Bullet hell games get that title for a reason. These shmup titles will have players dodging what seems like hundreds of lasers with little room to breathe. Despite these games usually having a difficulty only seen in games like Dark Souls—maybe even harder—that doesn’t stop players from hitting retry immediately. If you’re a fan of this genre though, you know that finding great titles is a Hell of its own. Thankfully we here at Honey’s Anime have a nice list for you, today we look at the Top 10 Bullet Hell Games.
Now you may wonder how we here at Honey’s Anime actually created such a list of Bullet Hell games like this. There are hundreds of Bullet Hell games out there, so how could we actually boil that down to only ten? Well folks, we here at Honey’s Anime have a team of excellent gamers who joined their heads together—we had to pull them away from their own Bullet Hell gaming—to have them think which titles were the best of the best. After many hours, we finally came to a conclusion and figured what needed to examined. The games below need to be fun, need to have amazing music and they need to have a challenge that makes you want to retry hundreds of times to get that new high score. It wasn’t an easy challenge but if you scroll on down we know you’ll find a list of Bullet Hell Games that you’ll appreciate and agree with strongly.
- System/Platform: Arcade,
- Developer: Irem
- Publisher: Irem (JP), Nintendo (NA)
- Release Date: Jul 1, 1987
Humanity is in danger and it’s up to you to save it. Jump into your space fighter R-9 and begin your assault on the alien being known as Bydo. Your ship is equipped with the ability to use multiple weapons and you will need them to take out the alien menace. The enemy is numerous so be prepared pilot you’re about to enter a war. However, regardless if you’re ready or not the world needs saving and you’re the only one able to do it.
R-Type is easily one of the best examples of a classic Bullet Hell title. Players navigate on multiple 2D right to left stages dealing with loads of baddies who aim to destroy your tiny ship. Luckily though players can pick up various boosts to your ship in the form of large beam weapons and spread shots with missiles. R-Type was far from easy but with great music and awesome controls it stands the test of time as being one of the best Bullet Hell titles ever made. There are multiple newer forms of R-Type out there on consoles but we will never forget where it all started.
9. Radiant Silvergun
- System/Platform: Arcade, Sega Saturn, Xbox 360
- Publisher: SEGA, ESP, Microsoft Studios
- Developer: Treasure
- Release Date: May 28, 1998
A strange object enters Earth’s atmosphere causing many to begin to panic and the various governments to make moves. Chief Igarashi orders his team of explorers to examine the artifact in hopes of learning its origin. During the examination, the object begins to go wild and destroys everything in sight. With no other choice, Earth deploys the pilots of a new spaceship called the Silvergun. It will be up to these pilots to master their machine and save the Earth from an impending doom.
Developer Treasure was widely known for making some great shmup titles but Radiant Silvergun was one of their bests. Players took control of the Silvergun and were tasked with shooting down enemies and bosses with their ship. However, unlike more traditional titles, Radiant Silvergun was unique as it allowed players to choose what weapons to bring into a stage prior to starting it allowing for players to plan out what weapons suited the situation. Even now Radiant Silvergun is considered, by fans of Bullet Hell games, to be one of the coolest and toughest games around. If you love the Bullet Hell theme in shmup titles like Radiant Silvergun, you won’t be disappointed in this classic hit.
8. Crimzon Clover
- System/Platform: PC, Arcade
- Developer: Yotsubane
- Publisher: Yotsubane, Degica
- Release Date: Jan 11, 2011
Crimzon Clover is an interesting title for those who like Bullet Hell games. Players gain control of 3 different ships each with different attributes. They will need to master their ship of choice as the game throws various enemies and bosses at you with tons of ways to destroy your ship. In the classic vein of most Bullet Hell games, the screen will always be filled with lasers that you’ll need to avoid in order to succeed. With multiple difficulties though, Crimzon Clover aims to be a game most can play if they are new to the Bullet Hell genre.
Crimzon Clover is considered a good entry point in the world of Bullet Hell game titles. The game follows all the usual themes of Bullet Hell games by having dozens of enemies on screen shooting hundreds of projectiles at your ship with only a slight wiggle room to spare. Besides boasting some great music and diversity in the form of the three ships options, Crimzon Clover is a title that really makes us remember our first time playing a game like this. If you can get your hands on this fun entry title we fully recommend playing Crimzon Clover. Don’t forget too that if you feel it’s too easy there is always the harder difficulty modes to make you remember that Crimzon Clover is indeed a Bullet Hell game.
- System/Platform: PC, PS3, PS Vita, Android
- Developer: Vlambeer
- Publisher: Devolver Digital
- Release Date: Mar 18, 2014
Luftrausers is a very nontraditional shmup game. Instead of the usual fixed position most shmup games have, Luftrausers allows a free movement. This allow players to go around any direction and have a freedom not captured by most Bullet Hell titles. There is also no health bar and players can take multiple hits. A circle shows how much your ship can take before you lose. Aircrafts used in Luftrausers can also be fully customized with different parts that affect elements like speed and weapons used. Luftrausers aims to be a shmup title like any other and accomplishes this goal admirably.
We really do praise developers Vlambeer. They took a typical genre that has very set ideas and altered it all while keeping the game still in the theme of a typical shmup title. Players will need to rely on learning a completely new type of Bullet Hell feel if they want to conquer this unique title. With a retro graphic design and older internal themes one could think Luftrausers came straight out of a NES cartridge but in fact released in 2014. Maybe you’ve played all shmup titles and want a game that changes it up completely. You won’t find a game that fits that bill any better than Luftrausers.
6. Touhou Kanjuden: Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom
- System/Platform: PC
- Developer: Team Shanghai Alice
- Publisher: Team Shanghai Alice
- Release Date: May 10, 2015
Once more we enter a new adventure following our main characters from the last title. Remiu and Sanae are tasked with investigating an odd incident that occurred in the Youkai Mountain. Apparently some strange probe hit the mountain and began to move around. Making matters worse apparently anything that comes in contact with the probe seems to wither and die. Now the two must prepare to stop this probe with a special medicine that was given to them.
The Touhou Project series has always been known for being stylish and filled with lasers flying at the characters. However, we decided on Touhou Kanjuden: Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom on our list because it stands as the most popular of the series and what we consider one of the best ourselves. Players can assume 4 different characters who each have their own stories to progress through as well as play style. Touhou Kanjuden: Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom also happens to be one of the hardest of the series because the author apparently wished for it to be similar to another game. Thus we knew we had to include Touhou Kanjuden: Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom as it checks off on hard difficulty and tons of fun.
- System/Platform: Arcade, Dreamcast, Gamecube, Xbox 360, PC
- Publisher: SEGA
- Developer: Treasure
- Release Date: Dec 20, 2001
When Tenro Horai finds an ancient hidden power something incredible happens. Tenro gains a godlike power and finds himself one of the strongest beings on Earth. However, it isn’t long before Tenro goes wild with his power and begins to start wiping out nations to become the ruler of Earth. Shinra—a young pilot—despite failing to defeat Tenro initially is blessed with a legendary ship called the Ikaruga and has one more chance at winning. The ultimate battle between Shinra and Tenro begins in Ikuruga.
We love when shmup games do interesting gameplay designs in their game. Treasure—who we already mentioned as being legendary—created Ikuruga and gave players an interesting gameplay mechanic to avoid dying from the millions of lasers all aimed at their ships. Players could actually change the color of Ikuruga—black and white—to take on bullets of that same color avoiding death a bit easier. However, that doesn’t make this game any easier and if you want a high score—as well as beating the game—you would need to master changing the colors of the ship at the best times. Ikaruga is clearly a perfect fit for out Top 10 Bullet Hell Games and you should give it a whirl if you have never played it before.
4. Raiden IV
- System/Platform: Arcade, Xbox 360, PS3 (PSN), PC
- Developer: MOSS
- Publisher: UFO interactive Games, MOSS (XBLA),
- Release Date: Jun 7, 2007
The Raiden series returns in Raiden IV bringing with it much improved gameplay elements. Akin to the past titles, Raiden IV doesn’t change much in terms of the gameplay but with updated graphics and on newer consoles, Raiden IV feels smoother. If you purchase this on the Xbox 360 there is a new mode that allows players to bring a friend into the mix. Arcade mode also has new difficulties giving Raiden IV a truly fresh take on the series.
The phrase why fix what isn’t broken comes to mind with Raiden IV. While on paper this could be seen as different elements from past titles slapped into one game, developer MOSS took the best of those games and infused it into Raiden IV. New music, updated visuals and new co-op play makes Raiden IV a great Bullet Hell game for our top ten list truly. If you have never played a Raiden game before, we feel this was the best of the series as it captures all the best from past titles. Shmup fans and Bullet Hell fans rejoice, Raiden IV will truly meet your demand for a good Bullet Game game.
3. Super Galaxy Squadron EX Turbo
- System/Platform: PC
- Developer: Synset
- Publisher: New Blood Interactive
- Release Date: Mar 6, 2017
The year is 2438 and the war between the United Interstellar Federation and Tau Ceti has been deadlocked. Steps must be taken to end this war once and for all. Thus the United Interstellar Federation takes the 17 best pilots and throws them into the fray. It is now up to these souls to do the impossible. They must somehow bring an end to this war that has raged on for far too long.
Super Galaxy Squadron EX Turbo is easily one of the coolest shmup titles we’ve seen as of late. Playing it reminded us of watching an anime all while engaging in a true Bullet Hell title. The typically options of Bullet Hell games are all here, multiple difficulties and different modes of play but this doesn’t feel like your typical title. Developer Synset took their original version of Super Galaxy Squadron EX Turbo—this version is an update of a prior game—and made sure to listen to the players and what they felt needed to be fixed. We hope this game continues to get a lot of love as we feel it is an excellent Bullet Hell game worthy of the third spot on our top ten list.
2. Gradius IV
- System/Platform: Arcade, PS2, PSP
- Developer: Konami
- Publisher: Konami
- Release Date: Feb 9, 1999
You know a game’s soundtrack is awesome when they release a CD for it. Gradius IV takes our second slot thanks to this game holding up even 18 years after release. With new weapons, upgraded mechanics and updated visuals, Gradius IV shows that Konami listened to fans prior to make an even better shmup experience. Once more there is very little in term of a story but players won’t find that too much of an issue. All you need to know is that Gradius IV plays well and is an excellent Bullet Hell title.
The Gradius series has been a long running franchise thanks to Konami and it’s easy to see why. Gradius IV shows a title that could be mistaken for a game released only a few years ago thanks to strong music—again they released a soundtrack for the music alone—and awesome sound effects. Bullet Hell games have different ways of immersing their players. Some aim to do this by presenting super hard challenges and or so much on screen that you can’t look away unless you wish to die. Gradius IV does this as well but factors in even the level trying to kill you, it makes it where you need to feel as if your life is connected to the tiny ship on screen and that is truly an impressive feat.
1. DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu (Resurrection)
- System/Platform: Arcade, Xbox 360, PC
- Developer: Cave
- Publisher: AMI (JP), Rising Star Games (EU), Degica (PC)
- Release Date: May 22, 2008
Finally it seems as if peace has been accomplished after Lunapolis. The DonPachi Corps have been called back earning some much needed rest. However, an odd blip on the space-time fabric causes concerns but Colonel Godwin lets it slide. Though a technician decides to continue to see where this alert came from and discovers something alarming. Humanity will face possible enslavement in the future and if that is to be avoided, the DonPachi Corps need to go back to the beginning of it all hopefully fixing the time line.
DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu ends our Top 10 Bullet Hell Games list and it was the best way for us to do that. Whether you were lucky enough to play this on the arcade cabinet or via console release, DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu captures everything we love about the Bullet Hell theme. Lots of missions, multiple pilots and multiple ships all wrapped up in beautiful graphics is the easiest way for us to explain what’s so impressive about DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu. Developer Cave have always created wonderful titles in shmup genre and this is just another Bullet Hell game that stands as one of their best works. If you can there are multiple ways to get your hands on DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu and we strongly suggest you do so immediately to understand why Bullet Hell games are amazing.
Bullet Hell games have made fans lose hundreds of quarters or at the very least, hundreds of games live in their attempt at mastering these tricky titles. Despite that though fans—including us mind you—have never felt like that was wasted money or time. Bullet Hell games are fun and that is the main theme we looked for in our list, all the titles above will bring a smile to your face even as you die a thousand times and that is a feat that deserves a lot of praise indeed. Now, what would bring a smile to our face here at Honey’s Anime is you commenting down below and letting us know how we did. What Bullet Hell games would you have wanted on this list or did we do it right? Sound off down below and stick around to Honey’s Anime as we have more top 10s in the works to bring to you.