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As a genre, why are shmups often so expensive?


RH
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Member · Posted

Like many of you one here, I've been gaming for decades.  Shmups have always been an enjoyable genre and I even gave Galaga my personal choice as the crown of the "most important game of all time", at least for me and my humble opinion.

That said, since I got back into collecting back in 2016, I've been surprised at just how popular shmups have become and there are a LOT of them that fetch very high price tags.  Not only that, even the import titles can go for a ton of money, which is very rare for any given genre.  Basically, if it was a Japanese exclusive that we missed in the US and it was half-decent, it seems like it's going to fetch a nice price.

In my younger days, they only genre that seemed to go for big bucks, even in the 90s was RPGs.  I think there was something about the RPG style that also attracted the type of person who likes RPGs.  I'm not sure what the connection is, but even back then, other RPGers I knew liked to collect manuals and strategy guides and we often kept the boxes on our shelves.  Gamers who were primarily fans of other genres weren't inclined to treat their games that way.

So, I'm curious.  As a genre, what makes shmups stand out so much today?  Why are they so hot to collect, especially the imports, compared to other titles. I'm not knocking these games.  I really do enjoy them, and I think they might be my  second-favorite genre.  That said, it seems that shmuppers (is that a thing, may shmuppets?) are extremely avid collectors that aren't afraid to push up the value of these games.

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Even though shmups was a very major genre at least up until the mid 90s, most of the best shooters remained kinda overlooked. And today the genre falls pretty heavily into the niche pigeonhole of catering to some of the most devoted gamers out there, and the same people who care a lot about video game collecting. Add the fact that a lot of the most coveted shooters even to this day are still arcade-only.

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Administrator · Posted

I think there are many reasons really.  Shmups are super fun, usually high action high energy games, that really get your adrenaline pumping.  Not only that, but in terms of imports, you can play them from any region usually, regardless of the language.

Part of the reason the imports are so expensive compared to other genres, is because there is high demand both in Japan as well as in the US and other regions.  There are many games where the demand is low in Japan and also here.  But shmups are pretty much universally loved and there is a huge fan base home and abroad.

They were (are) also huge in arcades, and some of that transitioned over with console games as well.

 

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I think it depends on the console. Pc-Engine/TurboGrafx and Saturn tend to be expensive to collect for in general, and the shoot em ups are sought after for those systems.

Famicom in the other hand, has some great shooters that are still fairly cheap. Maybe Over Horizon and Recca are pricey. Even Crisis Force isn't too outrageous.

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Member · Posted
6 minutes ago, Gloves said:

They're expensive purely because I am really into them. It's the universe's way of really stickin' it to me.

Sorry, you might be correct and I feel I might be contributing to this.  I still would like a nice copy of Gun+Nac but every time I saw one pop up on NA or here, it's gone before I can make an offer!

I'm sure there are other series I'd love to get into, but I refuse to check out game play because I don't need another list of 50 games, all going for $100 or more.  My want list is pricey enough as it is!

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I think another thing that contributes to their value is that they're in the minority of game genres that age well. Most SHMUPs are still playable and enjoyable to this day. The fact that most of them are at least uncommon if not rare due to low demand in the North American market doesn't help either. 

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I think it's mostly because they age well and are infinitely replayable, similar to how RPGs are usually this expensive, evergreen thing because they're mostly stories.

It's also an easy genre for adults with limited time and the people who play shooters seem to hold onto them, at least from what I've seen. I've never seen anyone post their platformer collection or FPS collection, I've seen lots of shooter collections. For imports it's definitely just demand. People pick a console they know nothing about like PC-Engine or JP Saturn and the first thing they do is look for shooters because they know their English speaking ass can play them.

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Member · Posted
4 minutes ago, DefaultGen said:

I think it's mostly because they age well and are infinitely replayable, similar to how RPGs are usually this expensive, evergreen thing because they're mostly stories.

It's also an easy genre for adults with limited time and the people who play shooters seem to hold onto them, at least from what I've seen. I've never seen anyone post their platformer collection or FPS collection, I've seen lots of shooter collections. For imports it's definitely just demand. People pick a console they know nothing about like PC-Engine or JP Saturn and the first thing they do is look for shooters because they know their English speaking ass can play them.

Well put. That all makes sense.

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34 minutes ago, DefaultGen said:

I think it's mostly because they age well and are infinitely replayable, similar to how RPGs are usually this expensive, evergreen thing because they're mostly stories.

It's also an easy genre for adults with limited time and the people who play shooters seem to hold onto them, at least from what I've seen. I've never seen anyone post their platformer collection or FPS collection, I've seen lots of shooter collections. For imports it's definitely just demand. People pick a console they know nothing about like PC-Engine or JP Saturn and the first thing they do is look for shooters because they know their English speaking ass can play them.

This is so true about shooters.  As an adult with work, kids, and other hobbies being able to sit down for a quick shooter session is just amazing.  One thing that I have noticed about myself and shooters is that I prefer using a joystick.  I got used to playing neo geo shooters using a stick and now I love using one. 

As others have said it's just a real easy genre to get into.  I also prefer playing these on a CRT.

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1 hour ago, RH said:

I still would like a nice copy of Gun+Nac but every time I saw one pop up on NA or here, it's gone before I can make an offer!

Yamatoku occasionally puts up Gun-Nac carts at a stupidly cheap price level, misspelled in some way that makes them not show up on searches. It often pays off to go through their stock.

  

47 minutes ago, RH said:

For imports it's definitely just demand. People pick a console they know nothing about like PC-Engine or JP Saturn and the first thing they do is look for shooters because they know their English speaking ass can play them.

Nevermind the fact that those two consoles have some of the best shooter libraries out there? Assuming that games like Blast Wind, Battle Garegga, or Hyper Duel are expensive "because their english speaking ass can play them" is a pretty gross misappropriation of what those games really are.

However whenever any genuinely great game is an import exclusive, they almost always get super expensive. We see the same tendency for games like Gimmick, Majyuuou, Chrono Trigger, Terranigma, or Ninja Gaiden 3, etc. The list of examples is endless.

Edited by Sumez
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Member · Posted
3 minutes ago, Sumez said:

Yamatoku occasionally puts up Gun-Nac carts at a stupidly cheap price level, misspelled in some way that makes them not show up on searches. It often pays off to go through their stock.

Thanks but I'm looking for a US copy. That's a good tip though, especially for other titles.

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Member · Posted

I think the answer to the OP lies in the simple issue of “higher demand”:

- most shmups are easy “pick-up-and-play” which is particularly handy the older you become.

- a genre that is universally appealing, without language skills required to play (as opposed to RPGs and most modern 3D games).

- most have interesting/sexy artwork such as futuristic planes/airships and anime chicks. Relevant as a collectible or display purposes.

Edited by GPX
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8 hours ago, The Strangest said:

My opinion when I first started collecting and playing these retro games seriously again (so take this as the opinion of a “casual” at the time) was that shmups were incredibly beautiful and stylistic games, both in terms of graphics/sprites and music. That alone has aesthetic value imo.

Yep, I completely suck at shmups, so I don't really buy them, but man do I appreciate them from an aesthetic standpoint. 

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I don’t want to soil my response reading others. Also stuck on my phone so a list of reasons here. 
 

- Varied but not with good action

- Short but fulfilling and easier to progress in

- Typically no language barrier

- Do a lot in little time for those with little free time

- Variety within (vertical, horizontal, tactical, slower, faster, bullethell, unique mechanic, etc

- Many greats not brought over while known

 

i think that covers it fairly well. All the can impact it so. 

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Graphics Team · Posted

In my experience, it seems that people who are into shmups are really into shmups, which means they're more willing to shell-out for good games. I'd also agree on the point about universal appeal. Nothing beats a good spaceship shooter - but it sure would be nice if they were more affordable haha.

-CasualCart

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Beside MUSHA which was already pricey, the past ten years shmups on the Genesis exploded. I bought shmups like Trouble Shooter, Grindstormer (a dead cart sadly), Gaires, Trouble Shooter, and Elemental Master for 5-20$ back that time and amazed how sought after they are.

With Genesis the Shmups stand out  compared to the SNES with the faster processor, even though SNES has some great shooters. Not to mention some of the best Genesis music came from the genre. The Shmups is part of required experience like Sonic and Streets of Rage in my opinon.

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