The term Pod in this context and to shmups refers to any extra component for a player that is separate from the player and adds something extra to the player's arsenal. This "extra" is usually firepower, but can also be something else, like shielding.
The ability of pods also varies, with the simplest ones shooting out weak shots while the more complex ones can perfectly mimic the player, ala Options/Multiples. Pods may also have additional functions that are unique.
Usually pods are indestructible and may block enemy shots.
Examples of pods:
- Option/Multiple (Gradius Series)
- Force Unit (R-Type Series)
- Bits (R-Type Series)
- Red/Blue/Yellow/Green Pods (Image Fight I/II)
- CRAW/CLAW (Thunder Force Series)
- XA Support Pods (Super/Earth Defense Force)