Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha Review (Switch)


A number of Psikyo shooters have found their way to the Switch eshop but now six of them have been collected together and released under the banner of ‘Shooting Stars Alpha’. A special physical edition is available with a number of extras but here we will be focusing on the games themselves. This collection contains three games from the Strikers 1945 series, Sol Divide, Dragon Blaze and Zero Gunner 2.

All six games are excellent action packed, adrenaline fuelled, shooters and there is also an unexpected amount of variety between them. The Strikers series are vertical scrolling shooters and the most straightforward of the games on offer. Each game has a selection of different planes (getting more modern as you progress through the series), for you to blast your way through hordes of enemies with. Each stage is wonderfully chaotic with gold bars acting as the collectibles needed to boost your score. The games follow the standard set up of being able to shoot and use a smart bomb and the key to achieving high scores is mainly about staying alive and chaining shots together.

The boss battles are suitable impressive as your little plane dives between waves of bullets from a massive foe. These tend to be in two stages with a robot often detaching to carry on the fight after the first part of the big boss has been downed. The third game offers the ability to take down a boss in one hit by waiting around for a particular spot to change from blue to red and then getting your plane close up for the killer shot and a massive points haul.

Dragon Blaze is another vertical shoot’em up but this time you are flying on the back of a dragon through a fantasy themed world. If anything, it’s even more chaotic than the 1945 games and as a result the difficulty is considerable higher. The big gimmick here is that you can separate the rider from the dragon. This gives you double the fire power and also allows you to put your dragon into sections of the screen filled with bullets and still do damage yourself. It’s an intense and rewarding game that seems fresh within a somewhat crowed market.

Zero Gunner 2 is among the more interesting shoot’em up games out there. It scrolls both vertically and horizontally and utilises a ‘lock-on’ system which is vital for moving and positioning your helicopter. When locked on players can manoeuvre their helicopter around the target to provide new angles for attack and evasion. It takes some getting used to as movement is different to most games of this type but once it clicks it is a highly enjoyable experience.

The only true horizontal scrolling game of the collection is Sol Divide. Like Dragon blaze, this is another fantasy themed game and players pick one of a handful of warriors to adventure with. This has the most complex of the combat systems in the collection with players being able to use a melee attack and a number of magic spells as well as the standard shot option. As you power up you can call on everything from fireballs to spells that slow down enemies or rain down thunder upon them. It is also crushingly hard as enemies are bullet sponges from the off. This means mastering of all the systems is vital to progression

The biggest potential issue for buyers is that the games don’t really have much in the way of extras. There are a few display options (yes, you can play with the Switch vertical), but nothing in the way of museum extras of other curio information. When you consider the detail that has gone into some of the other collections on the system then this is a noticeable omission. If you get hold of the physical release there is a ton of stuff to go through there but that does come at a premium price.

Overall, this collection is providing six excellent games together in one package. If shoot’em ups are your thing then this is really not to be missed. There is a nice mix of titles as well which showcase different elements from the genre and the games vary in base difficulty so players of all abilities will have somewhere to start. If you have enjoyed any of the games individually on the eshop then this is really a must buy.

Overall 8/10

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