In a surprising turn of events, one of the classic game genres that lent itself best to mobile gaming turned out to be the humble shoot-em-up. And hello, why not? The granular control of touch gestures and the vertical alignment of mobile device screens are obvious benefits, and there’s not really a need to map a whole array of buttons. The genre thrived on mobile, both in terms of ported classics and great new games. I’ve collected ten of my absolute favorites and put them on a list like my peers do. Note that these are simply my favorites. So if you have any that you think should be on this list, please comment below and help others find them. Oh, and the list is in no particular order. With all that said, let’s move on!
AKA TOO BLUE$7.99 Tanoshimasus Also known as blue feels so much like a proper full-size arcade game that it’s hard to believe it was born on mobile. I suppose others agreed because this game eventually made the leap into the arcades of the exA Arcadia system. You can still play on mobile, and it’s as hot as ever. This developer was founded by former members of Cave and it really shows. It looks and sounds great, has a deep rich rating system, and is a ton of fun.
phoenix 2One of the kings of the genre on mobile, Phoenix II is a technical showpiece that performs as well as it looks and is bursting at the seams with content. Unlocking all of this content is either going to take deep pockets or take a lot of time, but it’s a credit to the game that you can enjoy the game to the fullest without breaking the bank on IAPs. If you’re feeling like treating yourself, you’ll find that the new ships offer many new ways to enjoy the game. Try it for free, so why not give it a try and see what all the fuss is about?
Bullet Hell MondayFree
Bullet Hell Monday is just one of several mobile shooters from developer Masayuki Ito, and it tells no lies with its title. Aside from the fact that you can play it any day of the week I suppose. Visually, this one is a bit more abstract than most of the other games on this list, but it looks good and everything is very clear at a glance. You’ll have to play well to earn mission points if you want to progress in this game, giving it a distinctive flavor that will also help you teach the ins and outs of its systems. Another one you can try for free, so do the little thing.
Danmaku unlimited 3, $4.99 Pure, unbridled chaos. This is like Danmaku unlimited 3 feeling when you play it for the first time, and part of the magic of this game is that eventually you’ll feel perfectly comfortable wading through this chaos. There’s certainly no shortage of firepower in this game, but none of it is as important as accurate dodging and grazing bullets to increase your score. Danmaku unlimited 3 doesn’t do any nonsense, and we don’t want it any other way.
DoDonPachi Resurrection HD, $5.99 As to how often bullet hell-style shooters appear on this list, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include one of the great pioneers of this shooter style. Cave’s name is legendary in shoot ’em up circles, and most of his games have stood the test of time with absolute grace. DoDonPachi resurrection is an amazing mobile port of the fifth game in the company’s flagship series and has everything people love about a bullet hell shoot ’em up. Great missile patterns, a deep scoring system to master, exciting boss battles, and some great tunes to get you excited. It’s also available on Apple Arcade if that’s your preferred way of doing things.
Steredenn, $3.99 Okay, so far there has been a specific, let’s say, topic on this list. Sorry, there are just a ton of great vertical bullet hell games on mobile. But if your preferences go in a different direction, you might want to give it a try Steredenn. It’s a roguelite take on the genre where your ship gets stronger as you play. It’s also side scrolling, which I know some players prefer. Due to the game’s structure, this one doesn’t come out of the gates like some of the other games on this list, but those who put in the time will likely find it rewarding.
SkyForce reloadedFree If you like the sound of what I was just talking about Steredenn but prefer vertical scrolling, then you’ll have to give in SkyForce reloaded before. This one also sees you die, upgrade and try again, but with more focus on trying to complete special missions at each tier. It’s a bit of a tough nut to crack at times, but you’ll always come back to try again and again. It sure doesn’t hurt that it looks gorgeous. While this is another free start, the IAPs here are few and affordable if you want to go premium.
RayForce, $6.99 Okay, this list could use a few more classics to round it out. So let’s throw in Taito’s superlatives RayForce, the beginning of a trilogy of games, all available on mobile and all worthy of your attention. The main feature of this game is the lock-on laser, which allows you to target enemies on other planes. You must keep your eyes peeled for ways to use it, not only to increase your chances of surviving but also to increase your score. A fine adaptation of a great game by the company that more or less popularized the genre back then.
BO-NO! SNK’s NEOGEO platform was best known for fighting games and that Metal bullet series, but there were some very strong entries in other genres as well. Probably the best shoot-em-up is side scrolling Flaming Star, which was brought to mobile by DotEmu some time ago. The detailed graphics and immersive action are the great features of this game, but it’s also something of a respite for those looking for a classic-style shooter rather than the slightly frenzied bullet-dodgers that are most popular today.
ZeroVectorFree I’ll slip into one last one anyway. ZeroVector, true to its name, uses vector-style graphics. This gives the game a very special look, but it doesn’t mean that the action is dated. No, this is a very busy challenging game with many interesting systems to learn. It might not have the slickest graphics of the games on this list, but if you give it some time, you’ll find that it shines just as brightly as the others. Another one that you can try for free, this time with a very affordable ads removal IAP. Try it!
And this is the list, friends. Do you have any mobile shoot em ups that you love that you don’t see on this list? Comment below and let us all know! I’m sure everyone would be happy to have more great shooters to play. Thank you for reading!