I’m a huge classic shmup fan. I fondly remember burning quarters at an arcade cabinet if to only get a little further into a level raining bullets on me. Now, there’s a handful of games that stand out as some of the best in the genre, and thankfully for fans, they are now on one collection.
Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha brings together six beloved shooters and bundles them together in one package on Nintendo Switch. Sadly, five of the titles have been readily available on Switch for quite some time, so this could very well be a collection of games that you’ve already purchased.
Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha includes Strikers 1945, Strikers 1945 II, Strikers 1945 III, Sol Divide: Sword of Darkness, Dragon Blaze, and Zero Gunner 2. Aside from Strikers 1945 III, each of these titles have been available on the Nintendo eShop. Still, this collection offers a way for players to switch between them without exiting out of the game to open another title. What every shmup fan can agree on is that this is a robust collection of some great titles.
The Strikers trilogy is by far some of the best shmups I have ever played. Unlike trilogies of games where the latest entry is the best, each entry in this series is a must-play for shmup fans. The level design is gorgeous, offering numerous locations to fly through, causing mass amounts of damage. Each of the game retains this theme of a war set in 1945 until you fight a giant mech style boss and find yourself in later levels that make you realize that this game isn’t trying to factually correct by any means.
Each fighter has a unique shooting pattern to fit the player’s playstyle. There are also power-ups found within the levels that make these patterns over-the-top and beautiful. I will say that these titles are incredibly difficult as they retain their quarter eating design. However, each game in this collection includes a difficulty option that makes them a little more manageable. Given that these are classic shmups, maneuverability is something that I had to get used to as I feel like I’ve become too accustomed to slowdown options and easy to recognize bullet patterns.
As for the rest of the titles in the collection, I felt that I spent most of my time playing Zero Gunner 2 as it offered a different approach to the auto-scrolling gameplay. Players take control of a helicopter and utilize a semi-twin stick mechanic to take out enemies. Dragon Blaze is a fantasy Strikers clone that has some of the most annoying sound effects. That said, there’s a charm about it that I found enjoyable, even though it gets extremely challenging.
The last title in the collection, Sol Divide: Sword of Darkness, is perhaps the most unique as it allows players to choose a character and make choices throughout the adventure that change the story. The game has a few RPG-like mechanics where you level up magic, and you even have an HP bar. Still, the game is incredibly difficult at times, even on Normal settings.
Each title in Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha has options to add extra continues or change the screen vertically for some of the games. I appreciated this as it’s just an extra layer of options to help practice some of the more difficult areas.
Each game retains its nostalgic feel, but when it comes to the Strikers series, there is a timeless presentation about them. Sadly, the collection doesn’t have any extra features, as seen in the SNK Collection, where players could access manuals and additional artwork.
As great of a collection as Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is, shmup fans would probably already own each of the titles on Switch. However, this does allow them to own them all in one physical collection. There isn’t anything added to the collection either, so you’re pretty much just getting the games. Still, I’d say this is an excellent collection of the games, and the Strikers series makes it worth it in the end if you don’t already own them.
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