17 Best SNES Shooting Games, Revisit the Golden Age of Shmups!

Best SNES Shooting Games
Embark on an Unforgettable Journey with the Best Shooting Games on SNES

The SNES was a revolutionary machine that raised the bar for console gaming when it debuted in the early 1990s. The SNES's extensive game library included a variety of engaging shooting games that broke new ground in the category. Shmups, which stands for shoot 'em up, are the video games that offer players heart-pounding challenges and thrilling gameplay features.

The SNES has everything, from horizontally scrolling oldies to vertically scrolling shooters. Players might engage in thrilling dogfights, massive space battles, or even the defence of Earth from extraterrestrial invasions with a variety of games. Every game added a different touch to the genre, guaranteeing an exciting experience.

An incredible selection of enduring shooting games were available for the SNES. Gradius III is one of the standout games that merits special note. Players were enthralled by this Konami classic's difficult level layout, potent upgrades, and memorable boss fights. Super R-Type, another well-liked game, utilised the console's maximum graphics potential to immerse players in a visually spectacular sci-fi journey.

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17. Märchen Adventure Cotton 100%

SNES Shooting Games Cotton

The shmup mix is offered with a distinctive twist in Märchen Adventure Cotton 100%. The gameplay is given a new and amusing twist when players control Cotton on her broomstick rather than the customary spaceship. The physics of the broomstick's mobility and its capacity for multiple-direction shooting offer an element of strategy and complexity to the play.

There are numerous power-ups and spells in the game that may be gathered and used. Players can unleash devastating attacks against foes by using these power-ups to increase Cotton's skills and firepower. Players are kept focused and alert as they go through vibrant and innovative stages thanks to the gameplay's speed and difficulty.

16. Imperium

SNES Shooting Games Imperium

Imperium reminds us a lot of Musha on the Sega Genesis. It's a bit on the generic side with no real sound effects that are awesome.

Imperium does offer the ability to upgrade your ship and weaponry as you progress. By collecting power-ups and defeating enemies, players can enhance their ship's speed, firepower, and defensive capabilities.

The game offers a diverse array of weapon types, each with its own unique properties and effects. Experimenting with different weapon combinations adds an exciting layer of customization, allowing players to tailor their loadout to their playstyle.

The bosses are a bit bland, with no standouts in this vertical scrolling shmup.

15. Earth Defence Force

SNES Shooting Games Earth Defence Force

Players are kept on their toes by the complex gameplay offered by Earth Defence Force. You play as a lone pilot battling a massive alien force and must make your way through scrolling levels filled with foe spacecraft, ground targets, and challenging boss fights. The game alternates stages with horizontal and vertical scrolling, adding a welcome variety and keeping the action varied.

You'll come across a variety of power-ups that improve your ship's capabilities as you progress through the game. You can upgrade your main weapon, increase your firepower, and even get momentary shields or speed boosts with these power-ups. Collecting power-ups and watching your spacecraft transform into a fearsome force is incredibly exciting.

It's a little generic and you can do way better in regards to SNES shmups.

14. Phalanx

SNES Shooting Games Phalanx

Other than the weird cover with the grandpa with the banjo on it that will throw you off if you ever picked this one up off the shelf during that trip to the video rental store, Phalanx is actually a really good game. The unique cover art has garnered attention and piqued curiosity. Although it may be a case of "don't judge a book by its cover," Phalanx manages to back up its unconventional presentation with solid gameplay.

A bit on the easy side, it's an approachable game that lets you get into the genre if you were wondering about a good one to pick up. Phalanx offers classic horizontal-scrolling shmup gameplay with a twist. Players navigate through various stages, facing waves of enemies and powerful bosses. The game's difficulty is noteworthy, providing a satisfying challenge for shmup enthusiasts seeking a test of skill.

13. Biometal

SNES Shooting Games Biometal

Biometal has some impressive backgrounds and is a decent shmup.

The ability to change gives the gameplay an additional layer of strategy and complexity. You can adjust to various enemy patterns and boss battles by taking advantage of each form's unique strengths and weaknesses. Success in Biometal depends on experimenting with various transformations and striking the appropriate balance between offence and defence.

Despite Biometal not having the same amount of popularity as some other SNES shmups, its distinctive gameplay mechanics, difficult levels, and compelling presentation merit praise. Both inexperienced gamers and seasoned shmup lovers will like the game's blend of approachable gameplay and rigorous difficulty.

12. Parodius

SNES Shooting Games Parodius

With a cast of bizarre and entertaining characters, Parodius takes the conventional shmup formula and flips it on its head. Gamers can select from a wide range of unusual pilots, such as flying pigs, octopuses, and penguins. Each character brings their own distinct skills and playstyle to the game, which adds a strategic and endearing element.

The game's setting is a colourful concoction of references to popular culture and absurdity. With its inventive and frequently funny boss confrontations and opponent designs, Parodius never ceases to astound and amaze its players. Enemies range from gigantic dancing penguins to massive sushi. The game distinguishes itself from other standard shmups with its joyful tone and quirky humour.

11. Choujikuu Yousai Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie

SNES Shooting Games Choujikuu Yousai Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie

An exciting shmup game for the SNES called Choujikuu Yousai Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie takes players on an exhilarating adventure through the renowned Macross universe. Based on the well-known anime series, this game was released in 1993 by Zamuse and has fast-paced shooting action, recognisable mecha designs, and an engrossing narrative that will appeal to both enthusiasts and beginners.

The gameplay of Scrambled Valkyrie revolves around the mecha's morphing abilities. The three various forms that players can take are the swift fighter mode, the adaptable gerwalk mode, and the heavily armed battroid mode. Different circumstances call for different forms, therefore this dynamic metamorphosis feature gives the games depth and strategy.

10. BlaZeon The Bio-Cyborg Challenge

SNES Shooting Games BlaZeon The Bio-Cyborg Challenge

BlaZeon distinguishes itself from conventional shmups by utilising a special mechanic that enables players to merge with vanquished adversary ships. As you take down opposing ships, you can take their technology and use it to upgrade your own ship with new capabilities and armaments. Because each merged ship has a unique set of benefits and playstyles, the merging feature provides a degree of strategy and flexibility.

A crucial component of the game is experimenting with different ship combinations as you deliberately choose which ships to merge with in order to maximise your firepower and defensive prowess. Each gameplay seems new and thrilling thanks to the game's capacity to adapt and change over time.

9. Firepower 2000

SNES Shooting Games Firepower 2000

With a satisfying selection of power-ups and a lethal arsenal of weaponry, Firepower 2000 will make you feel like a formidable opponent. Power-ups that improve your defences, firepower, and special abilities can be gathered as you advance through the game. The variety of weapons, which range from massive explosives and laser beams to flamethrowers and homing missiles, makes the gameplay interesting and fun.

Also, the game has stunning screen-filling bosses that will test your abilities and firepower. As you advance in the game, defeating these intimidating foes is satisfying and challenging, giving you a sense of achievement.

8. Thunder Spirits

SNES Shooting Games Thunder Spirits

Similar to Thunder Force III, Thunder Spirits places players in control of a potent spaceship as they make their way through difficult stages populated with adversarial troops. Players can modify their tactics to defeat various enemy formations thanks to the game's abundance of power-ups and numerous weapon configurations.

Thunder Spirits' gameplay falls short of Thunder Force III's in terms of complexity and depth. In comparison to its Genesis predecessor, Thunder Spirits' opponent patterns and level designs seem less complex and dynamic. The general difficulty level has been considerably reduced, making the game less exhilarating and interesting.

7. Spriggan Powered

SNES Shooting Games Spriggan Powered

In Spriggan Powered, players pilot a formidable mecha suit into a dystopian future filled with war. The distinctive element of the game is the seamless fusion of the mecha's agility and firepower with the frantic shooting action. The gameplay dynamic of Spriggan Powered is unique in that it combines controlling a massive robot with intense shootouts.

The shielding mechanic that allows you to clear all the enemies on the screen at the expense of some life. We really liked the mechanics as well as the playstyle.

6. R-Type III

SNES Shooting Games R-Type III

Impressive images in R-Type 3 highlight the SNES's graphical prowess. The ambient backgrounds and special effects evoke amazement and wonder, while the detailed and creative sprite work brings the alien planets to life. Every pixel displays meticulous attention to detail, creating a visually spectacular experience.

A great soundtrack that wonderfully reflects the game's intense and alien atmosphere goes well with the visually stunning gameplay. When playing, players are kept interested by the music's blend of melodic and electronic elements, which improves immersion. Every explosion and shot fired is given more weight by the powerful sound effects.

5. Space Megaforce

SNES Shooting Games Space Megaforce

Space Megaforce celebrates the genre's arcade origins and offers a challenging shooting game that is evocative of old-school vertical-scrolling shmups. Gamers pilot a potent spacecraft as they set out on a mission to stop an extraterrestrial invasion of the cosmos. This game maintains high levels of excitement with constant waves of adversaries, difficult boss fights, and a relentless pace.

The comprehensive weapon customization system in Space Megaforce is one of its most notable aspects. You can acquire power-ups that increase your ship's weaponry, speed, and defensive prowess as you advance through the game. Moreover, you can instantly switch between several weapon configurations, providing tactical flexibility in the face of various adversary formations.

From laser beams and homing missiles to destructive area-of-effect attacks, the game features a wide range of weapons. As you experiment with various weapon combinations, replayability and depth are increased as you identify the best loadout for overcoming the obstacles in each stage. There is nothing more gratifying than launching a torrent of gunfire at your enemies.

4. Axelay

SNES Shooting Games Axelay

Axelay provides a novel weapon system that gives the gameplay complexity and strategy. Players can outfit their spacecraft with a variety of weaponry throughout the course of the game, each with distinct strengths and firing patterns. Because you may choose between three different weapon types, you can make more tactical choices as you modify your loadout to meet the demands of each stage.

Axelay has a potent charge beam that it may use to launch devastating strikes against opponents. High scores and conquering difficult boss encounters depend on mastering the charge beam and using it when it's appropriate. Axelay is a notable game in the genre thanks to the well-designed weaponry and sense of empowerment it offers.

3. Gradius III

SNES Shooting Games Gradius III

Players in Gradius III are thrust into a never-ending conflict with an extraterrestrial invasion. You traverse through stages with horizontal scrolling that feature hordes of foes, perilous obstacles, and enormous boss fights while controlling the Vic Viper spaceship. The game's difficulty rapidly increases, putting your reflexes, accuracy, and ability to make strategic decisions to the test.

The well-known power-up system in Gradius III is one of its distinguishing elements. You can equip your ship with a variety of upgrades by collecting the capsules that destroy foes drop. You can use these upgrades to make your guns more powerful, move faster, and even launch support satellites for more firepower. Since you must carefully prioritise your upgrades to meet the upcoming difficulties, the strategic choice of power-ups adds complexity to the gameplay.

The Gradius series is now known for its distinctive "Options" power-up, which adds extra satellite ships. The challenging foes and barriers in the game can be effectively defeated by carefully placing these support boats. A layer of excitement and replayability is added by experimenting with various power-up combinations.

2. Aero Fighters

SNES Shooting Games Aero Fighters

When it comes to providing frantic aerial action, Aero Fighters excels. In order to foil an evil organization's goals for global dominance, players take on the role of expert pilots and set out on a mission. The game's vertically scrolling levels are packed with waves of unrelenting foes, difficult boss fights, and a high level of intensity that gets the heart racing.

The variety of flyable aircraft in Aero Fighters, each with distinct attacks and distinguishing traits, is one of the game's highlights. There are many alternatives to fit various playstyles, from standard fighter jets to unusual flying machines. As you test out various aircraft, replayability increases as you learn about their advantages and disadvantages.

1. U.N. Squadron

SNES Shooting Games U.N. Squadron

In U.N. Squadron, players fly strong fighter jets across difficult levels while fending off a variety of foes and engaging in epic boss fights. This game stands out because of the way it combines strategic components with gameplay that is action-packed. Players can choose their aircraft, buy improvements, and hire knowledgeable wingmen prior to each mission, enabling for customised strategy and increasing replay value.

The U.N. Squadron controls are precise and quick, giving you a wonderful sense of control over your aircraft. With waves of adversaries, precise dodging techniques, and carefully thought-out courses, the game moves at an excellent clip. Each stage has its own set of difficulties that must be overcome, and success depends on careful preparation and rapid thinking.


The SNES shooting games are still a monument to the glory days of shmups, even though modern gaming has advanced and pushed the limits of graphics and technology. Both retro enthusiasts and newbies can enjoy the enchantment of these timeless gems thanks to emulators and digital re-releases.

SNES shooting games offer a wonderful voyage into the past, whether you're an experienced player trying to relive the good old days or an inquisitive beginner keen to explore the roots of the genre. Prepare to enter a world filled with furious action, pixelated precision, and amazing difficulties.



Passionate gamer and nostalgia enthusiast. Journeying through the pixelated realms of retro video games, unearthing forgotten gems and sharing the joy. Join me on a nostalgic adventure! 🎮✨