Following right on the back of Psikyo Shooting Stars – Alpha, the Bravo package is bringing another six Shoot ‘Em ups into the hands of fans. Following a more traditional Japanese artistic style, there are still tons of bullets, lasers and mech bosses to make the world go round! So where to start with these six titles? Let’s start off with the more traditional ones.
Starting off once again with a main interface that allows you to pick up one of six titles developed by Psikyo, this time around you have Gunbird, Gunbird 2 and Samurai Aces as your vertical shooters. Going horizontal are Tengai (If I’m right this is Samurai Aces II because of the characters) and Samurai Aces III. Finally throwing me into a confused state as I wrapped my mind around it, GunBarich is a Block Breaker style of “Shump” where you have a time limit to break blocks while also being shot at by your enemies.
For the most part in following their iconic style, each of the first three vertical shooters follow the short and sweet style with plenty of enemies to shoot at and multi partitioned mech like bosses. What makes these titles different from the Strikers series though is that they’ve put in a little bit of story. Your bad guys have personalities, those operating the mechs often either have a bone to pick with you, or they will, once you’ve trashed them. It doesn’t really add anything, but it’s enough to make them feel different and wonder where Gunbird 1 / 2 and Samurai Aces will take you.
Keeping with most of the basic arcade like controls, you can shoot, you can auto shoot, and you can drop a bomb or a special attack for massive amounts of damage to everything on screen. While this is the basis of Shumps Gunbird 2 made some little modifications that were awesome. These modifications were that on top of your normal three options, you now had one more addition in the form of a special attack but that was completely different depending on the character. Some felt overpowered against large groups while others felt completely useless unless you were facing off against the giant mech boss 1v1. It was neat and I was happy to have it.
Going in a different direction unlike the first, Tengai and Samurai Aces III both of these decided to scroll horizontally unlike the first. What felt different, but again, not in a bad way, was that in Samurai Aces III instead of going from one quick stage to another and battling multi staged mech bosses, the stages were actually longer and you didn’t just face off against multi partitioned mech bosses. Instead, after dealing with multiple enemies you went up against “hero” like bosses that possess several health bars worth of hit points that you need to deplete before moving onto the next set of enemies and the new “hero” like boss. After loads of quick and to the point stages, it was odd to have this kind of length but it was a newly welcomed challenge.
Finally, we have the odd ball out that was perhaps one of my favorites. Part skill and a whole lot of luck, GunBarich was basically block breaker on steroids. Sitting at the bottom of the stage below the ball that you’ll keep bouncing upwards, there’s more than just waiting for the ball to come back down to you as it breaks the blocks above. While you’re down at the bottom you’ll be dodging enemy shots and even returning them with pinball like paddles that when closed form up a solid bar. Want to bounce the ball gently? Let it hit the bar. Want to launch it up? Smack it like you would a pinball and watch it fly! The same doesn’t apply to enemy shots so those you’ll actually have to hit all the while trying to not lose track of the ball and letting it fall past you which will cost you a life. Also costing you a life is if the sixty seconds expire so there’s plenty of things to worry about but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t fun.