I have a weird relationship with bullet hell shooters. They are games I really like, but am also really bad at. Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is a collection of six such games.
Included in the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha collection are STRIKERS 1945 I-III, SOL DIVIDE, Dragon Blaze and finally, ZERO GUNNER 2. Each of them arcade classic shoot ’em-ups that have had many a 20p thrust upon them.
STRIKERS 1945 will be the most iconic of the collection, with the WWII themed shooter taking up residence in many an arcade up and down the country and across the world.
Each of the games in Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha, play just how you remember them. Being fiendishly difficult, yet also being remarkably accessible.
Whilst there is clearly a skill cap, in order to get the higher scores, each game is set up in a way that you can just jump in and shoot everything on screen. You’re not punished for not being good in the same way some modern variants of the genre can do.
The arcade origins or the games are designed for you to put more coins in the slot and carry on. Which may be a cynical ploy. Yet this couldn’t happen if the games weren’t fun for even the most concrete hand players such as myself.
You still find a way to progress a little and you still learn with each go. This is a great testament to how these games were made. The fact they still hold up today, shows just how good they were. Pure pick up and play diluted down to the purest form.
I will admit that beyond STRIKERS 1945, my knowledge of the other games is very limited. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great fun to play and round out a fantastic collection.
Dragon Blaze was the big surprise to me and the one I kept going back to. It adds in some slight variants to the mechanics that really helps it stand out. That combined with some excellent sprite based art make this a joy to play.
Every collection unfortunately needs a game that has to be considered the worst of the bunch. This accolade goes to SOL DIVIDE. Now it isn’t awful, at least not in my mind, but out of the six titles it is the one I struggled to really get into. Instead passing it over for the others.
ZERO GUNNER 2 is the one game that feels completely different to the rest. As it isn’t a straight up vertical or horizontal shooter. You need to pivot your ship and angle it around the screen to get the best angles for shots. It is initially very awkward to play, but does come into its own after a session or two. The best thing about this, is it throws in a bot of variation to the collection. Which is very welcome indeed.
It is worth pointing out that most of these titles are available separately on the eShop. So fans of the genre may have most of them already. So as a collection it may not be one that is worth picking up. However, if you haven’t yet got them, or want to dip your toe into the waters, then Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is a must-buy.
I am not an expert on the genre. So hardcore fans can disregard this I suppose. Those who aren’t, or have never tried, then I can easily recommend picking up Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha.
Whilst the £35.99 may seem steep initially. There is plenty of content here for your money in a package that is bursting with value.