The Best Dreamcast Shoot 'em Ups

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When the Dreamcast was released, 2D graphics were a thing of the past. 3D graphics were almost like color TV and 2D was like black and white. No one wanted to use something outdated in their game. Shmups heavily relied on pixel-perfect 2D graphics. As a result, this genre was probably the least supported on the Dreamcast during its official lifetime.

That’s where homebrewers come in. Despite the Dreamcast’s short lifespan, there is still plenty of support from its fans. Even though the console didn’t perform well commercially, its players still love this awesome console. Many of the titles on this list have been developed by homebrewers trying to breathe new life into Sega’s last console. From this list it's easy to say that they have succeeded.

Giga Wing

One of the few titles on this list released during the Dreamcast’s lifespan, Giga Wing is a vertically scrolling bullet hell released by Capcom. In this steampunk world, the player fights against a mysterious enemy flying the “Stranger” as four separate characters. Players can choose from SInnosuke, Ruby, Isha, and Stuck which have their own campaigns. There are also campaigns for each two character matchup in the multiplayer mode.

The title itself plays like many other shmups but with fun characters and an awesome art style to push it above the rest. Giga Wing is an easy choice for shmup fans looking for a fix on the Dreamcast.


Chaos Field

Developed by MileStone Inc., Chaos Field lives up to its name. In this shmup, players exclusively fight bosses. There are no stages before a boss-fight, it is simply a boss rush game. This may sound daunting to some, but it is masterfully executed making one of the best games on the console. This title requires quick hands and a lot of skill to master, but it is still enjoyable to play.

There are a total of fifteen bosses scattered across five different stages. There are three characters to choose from, each with their own abilities. All ships have a short range sword that is perfect for blocking bullets and a long range weapon for attacking. Chaos Field is a perfect game for fans of the shmup genre, and an awesome test of skill.


Bangai-O

Originally a Nintendo 64 Japanese exclusive, Bangai-O was released worldwide on the Dreamcast where it became an instant classic. Players take control of a brother sister duo piloting the titular Bangai-O mech. Players must progress through 44 large stages, fighting the Kosmo Gang along the way.

The Dreamcast version is the definitive release. The graphics and audio have been completely reworked for this release to give players a more immersive and exciting game. Bangai-O has been praised for just being fun to play. The levels are long, but have a lot of variety and don’t feel like they’re too much. The combat is also just plain fun. The game is full of Japanese charm. Any fans of retro Japanese games will surely fall in love with this title.


Twinkle Star Sprites

Possibly the strangest shmup on the Dreamcast, Twinkle Star Sprites mixes classic shmup gameplay with versus puzzle games that were super popular during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Just like a  versus puzzle game, two players are separated by a vertical bar going through the middle of the screen.

Players must destroy enemies in combos in order to send more obstacles to their enemy. These obstacles can be shot back and forth between players, creating more powerful obstacles. The game’s cutesy art style is hard to hate. Twinkle Star Sprites is absolutely full of charm, and a blast to play.


Under Defeat

One of the last games for the console, Under Defeat is an awesome arcade shmup released at the end of the Dreamcast’s lifespan. In Under Defeat, the player is thrown into an alternate World War II, taking control of a German helicopter fighting against the “Union”. The helicopter is equipped with a machine gun, bombs, and plenty of space for weapon modifications. These modifications can be picked up in battle, similar to other shmups.

While this game isn’t historically accurate by any means, it has an awesome artstyle and fantastic combat with a fun story as well. If you are looking for a weird but fun shmup on the Dreamcast, Under Defeat is an easy choice.


Fast Striker

First released for the Neo Geo, Fast Striker is exactly what it sounds like. While being crazy fast, Fast Striker is welcoming to beginners while still being a challenge for skilled shmup fans. This is because of the three modes, novice, original, and maniac. There are a plethora of different enemy types and weapons to choose from, giving this game a ton of variety.

On top of the fun gameplay, the environments and music are perfect. Fast Striker comes together to be one of the most fun shmups on the console, maybe even one of the best games altogether.


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  • Updated January 26, 2021
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