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 Post subject: Fast Striker (PlayStation 4 - PS Vita)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2021 10:21 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 379
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Back with the shootouts in Sony's skies. Today's review: Fast Striker.

Neo-Geo Arcade fun for indie-shmup enthusiasts.

Fast Striker, while at first looks like a basic vertical shooter, it features different game mechanics adapted for each difficulty. In Novice, the game will use an Auto-Shield feature when you take a hit, but at expense of consuming all the stocked Striker Shields. This feature is removed in the Original mode. Both modes utilize the Gain Star items as score multipliers while blue robots provide an extra Striker Shield when they take enough hits. This mechanic is also carried on the game's "Original" mode, however, the Auto-shield feature is removed. Novice ends on the 5th stage, while Original, Maniac and Omake modes have 6 stages.

Goin' Maniac turns the game on its entirety.

In Maniac and Omake, the game ditches the Gain Star mechanic in favor of a more DonPachi-like chain based combo system where you have to destroy the enemies in order to keep the Chain as long as possible, this is indicated by a self-depleting gauge that acts as the timer. The Gain Stars are now replaced by Shield icons which fill a bar that grants you one extra Striker Shield. Keep in mind, a physical collision will deplete ALL your Shields, while a bullet hit will take you down.
When the game is played on Omake, the shields are much harder to obtain as they're dropped by these blue robots as if they're secret items, forcing you to heavily rely on memorization and less consumption of your Striker Shields.

Fast Striker is not a game for beginners, if you have no idea about bullet hells you'd be shot down almost immediately. I know taking a hit means punishment, but this game goes way too arbitrary with the sanctions, losing all your hard earned shields only compromises the game beyond any expectation, increasing the chances of losing a live or getting Game Over. Regardless of which mode you've pick, the game sends you with two simple weapon configurations: Frontal 3 way shot (Frontal with missiles in Original) and Back shot. Holding the button will fire the "Beam" attack or a rapid back shot. The Striker Shield grants you a two second invincibility and a super speed boost, however, due to this, it is only recommended for extreme situations like being cornered by stage hazards like blocks or tight bullet curtains.

Basic Gameplay with Technical Evaluations.

Despite its simplicity and changing game mechanics, there's room for expert tricks, and that's the Tech Bonus, kinda like the core destroying thing from Strikers 1945 III, but in Fast Striker's case they're more secret and It requires some thinking to find them out. One of them can be found on Stage 1 by destroying the pods on the sides while using the Shields. There's also Secrets, also called "Secret Joker" which change your shield picking items for NG-Dev Team mascot items that worth more points. Triggering those is more of a matter of luck, and you'll have to pull all the luck possible if you want to reveal the true final boss of the game, 'cos you're gonna need around 15,000,000,000 points and finishing without using continues, a task that only God-level players could achieve.

You can call this "Shock Troopers: Space Squad"

Graphics are the best part of this game, the character illustrations are very reminiscent of the late era of the Neo-Geo, mostly from Blazing Star and Shock Troopers 2nd Squad as they have a digitized illustration that looks and still keeps the anime style. The fonts have the same color palette and bright reminiscent of SNK's arcade behemoth. The background animation is also CG rendered and the boss animations are truly amazing, not to mention, they're more fluid and faster than the frame rate of the Neo-Geo, making the game look and feel unique in graphic terms.

You won't believe your eyes! You won't believe your ears!
You won't believe your mind!

The game's CGI is the best part that I'm talking about. Instead of the colorful style of other Neo-Geo games like The King of Fighters or Metal Slug, NG-Dev Team aimed to CG styled graphics and animations like those from Pulstar, but in Fast Striker's case they resemble more of Yumekobo's Blazing Star, Prehistoric Isle 2 and IGS' DoDonPachi II: Bee Storm, as we have the super-detailed, fast and smoothly animated renders for basically everything: Stage scenery, ships, intro animation and enemies.

As for the sound, the music moves away from the concept of a Neo-Geo shmup (Harumi Fujita's works for example) and focus on the more present day electronic-trance music that we would hear in a Paul Van Dyke concert. Not to mention the sound clarity would really fit on the Neo-Geo CD rather than the MVS.

In the end, Fast Striker is basically "DonPachi meets Blazing Star" and it succeeds as we have a Cave-like shooter with super rendered graphics, although the Bonus Stars and Shield Icon collecting reminds me more of Prehistoric Isle 2 than Blazing Star. Still, it looks and feels more like a Yumekobo shmup rather than an indie. Something like that is quite an accomplishment and deserves to be praised.
Despite the true ending conditions are aimed for the Top Gun kind of players, this game is still good enough for regular shmuppers and Neo-Geo fans alike.

Glad to see Lea liked this.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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