In English, there are two commonly used terms to describe the kind of scrolling shooters (shoot-em-ups, STGs... there's a lot of fanciful names for them) where you are literally overwhelmed by bullet count. And they're a large enough genre that it does help to divide them from the general shoot-em-ups.

  • Bullet Hell
  • Curtain Fire

With synonyms, we can make it that both tags are applied, so that's not the concern. I'd like to see what everyone thinks would be the better choice for the parent tag. And we do have at least one question about this kind of game, so this isn't even pre-emptitive.


Wikipedia links "Curtain Fire" back to the "Shoot 'em up" article (unlike "Bullet Hell") but prefers "Bullet Hell" over "Curtain Fire" in the text.

"Bullet hell" (弾幕, danmaku, literally "barrage" or "bullet curtain") is a shoot 'em up in which the entire screen is often almost completely filled with enemy bullets. This type is also known as "curtain fire", "manic shooters" or "maniac shooters". This style of game originated in the mid-1990s, and is an offshoot of scrolling shooters.

TVtropes on the other hand has a trope named "Bullet Hell", and doesn't even mention "Curtain Fire" in that trope.

As a result of this, and my personal opinion is, we should go for:

Bullet Hell

  • 1
    I personally prefer Bullet Hell too. To me, it more accurately describes the type of game it is over 'curtain fire'. Even if you haven't heard either term the Bullet Hell one brings a certain image with it. :)
    – Joshua
    Jul 26 '10 at 19:03
  • 3 (4) is good enough for me, combined with the material. I guess it probably evokes a more symbolic picture to those who aren't familiar with the genre or its name.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 27 '10 at 13:47

The term I usually hear most often and the one I use myself when describing these games (stuff like Touhou and such) to other people is Bullet Hell. I've never really heard Curtain Fire used, at least in the communities I'm in. On a subjective note, I think Bullet Hell is a better term because it succinctly embodies the defining characteristic of these games as well as the frustration that can follow. ;)

  • Funny, I never heard anyone use the term "bullet hell" except outside of the shmup communities that I've been in. It's interesting to see how different these play out.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jul 23 '10 at 16:20
  • You could always try letting them both out for a while and seeing which one gets more use, but then you'd have the problem of retagging all of the questions tagged with the losing term...On second thought, bad idea.
    – GnomeSlice
    Oct 14 '10 at 6:41

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