Is Layer Section/Galactic Attack considered the greatest Shmup of all time? Genuinely asking here. What other Shmups do I need to play?

So, I’m still fairly new to the genre, and the only Shmups I can recall playing for any noteworthy length of time are:

Layer Section
Border Down
R-Type III
Bangai-O (if that counts)
Mars Matrix
Fantasy Zone
Geometry Wars (if that counts)
Android Assault Cactus (if that counts)
And run-n-gun games like Contra and Metal Slug (which I consider to be a different genre, at least for this discussion)

And to me, Layer Section stands apart quite distinctly. It’s so damn good! Something about its simple scoring system, lack of “bullet hellishness”, but still significantly challenging gameplay makes me really addicted to it.

It’s the only game I can recall in the genre that I continue to replay over and over in one sitting after getting a game over and running out of continues. In fact, it may be the only arcade-style game in the last 10 years or so to make me do that.

The music, graphics, and overall enemy placement/level design is all top notch. And the bosses are perfectly balanced and interesting too.

What other Shmups do people think are as good as this one? I’m genuinely asking here.

Are there other Shmups that give this one a run for its money?


play some Seibu Kaihatsu stuff. I too am not all about that bullet hell, and the Raiden games pretty much got me into shmups. If you have a 360 pick up Raiden Fighters Aces.

I would recommend Sturmwind for the Dreamcast.

Musha is my all time favorite. Also Space Megaforce SNES and Blazing Lasers on the Turbo. All pricey but worth a play through

Layer Section is great, but I think there are a LOT of shooters that you would find are better or equivalent.

It sounds like you want things that aren’t bullet hell so I would recommend these…

Thunder Force III
LIghtening Force
Fire Shark

Sega Saturn
Thunder Force V
Darius Gaiden
Battle Garegga
Radiant Silvergun

Raystorm (Layer Section/Galactic Attack sequel, arguable as good or better)
Raycrisis (sequel to Raystorm)
In the Hunt

Gradius V
R-Type Final
Raiden III

Neo Geo
Last Resort
Ghost Pilots
Alpha Mission II
Andro Dunos
Aero Fighters 2 and 3 (though 2 is better)

…and one of my all-time top ten games…

That should get you started on things that aren’t bullet hell that are at least as good and I would consider many of them even better.

Awesome, thanks dude

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One other thing… if you have a 360 bopping around, get yourself Raiden Fighters Aces. It has the three Raiden Fighters games and Raiden Fighters Jet is something that I think has that same feel of Galactic Attack but it’s also Raiden in its design too. It just has the perfect mix of pre-bullet hell shooting action and powerups along with exciting on-screen destruction and an excellent scoring system that’s simple and demanding but totally doable. I love it.

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I would also recommend Over Horizon for the Famicom. It might be prohibitively expensive if you’re looking for a legit cart.

Yeah, I tried to stay with things he could easily afford for the most part. I mean, M.U.S.H.A. is a no… but most of the rest are reasonable and of course Neo games are available on a number of platforms now.

Layer Section is a great game, but it’s not at the top of the heap. I’m gonna exclude the Cave stuff from this, because… I dunno, Cave is Cave. It’s not interesting in the same way that other shmups are.

Soukyugurentai is fucking awesome. It has a similar mechanic to layer section where you highlight enemies in order to use a homing shot. The game has suuuuuch a good feel to it, and it’s my favorite Raizing shooter. Stage 3 is like… my favorite thing ever in a shmup:

It’s cool as hell how you start out in the clouds and gradually descend throughout the stage until you’re cruising on the ground. And the music’s great.

Another one I would highly recommend is Under Defeat. Haven’t played the re-releases, but the Dreamcast original is one of my favorite shmups ever – definitely top 3. This is another one that has a remarkably good feel to it. The gimmick is that you can basically pivot your helicopter left or right, allowing you to shoot at an angle, which leads to some interesting level design. This is another one with great aesthetics:

if you love layer section then kamui, crimson clover and soukyugurentai will all go down well.

an xbox 360 is the best way to get a ton of the most highly regarded games in the genre without breaking the bank. pick up those cave ports now before they all get too expensive like the muchi muchi pork / pink sweets double pack already has for most.

for my money mushihimeshma futari is not only the best shmup ever (specifically the 1.5 black label mode) but quite possibly the best cave port ever made thanks to M2 knowing what the hell they are doing.

below is a great guide of everything available on the 360.

and every year the shmups forum hold a vote for their favourites which is a good way to see which developers to look into as well as the games themselves.

Yeah, Crimzon Clover is fantastic, but it’s extreeeeeeeeeemmeeellyy difficult. At least, on the arcade setting. I dunno if I’d recommend it to someone new-ish to the genre, particularly if they’re not vibing the bullet hell stuff as much.

its actually a shame that there is not a difficulty level between novice and arcade. but I think novice is still a great primer for people getting into he genre, it’s no walkover but nothing you are going to pull your hair out over either.

One thing I will say about Crimzon Clover, though – it’s fucking pretty. Bright colors raining down everywhere, giant numbers appearing on the screen, etc.

I don’t know if I’m not vibing with bullet hell per se… it just looks a bit insane to me. What is a good bullet hell shooter to start with if I were to go that route?

Mushihimesama. The original, not Mushihimesama Futari.

bullet hells are not necessarily harder than anything else in the genre, it’s just a meme at this point with all those “hardest boss ever” videos and the like.

the seibu kaihatsu titles or even the parodius games on the second loop with their incredibly fast direct aimed shots are way harder to deal with than a busy but slow moving bullet pattern imho.

futari black label is probably the easiest arcade released cave game to 1cc. the original is way harder imho. but so many of these titles now have beginner or novice modes so its unlikely you will not find a difficulty that suits you or helps you to improve.

don’t be put off by the perceived difficulty, half the fun is walking the tightrope between success and failure and the tension that brings…

I like the Seibu formula because it really feels like they’re coming after you, and victory is all the more satisfying because of it. The games are very hard but the way it all executes is superb. The maze-y, pattern-y stuff is not my bag.

There aren’t many games in the genre as special as Layer Section. If you’re not into bullet hell, then stay away from Cave, they are quite different than the feel that Taito shooters go for. The closest game that I could say is as polished and nearly as fun to play is Darius Gaiden. Seibu Kaihatsu has some great stuff, namely Raiden DX and Viper Phase 1, which evoke a similar vibe, too. Another one of my favorites is TwinBee Yahho, and while short, is extremely polished and fun. Aside from those, most shooters I would recommend would classify as bullet hell. If you’re trying to bridge the gap towards bullet hell STGs, I’d highly recommend Jamestown. Like the other shooters, it’s extremely refined and polished, plus the vaunt mechanic is super fun. Hope these recommendations help!

Also, I would not recommend any other games in the Ray series, RayForce is the only quality entry, I’d say.

There are so many classics, I don’t know where to start. Here are some other greats that haven’t been mentioned (not counting rail shooters):

Gate of Thunder (Duo)
Lords of Thunder (Duo, Sega CD)
Asteroids 1 and Deluxe (Arc)
Omega Race (VIC-20, Arc)
Sengoku Blade (SS, Arc)
Guardian Force (SS, Arc)
Yars Revenge (2600)
Choplifter (SMS, Arc)
Apidya (Amiga)
Zaxxon series (Arc)
Battle Mania 2 (MD)
Mine Storm (Vectrex)
Zanac x Zanac (PS1)
Demon Attack (InTV)
Gridrunner++ (PC)
Juno First (Arc)
Cobra Triangle (NES) sort of counts
Batsugun (Arc, SS)
Robotron 2084 (Arc)
Air Zonk (TG)
Aeroblasters (Arc, TG, Gen)
Download series (TG/Duo)
Defender series (Arc, NES)
Eco Fighters (Arc)
Zynaps (C64)
Gley Lancer (MD)
Laser Gates (2600, 800)
Agony (Amiga)
and some Aleste games other than MUSHA and Space Megaforce like Robo Aleste (Sega CD), GG Alestes, and SMS Power Strike II.