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Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha

Posted by GG Goblin On February - 11 - 2020

Shmups for the Switch.

Anyone who would spend time lurking in arcades through the ’80s or early ’90s will have been aware of the shoot ’em up genre. At this time, they were massive and there were so many of them. While it may be that the shmup genre all but disappeared in recent years, these arcade action titles have never completely gone, and there are plenty of classics from various developers available right now on the Nintendo eShop, tempting those with nostalgic memories alongside younger gamers who may have never experienced this genre before. Psikyo, developers of arcade shoot ’em ups, want to offer something more though, and as such are releasing collections of shmups, with the first such collection titled Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha, bundling together six all action games for players to sink their time into.


For those who have never experienced the shoot ’em up, the concept is quite simple in that the player will control something, be it a plane, space ship or dragon, on a scrolling screen as loads of projectiles are launched towards them by whatever flavour of enemy the game may provide. The skill is in avoiding the projectiles, collecting rewards or power ups, and defeating the enemies until a big boss turns up. Long time gamers may have heard of the bullet hell genre, in which the screen is absolutely covered in patterns of projectiles that are all but impossible to avoid. For the more regular shoot ’em ups though, there are less bullets and less patterns, but things may move a lot quicker. If that sounds like something you may enjoy, then the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha bundle will have six examples of the genre to entertain.

Firstly, and perhaps the most familiar to the average gamer, would be the Strikers 1945 games. There are three of them included in this bundle, and they will feel familiar thanks to the setting in which players will take control of various planes as they scroll up the screen and take on vast numbers of enemies. Strikers 1945 was originally released in arcades in 1995, and Strikers 1945 II released in 1997, and both gave the player a choice of vintage plane to take on the enemy. Strikers 1945 III, which is also included, jumps the action forward by a few decades and offers the player much more modern planes to use. Each of the games offer different speeds and weapons depending on which plane the player uses, which keeps things interesting.

Visually, the first game in this series obviously feels lacking compared to the third. With that said, all three games look as good as they need to for what they are, shoot ’em ups. The fact that the first few stages of each game are mixed around with each play through keeps things fresh and allows the player to perhaps see more of the game than they would if they were struggling to progress. That’s the thing, the games are difficult in true arcade style, and it can take real skill to reach the end, although much of the appeal in these games comes from score chasing and ranking.


Keeping within the realms of reality, as much as possible at least, Zero Gunner 2 changes up the action by giving the player control of a helicopter rather than a plane. While this may not seem like much of an upgrade, the unique movement of the chopper in that it can rotate through 360ยบ and thus shoot in different directions, while still moving as normal, makes it interesting. It does a take a little practice to get to grips with the control scheme, but it does make the game quite different from the first three. Released to arcade in 2001, Zero Gunner 2 is a very nice looking game with some cool backdrops.

Leaving reality, Dragon Blaze from 2000 offers up some glorious fantasy in the shoot ’em up genre. There is a lot that makes this game stand out, not least of which is the player controlling a character on a dragon, which becomes even more cool as the character can separate from their dragon to attack the enemy from two different sides. Dragon Blaze is also perhaps the most “bullet hell” game in this collection, which will make some players very happy indeed.

Finally, there is Sol Divide: Sword of Darkness from 1996. This horizontal shoot ’em up tries to mix up the genres by throwing in a story that differs depending which character is chosen. There are three characters available, each of which is very different from the others, and the game includes projectile and magic attacks along with, rather amazingly, melee. Sadly, for a game that is so different from the other examples included here, Sol Divide is perhaps the least enjoyable, largely thanks to the very dated visuals.

Gamers who want the fast-paced, instant-on action that the shoot ’em up genre provides will find six varied games in this bundle that will hit the spot. Most of the game can be picked up individually through the eShop, but buying them digitally in this bundle will save a few quid on the whole bunch. There is also a physical edition of the bundle, which comes with some nice extras, but then the price shoots up to a more unreasonable figure.


Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is a bundle aimed squarely at the shoot ’em up fans. The six games included in this bundle are different enough that players will easily find a favourite, and all of the games work as expected. The visuals vary due to the ages of the titles, but they are all supremely playable. If shoot ’em ups are your thing, then the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha collection will be worth checking out. For the more casual player though, it may be worth checking these titles out individually.




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