A History of Run-and-Gun Shooters

Mega Cat Studios
4 min readNov 1, 2022

Violence has been a pretty reliable means to an end ever since the earliest video games. From the end of a gun to the bottom of a shoe, no other form of conflict resolution translates quite as well to an interactive format. Perhaps, no better genre puts the universal disdain for our fellow man or robot to use than the run-and-gun shooter. Coming in a variety of flavors, the run-and-gun says it all in the name: lots of moving and lots of shooting, and you’d better be able to do them both at the same time.

When it comes to what the first run-and-gun game was, that can get a bit murky. It’s sometimes attributed to 1975’s Gun Fight, also known as Western Gun in Japan and Europe. It was a game that certainly featured guns, and is often said to be the first game to feature human-on-human violence. However, its gameplay isn’t very reminiscent of what is commonly thought of as a modern run-and-gun.

What bears a closer resemblance is 1979’s Sheriff. This arcade cabinet could nearly be referred to as the first twin-stick shooter, if only it used a second stick. Instead, it has a dial that lets you point your gun separately from movement. Sheriff includes more of the movement associated with the genre.

The 1980s are where things get really exciting. 1982’s Robotron: 2084 tends to be thought of as the seminal top-down twin-stick run-and-gun. It has you mow down robots while keeping light on your feet. The twin-stick formula would stick around for games like Smash T.V. and Total Carnage, two games that would help open the ’90s for the sub-genre.

Perhaps the most important release for the genre happened in 1987 with Konami’s Contra. With its mix of platforming and eight-directional shooting, Contra set the standard for what a platformer run-and-gun could be. It was tough as nails, fast as lightning, and with more shooting than a warzone. It was later ported to numerous other systems, most famously on the NES where its scaled-down graphics and outstanding soundtrack made it a classic on the console.

The Metal Slug series is one of the more prominent examples of the legacy of Contra. Taking Contra’s core formula and adding in a dash of over-the-top personality and lavish art and animation, Metal Slug was released on the Neo-Geo arcade cabinet. Cartoonishly violent, surprisingly deep, and maddeningly fun, the Metal Slug series was an absolute treat.

Both Contra and Metal Slug have kept the flames of the run-and-gun burning through countless sequels and re-releases. Alongside them, the genre flourished with classics like Zombies Ate My Neighbours, Gunstar Heroes, and the Super Star Wars series.

The genre is so timeless that it continues to persist and evolve to this day. Alien Hominid started off as a Newgrounds flash game, before coming to consoles. The indie sphere has seen titles like Guns, Gore, and Canoli, Blazing Chrome, and Cuphead.

Bite the Bullet is proud to join the ranks of the run-and-gun. We’re hoping to take the genre to the next level by incorporating the favorite pastime of eating into the mix. It’s the world’s first run-and-gun-and-eat! We’re cooking up the full three courses of sprinting, munitions, and mastication. Get ready, because the run-and-gun is forever!

Got a favorite Run and Gun and need to tell someone about it? Give us the details on our Discord!

Ready to Run and Gun and Eat? Wishlist Bite the Bullet and get ready to chow down on some bullets, zombie meat, and more!



Mega Cat Studios

Mega Cat Studios is a creative first company based out of Pittsburgh, PA. We love creating games. From retro cartridges to PC & VR, come play with us.