Horizontal and vertically scrolling shooters were incredibly popular in the arcades in the 80s, so naturally that popularity extended to home consoles as well. In fact, by the end of 1985 the Famicom had already seen home ports of a lot of the popular arcade shooters of the time: Xevious, Galaxian, Galaga, Space Invaders, and Star Force. It only made sense that the hit anime franchise Macross, known for its mech/fighter plane hybrids, would be transformed into a horizontally scrolling shooter on the Famicom. Actually Macross had already had its first console shooting game
on Bandai's own short lived home console, the Arcadia, just about 2 years prior. Though it came after the aforementioned genre establishing shooters, it beat some others (such as Gradius) to the home market by several months.