Best shoot em up games (and best times to buy)

The best shoot em up games on PS4, Switch, Xbox and PC that i’ve played, or shmups or STGs as they are sometimes called, all cost me no more than 14.99. Check out my quick video to see my overview and mini reviews.

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For the sake of value, gameplay, longevity and quality, I feel completely qualified to label these as the best shoot ‘em up games ever made. 

My previous article on 107 ways to save money on games has been doing well so thank you, i’m glad you enjoyed that.

Since I’m also going to be talking about pricing and finding things at the best price, I’ll often be referring to the UK price but the discount percentages themselves are often the same across all countries so no matter where you are, you can get a general sense of what the main price is and based on your currency conversion what the discount is going be.

Let’s start.


I’ll begin with Nex Machina released in 2017 by developer and publisher Housemarque. You could also say this slides into the category of bullet hell as the screen is often lit up like a goddamn christmas tree, and you’re always on the run.

The diminishing returns seen from this classic style of shooter means that Nex Machina is the last game of its kind that will be coming from this developer which is a shame.

My gamer savings tip is to pick this one up digitally with discounted wallet top up cards if you can. This game didn’t have a price drop for over a year between 2019 to 2020. 

Past history suggests this game hits its lowest price every June or July which is worth noting. 

It eventually went down from 15.99 to around £3 in july 2020 on both Playstation and Steam for a couple of weeks, so add it to your wish list if it’s not on sale because when the price drops it’s usually 75% cheaper which is great for us money savers. 


This is one of only a handful of games that was able to lock my attention down to a mobile device. I don’t usually like playing on a touchscreen but this made things so cool and looks so good, it was my go to mobile game for around 2 years. 

It takes us close to the earlier style of classic shoot em ups, but with an all encompassing modern feel, placing you in hollywood blockbuster situations with lovable corny bad guy lines and full on explosions.

The lowest price I’ve seen this was at the end of June 2019 on Steam when it went to £1.79 which is insane but you can pick this up usually at a good measure of frugality with 7.99.

An okay price for such a great shooter but wait until next June to see if it hits that crazy low price again if you can hold out that long.


Permadeath comes with multiple stings yet none were so sharp as when I first played this not knowing that it was permadeath. My fault of course – the game itself rocks.

I was sent to the start with no progression accrued but that wasn’t enough to put me off. The hook was there, the gameplay didn’t feel repetitive. The bosses were funny and charismatic and the guns, well, just sublime.

They have updated this game since launch in 2016 so there is new content there if you haven’t played this since then.

The lowest recorded price on Playstation is 5.49, and the same for Steam and luckily this game always seems to be on sale so if it’s 10.99 when you check, which is the regular price, just wait it out for a couple weeks or a bit longer and it should be right back down to half price. 

If you’re feeling particularly frugal and want to see previous free games i’ve spotted and how to find them you can check that out in this vid:


Save the humans – that’s your role, and it’s one of the coolest jobs you’ll ever have. 

When the PS4 was announced this game popped up seemingly to just show off its handling of particle effects but once people got their hands on this it was clear we had gotten something special.

You play within a cylindrical plot constantly maneuvering your way out of danger and trying to rescue the humans before they perish. 

I’m a big fan of this game since it taps into the score chasing rush that lures most shoot ’em fans.

The gamer savings tip here is that this game is usually 9.99 which is totally fair but every couple of months it drops by around 80% 

Lowest it ever got was 2.49 on PSN in december 2019 so it’ll probably get there again every xmas time if you really want to hold off and get this at the best price. 

You can also check out a massive article I wrote which has over a hundred different ways to get discounts on games in general on all platforms, thats on my website.

CUPHEAD (PS4, Switch, Xbox, PC)

Although I was completely unaware of the cartoon rubber hose style of animation primarily seen in the 1930s, something about this game still looks familiar to me. 

This might be my favourite shoot ‘em up of all time. 

The flawless hand drawn art gives players their first unique feel of playing something vintage. 

Its writing seems to be on old parchments and playful maps seem to be water coloured, all is clearly cared for and precious – you almost feel like you should be playing it wearing gloves.

There’s nothing like this game visually and It’s sales have been strong. That’s probably why it’s not discounted that much.

Looking into the pricing history for this, its lowest price on most formats was 10.49 recorded in a december. The price of this game doesn’t move around much, get it with a discounted wallet top up card to get an extra discount. Learn about wallet tops in my previous video called cheap PS5 games.


The simplicity here is what makes it so magnetic. An easy blaster with a shoot all you can language that everyone understands.

I don’t think it’s one of the best shoot em ups because of its calibre or its visual fidelity, I think it’s one of the best because of the time I’ve put into it without even noticing. 

And that’s what I want, low cost, play forever shoot em ups, they’re the ones I like best. This is only on the PS4 though which is a bummer.

Lowest price this has ever gotten was 2.29, that was in May but it does dip up and down every couple of months, the normal price is 9.99 which is a little expensive so if times are hard for you pop this one into the wish list and wait it out. 

A quick note on wish lists by the way, fill your boots with these, most digital stores have them and they make it fairly simple to use. 

Cram every game you know you want into your wishlist and leave them there until the price is right for you. Very handy.


Developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, this is an entry where you team up with your buddies or go it alone in tough, grizzled, but usually humorous sessions. 

The reason for its inclusion here is I had fun playing this with people and without. 

Like many other games in this genre it’s able to present a sometimes ridiculously hard challenge but keep the tone so well placed within its casual camp and laid back setting that you feel like the balance is exactly right.

The usual price here is 15.99, the best discount it’s had digitally on steam is 60% off but the lowest pricing here seems to be on PSN where it keeps dropping to 3.99 around December and around June every year so i’d wait since the 15.99 price tag is a little bit high. 

VELOCITY 2X (PS4, Switch, Xbox, PC)

This game is just freakin awesome, it has addictive gameplay, fast franectic action and it feels at home on mobile devices as well as consoles and computers.

You definitely need to find the speed that the game has in mind for you and catch up to it or you are going to get left behind. 

Developed and published by FuturLab, fans of the first game were chomping at the bit waiting for this and it delivered. 

Such a good game and not too difficult to finish, and when you do finish, it has unlocks and incentives to just replay it again, giving it way more value.

It’s a cross-buy game as well so your copy works across PS4 and Vita, if that interests anyone.

The price of this game never seems to drop on playstation, it stayed at 12.99 for around 2 years, 2016 to 2018 and it’s 12.99 currently.

Right now on Steam it’s 14.99 but it drops all the time to 3.74, which is 75% off, also on switch it’s been dropping to 3.74 every couple of months so if you have a PC or Switch you’re more likely to find it on sale over there.


The 8-bit colourings and retro charm of the nineties have been fused with some modern matchmaking and co-op offerings to create a noticeable upgrade for this entry in the shoot em up genre.

It’s a truly difficult game but it tips the scales back into its favor by allowing you to bring in a buddy or shower you with an ever expanding assortment of weaponry. 

The narrative brings with it the correct amount of cheesy talk and rambo stylings, and although you might not find too many players in the servers these days it does just fine as a single player shoot em up game.

Normal price for this game tops out at around 14.99, that’s what it is now on steam, PS4 its 12.99 and never seems to go down, last time it did was in 2018. 

Steam, it regularly drops to 4.49 every few months so that’s the best option if you have a PC. On Switch it’s 14.39 and rarely drops in price, same as Xbox so use a discounted wallet top card.

So those were my picks for the best shoot ’em games ever made and I’m sure you have an opinion so let us know what they are in the comments.

Looking to get a PS5? here is a vid on the low cost gems you can pick up on that system.

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