you asking for a dramatic, exciting voice?"
How can someone that laid back have such quick reflexes? I suppose it's like formula one racing drivers or bomb disposal cats, innit? They're really cool customers too.

There's the layout I use if that's any help to anyone.

Image

I don't like using my thumb and I should probably move it one button along so my hand isn't sideways, but it feels comfortable for some reason. I like it.

I liked that bit about bullet sealing. I've experienced that in some games but was never quite sure if it had a name.
I got bored after an hour, but I'll make sure I listen to the end at some point.
No offence to mark and the lads, it was an enjoyable, relaxing listen, but he didn't get much of them, did he? I think we covered most of it in a couple of sentences, unless all the golden advice is backloaded at the end there.
I suppose it's very laid back and conversational, I was probably expecting "top ten shmup tips for noobs! How to pwn those aliens. Like and subscribe"

edit: Actually, I take that back, I suppose "it took them an awfully long time to not cover much ground" is what I'm trying to say. Playing bullet hell shmups and listening to cardiacs has probably wreaked havoc on my attention span, that's all.
I liked that bit about that ketsui pattern where they say you have to hug the blue wavy line of bullets and you'll be fine. I would never have figured that out.
I'm the sort of person who can only think 1 move ahead in chess and I just brute force boss patterns through repetition, just keep experimenting until I find a solution that's right for me. They're called patterns for a reason, makes much more sense to step back, watch them and figure them out.
Stanshall wrote:
June 24th, 2019, 6:44 pm
I even relegated it to casual 'see how it goes' occasional runs because it was just fun to play
Yeah, I sometimes do that, instead of going full tryhard, I'll just stick a credit in and relax.
I mean we all play games to have fun and I find trying my best and pushing myself fun, but it's lovely just to take it easy sometimes and feel the breeze and soak up the whole game rather than just having that tunnel vision and hitting your marks.

Oh, I thought of one. Know when to hold your ground. You see a bullet coming towards you and your natural instinct is to get the hell out of the way. I'm still guilty of this, but if the shot isn't aimed and it's got a friend either side of it, look at the trajectory and make sure you might not be safer just holding your ground. I'm still guilty of this, I'll panic and move anyway thinking it's got to be better than just sitting there like a blind duck, but sometimes it isn't.

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