Shmups Beginner Advice Tips #1

Hi there, Nick Palmer, Community Manager again. And as I’ve mentioned several times before in the past, I have really just started learning shmups this year. I’ve got about a half a year of casual shmup playing under my belt now, and I decided that the best thing to do is to tell other beginners some of the little tips and strategies I felt have helped the most.

Now, of course, I’m not amazing myself. I still don’t have a 1cc on any games. I’m not exactly breaking down the doors in the scoring department, but I can see myself getting better and better. And maybe these tips can help you, too. This series will run once a week, 3 tips a week, until I run out of things to say (which if you know me, might be a while.)

Tip 1: Know Your Hitbox!

Your hitbox describes the part of your ship that actually counts as being hit if a bullet collides with it. Now, in some games, it may be identical to the art of your ship. But in a lot of games, especially bullet hells, it is actually smaller than that.

In DoDonPachi Resurrection for instance, the Hitbox only encompasses the glowing dot on your ship. Knowing your hitbox is that small means that in a hail of fire, you can slip more easily between them, or at least know better where you can.

Tip #2: Small Movements > Big Movements

One of the simplest mistakes a lot of people make playing shmups is to overdodge. A bullet is coming for you, so you steer clear to the other side of the stage.

This. Is. A. Mistake. Unless the bullet actually covers all that area on the screen. Shmups are more about small, precise movements than large movements. Those large dodges? They aren’t thought through. They take you off target for shooting, they may make you run out of room to dodge other things. If you dodge large, it should be because the shot was large.


This shot from Judgement Silversword exemplifies why you want a small dodge. With the shots on the left and right hemming you in, and the center shots tracking, you can very easily run out of room to dodge to either side. Yes, you’ll eventually have to scoot through two of the tracking shots, but small dodges mean you only have to do it about once for each time this pattern shows up.

Tip #3: When in Trouble: Bomb!

This tip is short and a LITTLE more game dependent, but more games than not have bombs, so let’s go with it. If you are in trouble. You’ve run out of room to dodge. You don’t have the speed to dodge. The pattern has you hemmed in. It is time to drop the bomb.

Yes, you have limited bombs. Yes, you can run out. But running out of bombs > Running out of lives.


As you can see, I’d worked myself into a spot with no escape in Trizeal Remix above, but that bomb can cover for a multitude of small mistakes that landed me there.

These three tips alone I think have helped me a lot. Knowing my hit box, knowing how to dodge subtly, and knowing that it is OK to bomb to save myself, these are all common sense to the shmup veteran, but they are the basic foundation of knowledge that can help you escape noobness, to doing sort of ok.

What tips do you have for fans new to the genre?

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Luffy III January 27, 2017, 5:16 am

    My tip is to practice, practice, practice!

    First, aim for survival, get to know thy mechanics for the game, and the type of ships they have to offer.
    Second, choose a shmup game you are good at and stick to it. Go onto others when you are comfortable with it.
    Third, have fun! Of course, there are times, where you can have good days and bad days in shmup runs so if you’re stressed, tired or such, don’t play as it will increase the disappointment and pressure.

    Finally, there is no such thing as AUTO BOMB! Some games do have the AUTO BOMB feature but you should not rely on it at all costs as it can have dire consequences such as using all of your current stock regardless of the amount (i.e. Mushihimesama Arrange and 1.5 MAX), Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu (i.e. bombing will break the chain and can ruin the chances of getting to the second loop). Manual bombing will give you 2-4 seconds of invincibility allowing you to plan your next objective. Its better to bomb as 1 life can equate to 3 bombs as you can have 3x the survival rate rather than lose a life without using any bombs putting you as a high risk of getting a game over.

Leave a Comment