One of the longest running video game genres in history would be the shooter. If my memory serves me correctly, Galaga was probably my first exposure in the arcade or most likely at a skating rink called Skateland in Minnesota. I liked playing arcade cabinets there because I was a kid and the skates made me taller and it was easer to play. Of course, I was around ten at the time. They were fun, but it’s easy to understand where the term “quarter munchers” came from. It would seem like you would crash and burn quickly only to put another quarter in for a minute of brutal punishment.
I had never heard of Psikyo, nor had I played any of their shooters, but thanks to NIS America, I am able to try six brand new old shooters via their new collection on Switch: Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha. Six games in one package is always a lot of fun. Here is what I did. I started by playing Strikers 1945. I didn’t change any of the settings so I could see how far I would get. To be honest, I did not progress very far on my first play through of all the lives and continues that were given as default. I figured I might as well stay in the family, so next up on the list was Strikers 1945 II. The graphics and sounds were a little bit more advanced, but that still didn’t change the fact that I still sucked and only got to the second battle. Finishing off the trifecta was (you guessed it) Striker 1945 III, and boy the graphics and music were quite a bit more advanced here, as they should be given the years in between releases. I went on to sample the rest of the games to see what kind of variety was in store. Sol Divide is a side-scrolling shooter that features some beat’em up action (a nice twist). Dragon Blaze is an overhead shooter with a medieval look, and finally Zero Gunner 2 rounded out the experience and it was the most fun because I had never played a shooter quite like it before. Let’s dive into the individual titles, shall we?
Actually, I’m going to treat all three Strikers 1945 games the same here because they’re basically the same gameplay experiences with slight graphical differences. I had just as much fun playing all of them. There is something I’d like to point out about this collection. Every single one of these games feels like Galaga of my intro; they were designed to get someone to pump money into the cabinet to continue. I get that I’m old and slow of mind and reflexes these days, but I am Generation X man… I can play anything you can play and I can play anything better than you. No I can’t. But I just don’t see how you could get through any level on this one without blowing up at least once. You can turn the difficulty down, but that’s stupid. I always, and I mean ALWAYS, play games on the normal setting, especially the first time through. I never dumb it down and I’m not into self-deprecating cursing language fits of rage either.
That said, there are times when the entire screen just lights up with single hit projectiles. This is where you should use your bombs though. When you light off one of your powerful bombs it destroys everything on the screen, including the projectiles coming at you. I have figured out that someone who really wants to devote their life to getting amazing at these games could probably memorize every pattern from start to finish. I cannot. Not because I physically can’t, but because I just want to enjoy the time spent. Besides, when I wanted to get through all the stages to see the endings, I recruited my son and cranked up the lives and continues to unlimited. We were able to play through all six titles this way.
Sol Divide came next and, apples to oranges, I did not like this one as much as the other five games. It’s a side-scrolling shooter where you control a person or at least a likeness of a person. They shoot projectiles or they swing whatever weapon they have. My son, who is twelve, loved this one the most of all. He dominated it and made me look like a chump who never plays games at all. That’s most likely why I didn’t like it as much. The little punk, or darling boy, just resonated with the game.
Next I played Dragon Blaze. This one was super fun like Strikers, except you are a guy riding a dragon. The difference in this one is that you can hop off your dragon and do a little extra damage. Every ship, character, dragon, and helicopter has its own special sauce for defeating enemies. I really do recommend trying each and every one because 1) it’s extremely fun to try every combination, and B) there may be a specific plane, helicopter, dragon, or character that is just better suited to your style of play. My style is pray and spray, just so we’re clear.
Finally, my absolute favorite of the bunch was Zero Gunner 2 where you use helicopters to shoot the bad guys dead. You hold the A button to set a pivot point and then you can maneuver around that pivot point like a helicopter would. The enemies come from all directions. It was the most original title in the bunch for the gameplay style and brought the whole collection together for me in an extra special way.
As I mentioned, I had never played any Psikyo arcade games before and I enjoyed every single one of these and so did my son. I am going to make a recommendation for you if you do plan on dropping the cash to play these games: Don’t max out your lives or continues until you have just plain had enough and want to get further into the levels. Most of the fun in the shooter genre is progression and then beating your high score or competing with your annoyingly talented kids. This collection becomes even sweeter if you have a passion for auto-scrolling shooters or fondly remember playing these games in the arcade. Even without that nostalgia value I found the collection to be well worth my time and a great addition to my Switch library. Some of the games in this package support Tate Mode, so you can turn the Switch screen on its side for the full vertical screen space. If you have a Flip Grip, this would be a good time to use it!
Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha Review
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 9/109/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7/107/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is a fantastic shooting collection. Of course this comes with a slight disclaimer, because if you love shooters this will satiate your desire for many hours on end. If you aren’t a fan of the genre then you should pass this one up just like you have every other shooter in the past. This is fan service at its finest and should be handled as such.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.