It took all of 16 seconds for Fast Striker to download onto my PS4. “That was fast!?” I thought to myself, but I’d soon come to learn that downloading isn’t the only thing that’s over quickly with Fast Striker.
I should have expected a small install size really. Developed by NGDevTeam, Fast Striker was originally developer for the Neo Geo and Dreamcast, some 9 years after both consoles had been discontinued, before making its way to iOS a year later in 2011. Now the game is releasing on PS4 and PSVita with some new content and despite being limited by what it can do visually by its original target hardware, it’s still a competent Shoot ‘Em Up that stands up against a lot of today’s entries into the genre.
Set across 6 levels, each with their own massive boss battle, Fast Striker is a top-down shooter that’s geared towards high scoring rather than simple shooting and survival. To this aim, when you destroy enemy ships with either your forward or rear firing weaponry, they drop a collectable. These collectables, which increase your score multiplier, will remain in place while you’re shooting but they will home in on you when you stop. It’s an interesting twist on the shmup genre because instead of blasting your way through levels like a manic, you have to be a little more measured in your actions if you want to post a decent score.
The boss battles are the real highlight of Fast Strikers. Each is different with unique attacks but they all fill the screen and pour bullets out like they were going out of fashion. Here you’re score based play is thrown out the window as you attempt to survive an onslaught as best you can.
Fast Striker has 4 different difficulty modes, 3 of which come from the original game – Novice, Normal & Manic – and a new one, ‘Omake’ which joins from the game’s 1.5 update and unlike most other Shmups, the difficulty level does a little more than change just how hard the game is. The enemy attack patterns certainly seem different in each mode but this might be more to do with the speed in which they move, which also seems to ramp up. In the original 3 modes, your weaponry changes depending on the mode. The normal difficulty, for examples, adds missiles to your forward firing weaponry. The ‘Omake’ mode adds something new entirely – in this mode, you’ve got to chain kills together, ensuring the gap between each kill is short to keep you multiplier building. Break the chain and you’ve got to start the combo again from scratch. Your weaponry here is also changed to a retina destroying beam which projects up the screen too. No matter what difficulty you play on, Fast Striker is incredibly forgiving. When the screen is filled with bullets, unless one hits you dead centre of the ship, you can escape unscathed. It’s pretty tense stuff at times but gives you a lot of leeway on what’s “ooh, squeaked by that” and “RIP ship. We hardly knew you”.
Visually, Fast Striker is beautiful in its own way. The foreground where you’re fighting is almost always beset with explosions, spiralling bullet patterns or ships flying a serpentine motion across the screen. It’s bright and colourful (and changes depending on which difficulty you’re playing on which is a nice touch). The background’s in Fast Striker are all 3D too, showing a variety of celestial objects and machinery whirring away as you proceed ever upwards. It’s not the prettiest of games but for a game originally designed to run on the Neo Geo, it’s still a looker. This is joined by a pumping soundtrack reminiscent of 90’s synth house and techno that complements the action admirably.
Unfortunately, Fast Striker is short. While I’d class myself as just a reasonable shmup player, It took me less than an hour to complete the game on the Novice difficulty and just over double that to complete the Normal campaign. The Maniac mode is still causing me some serious headaches (the 3rd boss fight is a real test of your thumb dexterity and has cost me the lion’s share of credits thus far) as is Omake. Fast Striker harks back to a time when difficulty was more of a hindrance to finishing a game than a myriad of content, when learning attack patterns over multiple playthroughs and instilling muscle memory was the name of the game rather than ploughing through 50+ levels. There’s 6 levels here and 7 bosses (the last of which is a reward for besting the rest of the game on a single credit) and if you prefer your shoot em ups to border on bullet hell while still being accessible, Fast Striker will be in your wheel house. If you’re the ‘one and done’ type of player, the kind that’s perfectly fine playing a game through once on the easiest difficulty, there’s really not much for you here after an hour.
Fast Striker then is a competent score focused shooter that’s short but satisfying. It’s missing some modern day features like online leader boards but it’s a visual treat for the eye balls that’s accessible for newcomers on the Novice difficulty and a real test for shmup veterans on Manic or Omake. If you already have the 1.5 edition on the Dreamcast, the only new additions here are screen sizing and button mapping so it’s probably not worth the double dip but if this is the first you’re hearing about Fast Striker and you fancy a coin-op inspired shoot ‘em up to tide you over, Fast Striker could fit the bill.
Fast Striker is available now on the Neo Geo, Dreamcast and iOS and will be launching on the PSVita and PS4 (review version) on October 16th, 2018.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we recieved a review copy for the game from the publishers. Please see our review policy for more information.