By Steve Baltimore / March 12th, 2020
|Title||Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha|
|Release Date||January 21st, 2020|
I have always been a fan of Shmups. I remember as a kid pumping many quarters into arcade machines so I could play these games in all their high octane glory. Thanks to many arcade collections coming out recently I can relive these classics at a much cheaper price. NIS America has brought both Psikyo Shooting Stars collections West. Both Alpha and Bravo have six classic Shmups, and give players both old and new ways to experience these great titles. Today I will be looking at the Alpha collection, so let’s see if these are good ports.
The story of all three Strikers 1945 titles follows terrorist group CANY as they seek to prolong WWII with alien technology. The Axis and Allies have teamed up in order to combat this threat. Even after CANY’s defeat, new foes will appear in this series spanning 54 years! In Sol Divide: Sword of Darkness the evil emperor Ifter seeks to become a demon and wipe out humanity. Only three powerful heroes can rise up and save the day! In Dragon Blaze four dragon riders have been tasked with obtaining ancient artifacts. Their motivations will all differ, but their paths will all lead them to Hell to face the Demon King! Last but not least is Zero Gunner 2. This one follows the story of an evil corporation that is trying to take over the world using a weather machine. Time for you to jump in the Zero Gunner helicopter squadron and save the day!
Yea the stories in these games are pretty weak, but with Shmups the gameplay is what really matters. I have to say all the gameplay here still holds up great. The Strikers 1945 series all basically have the same gameplay. Choose your plane with its own unique weapon upgrade path and lay waste to multi-tiered bosses. It’s quite amazing to see how far technology and graphics advance over the span of this series. Sol Divide: Sword of Darkness is the most interesting game in this collection. It’s the only side-scrolling game here. It’s also the only game to have a melee attack button. This game is almost like a flying beat em up with magic and interesting characters. Dragon Blaze is a vertical shooter where players can choose from four different dragons. Each one has a different shot style, and you can separate the rider from the dragon to have it shoot in a stationary position. Zero Gunner 2 is by far the best looking game. Very sharp 3D models and nice explosion animations aplenty here. The gameplay is interesting because you cannot turn the helicopter with just the D-pad. You have to hold a button to place a turn marker. This allows you to turn 360° and aim at your foes. This does take some getting used to.
I found all of the games here enjoyable in different ways. You can adjust the difficulty, lives per credit, number of credits and more in the options menu. This means you can tweak the difficulty of these any way you like. Buttons can be remapped any way the player wishes as well. This is very helpful in Zero Gunner 2 since you can place the map marker button on the bumpers. Each game has a couple of display filters and you can rotate the screen 90° if you want to set your Switch up vertically while in tabletop mode.
The audio in each game is crisp. The explosions never sounded better and all the sound effects are just like I remember them. Shmups are known for their great soundtracks and these are no exception. Each one has a ton of tracks to pump you up to blow up everything in sight. I think Zero Gunner 2’s was my favorite, but all of them are very good.
Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is one of the best collections like this I’ve seen. The port work was all quality and you can tell the team really wanted these to come out as close to perfect as possible. Fans of classic Shmups should be all over this one. They will definitely find a lot to love here. These game are pretty short and you can run through them in a few hours, but there is a ton of replay value as you challenge yourself to do better at each game. The $39.99 price tag might be a bit steep for casual fans, but I feel like the quality is here. This one is worth your coin if want to get into some classic Bullet-Hell goodness.
Game was provided by the publisher for review.
NIS AmericaPSIKYO Shooting Stars AlphaShmup