Following the success of the super-fun shmup Gunbird, Psikyo released another arcade shooting gem. Strikers 1945 is a crazy cooperative shoot 'em up that'll have you and a friend blasting away enemy mechs within an alternate post-war history so let's check it out!
Strikers 1945 takes place after World War II where an unknown force is threatening the world with super-powerful and never before seen weapons and it's up to you and your team of ace pilots to put an end to them before they get their wish of world domination. Although it shares a similar title, the Strikers 1945 series has nothing to do with Capcom's 19XX series and it's played quite differently as well. For starters, you choose from an array of six unique ships. No matter which ship you choose, you basically have three attacks: a rapid-fire shot, a charged attack, and bombs that you can unleash in desperate situations. It's simple and easy to understand yet the campaign gets rather challenging which is an ideal dynamic for a shoot 'em up. Plus, playing cooperatively with a friend makes the arcade action even more enjoyable.
When it comes to visuals, Strikers 1945 is a sharp-looking game and it's easy to make out onscreen hazards and projectiles which helps streamline the gameplay. The explosions and flashes of white make the action feel a lot more chaotic, too. However, I must say that the stages are mostly unmemorable as they primarily consist of military complexes with generic enemies. In other words, you won't come across any jaw-dropping moments. Along these same lines, the music is equally forgettable with plenty of bland tunes that don't do much besides add a little to the war-themed atmosphere. Overall, Strikers 1945's sights and sounds are rather underwhelming.
As I mentioned already, there are six ships to select from. Each one features completely different attacks for all three types which makes experimenting to find your favourite plane quite a fun endeavor. As you progress, you'll collect power-ups that are utilized in a very interesting way. Each one grants you an additional satellite plane that both increases your base firepower by providing support as well as increasing the power of your charged attack. For example, one plane may command four of its underlings to act as stationary turrets upon unleashing a charged attack. This makes taking on the tough boss fights a lot of fun. Speaking of which, even though the stages are unmemorable, the bosses are impressively cool and mostly consist of military vehicles and ships transforming into giant mechs.
Version differences: Switch vs. PS1 vs. PSP
Although there was a game released in North America on the original PlayStation titled "Strikers 1945", it was actually a port of the sequel: Strikers 1945 II. This Switch release is indeed a port of the original which, as far as I know, has never been released before on console in North America. You may have also heard of the PSP game "Strikers 1945 Plus". Even though it sounds like a remake of the original, it's actually an enhanced version of Strikers 1945 II. If only Strikers 1945 III would be ported someday...
Unfortunately, this release of Strikers 1945 doesn't contain very much content besides the basic arcade port. Considering the campaign only contains eight stages that you could work through in one sitting, extra modes or a list of challenges would have went a long way to provide some much-needed replay value. Also, some bonus materials such as the history of the game and gallery items would have made it a much more worthwhile purchase but none of that sort of content is included.
Although it's not the best example of a classic arcade shooter, Strikers 1945 is an enjoyable game to pick up and play whenever you want a fix of retro shoot 'em up action. Hopefully, we see the sequels arrive sometime down the road, too.
- + Simple, challenging, and overall enjoyable cooperative shoot 'em up arcade action
- + Variety of distinct planes to fly
- + Satisfying power-ups and boss fights
- - Only eight stages to work through with no additional modes
- - Unmemorable music and stages
- - Lack of replay incentives and extras