Say it with me – SHMUPS! The good kind! The kind that was built for the arcade. The kind that had you pump in coin after coin of your pocket money to win the adoration of your friends after dodging seas of bullets and taking down huge mechs. Fast Striker was built for the Neo-Geo by the NG: DEV, TEAM and it was ported to the Dreamcast shortly after. That may not sound strange at first, but this was in 2010, pretty much a decade after the Dreamcast was dead and buried and a lot longer since we were playing on an arcade cabinet. A futuristic shoot ‘em up with all the hallmarks of the genre it has huge mech enemies, seas of bullets to dodge and scores to beat.
The game has six stages which you can attempt to take down in four different difficulty levels; Novice, Original, Maniac and Omert. Each difficulty introduces new scoring systems and weapons, for example on maniac mode you will discover the grind beam which is useful for taking down bigger enemies. With only six stages the game is rather short however, you only have four credits to begin with and no ability to add more until you play through the game and manage to unlock more. Shooting your way through six stages on only four credits can be difficult and this is what will prolong any time you put into the game.
There is something obviously missing from Fast Striker, and that is the ability to play with a friend. Many Shmups are great local multiplayers and this one would have been no exception. Instead, you have a single player only shoot ‘em up that mostly concentrates on scoring. The ability to dodge bullet hell with a friend would have been a great addition and it’s something bores a glaring hole in the game.
Fans of shmups will be familiar with the controls. There is a forward shoot, a backwards shoot and a shield. Tapping the shoot button repeatedly will cause your bullets to spread over a wider area and holding the shoot button down will concentrate it more in a particular area, which is more ideal for taking down large bosses. Some fans will be pleased to know that you have an option to map the buttons to suit you. The shield is very useful for navigating through tougher areas where all you see is bullets from every direction however, these must be used sparingly as you will only have a limited amount.
There are forty unique enemy types throughout each stage which keeps things fresh, however many of the stages are dark and seem to blend together. Graphically it isn’t one of the nicest looking shmups around although, it has had a framerate upgrade and runs as smooth as butter at 60Fps. Smooth flying aside it’s still all very dark, particularly the backgrounds which are also quite monotonous. However, as with all good shoot ‘em ups the soundtrack is great. Frantic techno beats add a feeling of urgency to proceedings which can indeed become fast-paced and chaotic.
As far as indie games go this is a true delve into the past. An arcade shmup built on a Neo-Geo and ported to the Dreamcast – in 2010! Now we have a polished version for the PS4/PS Vita which stands the test of time, mostly. Fans of the genre will dig this as it ticks many of the boxes that make a good shoot ‘em up, but it lacks in a few areas, particularly the lack of multiplayer. Fast Striker is a fun, fast-paced, hectic shooter placed on a monotonous playing field. SHMUP!
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*