Strikers 1954 (II) US ver - Psikyo - 2001

Strikers 1945 (II) US ver.
Psikyo - PSX - 2001

Reviewed by Matthew Williamson

This review will cover the Playstation version of the game Strikers 1945 released by Agetec, made by Psikyo. Recently I had finally decided to get this game for my PSX because it was becoming difficult to run to the arcade every day to try to break my high score. I was trying to at least get to mission 1-7, but the gaps of time would sometimes kill me. I would like to thank mostly Bernard Doria for all the help he gave me, and for updating his helper (see link at the bottom). I had heard a few good things about this port of the game for the PSX, so I decided to pick it up.

So which game is this? It is actually a port of the Arcade version of Strikers 1945 II released by Psikyo. Why release it as the first one you may ask? Good question. The United States never got the release of Strikers 1945 that Japan got. Which is also unfortunate, but at least we get the sequel, and at a budget price too.

It turned out to be quite good. Unfortunately there is no TATE mode (Vertical mode) so you have 2 other choices. Original 1 mode has crimped a bit of the top/bottom of the screen so that you don't have "wobble." Original 2 mode is pretty much "wobble mode" (thanks Rob) in where you have the full length of the screen, but your ship will make the screen scroll up and down giving it a wobble effect. You can also save your high score rankings for all the difficulty levels. Overall pretty good for a US port, it seems that TATE isn't coming over to the States very frequently anymore.

The one thing that owning this game over playing it in the arcade has for me is that I now know the story. O' glorious day it is when the mysteries of the story are unveiled for a shmup.  Strikers seem to follow the Post WWII style of game. Your crew, the "STRIKERS", have banded together to form the only force capable of restoring order after the "CANY" have attempted to revive "militarism". So now that we all know that...

The audio seems to have suffered a bit in the port over.  The explosions and gunfire seem a bit more ... I don't know, "digitized" I guess. Another problem is that background music seems to be a bit drowned out by the sound effects. This really hampers my enjoyment of repeated play because there is no option to turn the sound effects down or the music up, only stereo or mono.

The graphics look, for the most part, the same as the arcade version.  At points they look, again, slightly more digitized and rough. The explosions are where I notice the most graphical difference. I can only guess that they changed the explosions to save the player from massive slowdown. Speaking of slowdown, Strikers 1945 has almost none for the PSX. This is surprising compared to some of the other shmups for PSX.

The game play is where this game really stands out for me. I love how different your tactics have to be depending on which ship you choose. Most ships at power level one have the same firepower, but it is when you get the power up items that techniques will differ. All ships have a sub-weapon that will increase your firepower. There are some that have missiles, others have homing lasers, and even helpers that go and start chipping damage and can kill enemies while you’re safely dodging bullets on the other side of the screen.

You also have your Super Shot.  At the bottom of the screen there is a Super Shot gauge.  It can build up to 3 levels, each level making the attack stronger.  To access the Super Shot you need to "charge" your fire button.  When you have held it down long enough you will get a sound and you will see your SS near/under/in front of your ship. You can then carry it to the most strategic location and release it. Some SS's will linger and stay in the same area; others will release powerful attacks that head at your enemy.

No smart bombs? What the hell is up with that? Well in Strikers you still collect an item that looks like a bomb an even has B printed on it, yet it is support that you will get if you press the bomb button. Some ships have a Smart Bomb-esq attack where you will fly higher into the air to avoid bullets, but others do not. The ones that do not will usually call in much larger crafts that will come and barrage the enemy with bullets and block the ones coming at you by absorbing them.  Which type of support you have will depend greatly on what type of technique you’re going to use.

Make sure that when you pick your ship that it is one that will fit your style of play. Test out everyone before you decide on which you like the best.  If that doesn't work, try looking for tips from the pro's that can one credit the game. They will usually have tips on how to maximize the potential of one ship or another. See the bottom for links to other helpful sights that I have used for help. Also the ships in this game have pretty forgiving hit boxes (where the game will detect collision with bullets to see if you die). Make sure that you learn where you can scrape the bullets and where you cannot. As a general rule the wings can usually take a bullet with out the whole ship burning.

The levels in this game are not exceptionally long. Most of the time they take about 2 to 3 minutes to get from start to finish. The first four levels are entirely random (as far as I can tell). The first four will increase in difficulty as you advance. This can become a problem with the whole memorization thing. It will be difficult to learn everything in these first four to maximize your lifespan. Starting at stage 6 you start to get mini bosses. The levels also increase in length at this point. There is a second loop for this game, so if you can manage to take the game on and it seems easy enough, don't worry.

Most of your enemies will seem like nothing new if you have played other Psikyo shmups before. Most of them have a military theme to them; ships, planes, tanks, air ships, flying star-like guns. The bullet patterns are also quite similar to the other Psikyo games. You will get; spreads, swirls, globs, and spam. Some of these can seem a bit daunting at first, but after some repetition you will see the pattern. That is what I tell myself when I get to an area that I know I have a tough time with, "see the pattern, see the pattern."

The bosses in this game are really well done. Most will have 2 forms, and some more. When you finish with one usually the second will emerge from the wreckage of the other. The patterns that the bosses throw at you are usually pretty easy; they will just seem overwhelming at first. Lots of great designs and originality here. If you are familiar with the Neo-Geo's Striker's 1945 Plus you may also recognize some of the bosses in this game (although Strikers 1945 II came first).

There is some depth to this game, and it comes in the form of gold. Collecting the gold at the right time will increase your score based on how "shiny" it is. The gold will glisten approximately every 1 second and then you can get 2000 points. On the other end of that is that you can get as little as 200 (see snap shot labeled GOLD!! for visual aid).

So what does the Playstation version boil down to? A pretty good - albeit watered down - version of the original. The load times are quite acceptable and almost quick. The animations and backgrounds seem not to have suffered too much from the original. The largest problem? Well that would lie with in the whole Original 1 / Original 2 modes. In original 1 your screen is fixes so that you don't get a head ache, but at some moments in the game you’re stuck with only 2/3 the original area to fight a boss or a lot of ships. Less maneuverability equals more death. With original 2 mode you have the "wobble effect" where you get the whole screen, yet you cannot see it all at one time. This results in multiple deaths as well - not to mention the headaches.  The solution would have been; TATE, a better (yet narrower) Original 1 mode, or a port of Strikers 1945 Plus (the vertical scrolling yet horizontal formatted sequel of sorts). Over all I give this game a 6/10 for the PSX version; the Arcade version is a whole different review. I definitely recommend this to any Psikyo fan who is not hardcore TATE, you will not regret it.

Stage 1>>

If you have played this before, you may notice that this does not look like the first stage you had. Well that is due to the fact that the first four stages are random. The part that sucks is that you end up relearning the stages for each difficulty.



<< Select Your Craft

This is where you select your craft from a pick of 6 ships. Depending on which ship you pick will determine what style of play your wanting to use. Anything from slow and powerful, to fast and weak. You also get the nice close-up of the craft your highlighting. 



Big Cannon, Small bullets >>

The bullet patterns coming from this guy, if you get him as one of your first 2 levels, is quite easy... when they are patterns.  After a pattern or two he will just start spamming bullet out of his turrets.

Aside from that, quite predictable and not too difficult.


<< The Flying Boat

Most of the bosses in the first four levels can be seen sometime before you reach them in battle.  If you pay attention in this level you can watch it take off from the water ... hence the name Flying Boat.

The first form is actually quite easy with bullets coming from the tail of the ship. You have to destroy the large tail, then he gets pissed and sheds his wings.

You Sunk My Battleship!! >>

This levels has quite nice designs. It is one of my personal favorites. The only problem - or lack there of - is that the battle ships are shy and don't like to fire at you unless you get this as your 3rd or 4th level.



<< The Intro

This is what the intro looks like... well in the arcade version.  See that map that is in the background?  Yea well that is not in the PSX version.  Yes it still tells you the latitude and longitude of the location that your striking on the PSX... unfortunately it was unknown until I saw this background where that location was.

Take out the Giant Rotating Canon>>

Yea Psikyo is kind of well know for having a boss come out of a boss. This guy is no exception. He is set up so that you have to take out both the spread cannon and the large cannon. If you take out one before the other he'll get all pissy.


<< Led Zeppelin

Ummm no wait that is not what is says.  This is a great boss.  This is the, well, middle of the first form of him. You pretty much have to dissect this boss. Take out the front turrets, take out the command center...

Planes, Trains, and Turrets >>

This is the another great level. You have bombers followed by trains. If you thought security is tight at the airport you have never been to this train station.

Most of these trains contain at least one piece of gold and if you get it as your first mission you can collect some nice points right at the start.


<< More?!?!?

Like I said you have to dissect this boss. Psikyo is known for a Boss coming out of a boss coming out of a boss now.



Bullet Pattern Dream >>

Goliath's second form will most of the time shoot a huge bullet that burst into a bunch of slow moving ones. He will then send some drones out at you.

I got the "pissed" attack here.  Looks really nice, but looks can be deceiving.


<< Bomb... err Support!

This is the first form of Goliath. Coming out as a beefed up train with a lot of pumping pistons and cannons blazing. The first barrage of bullets that he releases can get your ship tangled. I decided to call in support.

Some ships in this game have a sort of smart bomb where when you call your support you can fly up and away from the bullets for a brief time.  Others do not.  Such as my support here.  If I had been at the top of the screen trying to survive a bullet I would have bit it.

GOLD!!! >>

This is the first area of the IRON CASKET mission. This is an excellent opportunity to rack some large points in the very beginning.

Points range from 200 to 2000. If you want 2000 get the ones that look like the one in the lower left. When they shine white you get 2000 pts. This happens at 1 second intervals.


<< Into 4

As you can see there is some really nice art for some of the boss images in the intro's. This is one of my favorites.  You can see the hell turrets (read below) in this image and it actually takes place in the game.




As you can see the casket opens to reveal DEATH... if you cannot see the patterns that is.


<< Hell Turrets

If you look carefully this is actually the picture from the intro to the mission. You can see the boss at a lower altitude. This snap was taken right before he goes up and meets you ahead.

Also this section of the level can get a bit hectic in the later missions (3rd or 4th). If it gets really busy, call support.

Romel >>

Stage 5 takes place over a desert. Honestly this level is usually easier than the 4th level. I have no idea why this is.

Romel, the boss, has a few forms, and If you are use to Psikyo shooters then you may recognize other bosses with a similar shape from other games.


<< Boss inside the Nose

After you closed the casket (hahaha I slay myself) the nose of the air ship breaks off to show the menacing boss.  This second form can seem quite overwhelming, but is actually quite easy, even at later levels.



A River Runs Through It>>

Quite a beautiful level design. By far top on my list for shmup jungle background. Remember, this is not a tour.  Don't get caught looking too long.

"Ladies and Gentlemen to your left you'll notice a .. ARGHHH!!!"


<< Underwater?

What else would you expect after looking at this picture.  Well rest assured it takes place in the air.


Kool - Ade?>>

Now they are not even telling us what we are up against. Crap!



Mission 6 is the first mission to incorporate a mini-boss. First time here I was a bit confused at the ease and lack of second form, but nay, it was not the boss...


Level 8, don't even know what to say. This is one hell of a boss, I hope you have patience.


<< Underground Facilities

Stage 7 takes place somewhere under the jungle from the last level. In the beginning you get some nice scaling that shows you going ... wait I can't tell you!

All the screen shots above were taken with MAME. Unfortunately this game is not 100% accurate with some of its scaling and other visual effects in MAME. If your are curious you can give it a whirl and it should give you a good idea if you want to plunk down the money to get this game for your PSX or not.

Overall it is a good, addicting game.  There are a lot of techniques and help out there on the net for your game. I can easily sit and play the first levels over and over again for a few hours because of the randomness.  Yes it is irritating at first, but when you get all the difficulty levels down for all the random missions, it is quite a blast.  Well, have fun Shmupping! - Shapermc


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