ibara.jpg ['Shmup Me Up, Buttercup' is a bi-weekly column by Jeremiah ''Nullsleep' Johnson, dealing with the latest shoot-em-ups, or shmups, from Japan and the West, and covering the frantically cultish game genre that refuses to die, despite many bullets aimed in its direction over the years.]

Ibara Attacks The PlayStation 2!

Thus far, February saw the release of a variety of exciting new shooters, reaffirming the vitality of a genre based largely on navigating through ungodly swarms of bullets.

Combining the sex appeal angle of Mushihimesama with a rank and scoring system reminiscent of Battle Garegga, Ibara is the latest bullet-fest to hit the PS2. Although it carries the Cave name, with Shinobu Yagawa's influence as lead programmer some are calling it the first new Raizing shooter since 2000. Cave fans will have to deal with the larger hitbox, heavy debris and needle bullets, but hey, the cute Rose sisters dolls should make up for it.

Radilgy Gets Dreamcast Love?

radi.jpgOn the other end of the spectrum is Radilgy, brought to everyone's favorite undead console, the Dreamcast, by developer Milestone - it's also now due for PS2 and GameCube. Where their previous effort, Chaos Field (which recently saw a US Gamecube release) came across as unpolished and somewhat derivative, Radilgy shines with vibrant, cel-shaded graphics and more engaging and original gameplay.

And while they may not have the luxury of releasing an entire line of figures to coincide with the release of the game like a certain other company, they do have papercraft!

gradpsp.jpgGradius, Gunner's, Bullet...

Add to this the Gradius Portable collection for PSP (well worth importing, but is it worth firmware upgrading?) and access to the previously-Comiket 69-exclusive releases of excellent doujin shooters Gunner's Heart and Shoot The Bullet, and it all adds up to shooting heaven!

Stay tuned til the next instalment of 'Shmup Me Up, Buttercup', where we'll be discussing more of the latest shooters for console, PC, handheld, mobile, and whatever other formats we can get our hands on. Feel free to contact us with feedback or tips for the column.

[Jeremiah Johnson is co-founder of chipmusic and computer-art collective, 8bitpeoples.com based out of New York City. Working with Game Boys and NES consoles to create music, he has been featured in various publications ranging from Wired to Vogue.]