Review by Joe the Destroyer
"It's action-packed, it's beautiful, and it's got about $10 worth of my quarters..."
As a sheer unwritten law for me and the arcade in the AAFES mall, I have to play every game that comes in (except that Golden Tee golf game; I refuse to play that). It's almost like a wolf marking his territory or the big football jock with the entire cheerleading squad; I just have to sample each one. A good number of them get my attention once, then never again (the Black Rose pinball game, Raiden Fighters 2, and Tekken 2 to name a couple). However, there are very few that can captivate me just enough to rush to the arcade on my breaks from work just to senselessly waste a portion of my earnings on. Those are the prestigious, the proud, and the ones that get a bit of my hard-earned cash. Strikers 1945 Plus is one of them. At first glance, I figured it would be good for a first try. I almost seemed to pass it off as another shooter game. Of course, it is like every shooter game, except with some strange level of addictive material in it. It is almost as though Psikyo put meth in the joysticks and buttons to keep you coming back for more each time. Hmm... Maybe that would explain the shakes and outbursts I've been having lately... Damn you Psikyo!
There doesn't seem to be a discernible storyline here. However, based on the enemies you fight (particularly the ones on Mission 8), I'm guessing an advanced race of aliens plans to take over Earth and their last hope is a group of men and women who are given the task to command several different powerful planes into battle with the aliens. Such planes would include a high power Spitfire (MK. 4, I believe), a flying pancake, a Fiat, and several others (I can't remember any of the names).
The gameplay may sound very basic and unoriginal, but it somehow manages to wrap itself around you and say, ''Come back again, or I'll cry!'' Almost as a seductor would with those lucid, blue eyes and that gorgeous smile and that... OH LORD! SHE'S IN THE BACKYARD ALREADY! LEAVE ME ALONE! I mean... Okay, so I digress... Anyway, the game is pretty much your basic shooter. You pick a plane out of the ones they give you and take it into battle on a vertically scrolling screen. Each level continues to scroll as more and more enemies pour out from each crevice. Being the good pilot that you are, you must blast them out of the sky. Holding down fire also gives you a little incentive. While doing so, you can charge up for extremely powerful attacks that can be unleashed upon the enemies in the screen. You are also given a certain number of special bomb attacks which can help save you from both enemies and their bullets (meaning that the bomb attacks with actually block bullets for you!). At the end of each level, not surprising, is a boss which you must defeat to advance to the next level.
Psikyo put a lot of hard work into the gameplay. Sure, it was simplistic and ordinary, but the action value put into the game made it all the more worth while. The action was truly conveyed not only through the gameplay, but also through the graphics and sound (the way it ought to be!). Each level gave you a perfect amount of enemies and loads of bullets to dodge at the same time, giving you the edge-of-your-seat action I've come to expect from many shooters. The bosses at the end of each level add a certain spice to the action that is much needed. Many of them are well designed and go into multiple attack phases, forcing you to change your strategy and think fast.
The special attack and bomb system are nothing new, really. We've seen stuff like this on many other previous games, however, it's not really a complaint. It's nice to have those features, as leaving them out would make the game seem just a bit more dated than it really is. The only real change that was made to the special attack system is that you can power your attacks up to different levels of power for more damage. While this is a great and innovative system, it seems next to impossible to get your special attack past level 1.
The graphics are incredibly done and complement the action (as mentioned earlier) in a very powerful way. The biggest turn-on in terms of the visuals aiding the action has to be the explosions. Yes, explosions are an over-used example for many games, but the ones in this game are incredibly well rendered and animated. It also made defeating the bosses seem like more of an accomplishment; Seeing your own rival crash and burn. Psikyo also put good attention to detail in the graphics. Each enemy and boss is phenomenally designed with great tones and dark textures, the bosses especially. Each one just looks incredibly mean and destructive and their transformations throughout the battle are simply to die for.
Another of the complements to the action comes from the sounds. Not just the music, but the sound effects. The great blasts and marvelous explosion sounds add a sort of realism to the game that isn't felt in every shooter. Even using special attacks and hearing the whir of the lasers or loud blasting cannons just seems to add a little power to the gameplay. The music doesn't really seem to do a whole lot for the game except fill the void, which it does nicely. Most of the soundtrack mainly has the feeling of desperation. The only real music from the game that is enjoyable to any extent is the boss music, which has that sinister alien sound to it.
Psikyo honestly put together a powerful and action-packed shooter that should not be missed by any diehard shooter fan. The game brings you fast-paced action with its own addictive blend of great graphics, sounds, and gameplay that any shooter game really shouldn't be without. On an earlier version of this review, I stated the game was too long. After having finished the game (with a lot of quarters), I found the game wasn't too long, but they don't exactly give you enough quarters for just one credit. Only two lives, that's it. This may just be a small nitpick, but I'd rather have three lives to tell you the truth. Yes, I can see all of you falling down out of your chairs anime style.
If Psikyo were to continue the series beyond this game, they should bring about the same formula, however, innovation will be necessary. It may be an innovation in the mechanics or even better graphics and sounds. Who knows... Just as long as future releases of the Strikers 1945 series have something new for their fans to chew on and enjoy. I'd really hate to see this series become another Rampage or Mortal Kombat.
Graphics: In the words of my friend, schweet! Great textures, colors, and tones used for a beautiful presentation. 9/10
Sounds: Nice sound effects, okay music but doesn't really seem to stand out much 8/10
Controls: Great feel, not too stiff or over-responsive... However, are four buttons really necessary for this machine considering two of the buttons have no use? 9/10
Plot/Storyline: I'll let you know when I find out what it is... N/A
Gameplay: Fast-paced and highly addictive 9/10
All Together: 9/10
*Loads of action
*Great graphics and sounds to complement said action
*Awesome special attacks
*Mean looking bosses
*Only two lives per credit
Anyone surfing around in the arcades should dedicate a quarter or two to this game, especially if you love shoot 'em up titles. If you were disappointed with the original Strikers 1945 (which I didn't like nearly as much as this), don't let that discourage you out of playing this one. This one definitely gets my recommendation.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 12/17/02, Updated 05/10/10
Game Release: Strikers 1945 Plus (US, 12/31/99)
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