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 leapsand bounds.

Strikers 1945 II follows the same line as the original, an overhead shooter filledwith enemies and transforming anachronism bosses, cool powerups, and nice bombeffects. There is increased adrenaline-pumping action here, as there are MANYmore 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" thatfollow your main plane and fire along with you to help you destroy enemies. If youheld the fire button for a few seconds, the little planes would assemble in front ofyour main plane. Release the button and the little planes would go off into aspecific formation and do some crazy techniques like firing huge lasers, homingin 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 comesfrom is the level meter located in the lower portion of the screen. As you killenemies, the meter increases. Now you know why I said that there are MANY moreenemies 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 thebutton, your plane does a special attack. The higher the level of the meter whenyou do the special attack, the more spectacular, bigger, and more damaging yourspecial attack becomes. This can actually make up for the loss of the helperplanes. In a sense, the helper plane attacks have been moved to the main planesthemselves. For example, in the original Strikers, the P-38's helper planes firedhoming 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 visiblyreturning planes. There are 6 planes to choose from total, so that leaves fournew planes. I've looked carefully and have seen that the four new planes havethe same firing animation of the missing Striker planes, so in a sense, the oldplanes are still there. The one truly changed thing is the bombs. The P-38 ofthe first Strikers has a different bomb now. The special attack is its originalbomb attack. Build your meter up to level 3 and relive the old bomb days of gloryfrom 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, pickthe 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 theHayate. 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 andexcellent. Whoops! Well, there IS one slight lessening effect. The level meteris squished in the normal game. Play the side-scrolling version though. . .

Control: Great. Like the original Strikers, the control is good and tight. Nocomplaints here either.

Music: I really only liked one stage's music, but the rest are decent. Reallythe same as the original. They are all new tracks, but really just provide goodbackground noise. Boss music is ok, nothing spectacular. As before, it's reallydrowned 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 didthey? 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 goldbars (for points) you collected in each mission. In the original Strikers, Icould only get a max of 150-155 for a shootdown--and then on only one mission thatthrew 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 someof them don't seem as impressive as the original Strikers' bosses. Some of thebetter ones are the mulipart battleship and that hated Submarine boss. The bossof 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 thegame.

PSX goodies:

Just like the original, they load the PSX with some extras. A totally rad introstarts 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 bonuswhich really gave this game its 10 was the addition of an option which gives youa rundown on each plane. Consider it the "omake" of Strikers II. It's all inspoken Japanese though, so I couldn't get anything out of it. But it's still allthe stuff. They tell you different things on each plane, all the while the planeis 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 normalgame squishes the meter (nothing to complain about), while the side-scrolling versionmakes 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 messwith it.

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

Any shooter fan and especially fans of the original Strikers 1945 should pick upa 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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