Shmup Collection (Switch)

Shmup Collection (Switch)Shmup Collection (Switch)
Publisher: Storybird / Developer: Storybird
Release Date: 14th May 2020 (UK/EU)

Satazius is the pick of the pack and almost worth the asking price in itself, but if you enjoy the shmup genre then Shmup Collection is a package that will keep on giving. There's nothing in the way of extras outside of each game's respective practice/stage select mode (and a "Tate" mode for Wolflame, for those with a Flip Grip), but you won't find yourself wanting. This is an impressive bundle of joy at a very competitive price. We just hope it'll be followed by a second instalment; Astro Port has a lot of awesome games in its catalogue and we'd love to see them find a second home on Switch.

Crimzon Clover - World EXplosion (Switch eShop)

Crimzon Clover - World EXplosion (Switch eShop)Crimzon Clover - World EXplosion (Switch eShop)
Publisher: DEGICA / Developer: Yotsubane
Release Date: 29th Oct 2020 (USA) / 29th Oct 2020 (UK/EU)

While Crimzon Clover does owe a tremendous debt to many arcade shooters through the 1990s and 2000s, it's clear that Yotsubane has a great love and understanding of them. It’s not only a homage (look at the default high score table for some familiar initials) but also brings some mechanical brilliance that makes it stand out against most of its doujin shoot-em-up peers, and enough to hang with the genre greats. It’s flashy, it’s exciting, it’s addictive, and it’s an essential purchase for genre fans.

Aleste Collection (Switch)

Aleste Collection (Switch)Aleste Collection (Switch)
Developer: Compile
Release Date: TBA

This is unlikely to be the Aleste collection anyone wanted. Those interested in the early days of Aleste will quickly notice the lack of the MSX2 games and the omission of Musha, Dennin (AKA: Robo), and Super Aleste will disappoint those fond of the most popular entries in the series. However, even without those, M2's Aleste Collection still contains five great shmups and represents excellent value for money, especially when you consider this package costs much less than some second-hand cart-only auctions do for single games contained within it – and that's before you even consider GG Aleste 3's very welcome addition.

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G-Darius HD (Switch eShop)

G-Darius HD (Switch eShop)G-Darius HD (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Taito / Developer: Taito
Release Date: 28th Sep 2021 (USA) / 28th Sep 2021 (UK/EU)

Brush off that arcade-grade resolve and get ready for an old adventure realised in all-new clarity. This is a shoot-em-up experience like few others, and while it has all the genre hallmarks of intensity and adrenaline-inducing action, it binds it with superlative artistry, epic set-pieces, and an alien world as strange as it is wonderful. The sense of incrementally increasing in power and being able to turn the tide against the Belsar is what makes G-Darius HD so much fun to play. It’s initially threatening, but once you learn the lay of your first route, get powered up, and figure out how to make practical use of your captures and duelling laser, it’s safe to say G-Darius really hits the spot.

Cotton Reboot! (Switch)

Cotton Reboot! (Switch)Cotton Reboot! (Switch)
Publisher: ININ Games / Developer: Success
Release Date: 20th Jun 2021 (USA) / 20th Jun 2021 (UK/EU)

Bewitching in both incarnations, Cotton Reboot! is a fanfare of zany ghouls and ghosts, inventive and inimitable bosses, and a superbly catchy soundtrack in both original and remixed forms. Never being released in the West, and prohibitively expensive today, it’s something of a blessing for retro gamers to be able to dip their toes in Cotton’s enduringly impressive X68000 outing on Switch. Of all the "cute 'em ups" out there, it remains one of the best, while the new Arrange mode – with its impressive overhauls and remixed ideas – has cast a rare spell of resurrection.

ESP Ra.De. Psi (Switch)

ESP Ra.De. Psi (Switch)ESP Ra.De. Psi (Switch)
Publisher: M2 / Developer: Cave
Release Date: TBA

ESP Ra.De. Psi goes beyond the industry standard and lays waste to pretty much every other shmup on the Nintendo Switch – this is even better than the mighty Ikaruga, which many Switch fans see as the best example of the genre available on the system. While personal preference obviously enters into things, we feel that ESP Ra.De. Psi is the superior port thanks to all the comprehensive features and attention to detail. Plus, with Arcade Plus mode removing the previous frustrations of the troublesome boss milking scoring system, ESP Ra.De. Psi cleans up to be a massively underrated classic that effortlessly earns the title of the best shmup on the Nintendo Switch. Hopefully, this superb package will see a western release in the fullness of time so an even wider audience can sample its myriad delights.

Raiden IV x Mikado Remix (Switch)

Raiden IV x Mikado Remix (Switch)Raiden IV x Mikado Remix (Switch)
Publisher: UFO Interactive / Developer: MOSS
Release Date: 6th May 2021 (USA) / 25th Jun 2021 (UK/EU)

Yes, Raiden IV is not a typical shmup by contemporary standards, and won’t be for everyone. Equally, all of these modes have been available in some form elsewhere. But as a single package, Raiden IV x Mikado Remix offers the Switch one of its best shooting game releases yet – and that is saying something on a console that has emerged as an unexpected star vehicle for the genre.

Mushihimesama (Switch eShop)

Mushihimesama (Switch eShop)Mushihimesama (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Live Wire / Developer: Cave
Release Date: 15th Jun 2021 (USA)

There’s a reason why Mushihimesama is regarded as one of Cave’s best shoot-em-ups – it’s weird and colourful, it’s incredibly refined, and the many gameplay modes ensure that both newbies and veterans will be kept busy for quite some time.

Espgaluda II (Switch eShop)

Espgaluda II (Switch eShop)Espgaluda II (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Live Wire / Developer: Cave
Release Date: 9th Sep 2021 (USA) / 9th Sep 2021 (UK/EU)

Luckily for publisher Live Wire, its bare-minimum localisation work and stumble out of the online gate aren’t destructive enough to drag the excellent Espgaluda II down too much, and underneath it all the game feels as fresh and well-designed as ever. The flexible risk/reward scoring system allows long-time fans to decide for themselves (to a certain extent) how much trouble they want to get into while still allowing newcomers enough leeway to enjoy an intense and visually spectacular shmup experience.

Gleylancer (Switch eShop)

Gleylancer (Switch eShop)Gleylancer (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Ratalaika Games / Developer: NCS
Release Date: 15th Oct 2021 (USA) / 15th Oct 2021 (UK/EU)

Gleylancer's fantastic use of parallax scrolling adds not only speed but excitement to its varied eleven stages of 16-bit shmupness, which takes you down through icy depths, weaves between small gaps in tight tunnels, slowly loops around a gigantic battleship, or hurtles through an asteroid field. The ways your Movers — the floating gun turrets that follow your ship — can behave are so different from one another they have a direct impact on how you tackle everything from “popcorn” enemies to level bosses, and the newfound flexibility of Modern Mode feels like the perfect twist on an already brilliant idea. Gleylancer is as fresh and thrilling as it’s ever been, only now it’s as authentic — or accessible — as you want it to be too.

Gynoug (Switch eShop)

Gynoug (Switch eShop)Gynoug (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Ratalaika Games / Developer: Masaya
Release Date: 12th Nov 2021 (USA) / 12th Nov 2021 (UK/EU)

Gynoug hasn’t quite got that special extra spark that turns a great game into a spectacular one, but even so it’s still a unique and thoroughly enjoyable thirty-year-old shmup capable of standing proudly next to any other sold on the eShop, and yet another affordable retro re-release sitting in that perfect middle ground between modern convenience and hardcore authenticity.

So there you have it — an excellent selection of the finest shmups available to humanity. There are plenty more to discover, of course, but the games above represent the best shoot 'em ups the console has to offer (anything that received a review score of 8 or above).

Which are your favourites from this list? Are there any that you'd add given the chance? Share your thoughts in the the usual place...

This article is one of our Switch Essentials guides which cover a wide variety of genres, including the Best Switch FPS Games, the Best Switch RPGs, the Best Switch Games For Kids, the Best Switch Couch Co-Op Games and the Best Switch Fitness and Exercise Games. We can also help out hunting down the Best Switch Horror Games, the Best Switch Racing Games, the Best Switch Action-RPGs, the Best Nintendo Switch Roguelikes, Roguelites and Run-Based Games, the Best Free Switch Games, and even Games to Play After You've Finished Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Whatever your favourite genre, we've got you covered: Strategy Games, Metroidvanias, Puzzle Games, Party Games, Online Multiplayer Games, Local Wireless Multiplayer Games, Shmups, Visual Novels, Fighting Games, Hidden Gems, 2D Platformers, 3D Platformers, Run and Gun Games, Sports Games, Beat 'Em Ups, Chill Games, Family Games, Retro-Inspired Games, Short Games, Card Games and Deck-builders, Flight Sim and Space Combat, Point and Click Adventure Games, and the Best Switch Exclusives, as well as Every Arcade Archives Game, Every ACA Neo Geo Game, Every SEGA AGES Game On Switch, and the Best Switch Collections And Compilations.

If you're looking for the best Switch games regardless of genre, our reader-voted selection of the Best Nintendo Switch Games should help you out, and you can also find the Best Nintendo Switch Games of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. And finally, if you're interested in other Nintendo consoles and retro games, check out the Best Game Boy Games, Best Nintendo DS Games, Best Nintendo 3DS Games, Best SNES Games, Best N64 Games, Best GameCube Games, and Best Wii Games, as well as Every Nintendo Switch Online NES Game and Every Nintendo Switch Online SNES Game.