Japan vs. America: Preferred Shooter Game Subgenre?

Shooter games have been a niche genre in both Japan and the United States. With the case of Japan, they developed interest in it thanks to the popularity of Space Invaders. While America had the same thing as Japan, it’s because of the Second Amendment and the ability to shoot in a virtual world without harming someone in the real world.

In this post, I compare Japan and America’s most preferred shooter subgenre, what games influenced their interest, and how it impacted the industry in their respective countries.


Space Invaders was the quintessential game that started the shooter genre in Japan. The game was notable for causing a shortage of coins in Japan as the game was a huge hit. Then came Namco’s Galaxian, which was also another it. Then Galaga a few years later. This list can go on and on. In the 1980s, platformers and scrolling shooters were the two most popular genres, which were the reason why Super Mario Bros. and Gradius succeeded.

The evolution of how shooter games evolved came from a documentary I produced about the history of shooter games in general. Xevious in 1982 was the first to incorporate eight-direction movement, Gradius in 1985 introduced powerups, and 1992’s Recca helped kickstart the manic shooter genre.

Even in Japan, popular first-person shooter titles from the west such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom were available. But most players who love the genre took an interest in scrolling shooters. Most scrolling shooters nowadays are typically manic shooters, with Cave’s DoDonPachi and Team Shanghai Alice’s Touhou Project were kicking a series war in the 2000s.


Like Japan, Space Invaders and Galaxian were equally successful in the country. Shooter games have been considered a favorite among Americans, but the first-person shooter games of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom have made FPS games a preferred genre in the west. Scrolling shooters still thrive and manic shooters are starting to become more and more niche in the west when Touhou 6: The Embodiment of Scarlet Devil became popular. Many manic shooters still can’t get western releases due to their complicated nature.

Even modern games like Chuhou Joutai, which released on Steam back in May, are a way to help newcomers get into the manic shooter genre in the present day.


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