Top10 Shmups

10. Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth (Nintendo 64) - Here's the forgotten member of the Star Soldier series and one that didn't get a lot of attention when it was first released on the shooter-starved Nintendo 64 console. This game took the visuals in a more 3-D direction, but the same 2-D shooter action that had already made the series a hit among gamers was left intact. Anyone that's played any of the other Star Soldier titles should feel right at home with Vanishing Earth. The difficulty was toned down quite a bit, so those who find the other titles a bit steep in challenge will definitely appreciate the smoother ride found in this great shooter title.

9. Coryoon (TurboGrafx-16) - Coryoon never saw a release outside of Japan, which is a real shame considering how much fun the game is. In Coryoon, you take control of a flying dragon and you'll have to shoot your way through level after level taking out enemies and grabbing up the fruit these defeated enemies drop. Although the game is more of a cute 'em up, it still features a solid challenge and some really creative bosses as well. The game makes great use of the TurboGrafx-16's visual horsepower with some gorgeous and colorful visuals, not to mention some of the smoothest parallax scrolling ever seen on the console. Coryoon is easily one of the most underrated shooters ever released and a game that really deserves a chance with gamers outside of Japan on the Virtual Console.

Coryoon (TurboGrafx-16)

8. Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius (SNES) - Many shooter fans will better know this game by its more English-friendly title "Chatting Parodius." This Parodius title features some of the most bizarre and unique visuals ever seen in a Parodius release. Another unique trait of this particular title, and the main reason for its strange title, is the voice announcer that constantly shouts out at you throughout each level. While the words are in Japanese, you can easily tell that this announcer is basically insulting you as you play through the game. In fact, he shouts at you for pretty much the entire duration of the game, give or take a few moments of silence here and there. Once again the gorgeous and vivid visuals return and as over-the-top as the bosses found in past Parodius releases were, they can't hold a candle to the insane bosses found in this title. While many Parodius fans consider Sexy Parodius to be the pinnacle of the series, it would be hard not to lump this amazing title right there beside it.

7. Gaiares (Mega Drive) - To say that Gaiares is high in difficulty would be like saying pouring alcohol on an open wound 'stings a little bit'. But with that high level of difficulty comes a great shooter challenge worthy of even the most seasoned shoot 'em up veterans out there. Gaiares looks and sounds very traditional as far as shooters go, but it does offer up enough twists to help it stand out from the crowd. The bosses in the game are fantastic, and extremely tricky in their attack patterns. The visuals aren't anything to write home about, but once you get into the game, you'll be far too busy to worry about what the surroundings look like. If you can appreciate an old-school shooter challenge that will test your skills to their utter limits, Gaiares should prove to be right up your alley.

Gaiares (Mega Drive)

6. Panorama Cotton (Mega Drive) - Panorama Cotton for the Mega Drive has two basic distinctions that make it unique in the Cotton line-up of shooter titles. The first one is that the game is by far and away the most sought-after and expensive Cotton game money can buy. The second distinction is that the game strays from the side-scrolling nature of the other Cotton releases and takes on a first-person Space Harrier-style perspective that takes the familiar look of the Cotton world and completely overhauls the game play in the process. It will take Cotton fans a little time to get used to the change in game play design, but once you get a handle on the new style of control, you'll find Panorama Cotton to be quite a challenging shooter that has enough unique elements to make it stand out from other titles in the Cotton series. Plus the Virtual Console release won't cost you the insane prices the actual game cartridge goes for on eBay.

5. Blazing Star (Neo Geo) - As good as Pulstar was on the Neo Geo systems, Blazing Star took everything that was good about it and built a much more well-rounded shooter experience around it. The visuals are stunning, even by Neo Geo standards, and there's never a lull in the eye candy that shines throughout each of the game's levels. As if the great classic shooter game play wasn't enough, the game also throws some absolutely enormous bosses at you that will test every inch of your shooter skills as you take them down. The music in the game is nothing to sneeze at either, as there are some absolutely fantastic musical tracks found in the game to carry the action-packed intensity. The Neo Geo system might not have featured a large number of shooter titles, but Blazing Star proves that it can stand up with some of the best the genre has to offer.

Blazing Star (Neo Geo)

4. Pop'n Twinbee (SNES) - Konami's Parodius series of cute 'em ups has always greatly overshadowed the Twin Bee series of shooters, but for those who have taken the time over the years to give any of these great little titles a try, you obviously know how solid they are. Pop'n Twinbee takes the vertical shooter to new heights with its varied game play and responsive play control. The sugary sweet visuals and upbeat musical tracks also give the game a very light-hearted feel to it that carries the whimsical theme of the game perfectly. All of the Twin Bee titles are solid shooters in their own right, but Pop'n Twinbee is easily one of the best titles in the series. Great level designs, a solid cute 'em up challenge, and some of the best bosses you'll likely see in a game like this all come together to form one of the best cute shooters ever released. It's a shame that the Parodius and Twin Bee titles have long been ignored when it comes to a release outside of Japan, but this makes for the perfect opportunity to give these amazing titles a new life on the Virtual Console.

3. Cotton (TurboGrafx-16) - This is where the Cotton series began and the shooting world was introduced to the cute little broom-riding witch Willow. While Cotton is considered a cute 'em up, this game has a much darker tone than most other cute shooter releases. The game's difficulty is also fairly steep, even by normal shooter standards, which will obviously turn some gamers off that are expecting the game to play like it looks. Brilliant level designs abound throughout the game and there are some absolutely incredible bosses in this game, some of which are fairly spooky for a cute 'em up release. As if the great game play and visuals weren't enough, the game also features some outstanding music to go along with them. About the only aspect of the game that might be considered a negative is the game's high difficulty. If you can deal with it, you'll be treated to a wonderful and charming shooting experience.

Cotton (TurboGrafx-16)

2. Space Megaforce (SNES) - Blazing Lazers fans will immediately notice the similarities between this title and Blazing Lazers. In fact, if you didn't know any better, you'd probably swear that Space Megaforce was actually the sequel to Blazing Lazers. They're that similar in not only look, but also in the musical style and game play as well. The same great level designs and fast shooter action can be found in Space Megaforce and in some cases is even better in this title. The bosses aren't quite as impressive or large as those in Blazing Lazers, but that's not to take anything away from the excellent way they're all executed. The challenge level is pretty much on par with Blazing Lazers, but can be a bit tougher in the last couple of levels. Space Megaforce is one of the most overlooked and underrated shooters available for the SNES console and would be a great addition to the Virtual Console. Blazing Lazers fans should definitely check this one out.

1. Sapphire (TurboGrafx-16) - If you ask most shooter fans to describe Sapphire in one word, they'd likely say "expensive." Sapphire was released in extremely limited quantities near the end of the PC Engine's run and has become one of the most sought-after games in history. The game generally sells for in excess of $350 and that's the few times it actually shows up on eBay. But once you take this amazing shooter for a spin, you'll understand why it's such a coveted shooter title. Gorgeous 16-bit visuals, some really great polygon effects, especially for this time period, and one of the best shooter soundtracks ever created all meld together to form a shooter package that any fan of the genre will absolutely drool over. The game is a tad on the easy side, but you can always crank the difficulty up a notch or two if you find yourself blowing through the game too effortlessly. Sapphire is one of the greatest shooters ever made and definitely deserves a chance to shine with a much larger gaming audience on the Virtual Console.

Sapphire (TurboGrafx-16)

Well there you have it - the top ten shooters we'd like to see hit the Wii Virtual console. Can't you just feel all that shooter love in the air? We had to leave off some great shooter titles, but with only ten spots, it was inevitable. Hopefully we'll see all of these amazing shooter titles released on the Virtual Console before it's all said and done. Don't forgot to check out Dazza's Top 10 Shmups list from a year ago as well.