Fast Striker (Dreamcast)

Fast Striker Dreamcast Loading screen


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Written by  :  Riemann80 (18928)
Written on  :  May 23, 2011
Platform  :  Dreamcast
Rating  :  4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars

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Still no need to pack away your Dreamcast.

The Good

Even though there is the tenth anniversary of the Dreamcast's discontinuation this year, the system is still supplied with commercial games since then, thanks a very active homebrew scene. One of the latest independent commercial games is Fast Striker, a vertically scrolling "bullet hell" shoot'em up.

The game has a science fiction setting (not uncommon for the genre), but there is no kind of background story given - although this has no relevance with shooters; also, the emphasis of the gameplay is clearly on scoring high amounts of points. There is thus also a variety of gameplay mechanics, which are introduced in the higher levels of difficulty, to help you score more points. For example, shot enemies will give you a higher score if you destroy them from a closer distance, and you can hold down your shot with a certain weapon to change into "Grind Mode": you get a straight laser beam which holds up as long as you constantly hit something, and while you're in Grind Mode your score will increase much faster.

Unlike many shooters, you do not collect different weapons on your way, but you have three different methods of shooting always available: You can shoot backwards and have a spread shot and a more focused shot. The latter one inflicts more damage and yields more points. Also, you have a limited number of shields which make you invincible for a few seconds (otherwise, one hit will kill you). On the lowest level of difficulty, the shields are triggered automatically, on the other levels you have to activate them on your own, but then you can also find additional ones.

Apart from some issues stated below, Fast Striker is a good-looking 2D shooter. The enemies are rendered nicely, and the bosses are very huge and impressively designed and animated. Also, the game keeps a constant framerate, which is still impressive considering the amount of shots and enemies on the screen most of the time; the name "bullet hell" is very appropriate, the cover of the game claims that there are up to 180 shots on screen (I haven't count the bullets at any time, but I my impression did not cause me to raise objections).

The music is also very nice, featuring a cool, relaxed techno soundtrack, which suits the game's visual and does not become tiresome or penetrative.

The controls are precise and the game plays very well. Fast Striker is very motivating and I often found myself popping it in for one or two rounds. The stages are designed with the necessary amount of variety, and there many small aspects which stand out positively. For example, amount of continues is limited, but if you go game over several times, their amount will be increased. This prevents you from completing the game too soon (a problem I had with Giga Wing), but will ensure that you do not get stuck in the long run. Also, the varying levels of difficulty play a bit differently, thanks to the changes in game mechanics and also bonuses, which another appeal to try out the harder levels.

The Bad

The weak points of the game are mostly in the field of presentation. While the background are rendered very nicely, they are dry and not very detailed, and quite many segments are repeated very often. Also, the sound effects, while not bad, could be enhanced, and there could be some more of them. It's a minor thing, but to me the cataclysm on screen could be accompanied more adequately with noise.

The only problem with the game itself is that it is a bit short (but not far too short). However, as you do not have many continues in the beginning, it will take some time to complete all levels, not to speak of really mastering the game.

The Bottom Line

Fast Striker is a really fun and motivating game, and a great addition to the Dreamcast library. If you are into shoot'em ups and/or retro gaming, you should definitely check this title out.