Shawn Tanner (Afro-Ninja), Hyptosis, and the musical stylings of Josh Kemp combine to resurrect the gentleman's sport of reducing your opponents to so much space junk in the vertical scrolling shooter S.H.M.U.P.. Which, as it happens, stands for Save Helios Minor From Unwanted Presence... although it could also stand for Super Happy Minotaur Unbalace Party... or Swinging Hip Monkeys Under Plexiglass... but I suppose if you want to get all technical about it, the original definition is probably closer to the gameplay. You play a lone fighter pilot who receives a distress call from nearby Helios Minor and arrive to find it under siege by a lot (like, a lot lot) of enemy fighters. The solution? Hot space lead!
Your super high-tech fighter ship of tomorrow controls with the [arrow] keys for movement, and if you hold down [Z] you'll let out a steady stream of good ol' fashioned pyew pyew pyew blaster fire. Blasting enemies out of the sky gives experience points, which grant stat increases when you level up, but destroyed ships also occasionally drop green crystals that you can spend on upgrades at the docking bay between stages. If the rain of bullets becomes too much for you and you wind up getting reduced to space junk, you can just try a stage again and keep 1/3 of the gems and experience points you earned before you were blown up.
While S.H.M.U.P. doesn't really do much to set itself apart from other shooters, it does succeed at what it sets out to do pretty well. The difficulty ramps up significantly after the first level, with more enemies onscreen that use different flying tactics to try to turn you into space swiss cheese. The artwork courtesy of Hyptosis looks great, despite a tendency for smaller, faster enemies to blur into the background somewhat when lots of foes are onscreen, and the sound effects and music are pretty much perfect, immediately recalling the sort of experience you'd expect to get in an arcade. The speed upgrades do wind up feeling like they shouldn't even be necessary, unfortunately, since sappy, responsive controls are essential for playing bullet h-e-double-hockeysticks shooters if you don't want a bunch of grinding, but the rest of the upgrades add a satisfying amount of playability. All it really needs are a bunch of gonzo powerups to be dropped during normal gameplay and you'd have the makings of something beautiful. As it stands, S.H.M.U.P. is still a great treat for the start of the week for twitchy fighter pilots out there everywhere.