Plasmo’s 2020 Shmup Year in Review!

The following is written by Plasmo, a friend and frequent collaborator with the Electric Underground

(1) Personal Favorite Achievements of 2020:

In 2020, I had been mostly busy with community building. However, I’ve also spent a good amount of time playing shmups and had some very intense phases scattered over the course of the year. Let’s reflect on the goals I set myself a year ago in the same thread and see how those turned out.

From last year’s post:

“After having left the port for now, I want to focus on the arcade version of Pink Sweets once again. At the moment I am building a completely new route, which is presumably going to revolutionize the perception of the game for better or worse. The goal is clear: beat the world record with Lace of 20,614,480 by YOS.K! This is all for the new year! If I find some extra time, I also want to give Hacha Mecha Fighter a closer look.”

Indeed, I have succeeded in beating YOS.K’s world record score and then some! In fact, I got 21,208,450 already on January 4th, with further improvements to 21,509,730 (January 17th), 21,698,970 (January 27th), 23,024,020 (February 22nd), 23,721,990 (March 1st), 25,506,390 (April 21st) and ended the year with a 26,441,790 (August 24th). My route was constantly changing as I was finding more and more new scoring opportunities. This progress doesn’t indicate what an amazing gamer I am but rather how badly optimized this game was and still is. If anything, this just tells us what we already know, which is that Pink Sweets is not a very popular game in Japan and overseas.

I’ve also spent just a little bit of time with Hacha Mecha Fighter and posted small demo clips showing the no fruit bonusses for stage 2 and stage 4.

(2) Personal Biggest Screw-ups of 2020:

Getting a good run in Pink Sweets with my old route (triggering infinite lives on stage 5) ultimately resulting in the 25,506,390 score above was a tough struggle. Before I got the run, I have messed up three runs in a row (obviously with dozens of additional restarts in between) right before the very last extend. Being denied to enter infinite mode that close and failing the run always exactly at the same spot was very difficult mentally. What’s more, with every failure, the pressure for the next potential chance was increasing as well. When I finally got the 25,506,390 I felt completely exhausted and had to take a longer rest.

(3) Favourite Achievements by Others of 2020:

This is where the fun part starts! This is also the part where I have so many things to mention, I’m probably going to forget half of it! But let’s try anyway.

The year 2020 has been absolutely phenomenal in terms of activity. So many people suddenly found themselves with more time on their hands as usual and this really showed in the end. But let’s start at the beginning, and oh boy was it a beginning! The genre of shmups had been granted access to the GDQ event series for the first time! This has led to fantastic live performances during AGDQ 2020 with Mushihimesama Futari Ver 1.01 by Gus and during SGDQ 2020 with Ketsui by Moglar, Dodonpachi Saidaioujou by Kayar, and Touhou 09.5 Shoot the Bullet by pingval. Performing well in a live setting is always something very special. It was a great feeling of unity to see the whole community coming together to cheer for our ambassadors! Hopefully we will see many more shmup performances during GDQ events in the future! Aquas has already taken up the torch for AGDQ 2021 but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here!

Apart from these events, we have seen many players going absolutely out of their way to tackle ridiculous challenges. The first thing that comes to my mind is Omkol’s 2-All of Dodonpachi Daioujou White Label! Omkol was a relative newcomer to the genre and had been pushing the game relentlessly for over 2 years. When it finally happened I honestly couldn’t believe it myself at first. He has also produced the most solid survival route for this game I know. I was very happy to see more activity in general from the Russian shmups scene, as Russia still has some catching up to do when it comes to this genre. It seems that Omkol might be an inspiration for a very strong new player base to come! Looking forward to see more of your scores, my Russian friends!

A similar achievement that comes to my mind is Daringspino’s quest to beat Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label. Black Label is easy you say? Well, Spino did it with Type A-Shot! It was pure joy to follow his 1 year long journey! Moreover, this isn’t just a bare survival clear and shows some very neat chaining, too! Check out his his slightly higher scoring run of 1,194,756,620 points. But there’s more! Daringspino also got the world record in the eccentric Arrange A mode of Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu and has improved his own score ultimately breaking the elusive 20 trillion barrier. If you like big numbers, don’t miss his video achieving 21,605,096,843,632 points – truly a christmas miracle!

And while we’re at it with Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label, let’s not forget to mention iconoclast’s 3,200,043,730 with Type B-Expert, which is now awfully close to HFD’s score of 3,308,161,360 of the old superplay DVD. Will 2021 be the year of the takeover? Either way, it’s inspiring to see one of the best western players not giving up his main game. Let’s reach for the stars!

Most of the achievements I’m writing about here are single game achievements. However, there’s no way I can’t mention Juju Kenobi’s path of destruction through the genre. Every game this man touches will go down in flames. Want some examples? Sure! How about Ketsui 2-All Omote 300,379,412 with Type A, Dodonpachi 2-All 322,838,210 with Type A-Laser (he also got a score of 359,935,920 but no clear), Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label 2-All 2,032,283,010 with Type A-Expert, and Progear no Arashi 2-All 67,655,490 with Ring/Nail? You might ask how this is possible within only one year for a single individual? I must disappoint you, I have absolutely no clue…!

We’ve also seen the comeback of the mysterious VioletHatPurple. A quiet guy who is grinding like crazy in the dark. Then he pops up and delivers absolutely absurd achievements, most importantly this year a no miss / one bomb 2-All clear of Gunbird 2 with Tavia scoring 4,205,300! Gunbird 2 is tough as nails and this score now is the top score of the shmups forum! Violet didn’t quite stop there and got another 2-All in a Psikyo game, this time around Strikers 1945 II with the respectable score of 2,738,900! I’m telling you, these 2-Alls don’t come easy…

Are you ready to go one step further? Then brace yourself for easily one of the most extreme achievements of the year, Moglar with a 551,176,593 in Ketsui with Type A! This is currrently the third highest score in the world for what is arguably one of the most difficult and complex shmups out there. The importance of this achievement cannot be overstated. If I had to choose a single favorite achievement of 2020, it would probably be this one. It fills my heart with joy that Moglar shows absolutely no sign of slowing down. I’m thrilled to follow his progress in 2021!

We’ve had CAVE and Psikyo but what about Raizing? Armed Police Batrider in particular was probably the game of 2020! With scores like 20,884,050 by Satis, 20,368,700 by Eaglet and 19,672,720 by Chum (Carpet Solo), Batrider has received what can only be described as a Swedish invasion! However, there are countless of Japanese players who really went all out on this game as well, for instance 27,533,500 by SKR or 25,529,440 by nekobi. Overall a very hot year for Batrider!

Let’s talk about world records. No previous year has brought in so many world records for arcade games from players outside of Japan than this one! For me, 2020 can be said to be a turning point. The long-standing WR dominance of Japan is slowly beginning to fade. So what do we have in store? The old guard was stronger than ever before! The iconic Gus has defeated the counterstop in Mushihimesama Futari, Ultra Mode and is now going beyond. He’s simply playing in a league of his own. A score of 5,234,968,837 is hardly comprehensible anymore for a mere mortal. On the other hand, the prequel to Futari, the og Mushi has been absolutely destroyed by Kiwi who got the world record for Maniac Mode, no autofire with a score of 1,061,006,564! Kiwi has also uploaded killer replays for the autofire categories: Maniac Mode 1,842,732,721 points and Ultra Mode 1,080,775,113 points. His work on this game is absolutely awe-inspiring. We are just not worthy…!

Other world records have been achieved by NTSC-J, who got a score of 281,940,480 in Muchi Muchi Pork clearing both loops with Ikuo! This score was unfortunately not a clear but he also got a clear score of 265,538,480! The crazy thing is that this score was played in a Japanese arcade so that he was able to submit it to the Japanese Highscore Association (short: JHA)! Getting a world record is one thing but doing so in a public settings is just madness! Huge congrats!

The old boys of Galaga have also worked hard in 2020! Jacob Upland got the world record in Galaga, Original Mode as part of the Namco Classic Collection Vol. 1 with a score of 565,420 and the original game of Galaga received two new world records of 20,980,450 (Marathon) by Jordan Dorrington and 10,904,570 (Tournament) by Armando Gonzalez. The former has already been beaten in early 2021 with a 25,000,350 by Armando Gonzalez making him the Galaga double champ again!

Hang in there! One more golden era game before we continue! The legendary sikraiken has once again demonstrated his perfectionism to the world by being the first to break through round 256 of Bosconian (New Version) – formerly known as the killscreen! In fact, not even a killscreen can kill this man and stop him from getting the counterstop at 9,999,995 live on stream! This battle was also an exercise in perseverance as the run took 8 hours and 22 minutes, ultimately ending in round 587 – that’s two “killscreens” in one run!

If we now shift our focus over to the Japanese side of things, we notice about 70 new world records for shmups submitted to JHA (not counting multiple submission for the same game). These are obviously too many to discuss in detail here so I just want to highlight a few of them! Early 2020 opened with a bang! Hituji was the second person ever to reach 800 million points in Dodonpachi by achieving 800,885,810 with Type C-Shot. Scores this high make use of a scoring glitch, which was still kept secret by a couple of players back in January. Due to the amazing efforts of DDP mastermind Blackisto, this glitch was found again and published in late February. You can read about all the intricacies in this article. The glitch hunt, its reveal, and all of the surrounding spectacle have received considerable media attention and will go down in history. We’re even again on the level of knowledge. Recruiting new Dodonpachi players now!

Another game of the classic Dodonpachi series that has seen some crazy new scores is Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label with a new world record with Type B-Expert by Rokukichi. Check out the godlike replay of 3,681,252,160 points! Honorable mention go out to the Chinese player LYX who got a score of 3,618,047,010 with Type A-Expert, just short of world record!

Disco fever! Early 2020 also had a new WR in Dangun Feveron with Type B of 15,302,103 points by HTL-PAL! The player had been working on this for a very long time and has ultimately proven to the world that Type B has a higher scoring potential than the secret cat character. Way to go!

2020 wouldn’t have been the same without SPE’s continuous efforts to completely demolish the WR leaderboard for Deathsmiles. In 2020, he got 670,737,982 with Rosa (Canyon), 564,261,938 with Rosa (no Canyon) and 503,624,978 with Casper (no Canyon). There is only a single category left out of 8 for SPE to reach a perfect WR sweep for Deathsmiles! Will 2021 be the year?

Ever since the 20th anniversary of Esp Ra. De. in 2018 we’ve seen a number of new world records for this game. One superplayer in particular, the magnificent Clover-TAC, who has played the game since release in 1998 has pushed the score ceiling to new dimensions, absolutely killing the competition and leaving the second place far behind. Clover-TAC has achieved 44,645,250 with Irori and 43,289,640 with J-B 5th. I didn’t expect such scores to be even remotely possible for humans. They are among the craziest scores I have ever seen in a shmup. Sadly, no replays exist for these wonderful records…

Talking about perseverance, let’s take a look at Konami’s classic Detana!! Twinbee. The player Koizumi had been playing the game at least for a decade (and possibly longer than that), which has culminated in a score of 4,720,900 in 2020! This game is absolutely brutal, you wouldn’t believe just how cheap the difficulty of the loop is. And so this score belongs to the most extreme records to come up in 2020. Don’t miss the replay! A must-see!

One other player who is very bad at giving up is WSM-Tsuiimaru. If you follow my WR News ticker over on Twitter you have noticed that this man basically posts a monthly world record for this game. And this has been going on for years, too. In 2020, we have seen the top scores of 3,002,410 without autofire and 3,040,180 with autofire. Keep it up, Tsuiimaru!

Here’s a confession: I’m a sucker for underplayed games with an esoteric scoring system. So when I saw GOTYO posting a score of 11,800,947,190 for Milestone’s Karous, my heart was pounding! When the player was then releasing a high quality replay upload complete with text commentary explaining every small detail in this game, I couldn’t hold back my excitement! Do yourself a favor and watch this absolutely fantastic video showcase!

We’ve had Dodonpachi before, so now on to the next big shmup title: It’s none other than Battle Garegga! Ever since the official Japanese leaderboard on JHA was closed down in 2014 due to the detection of an infinite scoring glitch, players were thrown into an identity crisis. Therefore, the terrific port by M2 in 2016 was just what the community needed! The year 2020 saw three new world records for this highly competitive game: 17,968,650 with Bornnam by Y.S.333, 16,920,870 with Chitta by KET, and 17,521,570 with Wild Snail by Yamanaka, the latter two of which have been streamed live on Youtube – click on the links to watch the replays!

Possibly the most popular shmup of 2020 in Japan was Great Mahou Daisakusen aka Dimahoo. The craze for this game went to insane dimensions and so it’s only natural to see a couple of new world records, too! Most notably, 89,074,210 with Birthday by Miku (replay not available but you can find a video scoring 84,460,690 points by the same player here), 99,999,999 with Solo Bang by Clover-TAC, 99,999,999 with Golden by Boredom, and 98,992,400 with Chitta by SOF-WTN. Just a couple of days ago, SOF-WTN has also achieved a counterstop of 99,999,999 with Chitta, which is easily one of the greatest superplays you will ever see in your life. His routing skills are pure art.

Lastly, I would like to highlight E.G.I.’s demolishing of Ikaruga by breaking all three world records for Prototype Mode using the Steam port! 32,120,760 points on Easy difficulty, 37,985,220 on Normal difficulty, and 35,078,170 on Hard difficulty – all accompanied with replays, so don’t hesitate now! On the topic of Ikaruga, the English speaking community has also found some new interest. Following MAZ and Softdrink’s progress in this game is just wonderful! I’m confident we will see much more from the two in the near future! Particularly noteworthy is also the fantastic strategy guide of Ikaruga over on the Shmups Wiki, which is a collaborative effort under the lead of Xer Xian. Play more Ikaruga!

And speaking of which, the year 2020 had more to offer than just insane scores! The newly founded Shmups Wiki in particular is already a pillar of the community. The wealth of knowledge over there is ever increasing! Huge shout outs to the admins Charlene and Komidore! You are doing a fantastic job! Check out the website in its entirety here: Shmups.Wiki

Other community members have also been hard at work creating shmup content, e.g. in form of youtube videos. To name just two shining stars, check out The Electric Underground and Shmup Junkie! Both have very different styles but luckily we don’t have to choose only one! Just subscribe to both of them!

When it comes to new content on youtube, there are a couple of other very interesting video uploads such as the audio commentaries for Soukyugurentai by DMC and Air Gallet by Meriscan. Can we have more of these, please? Very insightful and entertaining! Similar to that but definitely catered to a more hardcore audience is Juju’s legendary 7-hour video breakdown of his route in Dodonpachi. :shock: If you rather prefer to read than to listen, then 2020 had three new installments of Icarus’ brilliant Special Demonstrations series for you! Battle Garegga 20,959,490 by Kamui, Dodonpachi 638,295,200 by Jaimers, and Donpachi 71,919,080 by SOF-WTN.

Even more extremely interesting text commentaries can be found on Jaimers’ channel, e.g. for Out Zone or Darius Gaiden for which you have to activate the subtitles. The production quality of the uploads on this channel has recently gone through the roof!

What else has happened in 2020 and deserves recognition?

・ Dent4f continued to organize shmup tournaments on a very regular basis! You wanna compete against others for highscores? Then give La Calice Cup a closer look!
・ Softdrink has cemented himself as one of the greatest English shmup commentators of all time! Check out his commentary to Kamui’s run of Battle Garegga during Kemonomichi 3!
・ So many shmup dedicated streaming events happened, I have trouble even remembering them all! Check out Mark’s Shmup Slam, the French Shoot the Baguette, and the two Japanese events CAVE Shmupmania, and STG Relay. In fact, there have been countless of smaller events so this is just a very short list of the bigger ones!
・ Trap15 is now working at Exa and has released Dodonpachi Saidaioujou Exa Label. This is probably as big as it can get.

(4) Goals for 2021:

I’m not sure where to go from here with Pink Sweets (I’m still at it!) but I want to eventually move on from it this year. Hacha Mecha Fighter and Dodonpachi with Type A-Shot are already waiting!


Let’s enjoy shmups together!

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