The shoot-'em-up genre is, at its most basic, a simple genre. You go forward on a vertical or horizontal plane, enemies swarm at you, you push a button to shoot things, and the bullets hurt things enough to make them die. It provides a nice skeleton, but it's still just a skeleton—you need to add different elements onto it in order to flesh it out into something whole.
- Guwange used "shikigami" to add a tactical option to combat: the ability to attack in directions/areas you couldn't reach and slow down enemy fire at the cost of reducing firepower.
- Gradius had the legendary "Option" system, which opened up hundreds of strategic possibilities—should I save this until later and get a better upgrade, or become better now?
- Jets N' Guns allowed you to customize your ship with whatever weapons, shields, movement abilities, and even paint you wanted.
- Twinkle Star Sprites revolutionized shoot-'em-up multiplayer by turning it into a competitive puzzler with an incredibly saccharine exterior.
- Radiant Silvergun...well. One could go into an entire essay of what Treasure did right with the glorious Radiant Silvergun.
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