Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - Internet FAQ Archives - Please read before posting here.

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Cities ]
Archive-name: games/video-games/shooters
Posting-Frequency: biweekly
Last-modified: September 26, 1999
Version: 1.5
Copyright: (c) 1999 Zach Keene
Maintainer: Zach Keene <>

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
*       FAQ Version 1.5                 *
*                      FAQ Maintained by: Zach Keene                      *
*                     Last Updated: 26 September 1999                     *

   Table of Contents    .       .       .       .       .       .        16
1) Introduction .       .       .       .       .       .       .        39
2) Revision History     .       .       .       .       .       .        62
3) Credits      .       .       .       .       .       .       .        97
4) Legal Crap   .       .       .       .       .       .       .       123
5) About       .       .       .       .       143
   5.1) What is about, anyway? .       .       147
   5.2) Regarding First-Person Shooters .       .       .       .       163
   5.3) How about platform shooters and light gun games?        .       210
   5.4) How did come about?    .       .       216
6) The History of Shooters, more or less...     .       .       .       240
   6.1) How did shooters get started?   .       .       .       .       249
   6.2) What were early shooters like?  .       .       .       .       268
   6.3) How about scrolling shooters?   .       .       .       .       302
   6.4) What are platform shooters?     .       .       .       .       334
   6.5) What are vector shooters?       .       .       .       .       339
7) Miscellaneous Shooter Information    .       .       .       .       378
   7.1) What is the Konami Code, and why is it important?       .       382
   7.2) The AKA list    .       .       .       .       .       .       402
   7.3) How can I play in Vertical Mode without all the LSD effects?    453
   7.4) Where can I find out more about shooters on the Web?    .       498
8) The End      .       .       .       .       .       .       .       555

::: Introduction ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  Welcome everyone to! If you're new to AGVS,
please take a look at this FAQ to see what it's all about. If you're new
to shooters as well, then read on to find out a little bit more about them.

  This FAQ was written using the world's most powerful typewriter, that
blue-screened wonder, the MS-DOS Edit. For best results view with a
monospace font (like Courier New), 75 characters a line, 8 characters a
tab. Send any comments, corrections, additions, subtractions, suggestions,
bribes, etc. to

               Where to get the latest version of this FAQ
                     [This version is always current.]


::: Revision History ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Version 0.0 - 3 Apr 1999
        - First proposal version of the FAQ.

Version 1.0 - 5 Apr 1999
        - First version of the FAQ.

Version 1.1 - 21 Apr 1999
        - Added AKA List
        - Added to the WWW resource list (one whole site, whoopee!)
        - Added definiton of vector games

Version 1.2 - 26 Apr 1999
        - Added one more site to the WWW resource list
        - Added some more questions regarding the status of FPS games
          in AGVS.
        - Added some information to the Konami Code, AKA List, and
          horizontal shooters sections.
        - Minor corrections here and there.

Version 1.3 - 18 May 1999
        - Added to the WWW resource list
        - The FAQ should now be availiable at the official FAQ archive

Version 1.4 - 5 August 1999
        - Added Vertical Mode section
        - Added a bit to the anti-spam clause of the Charter.

Version 1.5 - 26 September 1999
        - Added a site to the WWW list and removed a defunct link.

::: Credits :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

        - Gets his name here since I borrowed from his post in describing
          what is and is not on topic here. :)
Joshua Kaufman
        - Pointed out a Konami code use I missed, as well as some AKA List
          and other information.
King Kung
        - Gave suggestions as to what should be in the FAQ.
Raymond McKeithen II
        - If my memory serves, gave me the suggestion to turn of the TV 
          for a while to clear up colour distortion in Vertical Mode
Kim Wild
        - Gave suggestions as to what should be in the FAQ.

  Thanks to everyone who sent me information about vector games. I thought
Joel Schander explained it the best, so I quoted from his E-mail for the
FAQ. Thanks also to Chris Gomez and Ross J. Micheals (did I forget anyone?)

  Thanks also to everyone who supported the creation of!

::: Legal Crap ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  The FAQ is (C) 1999 Zach Keene. As Grand Poo-bah
of Copyrightedness, I grant upon thee the following rights:

1) Thou mayst give this FAQ to whomever you so choose. The key word here is
   "give". If anybody gets paid for this, it darn well better be me. :)

2) Thou mayst put this FAQ up on thine website, so long as it remains
   completely intact. And I do mean completely.

  All games and such mentioned in this FAQ are TM and C to whomever may
hold the copyright. Zach Keene and the regulars of AGVS assume no
responsibility for damage caused in any way by this FAQ, or by dropping
your TV on your foot when you try to play RayForce in vertical mode.

  (See Question [7.3] for more legalese.)

::: About ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

[5.1] What is all about, anyway?

  Here is the official charter:

"  An unmoderated newsgroup dedicated to the discussion of the genre of
videogames known as "shooters". Shooters have been around for much of the
history of videogames themselves; early examples being Space Invaders and
Galaxian, among others. Shooters have been released not only in the
arcades, but also for almost every home videogame console ever produced.
Shooter reviews, tips, strategies, FAQs, and requests for such will be
on-topic in this newsgroup, as will any other shooter-related discussion.
Commercial advertisements (spam) will be considered off-topic. "

  That last line especially applies to those advertising/searching for 
pirated copies (CD-R's) of games. 

[5.2] Regarding First-Person Shooters

  For convenience, first-person shooters will hereafter be abbreviated as

      [5.2.1] Are FPS's (DOOM et al) on topic here?

  No, for a couple of reasons:

  1) Most popular FPS's already have newsgroups devoted to them. DOOM has
     several newsgroups, as do practically every FPS of fame up to and
     including Unreal.
  2) Most FPS's emphasize exploration and puzzle-solving as much as, if not
     more than outright action, which practically places them into another
     genre entirely. Shooters of the type open to discussion here are based
     on a "shoot everything that moves" mentality.
  This isn't to say that FPS's are bad or that the regulars of AGVS do not
like them (the FAQ author is rather partial to DOOM, himself), just that
they do not belong here.

      [5.2.2] But the name of the group is! Surely
              that means FPS's are on topic also!

  If the name of the group were the only basis of what was allowed in a
group, that might be true. However, all newsgroups are (supposed to be)
created with a charter which clarifies the topic of a newsgroup beyond
what is possible with a name alone. AGVS's charter has been reproduced in
its entirety in section [5.1].
  Should there still be any questions as to what a newsgroup's purpose is,
a FAQ file is usually drawn up. This was the case with AGVS, after the
members of the group (regardless of their personal opinions of FPS's)
decided that they were a completely different genre of games than what the
group was created for, and that FPS were therefore off topic.
  Most of the confusion surrounding this point is likely because of the
fact that the newsgroup's creation was discussed in the console groups
(particularly where the term "shooter" is understood
by many to mean the kind of games discussed here unless prefaced by
the "first-person" or any other appropriate label. Therefore the
possibility of this confusion, while certainly predictable, was not
forseen until it was too late to do anything about the name. 

      [5.2.3] But who is going to look for the FAQ in a sea of messages?

  No one has to. The FAQ can always be found with little fuss via FTP or
the WWW. See the Introduction section for links.

[5.3] How about platform shooters (a la Contra) and light-gun games?

  While these can be quite different than the traditional shooters of the
1942 or Gradius mold, they are also based on a "shoot everything that
moves" theme. Therefore, discussion of them will be welcome on AGVS.

[5.4] How did come about?

  Sometime in late March of 1999, a poster to was
rather miffed at another RGVSega poster. Apparently there was some
slander, flaming, and killfiling involved, but the important thing about
this thread was that it drifted, as long threads often do, to a discussion
about the idiocy of being fiercely loyal to a particular system or
company. During that, an unsuspecting RGVSega regular posted the following

> -That- is a great idea!! I'd be soooo cool to jump on
>, and talk about ALL the great ones for ALL the
> systems, instead of constant system bickering!

  At that point, a FAQ-writer, amateur Usenet junky, and all-around geek
named Zach Keene happened to be reading, and took this message seriously.
After taking an informal interest poll, he then wrote up a proposal for an
"" and sent it to alt.config. For whatever reason, the
regulars there (who are notoriously picky when it comes to new newsgroups)
gave no opposition, other than suggesting the name be changed to
"" So, one week later with no oppostion and 3
messages in support, shooters was created at about 1:30 PM
CST on 2 April 1999. 

::: The History of Shooters, more or less... ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  NOTE: I am afraid my knowledge of the early history of shooters, and
videogames in general, is spotty at best. In this section, I'm going to
try to hit upon the highlights of shooter history, but this is certainly
not the definitive history of shooters. 

[6.1] How did shooters get started?

  Well, it just so happens that the first true videogame was a shooter of
sorts. It all started back in the 1960s when the Massachutsetts Institute
of Technology got a hold of a computer called the PDP-1. Soon after,
an MIT student named Stephen Russell got a hold of it and created a game
where two players each controlled a spaceship and attempted to destroy the
other. This game, of course, was known as Spacewar!, and practically every
computer and video game console for the next 30 years would end up with
some variation of this game. (Asteroids could even be considered a variant
of Spacewar!, since the general mechanics were similar, even if the goal
was different.)
  (As an aside, in the late 80's the Commodore 64 magazine Compute!'s
Gazette ran a variation of Spacewar! called Delta War that claimed to be
300-something games in one. True, if you considered every possible
combination of ship speed, gravity source, and other miscellaneous options
to be a separate game. And you thought massive over-hyping was a recent
invention. :)

[6.2] What were early shooters like?

  I know I'm skipping 20 years and who knows how many games, but as far as
I know the next important type of shooters would be the static-screened
wonders from the early 80's (late 70's?). The prime example would be
Space Invaders. For those of you who missed out, Space Invaders was a
very simple game where several rows of alien-looking things slowly (and
later, not so slowly) descend on your laser cannon, with only 4
destructable blocks between you and them. Your mission, should you have
chosen to accept it, was to blast them all. And then do it again. And
  Namco's Galaxian was very similar, except for a few things. 1) It was in
colour. 2) The aliens stayed at the top of the screen for the most part,
while formations of one, two, or three ships would drop down to attack you.
Namco expanded on this a bit with Galaga, an excellent variation of
Galaxian where the aliens had the ability to capture your ship... but you
had the ability to get it back, and then you would have double the
firepower. Galaga might not have been the first game to have bonus stages,
but they were certainly put to good use here.
  Also worth mentioning for a hoot was Bally/Midway's Gorf, an odd shooter
that cycled through four screens: the first being a Space Invader clone,
the second being a more Galaxian-ish level with far fewer enemies, the
third some sort of Space Warp where some blue thing rotates outward from
the center of the screen, and finally: the Flagship, a large blue craft
that flies back and forth across the top of the screen while you chip
away at it from below.
  Robotron was another static-screen shooter worth mentioning. You had
free reign of the entire screen, and you had to shoot an endless number
of enemies while trying to save the humans wandering around on screen.
The most innovative thing about Robotron was probably the dual joystick
system, where one joystick controlled your character's movement while the
other controlled where you fired. This system was used in the later
Robotron descendants Smash TV and Total Carnage.

[6.3] How about scrolling shooters?

      [6.3.1] Vertical shooters

  While Xevious wasn't the first scrolling vertical shooter, it is probably
the best example of one. Xevious put you in control of a fighter with the
ability to fire at flying enemies and to bomb at ground based enemies, as
you flew across various landscapes from fields to rivers to lakes to
deserts and back again.
  Other good examples of vertical shooters include Capcom's 194X series,
Seibu Kaihatsu's Raiden series, Taito's RaySeries, and last but not least,
Treasure's Radiant Silvergun.

      [6.3.2] Horizontal shooters

  Defender might not have been the first horizontal shooter (Joshua Kaufman
has put forth that Scramble by Konami was; can anyone confirm/deny?), but
it certainly makes for a good example. Defender was fairly simple: shoot
stuff, rescue hostages. You had some control over which way you were going,
but you always had to be going somewhere.
  As far as forced scrolling horizontal shooters go, probably the two most
important were the Gradius and R-Type series. Gradius is well known mostly
for its powerup bar at the bottom of the screen, where each powerup you
pick up advances the bar one notch. When it gets to the powerup you want,
push a button and presto! Extra lasers, missles, speed, or whatever.
  R-Type introduced this neat little pod that you could attach to either
the back or front of your ship, use as a shield, use as a weapon, and
all sorts of neato stuff.
  Finally, what shooter FAQ would be complete without mentioning Taito's
fabulous Darius series, that contains more fish than your local Red

[6.4] What are platform shooters?

  A cross between a platform game (such as the Super Mario Bros. series)
and a shooter. The best example of such a union is Gryzor, aka Contra.

[6.5] What are vector shooters?

  First off, here's Joel Schander on what exactly a vector game is:

" As for vector games:  Atari put out a bunch of early-80s arcade
games that used vector screens, rather than raster screens.  
  Raster screens are used for TVs, computer monitors, etc.  The
screen is divided into a number of parallel horizontal lines.  To refresh
the screen, the light gun in the back of the TV/monitor starts in the
upper-left corner of the screen and updates the line from left to right.
Then, like a typewriter, it goes to the left-hand side of the next line
and repeats all the way down the screen.  And it does this dozens of times
a second (at least).
  Vector screens don't have any raster lines.  The light gun in the back of
the monitor can point where ever it is told to.  Basically, it it's a lot
like using colored pencils or markers.  Programmer says, "Draw line from
point A (x,y) to point B (x,y) in color X," and the light gun does that --
over and over.  As more lines are added, the gun just moves around more,
draws more lines, and changes color more often, etc.  For solid shapes, a
bunch of lines have to be drawn next to each other -- like a coloring
book. "

  Anyway, worth mentioning are several Atari games, such as Asteroids and
Tempest. Asteroids was a fairly simple game where your little triangluar
spaceship flew around blasting asteroids, which then broke into smaller
asteroids, and so on. If flying chunks of rock weren't bad enough, flying
saucers would appear from time to time.
  Tempest was a neat game where your ship rotated around the outside of a
grid, while all sorts of weird stuff would creep out from the center of
the screen. Later levels included some really twisted grids that made it
difficult to determine where exactly your enemies were, and enemies that
would electrify various portions of the grid. Preferably the portion you
happened to be in.
  Probably the most famous example of these would have to be the
original Star Wars Arcade game, complete with sound samples from the movie.
It was quite impressive for its time, complete with TIE fighters and
flying down the Death Star's trench while dodging fireballs and mysterious
levitating girders. 

::: Miscellaneous Shooter Information :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

[7.1] What is the "Konami Code", and why is it important?

  The Konami Code is Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A,
Start. A very large number of Konami games use this code in some way.
This FAQ will restrict its uses to Konami shooters, although it has
crept into several non-shooter Konami games.
  This is not yet a complete list, however.

  Contra (NES): If done at the title screen, gives you 30 lives.
  Gradius (NES): If done while game is paused, gives you Shields, Missiles,
and two options.
  Gradius III (SNES): If done while game is paused, your ship
self-destructs. A slight variation, however, will give your ship full
powerups just like the original. That variation being Up, Up, Down, Down,
L, R, L, R, B, A, Start.
  Gyruss (NES): If entered backwards at the title screen, gives you 30
  Life Force (NES): If done at the title screen, gives you 30 lives.
  Nemesis (Gameboy): Just like in Gradius/Gradius III.

[7.2] The AKA List

  For some bizarre reason, game publishers feel that they must change the
name of a game when it moves from one country to the next. Shooters are
not immune, so I've whipped up a list of name changes. Please feel free
to add more:

Name:                                   Also Known As:
Contra                                  Gryzor, Probotector
Darius                                  Darius Plus, Super Darius
Darius 2                                Sagaia
Darius Force                            Super Nova
Darius Plus                             Darius, Super Darius
Galactic Attack                         RayForce, Layer Section
Galaga '88                              Galaga '90
Galaga '90                              Galaga '88
Gradius                                 Nemesis[1]
Gradius 2                               Vulcan Venture
Gradius: The Interstellar Assault       Nemesis 2[2]
Gryzor                                  Contra, Probotector
Layer Section                           Galactic Attack, RayForce
Layer Section 2                         RayStorm
Nemesis[1]                              Gradius
Nemesis 2[2]                            Gradius: The Interstellar Assault
Parodius[3]                             Parodius Deluxe Pack
Parodius Da!                            Super Parodius
Parodius Deluxe Pack                    Parodius[3]
Probotector                             Contra, Gryzor
Raiden                                  Raiden Trad
Raiden Trad                             Raiden
RayForce                                Galactic Attack, Layer Section
RayStorm                                Layer Section 2
Sagaia                                  Darius 2
Smash TV                                Super Smash TV
Space MegaForce                         Super Aleste
Super Aleste                            Space MegaForce
Super Darius                            Darius, Darius Plus
Super Parodius                          Parodius Da!
Super Nova                              Darius Force
Super Smash TV                          Smash TV
Vulcan Venture                          Gradius 2

[1] The Gameboy title known as Nemesis is a different (but related) game
    than the original Gradius.
[2] The MSX title known as Nemesis 2 is a different game than the Gameboy
[3] The UK release of the Parodius Deluxe Pack is apparently simply known
    as Parodius. 

[7.3] How can I play in Vertical Mode without all the LSD effects?

  Many vertical shooters released for home consoles, especially arcade 
ports, offer the option to rotate the display 90 degrees, for the display 
to more closely resemble the aspect ratio of the arcade monitor the game 
was originally designed for. The idea being, that if you rotate your TV 
set as well (place it on its side), you will be able to play the game
almost as if you were playing it in the arcade.
  However, most TVs were not meant to be operated at odd angles, so here
are a few common problems and some suggestions of how to fix them. 


  With that out of the way, the most likely cause of damage or injury is 
having a TV that will fall over if placed in a non-standard position. If 
you have a particularly large or heavy TV, you probably should not even 
try this, as the potential for damage to both the set and yourself is that 
much greater.
  If you can get your set rotated without any other trouble, another 
concern is overheating. If your set's cooling vents are blocked in the 
rotated position, then you probably should not use it for prolonged periods
(if at all; I'm not an electronics expert) or take other steps to reduce
overheating (fans, etc.)
  At this point, it is very likely that when playing the game the colours
will be moderately to heavily distorted. It has been suggested that after
rotating your set you should turn it off for about 15 minutes or so, then
turn in on again. This does seem to work for my TV, but your mileage may 
  Even so, some distortion around the corners may remain. With my TV I can
reduce this somewhat by tilting my TV backwards a bit. BE CAREFUL if you
attempt this yourself, though, as depending on the shape of your TV doing 
this may cause yours to fall over, resulting in damage or injury.
  Another problem I have is that my TV set will work fairly well when 
rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise (placed on its left side; most games
rotate in this manner), but nothing will help the distortion of rotated
90 degrees clockwise (placed on its right side; Namco Museum Vol. 1, 
unfortuantely, rotates in this manner.) I've found no solution to this,
but perhaps your TV will work better. 

[7.4] Where can I find out more about shooters on the Web?

      [7.4.1] General Shooter Sites

  Shmups -

      Probably the best shooter site on the web. It mostly contains
    reviews (and lots of them), but it also has a webboard, a list of
    shooters released for practically every system, and links to other
    shooter sites.

  Blazing Lasers -

      Covers fewer games than Shmups, but is much more in-depth, with
    reviews, FAQs, art, audio, and all sorts of stuff for various games
    such as Einhander, Axelay, Radiant Silvergun, and a few others.

  Destroy All Monsters -

      Not specifically a shooter site, but contains lots of info and
    reviews. Be sure to check out the section devoted to Darius Gaiden
    boss Titanic Lance. :)

  GameFAQs -

      This is not a shooter site, but it's worth a mention as the best
    videogame FAQ archive on the Web. Try here if you can't find what
    you're looking for elsewhere.

  The OPCFG -

      Worth a look to find out what shooters haven't made it out of Japan,
    and what you can do to complain about it. (Unfortunately, it will
    probably do little good, but it is better than nothing, I guess.)

  The Shooting Game Laboratory -

      Japanese site that contains, presumably among other things, high
    score listings of various games so you can see how much better the
    Japanese Shooter Gods[TM] are than you at your favourite game. :)
    It also apparently has lots of strategies and stuff as well. Erm...
    could someone who reads Japanese clue me in further here? 

      [7.4.2] Specific Shooter Sites

  Life Force Planet -

      Dan Riley's site devoted to the Salamander/Life Force series.

  Planet Gradius -

      Devoted to the Gradius series.

  R-Type -

      Devoted to (what else?) the R-Type series.

::: The End :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

  That's it for now! Again, feel free to let me know of any corrections,
additions, subtractions, or suggestions you may have.

Zach Keene
26 September 1999
   Author of many FAQs: MK2, FF1, Einhänder, CSOTN, and the AGVS FAQ
     Shooter fans: Visit the new today!

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index ]

Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:
Zach Keene <>

Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM