One of the more storied genres, shoot ’em ups, has been around ever since video games populated arcades. They’re known for their challenging, fast-paced gameplay and vibrant visuals. You often get to take control of a single aerial vehicle and battle through hordes of opposing forces.
Shmups (shoot ’em ups) often overwhelm you with hundreds of deadly projectiles coming your way. And unlike with first-person shooters on Android, you can’t hide behind cover to avoid damage. It takes absolute precision to masterfully dodge incoming attacks and survive, especially in bullet hell titles.
Responsive controls are integral for a smooth experience. Thankfully, many shoot ’em ups offer decent controller support. Even more have adopted simple one-touch controls, which makes them enjoyable on the screen of your portable Android Smartphone.
Whether you prefer controller or touchscreen controls, however, buckle up because we’re covering the best shmups on Android.
1 1945 Air Force
Given the more typical sci-fi setting, shoot ’em ups tend to focus on futuristic armaments in space. But not 1945 Air Force. This game brings together aerial vehicles from WWII with customization options that turn them into unrecognizable powerhouses.
1945 Air Force features an exhilarating campaign that spans 30 different battle zones. Once you’ve chosen your starting plane, there are 500 challenges to complete across them all. But if you do get tired of playing alone, the game also offers online play. This shmup allows you to team up with other players to take down foes or go up against each other.
2 20 Minutes Till Dawn
20 Minutes Till Dawn explains a lot of its premise by name alone. In this Lovecraftian shoot ’em up, you must try and survive against endless hordes of undead creatures, for 20 minutes. You’ve got an abundance of anime-esque characters to choose from.
Each character boasts unique abilities and approaches to gameplay. Some favor defense and attrition above all else. Others might lack survivability but compensate for it with devastating offensive spells. Furthermore, unlocking over 80 different perks makes them even more powerful.
20 Minutes Till Dawn isn’t free. But the $2.99 price tag shouldn’t prove a hindrance to what’s otherwise an excellent shmup.
3 Aka To Blue
At $8.99, Aka To Blue is the most expensive game on this list. But not many shoot ’em ups capture the essence of the genre this well. In terms of visual design, Aka To Blue resembles a sci-fi anime from the 90s. Think of something akin to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Speaking of anime, the higher price tag has allowed the game to attract standout voice talent for its characters. This includes Shunsuke Takeuchi and Hiroo Sasaki, who’ve previously lent their voices to characters for well-known anime and games, such as Danganronpa and Kingdom Hearts.
Underneath the colorful flair, you’ll find pure bullet hell bliss. Hundreds of vibrant projectiles populate the screen as you scramble to deal enough damage to your enemies, all the while evading theirs. With a well-timed bomb, however, you can make short work of these bullets.
4 Bullet Hell Monday Finale
Shmups are notorious for their difficulty. Bullet Hell Monday Finale eases you into gameplay with a mode designed for beginners. Even if you’ve never played a shoot ’em up game before, you should be able to derive enjoyment and improve your skills for a bigger challenge.
That said, there’s plenty here for experienced players as well. You’ll need to meticulously upgrade your spacecraft in order to attain high scores and progress the story. Completing levels awards points you can spend to upgrade your ship and effectively take on the game’s numerous bosses.
5 Raiden Legacy
Publisher Dotemu has been making a lot of noise recently. It’s responsible for bringing Streets of Rage 4, one of the best beat ’em ups, to mobile platforms. Raiden Legacy is a compilation that brings four classic shmups to Android. Those being Raiden, Raiden Fighter, Raiden Fighter 2, and Raiden Fighter Jet. That’s a lot of Raiden for $5.49.
But this collection contains more than ports of the original games. Each title comes with several game modes and over a dozen new ships. Controls have also been adapted to suit mobile, but fans of the original versions will find classic controls, too.
Whenever shoot ’em ups are discussed, a few titles immediately spring to mind: Gradius, Ikaruga, and R-Type. Not many titles resonate with the genre as these three, and unlike Raiden Legacy, R-Type costs only $1.99.
If Raiden Legacy is a re-imagined classic shmup collection, then R-Type is a time machine that transports you back to the 80s. Everything you love about the original is here, from retro visuals to punishing difficulty.
R-Type pits you against the nefarious Bydo Empire across eight levels and eight exhilarating boss battles. Dotemu didn’t change much with this one, but maybe it was nearly perfect, to begin with.
Final Fantasy meets shoot ’em up. ShooMachi mixes up the familiar shmup formula by combining it with JRPG elements. Every monster you defeat drops coins that accumulate into a high score. Though challenging at first glance, ShooMachi caters to new and seasoned players alike.
There are two difficulty modes: one intended for genre newcomers and one for those acclimated to the genre’s traditional difficulty. ShooMachi lets you adjust your play style with various characters. Each one offers different advantages and drawbacks. Some improve the damage and range of damage, while others increase the number of coins you receive.
Numerous bonuses are also awarded based on the challenges you complete, and there’s also a dedicated boss rush mode to test your mettle.
WindWings combines the best of both worlds: it has the spirit of a classic shoot ’em up while offering the visuals of a modern one. The game takes you into a battle of galactic proportions with dozens of unlockable characters. Not only do the heroes look unique from one another, but so do their ships.
The higher the rank of a particular hero, the more impressive their vehicle looks. Each ship can be further improved with better parameters, such as increased damage and resistance, as well as special abilities.
Speaking of which, spaceships in WindWings actually transform during battle, in case you want to live out your Transformers dream.
Rain some bullet hell in the best shmups on Android
Classics like Gradius and Ikaruga are yet to officially make their way to Android. But even so, you’ll find excellent shmups by the dozen. If you’re after something more traditional, you won’t go wrong with Aka To Blue Raiden Legacy, or R-Type.
But if you want a slightly more different perspective on shoot ’em ups, then give 20 Minutes Till Dawn and ShooMachi a go. There are tons more where these came from, so we may have missed some great bullet hells. Be sure to mention your favorite in the comments.
Conclusion on Best shmups on Android in 2023
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