The genre may be dying according to some, but there are still a few outposts where the classic 2D shooter still reigns. While not the most innovative genre, these types of games make up for it with their predictable consistency. While not having any pretensions about moving the genre forward Agetec and Psikyo have teamed up to bring a classic-style arcade shooter to the Playstation console at a reasonable price in the form of Strikers 1945. This bargain-price title offers a good, solid challenge and some excellent bonus features. There’s enough classic gameplay elements present that should keep retro-gamers happy, though those who didn’t grow up on these types of games might find this a bit primitive, with its polygon-free visuals. The game has several different modes included – there’s a traditional full-screen approach which has the same play balance as the arcade version and an enhanced scrolling mode where the game’s been made harder. Players can also select the difficulty level, from easy to hard, but this generally only means the enemies fire more bullets at the player. Aside from this, it’s a no-frills conversion which is fine given the low price and entertaining play in evidence.
Obviously taking more than a little inspiration from Capcom’s famous 194X series of shooters from the early 90’s with some influence from Raiden mixed in, Strikers 1945 is a cool retro title that should warm the hearts of any gamer weaned on the aforementioned games. While it’s a fresh title, it seems more to exist as a tribute to Capcom’s classic shooter series. It has similar types of World War II planes, a very familiar power-up system and the planes dive here as well, though in Strikers, its too call on a fleet of planes for a special attack. Strikers 1945 is very much in the spirit of those titles with very similar play mechanics and play styles. Everything about the experience feels retro as if it had come from a time capsule, without any concessions to modern innovation. This won’t make today’s attention spans happy, but so what? Its further evidenced as a classic game title as the original title came out in arcades during 1997 yet is this translation is only arriving now. Strikers 1945 features a wide variety of ships, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The game offers plenty of variety for the shooter fan with 6 in all selectable at the start of each mission, this adds a lot of replay value to the proceedings. Strikers’ graphics are very simple, basically a classic 2D approach – the game’s horizontally scrolling action should offer most players a good sense of familiarity and the play itself is quite solid with an excellent arsenal of weapons at the player’s disposal.
As you’d expect from Psikyo, the action is quite manic with dozens of bullets coming at the player at once, though it’s not as crazy as some of the other title’s they’ve done such as Giga Wing and Mars Matrix on the Dreamcast. One of the main problems with the game is that its level layouts are a bit short, which means the experience doesn’t have enough longevity. The first few levels likewise are cakewalks, and most gamers should be able to get through them with their eyes closed, raking in some points and power-ups with little effort. However, later levels grow much more intense. Thankfully, there are loads of power-ups that appear after you destroy an enemy. These are scattered throughout each mission and there are two basic types – ones that increase the firepower of the weapon you already have and those that change the type of weapon itself. The end-level bosses are massive, screen-fillers but their actions are largely predictable. While not the most exciting AI ever seen in a video game, the game still manages to offer plenty of challenge but is still a bit mindless. Some may hate this aspect of the gameplay, while others may find it a refreshing change of pace from the super-elaborate cinematic titles of today.
All in all, this is a solid, mindless shooter that’s
a fun throwback to the simpler games of a decade ago. Strikers 1945 lacks the 3D
bells and whistles of the newer titles in the genre, and its powerup system
seems almost quaint in comparison to the mega-weapons and elaborate attack
systems of titles like Radiant Silvergun. You really have to love the genre to
get the most satisfaction out of it, but if you’ve played enough of these
types of games, you’ll probably wonder what the big deal is and why so many
gamers still love classic shooters in this mold. The best way to describe these
games’ lasting appeal a decade after their prime is being about one-half
nostalgia and one-half their sheer simplicity. Strikers 1945 doesn’t go as far
as it could have but it’s a welcome tribute to the dynasties of the genre. The
straightforward approach allows it to get the job done. This should be a welcome
addition to any shooter fan's library.