We have long been fans of the shoot’em up genre here on . My first memory is of playing slot machines at Defender, and I was hooked right away. Games like Gradius, Axelay and U.N. Squadron have a special place in my heart as a gamer and it is always fun to come back and play them today. I fully admit that I have freed myself from the classic shooters in the past ten to fifteen years and that I have not experienced many new things. Fortunately that changed after Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo flipped the switch. Since I had never experienced any of the six games in this collection, I didn’t know what to expect.
If you haven’t already done so, you should take a look at Jay’s review of the previous compilation of this series: Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha, which came out last month. He also got this one for testing and brought it to me so we could play all the games together. We’ve had quite a bit of fun, and I strongly recommend playing together in the game because it adds a little extra fun. I’m going to go through each title separately, because some are better than others, and one in particular was so wrong that it’s surprising that if you go in blind, you want to know in advance. I must also make the following caveat: I have never played any of these games before. If you’re nostalgic for one of these games, chances are you’ll be able to increase the total score by a whole number – even though you’re probably already sold on that lot if that’s the case.
The first game we studied was Samurai Aces Episode I, a vertical shooting game for one or two players. The game has a kind of Japanese atmosphere with anime characters who have special attacks (bombs) that they can use to destroy many enemies on the screen and block incoming fire. In general, the game seems quite decent, even though many enemies are a little on the small side. If I’m not mistaken, this game was one of the first to be released in 1993, so it’s understandable that the image isn’t as sharp and vivid as some of the later games. As with many games in this collection, the action here is intense, which is normal because arcade machines like this are designed to swallow your change. Fortunately, you can go to the options screen and adjust the number of lives and the number of remaining lives. I like this method because it is left to the user to set the level of difficulty. We both had a good time with this one, despite the somewhat old-fashioned look.
Then we gave the samurai aces Episode II: Tengai tried, and I hit it right away because it became a horizontal arrow – my favorite. I love the way these games are played, Life Force and Thunder Gate are two of my favorites. For my part, I regarded it as ignorance, but I didn’t know Side Scrolls existed in this collection, so I was very happy to see it, and it became my favourite. The graphics are slightly improved compared to the original thanks to the impressive parallax scrolling. The enemies are very detailed and very good. The enemies in this game are without rhyme or reason – in one case you’re fighting giant ninjas, and in the other case you have to slaughter a giant fish, which has provoked some Darius flashbacks. If you can overcome the lack of coherence and accept it for what it is, it’s great fun.
Unfortunately, the third race in this series is a huge demotion and, frankly, a surprise. Samurai Aces, Episode III: Sengoku Cannon originally appeared on PlayStation, so I immediately noticed a great loss of visual fidelity. The fact that he’s scrolling sideways can’t save him from mediocrity. The sets are pretty gruesome and boring to watch. At various points on each level, the game scales or leaves the screen, which may have seemed impressive in the mid-1990s, but today simply translates into mediocre graphics. The lack of a stand for two players is the worst in this collection. I wouldn’t say you should skip it altogether, but one game will be more than enough to satisfy your curiosity.
Then we came to Gunbird and Gunbird 2. I’ve always heard these games are the ones to watch, and I understand why. We are back at vertical scrolling over our heads and are lucky for both of us. We immediately get the best games from the collection with cartoonish graphics and detailed backgrounds. There is a story going on with bad guys to chase and fun levels to continue. The bosses are very impressive, and almost all of them have multiple transformations where it looks like they will be defeated, but then a second vehicle emerges that you will have to destroy to continue. These are undoubtedly the strengths of the package and a great pleasure. Most of them will probably prefer both, but my personal choice will always be the side-scrolling Tengay.
The last game in the collection was a real surprise, because it wasn’t a shooting game at all! It’s true, Gunbaric is not at all what I expected (Gunbaric 3 is what I had in mind). No, it’s more a breakout / arkanoid / lane type game where you have a few pinball machines at the bottom of the screen and you have to let the ball go up and destroy different bricks. At each step you will be confronted with a boss that you will have to defeat in order to continue. There are bonuses, such as the one that gives you multiple bullets, allowing you to eliminate multiple targets at once. The scenes are timed, so you should try to place your photos so that they count, at the risk of losing your life. I had a good time with it because I’m always a sucker for these games. At the end of the day, I don’t think it does something like that originally, and I think some players miss it completely, but I could have spent more time on this game. Again, no two-player cooperative is a bit of a loss, but that is understandable in this case.
So, six games for $39.99 ain’t so bad if you like classic shooting games. Unfortunately, one of them isn’t that great and honestly looks like a bag of fun games, but I’m not sure most players will derive any lasting value from it. Indeed, there is no online ranking to compete with your friends, nor is there an online cooperative mode. So you have to sit next to them on the couch to form a team. If you’ve played these games before, you’ve probably already bought this collection. It is also worth mentioning that if you have a Flip Grip, you can play three of these games in Tate mode (side screen) for a more authentic experience.
If you like these shooting games, I can see they’re worth your money. I had a good time with them, but in the end I can’t imagine playing with them again. They miss that certain console shooter quality injected into many NES and Super NES games, which have a better balanced difficulty level and sometimes even additional content compared to arcade versions to make home conversions even better. I have more fun with games designed for the console than with a shooting game designed to empty my pockets. For me, these games are too complicated in standard mode and too easy to modify. As far as the difficulty level is concerned, there is almost no middle way, so often I don’t think about going back to the difficulty level. Still, I had a lot of fun with most of the games recorded here, and I would recommend Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo to fans of original games or fans of arcade shooting games.
Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo Magazine
- Graphs – 7.5/10
- Sound – 6/10
- Gameplay – 8/10
- Late complaint – 4/10
Final thoughts: GOOD PAGE
Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo contains six classic games of different quality. My favorite is the side-scrolling game Samurai Aces II: Tengai, with Gunbird 1 and 2 also at the top of my list. I was surprised and happy to spend time with Gunbaric, the brick-breaking clone of Arkanoid. Of limited long-term value this collection is still nice…. as long as it lasts.
Craig has covered the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently editor and employee of Age of Games.
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