Review by DHouston

"A perfect arcade port; a perfect sequel; a truely perfect shooter game"

Oh my gosh, a game that actually got a 10 from me. I must be getting soft. Anyway, Strikers 1945 II is the sequel to the fantastic shooter, Strikers 1945. It is truely a great sequel in all forms, and builds on the original in leaps and bounds.

Strikers 1945 II follows the same line as the original, an overhead shooter filled with enemies and transforming anachronism bosses, cool powerups, and nice bomb effects. There is increased adrenaline-pumping action here, as there are MANY more enemies that come at you in this game. There is a legitimate reason for this, as will be explained below.

In reviewing the original Strikers 1945, I totally forgot to mention the powerup system. In the original Strikers 1945, when you gain powerups, you get small "helper planes" that follow your main plane and fire along with you to help you destroy enemies. If you held the fire button for a few seconds, the little planes would assemble in front of your main plane. Release the button and the little planes would go off into a specific formation and do some crazy techniques like firing huge lasers, homing in on opponents, or filling the screen with gunfire.

In Strikers 1945 II, the helper planes have been removed. This will come as a major shock to fans of the first game (like me). This time, when you gain powerups, you increase the firepower of your main plane ONLY. Where the real power comes from is the level meter located in the lower portion of the screen. As you kill enemies, the meter increases. Now you know why I said that there are MANY more enemies to shoot in this game. When it reaches a certain level (from lv.1 to lv. 3) you can hold the fire button for a few seconds to charge up. When you release the button, your plane does a special attack. The higher the level of the meter when you do the special attack, the more spectacular, bigger, and more damaging your special attack becomes. This can actually make up for the loss of the helper planes. In a sense, the helper plane attacks have been moved to the main planes themselves. For example, in the original Strikers, the P-38's helper planes fired homing missiles. In this game homing missiles now come from the P-38 itself.

Many of the planes from the original Strikers are gone--technically. The P-38 (it just wouldn't be Strikers w/o a P-38) and the Shinden are the only visibly returning planes. There are 6 planes to choose from total, so that leaves four new planes. I've looked carefully and have seen that the four new planes have the same firing animation of the missing Striker planes, so in a sense, the old planes are still there. The one truly changed thing is the bombs. The P-38 of the first Strikers has a different bomb now. The special attack is its original bomb attack. Build your meter up to level 3 and relive the old bomb days of glory from the original Strikers. The new bomb attack is a formation of other planes that attack the enemies.

You want some more deja vu? If anyone misses the Spitfire's huge laser bomb, pick the Pancake (this is THE plane, I mean, just how can you pass up a plane with a name like Pancake)and use its special attack at level 3--ahh, refreshing--ok, it's blue, but still. . . . Want the Zero's homing helper plane attack? Pick the Hayate. It's normal powerup releases helper planes--truely a help in this game.

Some rundown info:

Graphics: Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. If that isn't enough--perfect. If you want something else--perfect. If you are begging for a different opinion--perfect. Ports the arcade exactly to the pixel. No difference, no lessening, just exact and excellent. Whoops! Well, there IS one slight lessening effect. The level meter is squished in the normal game. Play the side-scrolling version though. . .

Control: Great. Like the original Strikers, the control is good and tight. No complaints here either.

Music: I really only liked one stage's music, but the rest are decent. Really the same as the original. They are all new tracks, but really just provide good background noise. Boss music is ok, nothing spectacular. As before, it's really drowned out by all the explosions.

Why did this game get a 10 when it's equally good predecessor got a 9? They removed those annoying black bars and gave you use of the whole screen--or did they? Can't remember :P Maybe I just got used to it and didn't notice or care. Yeah, now I could enjoy the game just like it's arcade counterpart.

Just to give a clue as the enemy number increase. The Strikers 1945 games give your stats after you win. They tell how many enemies you shot down and how any gold bars (for points) you collected in each mission. In the original Strikers, I could only get a max of 150-155 for a shootdown--and then on only one mission that threw hordes of enemies at you. In Strikers II, you can get 200+ EASILY for SEVERAL of the missions.

More morphing bosses are in this game (a trait of the Strikers series), but some of them don't seem as impressive as the original Strikers' bosses. Some of the better ones are the mulipart battleship and that hated Submarine boss. The boss of the game is an organic organism, unlike that weid Star boss of the first game. Ha! No crabs! Guess the Strikers II fold moved to land when they developed the game.

PSX goodies:

Just like the original, they load the PSX with some extras. A totally rad intro starts the game off (man, I wish you could do teamwork like those guys do--the way the Hayate gets a bad guy off the Pancake is totally cool). A spanking bonus which really gave this game its 10 was the addition of an option which gives you a rundown on each plane. Consider it the "omake" of Strikers II. It's all in spoken Japanese though, so I couldn't get anything out of it. But it's still all the stuff. They tell you different things on each plane, all the while the plane is slowly rotating in full FMV glory. A great addition to the game.

Those three playing modes are back. One thing I noticed is that that "side-scrolling" version makes the level meter appear exactly like the arcade version. The normal game squishes the meter (nothing to complain about), while the side-scrolling version makes it into its actual size. I still can't get used to the side-scrolling version though. That other "screen-moves-with-you" mode is there too, but I don't mess with it.

One thing they removed that I wished they didn't is that you don't get to see your pilots if you win without continuing. They do give you a weird logo though. You know how some pilots would paint decorations on their planes (like a type of ownership symbol)? This is what the logos are like. They are funny and give some incentive to play all the planes.

Any shooter fan and especially fans of the original Strikers 1945 should pick up a copy of Strikers 1945 II. You won't be disappointed at all.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 11/01/99, Updated 11/01/99

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