20 Dec

Strikers

 

When I heard of “Strikers 1945″ for the first time, I automatically thought it would be another sequel of Capcom’s classic 1942 series, but both series have very little in common.

At the beginning of Strikers 1945 there is a selection of five historical warplanes. Catch your favourite and defend the upcoming peace during the final days of WWII. All fighters are equipped with powerful front weapons and collecting 4 of those Psikyo typical bullet-shaped power-up symbols will bring them to maximum power. But more than that, it even places small shooting satellites at your side. If you hold the [A] button, instead of just tapping it, your weapon gets charged. Once you release it then, those satellites build up a special formation to attack the enemy. The kind of that formation is individual for each plane. Keep that in mind when you choose your fighter, since it will affect your tactics throughout the whole game.
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The smartbomb as always, will be released when you press button [B]. It differs in shape, depending on the chosen plane as well. One of them is a “1942 roll”, followed by powerful explosion, another one supports you with a swarm of bomber-planes. Furthermore there are energy barriers, giant laser beams and more.

The music of Psikyo games in general, had never been a great deal. In Strikers 1945 it’s a mix between march music and techno tunes, that fills the background with an unconspicous and unobtrusive accoustical carpet. It sounds ok, but it’s nothing you will dream of at night, I guess.

The whole game is 8 stages in length and you have to play 2 complete rounds in order to complete it. The stages are filled with hundreds of attacking planes, tanks and warships. Everything looks historical, although some machine designs are very exaggerated and far from realism – but that’s japanese, and we all like it, don’t we ?

Like in Gunbird and many later Psikyo games, The end of the stages are guarded by bosses, consisting of 2 or 3 parts. Once you shoot one part to toast, the next one, a smaller and faster enemy comes out of the wreck and attacks you.

Talking about realism: It seems that Psikyo renounced to introduce any characters at the beginning. Funny enough, once you have beaten the game, you will face the real pilots: A bunch of nude girls with big breasts !

Strikers 1945, Psikyo’s first WWII shooter, was the beginning of a new and very successful chapter in the company’s history. After a great start in japanese and US arcades, it was ported to Playstation and Sega Saturn consoles. Currently even a remake for mobile phones is in development.

24 Nov

Gunbird

1993 / 94 the fantasy shooter celebrated a rebirth with two companies at the top of the market: Raizing and Psikyo.
After their award winning eastern mythology themed Sengoku Ace, Psikyo decided to mix elements of the european history with a mech topic. The result was a fun-shooter that doesn’t took itself too serious: Gunbird

Five new characters with psychic abilities hunt for a magic mirror in several fantastic stages. The world of Gunbird is filled with strange mechanical devices, walking, flying and shooting at any intruder. The end of each stage is guarded by an evil trio called ‘the trump’. They attack the heroes with a huge machine. Once that machine is destroyed, a smaller and faster robot raises out of it as a second challenge, before the trump flees and our heroes are allowed to leave the stage.
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If shooter fans think of Psikyo characters, they automatically think of Marion, that cute 13 years old, blue dressed witch on her flying broom. First introduced in Gunbird, she is some kind of a mascot for Psikyo today. Other protagonists in this game are Valnus, the fat russian robot, a German scientist called Ash, a female fighter from China, similar to Jane (Sengoku Aces) and last but not least an old man on a strange wooden vehicle.

The weaponary system of Gunbird is very similar to it’s predecessor: The main shot on [A] button is individual for each character. Holding the same button charges the weapon to release something more powerful against the enemy. Furthermore there is a smart bomb on button [B].
Main power and number of bombs can be upgraded by collecting appropriate symbols.
Like in Sengoku Ace, the player will find gold coins throughout the game which reward him with 200 points for collecting each one.

Gunbird is one of the first games of that new era of shooter games. Original PCBs and Sega Saturn ports can be purchased for reasonable prices at Ebay or directly from game dealers. I can recommend this game especially to newbies of the Shmup genre, since it’s system is easy to understand, and the number of bullets on the screen is still moderate. Manic shooter fans sleeping with Batrider and waking up with Progear, will find Gunbird’s age of 8 years recognizeable when it comes to graphics and gameplay. Nevertheless it is still a good game, for players and collectors likewise.

12 Oct

Sengoku Ace (aka Samurai Aces)

Psikyo’s debut game Sengoku Ace (aka Samurai Aces) is a weird shooter that takes place in Japan’s ancient mythologies and features many strange vehicles, weapons and enemies. Wooden tanks and shooting moths are here as real a fighting spider-house. Technically Sengoku Ace begins, where the games of the former company Video System ended. To be correct, I’m not entirely sure if the whole Psikyo team came out of that company, but the similarities between early Psikyo Shooters and the Aero Fighters / Sonic Wings series are that close, that a coincidence is hardly possible.

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The game starts with a selection screen, where the player choses from six vehicles of a wide variety: Bird-like things, that well known WWII prototype with it’s tail rotor, ancient flying machines or even a modern Jet-fighter are ready for taking off.

Each plane has it’s individual weapons; upgradable in size and strength by collecting power-ups. Like in Aero Fighters, the final weapon upgrade lasts only for a short time, until it has to be reconfirmed by collecting another power-up item. Repetetive tapping the [A] button makes the main weapon shooting, while holding the same, turns it into a slower but more powerful charge shot. With the second button you can drop a limited number of smartbombs. To refill the bomber stock, you should collect the B-symbols. Sengoku07

In order to finish Sengoku Ace, you have to play each stage twice. The second round features minor color palette changes and harder gameplay. The different color palette btw. is another feature we already know from Aero Fighters.

Sengoku Ace has not much of a scoring system. No multipliers or any other upgradable score systems spotted. Shoot enemies and collect coins for points. It’s mainly “Old-skool” classic with a touch of modern gameplay.

1993 was also the year of Mahou Daisakusen (Raizing’s debut shooter), and Batsugun, the last shooter of old-skool godfather ‘Toaplan’. I would call that age a bridge between old-skool and the mothern shmup.
- [the sheep] in 2002