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Video Game / Strikers 1945

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Strikers 1945 is a series of arcade vertical Shoot 'Em Up games by the now-defunct developer Psikyo.

The series is (in)famous for its blend of World War II and Transforming Mecha. As far as gameplay is concerned, Strikers 1945 is made from the same mold as most of Psikyo's other shmups, featuring random order for the early levels, dense and fast bullet patterns, and rather short levels contrasted with long sequential bosses.

Do not confuse with fellow shmup series 1942, although both thematically based on World War II, and Strikers 1945 is generally Denser and Wackier.

Strikers 1945 (1995)

The first installment. Originally released for the arcade, was ported to the Saturn and Playstation (both Japan only) and later included as a part of the PlayStation 2 Compilation Re-release Psikyo Shooting Collection Vol. 1: Strikers 1945 I & II. An emulated version was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017

The story goes thus: After the end of World War II, a group of disgruntled soldiers called CANY is wreaking havoc all over the world with cutting-edge weaponry, and so a group of elite pilots called Strikers is formed to counter the threat. However, after a few battles, it is discovered that CANY are supplied by a race of crab-like aliens based on the moon.

With regard to gameplay, the game has a roster of six playable planes, each with their own type of shot and Smart Bomb. Collecting power-ups gives you a helper plane, for a maximum of four. Holding the fire button with at least one helper plane will allow you to perform a strong Charge Shot specific for each plane, but your sub-shot will be unavailable during the duration of the attack. As in most Psikyo shmups, the first four levels are randomly ordered each play.

Strikers 1945 II (1997)

After the defeat of CANY, a group known as FGR recuperated, gained control of CANY's technology and used it in an attempt to start the Fourth Reich. Because of the potential threat, the Strikers team is called back into action.

This installment ditches the hand-drawn sprites of the first game in favour of pre-rendered 3D models and change the charge shot system, from the first game. Instead of being able to perform charge shots at any time with at least one powerup, there is a bar at the bottom of the screen which fills up and augment in power when destroying enemies, but won't let you perform the attack if it's too low.

Ported to the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, the latter only in Japan. Confusingly, the North American release was titled "Strikers 1945", perhaps because the original wasn't released there, save in its arcade iteration. Recently, this game comes back to Android as a free-to-play title in 2014 thanks to Mobirix, APX Soft and Google Playnote . An emulated version was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2018.

Strikers 1999/Strikers 1945 III (1999)

54 years after their first defeat, in 1999, FGR bided their time and developed several new machines. However, as they are about to launch a new attack, a parasitic alien race (implied to be the same ones from the first game) invades Earth and infect all but one of their mechas. With most of the world's military in the control of the aliens, FGR and the Strikers team are forced to team up against the new threat.

The one addition for this installment is the "Technical Bonus" trick. During a specific attack, the bosses will expose a blue orb for a few seconds. Getting close to the orb without being killed will destroy the boss instantly and net a point bonus. Also of note is that the game ditches the anachronistic WWII theme of the first two for the present day. After the free-to-play mobile release on Google Play in 2014, an emulated version was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2019, followed by Strikers 1999/1945 III Classic on Google Play in 2020.

Strikers 1945 PLUS (1999)

A reworking of Strikers 1945 II for the Neo Geo arcade system. Though it has the same structure as II, the playable cast is a mix of planes from the first two games with one newcomer, the charge-shot system is different, the levels are completely redesigned, two of the bosses are completely changed and the returning ones have more destroyable parts and new attack patterns. It is also noticeably more Bullet Hell than the rest of the series. Later (half-assedly) ported to the PSP and Play Station Network.

This series contains the following tropes:

  • Allegedly Free Game: Strikers 1945 II and Strikers 1945 III has this in 2014 by Mobirix, APX Soft and Google Play. Every plane but the first is locked, there are Google ads in the main menu and pause screen, and unlocking other planes either requiring grinding or outright real many purchase. However the game difficulty is greatly reduced in the new easy mode.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The forces of CANY use weaponry that are far beyond the era of World War II, with a special focus on Transforming Mecha.
    • The B-36 did not enter service until 1949, four years after the war had ended.
  • Arrange Mode: PLUS revamps the playable roster of planes to include the Spitfire and Zero from the first game as well as the new Fiat G.56 and and XP-55 Ascender, completely replaces 2 bosses, changes up the charge shot system, and slows down the now-purple bullets into patterns that wouldn't look too out of place in a Cave game.
  • Artifact Title: The third game isn't set after World War II or in the 40s. Hence the fact that the third game is sometimes retitled 1999.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: In the first game, your World War II plane is launched into space without any ill effects despite the low atmospheric pressure. The modern-day jet fighters of 1999/III later repeat the exploit. The second game (and by extension, PLUS) has your World War II plane dive deep underground into the center of a volcano, again without any ill effects despite the immense atmospheric pressure.
  • Battleship Raid: The battles against Khabarovsk and Kii in the first, Iron Casket and Graf Zeppelin in II, and Thanatos in 1999/III (even if Thanatos is an attack train, rather than a ship).
  • Bomb Whistle: Multiple instances in all games, all involving bombs.
    • In the first game, when the P-51 summons B-29's to carpet bomb the screen.
    • In the second game, when the P-38 fires its max level charged shot.
    • In the third game, when the F/A-18 drops a ballistic missile to the dead center of the screen and when the Harrier summons B-52's to carpet bomb the screen. Also happens when the X-36 is about to drop its energy bomb.
    • Averted in PLUS where the bombs don't make whistling sounds whatsoever whenever they are dropped on the screen.
  • Bullet Hell: Especially PLUS, which use bright pink and blue bullets, not unlike Cave games. In the mobile ports of Strikers 1945 II and 1999, there are "Pro" and "Master" options that take this to a new extreme. The Strikers 1945 Classic series has "Hard" and "Very Hard" options that makes the ports look more arcade-perfect in terms of gameplay (fast bullet patterns, more bullets fired from enemies, two loops), but players can thankfully continue playing even during the second loop when it's not possible in the original arcade version.
  • The Cavalry: Many of the bomb attacks from II onwards involve the player calling for reinforcements, usually in the form of bombers and fighter squadrons to clear the screen.
  • Charged Attack: Hold-type. As you destroy enemies, a meter builds up at the bottom, and when it's charged to at least level 1 (of 3) you can fire off a high-powered attack by holding down the shot button and then releasing.
  • Collision Damage: Averted. Colliding with another plane will just power you down a notch. Some players use this feature to control the game's Dynamic Difficulty.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The planes in II have color-coded shots depending on their nationality.
      • Lightning and Flying Pancake (USA): Blue
      • Ta-152 and Mosquito (Europe): Green
      • Hayate and Shinden (Japan): Purple
    • Planes in "Plus" have color-coded shots depending on their alignment.
      • Lighting, Flying Pancake, Spitfire and Ascender (Allied): Yellow
      • Focke Wulf, Zero Fighter and Fiat G.56 (Axis): Red/Orange
    • The modern-day jets in III have color-coded shots depending on their movement speed.
      • F/A-18 (Medium): Blue
      • F-117 and AV-8 (Slow): Purple
      • F-22 and F-4 (Fast): Green
      • The X-36 is an exception as it shoots blue despite being the fastest.
  • Compilation Re-release: Psikyo Shooting Collection Vol. 1: Strikers 1945 I & II.
  • Death from Above: Several Smart Bombs, most notably the P-51's one in Strikers 1945 —several B-29 Superfortress carpet-bombing the screen and the AV-8 Harrier's one in Strikers 1945 III —same but with B-52 Stratofortress instead. The Mosquito in Strikers 1945 II and Spitfire in Strikers 1945 Plus do this with Mosquito fighter bombers, followed by a Mosquito firing formation. The XP-55 Ascender's Smart Bomb in Strikers 1945 Plus, meanwhile, summons the B-36 to carpet bomb the screen from the center of the Y axis.
  • Difficulty by Region: The Western versions of PLUS only gives you two lives instead of three, though that could be changed in the BIOS menu.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: The more power-ups you have, the more difficult it becomes.
  • Dual Boss: Cross Blade in 1999.
  • Enemy Mine: In 1999/III, both the Strikers and FGR, despite fighting each other for decades, join forces to fight off the alien invaders.
  • Energy Weapon: In World War II!
  • Fanservice: Getting a golden medal on all missions will show pictures of the almost naked female pilots. It didn't cause controversy in western territories because of the Nintendo Hard requirements, but someone in Japan must have noticed because the pictures were replaced in the Saturn port.
  • Fun with Acronyms: CANY is derived from "kani", the Japanese word for "crab".
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Robot alien crabs, at that.
  • Guest Fighter: Ayin, the pilot of the Shinden in the first was also one of the main characters of the Sengoku Ace series, and is a hidden character in Gunbird 2.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Inverted. The first game features Fanservice if you play well as all but one of the pilots are attractive girls with three different pictures acquired as you beat the first loop (covered, face reveal and character info, and raunchy) depending on how you achieve the game. The second game has its ending told in WWII esque stock photos, and the third game only shows the boss and the location where each stages are fought.
  • Nintendo Hard: Naturally, as it's an arcade game series. The second loops are best known for their lightning-fast bullet patterns, which are a signature element of Psikyo games.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Strikers 1999.
  • One-Winged Angel: All the boss encounters run on this.
  • Setting Update: Strikers 1999/1945 III is Strikers 1945 IN THE 90'S!
  • Shown Their Work: If you like World War II planes you can recognize among the enemies planes that in Real Life did not pass the prototype stage or even the drawing boards, as the Horten Ho 229. Other real-world WWII vehicles also appear, as the Maus super-heavy tank.
  • Spin Attack: If you fail to perform the Technical Bonus against Spectre in 1999/III, its next attack involves it corkscrewing as it moves from side to side, sending bullet walls straight down.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The FGR from II is all but stated to be a Nazi remnant group, given that it wants to create a Fourth Reich using reverse-engineered CANY tech from I, culminating in incubating a giant alien embryo inside a volcano. It even manages to survive into 1999/III, developing the X-36 Warlord.
  • Transforming Mecha: Many of the bosses. And the X-36 on the players' side.