Scrolling shoot 'em ups, or shmups if you're lazy, have found a happy home on iOS devices. The tall screens are a perfect place for the action to unfold, and it's one of the few genres that actually feels at least as good or better on a touchscreen rather than with physical controls. At least in terms of controlling your ship, as something is definitely lost without a set of arcade buttons to smash away at with their satisfying clicks, but I digress.

In this arena, Cave dominates with excellent ports of their wide selection of arcade titles that feel awesome on iOS. In fact, it's somewhat telling how good the platform is for shooters that the majority of this list is made up of ports, as there's a huge selection of back titles that could find new life on iOS.

However, there are a couple of new titles here that continue to push the genre forward, and more importantly are built form the ground up with mobile in mind making them great games to tote around in your pocket. Enjoy this list of both old and new titles that hit in 2012 that put the frenetic shoot 'em up experience in the palm of our hands.

DODONPACHI MAXIMUM, $11.99 - / [Free] - [Forum Thread] - Cave's brand new designed for mobile shooter hit Windows phones exclusively earlier in the year, but thankfully came to iOS in the fall. It used the pretty cool theme of being a "bullet hell simulator" which through you into various virtual combat situations against a variety of enemies from previous Cave shooters. Because it wasn't a port, it was the best looking Cave game to date and felt perfectly at home on the platform.

DoDonPachi Blissful Death, $4.99 / [Free] - [Review] - [Forum Thread] - A prequel to the fantastic Dodonpachi Resurrection, Blissful Death offered yet another solid shooter from the folks at Cave. It was slightly less complex scoring-wise than its follow-up, but it had its own set of strategies and hidden tactics to discover that didn't diminish the experience one bit. In fact, its more simplistic nature might make this one of the better entries to get yourself familiar with Cave's brand of shooter.

Bug Princess 2 Black Label, $13.99 / [Free] - [Forum Thread] - One of the cool things about Cave is how they often release special "Black Label" versions of their games, which typically offer tweaked scoring and game modes and a remixed experience from the original. A couple of months prior, we really liked the original release of Bug Princess 2 and the new Black Label version didn't fail to live up to our expectations either.

DoDonPachi Resurrection HD, $13.99 / [Free] - [Forum Thread] - This year I was elated to have my absolute favorite Cave game re-released with Universal iPad support as well as many completely redrawn assets in order to bring it up to speed with the high-res screen of iOS devices. It truly felt like experiencing the original game all over again. Now, if we could get some more of their titles to get a similar treatment, and iPhone 5 widescreen support, I'd really be in heaven. Whaddaya say, Cave?

DARIUSBURST SP, $8.99 - [Forum Thread] - In 2009 Taito resurrected their classic Darius series with a brand new entry in the series on the PSP. It featured impressive 3D graphics and side-scrolling action that harkened back to the originals while still feeling fresh and new. This year a port of the PSP version came to iOS in a big way, and aside from boasting some of the best visuals on iOS it also through a ton of imaginative enemies and gigantic bosses into the mix.

BLAZING STAR, $0.99 - [Review] - [Forum Thread] - Oh, look. Another port! That's ok though, as the original release of Blazing Star on the NeoGeo system back in the '90s was likely not experienced by very many people. Now on iOS it has the ability to find an entirely new audience, as well as allow original fans to relive the title on the go. A future update addressed pretty much all of our concerns from our review, making Blazing Star a top choice for shooters on the App Store this year.

Raiden Legacy, $4.99 - [Forum Thread] - The Raiden series was one of my favorites growing up, and I always wondered why it hadn't show up on iOS. This year we finally got it though, as the original Raiden joined 3 other games in a compilation package. The original game still holds up today, but the Raiden Fighters games are ones I never got a chance to play and surprised me with how fantastic they are. If we can get Raiden II and Raiden DX in a future compilation, I'll be set for life.

  • XIIICrucible

    DDPBD is not simplistic, nor is it a good 'starter' shoot em up, in fact, it's systems are far more advanced than Ressurection. Any shmuck can get a decent score in DDPR, Blissful Death on the other hand takes precise timing and knowledge of enemy patterns to maximise score. It's like you really have no idea about STGs and just regurgitate the usual, "hurr durr, the older one is simple, new one shiny and complex!"

    Most, if not all avid shooter fans class Blissful Death as the pinnacle of the DoDonpachi series, where as Ressurection is liked but generally recieved in a lukewarm fashion for being too easy, mainly due to the way the hyper counter worked (cancelling bullets instead of just boosting firepower). Blissful Death's bullet patterns and enemy layout / types were also way more brutal than its younger sibling, which made the weapon switching to keep combos running all the more difficult to master. Certainly not the game you've described, eh?

    If you're going to post a shoot em up list, at least get your facts straight, or risk looking like a throwaway from the staff of IGN. since that's the general writing quality here nowadays. a throwaway from the staff of IGN. since that's the general writing quality here nowadays.

    • Cheeseball

      Basically, since your explanation is tl;dr, Blissful Death is the bullet-hell/hardcore prequel, yes?

  • Inaba-kun

    Much as I love Cave shooters, I found Maximum very disappointing. It's 30fps, instead of the usual 60fps, which pretty much kills it stone dead. Add to that the ugly visuals, unforgivably bland music, and somewhat uninspired gameplay... It just wasn't very good.

    Personally I rate Resurrection as the best.

    I also enjoyed the port of Raystorm (Layer Section 2) which came out this year. 60fps and it plays great, although it's too bad it isn't a port of the 'HD' version which came out on the 360 and PS3. Hopefully we'll get Layer Section 3 (Raycrisis) next year.

    • sbtrct

      I have a slightly different view - I love all of Cave's shooters (not enough to purchase the Black Label versions, mind) but the one I've played the most over the past year has been Maximum. It's just given me the greatest amount of replayability.

      I found Blissful Death (while enjoyable) too hard because scoring well involves a crazy amount of learning bullet patterns, while scoring high on Maximum just involves learning appropriate techniques for certain points in the game.

      Dodonpachi Resurrection and Bug Princess 1 are the other Cave shooters I've spent a fair bit of time with. Deathsmiles and Bug Princess 2, not so much.

  • felipe

    iFighter 2 looks better than all above..

  • XIIICrucible Redux

    So you delete my comment which was up rated by the community, why? Because it calls you out on lack of knowledge on a particular subject and crap journalism?

    Then you ban me from posting?

    What's the matter, your fragile egos can't take a bit of criticism without resorting to removing well written, on topic discussion?

    You really are a bunch of entitled little kids, eh? Best not go outdoors, It's a cruel world outside.

    Stay bad, Touch Arcade.

  • skps

    no Arc Squadron? 😐

  • Ciaran Plunkett

    I think that the number 1 thing developers need to learn from Cave is: ALWAYS include a good demo!
    I wasn't sure which shmup was for me, so I tried all the demos & settled on Deathsmiles & DDP Maximum. The former for its aesthetic design, the latter for its clarity in battle.

  • Museic_lver

    I'm not seeing Phoenix HD here 🙁

    • Jared Nelson

      It came out last year.

  • Guest

    Out of all those Didonpachis (Dondopachii?) which is the best?

    • Jared Nelson

      My favorite is Resurrection.