Strikers 1945 II Nintendo Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: Zerodiv (originally by Psikyo)
Release Date: January 25th 2018
Price as of Article: $7.99 USD, £6.99 GBP
Strikers 1945 II was originally released to arcades in 1997 and eventually saw releases on the original PlayStation and Sega Saturn. This Psikyo shooter is now out on the Nintendo Switch thanks to Zerodiv who have already ported over the original Strikers, Gunbarich, Gunbird and even more recently, Zero Gunner 2 which I just reviewed. I also played the original when it came out and loved it, but then again I’m crazy about shooters. But do I think this one is up to standard?
Like almost all hardcore arcade shooter, there is basically no story to Strikers 1945 II. I know it’s supposed to be a direct sequel story-wise, but you’d never know unless you had the leaflet that came with the arcade cabinet. So in that regard I’m just going to leave it there. It’s a furious all-action shoot ‘em up. There’s very little need for a story and for that I’m actually rather happy. Who needs a story when you’re just going to spend 15 minutes blasting through waves of enemies?
The audio is pretty solid, it’s a comes across as a little muffled in this port, but otherwise it’s a great rocking soundtrack that really gets you pumped up to destroy hordes of enemy craft. The grungy electric guitar crunching away in every track is really awesome. Sure, it’s actually quite difficult to differentiate between tracks as they are a little same-y but it’s still very fitting and great to listen to nonetheless. It’s the kind of soundtrack that I would be happy to listen to outside of playing the game.
Visually the game for me is pretty nice looking, it has the classic sprites which I always enjoy. It doesn’t have much visual flair compared to other shooters, but that was the case for the original game too. Colours are a little dulled which is shame but it suits the World War II theme this way. When it was released back in 1997 when 3D was becoming the thing, this game probably looked a bit dated at the time but it’s aged far better than many of it’s peers in the visual departments.
The performance is perfect, no slowdown whatsoever in both docked and handheld which is what you’d expect, but you never know, many older arcade games suffered from horrific slowdown back in the day but that’s not the case for Strikers II. It’s a silky smooth experience throughout.
The gameplay follows a very similar mould to the original if you’ve played that. You chose one of six varied crafts to blast through 8 sweat inducing vertical levels of carnage. There are seven difficulty options to choose from and don’t let it fool you into thinking that “Monkey” is actually for monkeys. Even on that mode later levels can become ridiculously hard. Strikers 1945 II is definitely one of the hardest shooters that I’ve ever played. It’s quite a change of pace from Zero Gunner 2 which I kind of breezed through after a few goes. I think even if I played Strikers 2 a hundred times I would still find the ending stages tough.
As for your weaponry, you have three options. You have your normal shots which are set to auto-fire on the Switch’s A button. It starts off weak but can be upgraded by collecting power ups dropped by enemies, usually of red colourings. You can only upgrade a couple of times before it’s maxed out but it definitely makes a huge difference.
The second thing you have is your charge shot. This is normally performed by holding the shot button, but on the Switch it’s set to the Y button. Holding it down will do a quick charge and unleash a special attack. Finally you have the panic bomb. Pressing B or X will use your super attack which will decimate your enemies and shield you in equal measure. You only have a couple of these, but like the power ups, more can be collected in the stages. They are by far the most powerful thing in the game and can devastate even the toughest of bosses, well worth saving for a rainy day.
It should be noted that each of these three attacks are completely unique to each of the six different crafts. There’s a lot of variety in these ships and that’s always something that is the key to my heart when it comes to quick arcade shooters. Trying out all six is cool, but I’m sure you’ll eventually find your favourite one or two that work for you. Personally I was loving the Flying Pancake thing. No I’m not joking, that’s what it’s actually called.
Each of the stages have varied landscapes, from frozen waters to towns and so on, they don’t really have their own gimmick or anything. They always culminate in a tough boss battle which are impressive with how they have multiple forms, transforming mid-fight, usually into a massive mech. Overall the stages are pretty standard and do lack a touch of personality. They’re more grounded than the original too. There’s no going into space this time which I found quite amusing in the original.
As I said, it plays almost identically to the original which is good for the fact the original was an excellent shooter in itself but also disappointing in the fact they didn’t take it to the next level. If you’ve played Strikers 1945, you’ve basically played Strikers 1945 II. If you loved and desperately crave more Strikers then it’s great, but if you feel you’ve had your fill with the series then there’s nothing much that’s going to persuade you get this sequel. It’s much of the same.
Of course I need to also, when possible, sing the glory of vertical mode. Hidden away in the pause menu is the ability to rotate the screen, taking away the borders and giving you the full length of the Switch’s screen. It’s wonderful in all honesty and the fact that this exists just makes me want to squeeze my Switch with joy. Of course it’s not the largest screen so I personally would love Switch XL should Nintendo decide to do an upgrade model in a year or two.
One thing I used to criticise Zerodiv, the publishers, for is the lack of button mapping in their ports of these classic Psikyo shooters. Well, it seems they have listened because button mapping is now possible in Strikers 1945 II. Saying that, I didn’t feel the need to use it in this particular game, but I’m sure some of you out there will.
Other available options are the changing of how many starting lives you have, how many continues you’re allowed before game over, and how many points you need before you’ll get an extra life. While I don’t like pumping these up when possible, because of the difficulty here I really needed to in order to get a grasp of the game quicker. It will take a while before I will feel comfortable enough to put them back on default.
As for value, like I will always say for an arcade shooter, it just depends how much you intend to play it. If you’re just going to play it once then don’t bother. Like it’s predecessor one 15 minute play through will be a waste of your £6.99 or $7.99, as enjoyable as it may be. The whole point of games like these is to master them; lose as few lives as possible, increase your high score and challenge the higher difficulties. This is a game you’ll want to play over and over again if you’re a shooter fiend. If you’re not then it’ll be a total waste of your hard earned cash.
Too similar to the original