Psikyo has a long history of making incredible arcade shooters and the sequel to one of their most popular shoot 'em ups is no exception. Strikers 1945 II continues the frantic action of the first game but it's an entirely different beast so let's check it out.
If you're in North America then you may have already played Strikers 1945 II as it was ported to the original PlayStation as simply "Strikers 1945". I remember playing that sucker for hours with its exciting transforming bosses, fantastic selection of ships, and killer soundtrack. Thankfully, you can now enjoy it all over again on your Switch.
Anyway, if you played the original Strikers 1945 that released just a few months ago, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how much of an improvement Strikers 1945 II is. The first thing you'll notice are the graphics and sound. Whereas the first game felt flat with its stereotypical environments and soundtrack, this sequel is full of visual variety and catchy music. It's so good that whenever I entered a new stage, I frequently thought, "Yes! This song again!" It really is a great looking and sounding shoot 'em up.
As well as presentational upgrades, the gameplay in Strikers 1945 II is much faster and far more difficult so good thing you don't have to pump quarters into your Switch! I'm usually quite good at shmups but I must admit that I got my ass handed to me multiple times while playing through Strikers 1945 II. However, there is a difficulty select so you can tone down the intensity if your skills and patience are lacking. Plus, you could always play with a friend in cooperative multiplayer who can assist you on the battlefield.
Besides just being more difficult, Strikers 1945 II also has streamlined gameplay mechanics. For starters, the satellite system that the original Strikers 1945 implemented where you collect options and deploy them via charged shots is completely missing. This made me kind of disappointed because I enjoy that dynamic a great deal. On the other hand, the charged shots are still powerful even without the cool satellite units and the new meter is pretty satisfying to fill as your charged attacks become more devastating.
Strikers 1945 II features a new lineup of selectable ships that should appeal to a wide range of play styles. Each ship has a distinct main shot and charged shot of varying strengths as well as a bomb attack so experimenting with them is a rewarding feat. Also, there are a lot of new bosses within the 8 stages and each one feels like multiple boss fights seeing as they transform once damaged enough.
Finally, I should mention that there aren't any extras or additional modes (like every other recent Psikyo release on Switch). All you get is the basic arcade game with some comprehensive options but many retro gamers like me want to browse through museum content which unfortunately isn't included. Heck, there aren't even any online leaderboards which should be a no-brainer in 2018.
Strikers 1945 II is a step up from the original but it still doesn't quite reach the heights of other classic shmups. The refined gameplay mechanics and added challenge make it a unique enough experience so if you enjoyed the first then you'll want to play this as well.
- + Faster and more challenging gameplay with streamlined mechanics
- + Visuals and music are much better
- + Great variety of new ships and bosses
- - Still short with not much replay value
- - Lack of extras and additional modes
- - No more cool satellites system