With so many shoot 'em ups out there, it's fantastic whenever a compilation of them releases. Speaking of which, Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is here and it's a collection of 6 classic shmups so let's get shooting!
Since 2017, 10 Psikyo shoot 'em ups have popped up on the Switch eShop and now, 5 of them are available in Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha along with the previously unreleased Strikers 1945 III. I won't go on and on about the specific games here because I actually wrote in-depth reviews for every single one of them already so please read those if you'd like to learn more about the individual games.
In short, the first 2 Strikers 1945 games are pure shoot 'em up goodness with awesome transforming bosses and a variety of planes to choose from, Sol Divide: Sword of Darkness is a disappointing mess for the most part, Dragon Blaze is a very well-done shmup with satisfying game mechanics, and Zero Gunner 2 is a super-fun shooter where you have to keep rotating your helicopter. As you can see, the quality of these games range wildly from strange oddities to must-have shooters but there's no denying that having 6 of them in 1 convenient collection is indeed awesome. With all of that out of the way, let's check out Strikers 1945 III!Strikers 1945 Review Strikers 1945 II Review Sol Divide: Sword of Darkness Review Dragon Blaze Review Zero Gunner 2 Review
Strikers 1945 III
Just like the previous 2 games, Strikers 1945 III is a fairly basic shmup where you shoot and deploy bombs whenever you're in a sticky situation. The first game featured a cool satellite power-up system while the second relied on a special gauge which dictated your charged shots. Strikers 1945 III follows the second game as it allows you to fire super shots by using stored energy in your gauge. It also has a nifty bonus feature in the form of technical bonuses where you can kill bosses in 1 hit by approaching an exposed blue core which makes it turn red then shooting it. There's also a cool score mechanic where collecting multiple medals in a row as they shine grants a chain bonus. Honestly, the core game is so tough and hectic that I can't imagine trying for chain bonuses while avoiding the clouds of projectiles that get hurled your way. Overall, it offers solid and challenging gameplay that's bound to delight as well as frustrate.
When it comes to presentation, Strikers 1945 III looks and sounds fantastic. For starters, it has a more futuristic setting than the previous 2 games yet its soundtrack is just as epic complete with loads of arcade-style adrenaline-pumping tunes that help elevate its gameplay to new frantic heights. The transforming bosses are incredible and the stages themselves provide memorable scenarios that you'll want to play again and again. In the end, Strikers 1945 III is my favourite of the trilogy and I'm glad that I finally get to play it on console.
Odds and ends
As with the individual game releases, Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha features plenty of in-game options that allow you to adjust all sorts of aspects such as customizing the controls, adjusting various settings to make things more or less challenging, and optimizing the display. More specifically, you can rotate the display 90° to enjoy the games in tate mode, apply a couple of filters, or toggle the wallpaper which displays on the sides of the screen. There's also a handy manual for each game which I highly recommend reading even if you're already familiar with the games because some of them contain info about secret unlockable ships and such.
Of course, if you're like me and already purchased most of these games separately then Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha can be disappointing as each game remains the exact same from their original Switch releases. It's also kind of manipulative that Strikers 1945 III isn't available outside of this package and I wish Strikers 1945 Plus was thrown in as a bonus, too. Finally, the fact that they didn't bother to include any museum-style content is a bummer. All this consists of are the 6 games that you choose from a menu and that's it.
If you haven't already purchased most of the games separately, Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha can be a pretty sweet addition to any shmup fans' library as it contains a handful of solid titles that you're sure to enjoy for years to come.
- + Includes 6 classic Psikyo shoot 'em ups in 1 convenient package
- + Strikers 1945 III makes its Switch debut
- + Lots of in-game customization options
- - 5 of the games were released for Switch already and remain unchanged here
- - No museum-style content at all
- - Games range wildly in quality