Strikers 1945 Plus, Psikyo’s classic World War II vertical shooter, is now available in the Apps Store, and I am smiling from ear to ear. The 2D shmup devoured huge chunks of my meager Funcoland paychecks when I was in my early to mid 20s, which is remarkably depressing in retrospect when you ponder the fact that I worked in a game store only to blow my very meager scraps on the dying arcade scene.
But now I’m all grownsed up, and boarding the nostalgia train coutresy of WindySoft. The seats are familiar and comfortable, but wonky controls prevent this iPhone/iPod touch port from equalizing the arcade’s joystick/button perfection.
The Strikers 1945 Plus offers six fighter planes: the P-38 Lighting, Flying pan-cake, Spit fire, Zero fighter, Fiat, Ta152, and a hidden fighter, Ascender. Each plane has three methods of attack (basic ammo, an energy-charged attack, bomb/support), but differ in the style of attack and flight speed. By default, the shmup is set to auto-fire, but old school heads will probably want to nix it in favor of manual fire to return to the sweet days of button pounding. A suitable soundtrack and explosion effects put you in the mood to down aircraft.
Wrecking rival ships rewards you with power ups that boost weapon strength and supporting fire during dogfights. Nabbing a “P” icon increases your ships power, while capturing a “B” icon increases the number of bombs in your inventory. When your plane is fully juiced, it becomes a death machine that can blow through enemy craft, but the game maintains a sense of balance. Should you take a hit, your power is lowered; when your powered is lowered you can’t drop bombs. So the better you do, the more damage you can dish.
Porting the game to the iPhone/iPod touch results in small sprites, but nothing that will leave you squinting throughout your play session. In fact, I was able to deftly weave through gunfire with my ever-weakening eyes, despite the challenges presented by Strikers 1945 Plus‘ one true flaw: the controls.
As with many other iPhone/iPod touch games we’ve reviewed, the janky virtual D-pad proves frustrating as it doesn’t always recognize player inputs. If you navigate with the inner-most portion of the D-pad, it isn’t so much an issue, which makes you wonder why the D-pad wasn’t made smaller.
Priced at $5, Strikers 1945 Plus is worthy purchase for shmup/shooter fans who are willing to master the sometimes finicky controls. Unfortunately there’s no demo/lite mode that will allow you to try before you buy, but with a little patience it will become a remarkably solid addition to your iPhone/iPod touch’s gaming library.