Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha offers an arcade port package of bullet hell classics. 

It starts with the Strikers 1945 trilogy. These give off a fine feel going back to the 194X series from Capcom. As stated in an interview with both developers present, Psikyo used 194X in their title because Capcom did so well with that series. The 1945 games are virtually the same, with mild changes and various planes to choose from. While the first two use some real and fictional plane designs, the third goes for a modern look with modern fighters. These play just as smooth as their arcade counterparts and look just as good.

Zero Gunner 2 changes things up with a helicopter. Before you say it’s been done, this has an interesting set of controls to get used to. The helicopter can go in all the usual directions. However, it can change its axis, giving the game a bit of realism. They also stepped up the visuals going with a 3D style versus the usual 2D presentation. Zero Gunner, I found unique with is controls giving the player a strafing ability, if you can get a handle on it.

Dragon Blaze is a straight fantasy shooter done in the same style as Strikers. The layout is identical to the 1945 games. Instead of antique fighter planes, saddle up a mighty Dragon, wield magic, and shoot fire to decimate your enemies. Sol Divide is another fantasy shooter where all the playable characters fly. Wow, flying warriors, wizards, and a redundant winged character (I bet he feels gypped, that everyone else can fly without cumbersome wings!) Sol Divide, however, is very different from the rest of the games in this shmup compilation. While the controls are basic, the cool gimmick is each character having a long-range, mid-range, and melee attacks, giving the player plenty of offensive options. The visuals are dated and show that early 90’s pseudo-pre-3D, wanna be 3D, but can’t quite pull it off that a lot of games had back then, similar to Donkey Kong Country for the SNES.

All six games have adjustable difficulty going from being impossible unless you’re a god or a robot, to such a manageable setting that I almost passed out from laughter. They all have Co-op features for two-player mayhem as well. Co-op mode I think was simply put to make the first player’s life miserable, because their partner can’t keep their greedy hands to themselves and they steal all my power-ups and money and… oh sorry, got carried away a bit!

Truth be told, this is an extensive package of quality shmups that are sure to keep genre enthusiasts in a frenzy for hours. That said, there are a million shooters, and this package doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t been done already. Still, Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha is a more affordable way to get all these games at a lower cost.