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Game Info:

Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo
Developed By: Psikyo
Published By: NIS America
Release Date: February 18, 2020 (Switch)
Available On: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Shoot 'em Up, Arcade
Number of Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes
MSRP: $39.99

Thank you NIS America for sending us this game to review!

We recently reviewed the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha collection, where there are six games, of mostly the military variety, where you get to shoot bad guys out of the sky. These six are both similar and different; similar, in that several of them are vertical shooters, and different, because they are quite different thematically. This collection also represents an interesting group historically, as it includes Psikyo's first ever game, Samurai Aces Episode I. The full list of games is:

Samurai Aces Episode I
Samurai Aces Episode II: TENGAI
Samurai Aces Episode III: SENGOKU CANNON
GUNBIRD
GUNBIRD2
GUNBARICH

Samurai Aces Episode one is a vertical shooter, as is their second ever shooter, GUNBIRD (they had a fighting game in between). The foundation of this collection is their early non-military shooters, as both Samurai Aces and GUNBIRD are hybrid magic and technology. GUNBIRD2 is also fairly similar, though it's slightly newer, and you can tell that it has some of the improvements also noted from Strikers 1945 II from the Alpha collection.

Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo
Highlights:

Strong Points: Compilation of six fun games for less than buying them individually; optional portrait mode so you can rotate your Switch and see more of the game; good emulation; variable difficulty level; more game and character variety than the recent Alpha collection
Weak Points: No save state support; even the easiest difficulty has challenge on some games; dialogue is serviceable at best
Moral Warnings: Violence, with bullets or knives/magic shooting down ships or mystical creatures; some characters show large amounts of cleavage, with another wearing skin-tight clothing with nipples massively protruding; one game has an area that is 'where God lives'; suggestive themes (I didn't run into this, but I didn't play every possible character combination on all six games)

Samurai Aces Episode II: TENGAI is a side-scrolling shooter, also mostly magical, with several returning characters. (This series of games features a woman wearing a partly opened karate gi with no bra and little left to the imagination.) It's most similar to the game Sol Divide from the other collection, except this one does not feature melee attacks. It has the same standard shooting attacks (though what is shot varies depending on the character chose) as well as bombs.

Samurai Aces Episode III: SENGOKU CANNON is the only game here that is not an arcade release, but rather a port of a PSP game. It's a side-scrolling shooter, that's quite similar to Samurai Aces Episode II: TENGAI in a lot of ways. It's also notable that this one was not created by Psikyo's development team, since they had disbanded before 2005, but by a team made up partly of former members. This game has an interesting combination of 2D sprites and 3D enemies and/or backgrounds. It definitely looks different than any game from either collection. It still plays well, and there is more variety to the attacks as well, as there is a normal/weak attack, where you can move quickly, and strong attack that slows you down, as well as a super strong attack that requires a button press each time. There is also the obligatory bomb attack. It's quite fun, though it's odd how low-resolution the main characters' sprites are.

The last but certainly not least game included in this collection is GUNBARICH. This features at least one character I recognized from GUNBIRD, but rather than being a shoot 'em up, it's a puzzle game remarkably similar to Breakout! or Arkanoid, with a mix of pinball thrown in. Basically, you have a single ball, like Breakout!, and you hit it with your paddle into bricks. However, your paddle has pinball-style paddles, so you can bump as well as redirect the ball as needed. Some levels have power-ups, enemies that shoot at you, and all kinds of crazy stuff. It's a pretty neat game, and looks great since the art is of a much higher resolution that all of the other games in this collection. I like it, and it's a very welcome change.

Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 74%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 9/10
Sexual Content - 5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

From a technical perspective, all of the games run perfectly, which you would expect from emulation of 15+ year old games. The three vertical shooters (and GUNBARICH) use a vertical aspect ratio - the screen is taller than it is wide. Since most televisions (and the Switch screen itself) is usually the opposite - it's wider than it is tall, only a small portion of the screen is used at a time. What you can do, if you wish, is to rotate your Switch and go into the options and rotate the screen ninety degrees. It supports this, and works really well. The other games do not offer or require rotation, as they have a wider screen ratio. The sound effects and music are serviceable, but nothing special.

From an appropriateness standpoint, it's definitely a bit less appropriate than the Alpha collection. Both have stuff to shoot, like robots, tanks, magical creatures, and so on. What's different about this one is recurring characters that have a large amount of cleavage shown, to the point where if they shifted sideways, the cat would be out of the bag. Another enemy in one of the games has such a form-fitting outfit that her nipples are prominently popping out through her clothing. Of course some characters use magic, and at least one uses tarot cards as her weapon. A place 'where God lives' is mentioned. The ESRB notes suggestive themes, which is entirely possible, I just missed it since I haven't played every game with every possible character combination.

Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo is an enjoyable collection, especially if you like shoot 'em ups. With more variety than the Alpha collection, it perhaps has more to offer, though again, it also has more appropriateness issues as well. Like the other collection, some games are purchasable individually on the eShop, but they are less expensive to buy as a whole with this collection. Like before, I do wish the emulation used here offered save states, but what can you do. They are certainly challenging; if you want a challenge you'll find it here. If you enjoy classic shooters, these are solid entries to the genre that are absolutely worth your time, if you don't mind the occasionally overly-generous top half of some of the women.

About the Author

Jason Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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