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Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo for Nintendo Switch Review

*Editors Note: The Geek Getaway received a review copy on the Nintendo Switch

The geek getaway covered the previous Psikyo collection, Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha, here. The game released on the Nintendo Switch on February 18th. It features 6 games, Samurai Aces, Tengai, Samurai Aces 3, Gunbird, Gunbird 2, Gunbarich. Some games feature the option to play in "Tate mode" where the screen is rotated 90 degrees and can be played in handheld mode without the side borders.

Samurai Aces
The first game in this collection. A classic vertical shoot ‘em up set in Sci-fi Feudal Japan originally released in arcades in 1993. The game features 7 challenging levels with interesting enemy designs, Robot Ninja mid-bosses, and many mechanical monstrosities. Unlike the games in the previous collection, touching an enemy will result in losing a life instead of just losing a level of attack power. There are 6 playable characters in this game, each with their own weapon, sub-weapon, charge attack, and bomb. By default, the “A” button fires and holding it down will keep it firing. The “B” button uses bombs. And the “Y” is the manual fire button. Holding it down will cause a charge attack.

The visuals in the game are great, with excellent enemy and character designs, as well as varied and unique attacks and bombs. Likewise, the music is also good, featuring classical Japanese inspired tracks. Everything comes together nicely and suits the atmosphere of the game well.

Jane: A Beautiful blonde ninja. Her plane resembles a yellow bird. She shoots kunai knives in a rapid spiraling pattern and her sub-weapons are bombs that shoot out forward and explode, dealing a good deal of damage if you can aim it efficiently. Her charge attack has her throw a giant shuriken that cuts through enemies. Her bomb has her glide up into the air, avoiding any enemy bullets, and rain down flower petals which destroy enemies and bullets.

Tengai: A “Turbo Monk” with extremely prominent eyebrows. His plane resembles a light-blue bird. His shots are rapid and cover a decent range. His sub-weapons are blue rings that deal decent damage to whatever they hit. His charge shot takes a while to fire, but it deals massive damage to all enemies unfortunate enough to be hit by them. It shoots blue rings similar to his sub-weapon that cut through and destroy all in its path. His bomb fires a constant barrage of kanji directly in front of him.

Kenn-o: A genius dog that flies a blue fighter jet. His shots are forked and have a wide range. His sub-weapon fires sharp gears that slowly cut through enemies and deal constant damage. His charge shot creates a shield of cogs that block attacks and damage any enemies that come into contact with it. His bomb fires large flame projectiles from a variety of angles dealing damage to anything in front of you.

Miko: A tomboy shrine maiden that pilots a red twin-engine plane. Her shots are fast but don’t cover a very wide range. Her sub-weapons are ofuda that home in on enemies. Her charge shot fires a barrage of red projectiles. Her bomb lobs over enemies and causes a field of energy with Kanji in the center to appear and damage everything it touches.

Flush: An unlucky one-eyed samurai that pilots a green plane. He is on a quest to find his sister who went “missing”.  His gun is fast and its max range is slightly larger than the wingspan of the plane. The sub-weapons are fast-moving missiles. The charge shot causes multiple arrows to quickly cut through enemies in your path. The bomb has the plane shoot a powerful energy afterimage forwards.

Gen: An eccentric old inventor with a plane resembling an X-Wing from Star Wars. The main guns fire from the edge of the wings and there is a small gap between them. The sub-weapon shoots arcs of electricity forwards and diagonally at full power. His charge attack fires two balls of electricity that bounce on the sides of the screen and deal large damage to anything they hit. His bomb has large versions of his robot assistant fly overhead and bomb the area.

Overall, a decent vertical shoot em up, while not the best in the world, the interesting character designs and their eccentric dialogue between stages compels you to keep playing.

A side-scrolling shoot ‘em up and the sequel to Samurai Aces. While the characters no longer fly in planes, instead opting to just fly around themselves, overall the setting and types of enemies faced remain the same as well as the controls.

The visuals are amazing with incredible sprite work and character and enemy designs. The backgrounds are also wonderful, setting up unique and memorable levels with their own themes.

The music is good and the sound effects feel impactful. Not much else to say about the sound design other then the limited voice acting which i feel was pulled off well, despite their low quality. Mainly reserved for certain character attacks and encounters with the ninja mid bosses in levels.

Miko: Returning from the first game with a major upgrade in appearance is Miko, a tomboy shrine maiden accompanied by a spirit.   Her main shot fires ofuda forward. Her sub-weapon shoots out homing balls. Her charge shot has her spirit companion spit out a copy of himself that damages whatever it hits. Her bomb fires a red ofuda forward that explodes into a ball of electricity that damages whatever it touches.

Tengai: The turbo monk is back and better then ever. His main shot is a plain fast rapid shot with very little spread, His sub-weapon fires projectiles at an angle above and below himself. His charge shot sends his bird forward where it catches fire and deals constant damage to enemies. His bomb is similar to his bomb in the previous game, where a barrage of kanji is fired.

Katana: The first new character, he is a robot samurai. His main attack is a normal rapid shot. His sub-weapons are spears that follow him around and shoot quick arrows. His charge attack sends his spears forward to impale any enemies directly in front of you, its a bit hard to aim but it deals good damage. His bomb causes a thunderstorm that damages everything in its perimeter.

Sho: Another new character, he is a young swordsman. His main attack fires green swords. His sub-weapons are floating mirrors that shoot energy. His charge attack sends his mirrors forward where they unleash a rapid burst of energy shots. His bomb causes a storm of swords to cover the screen and damage everything.

Junis: A young ninja and another new character. Her main attack has her throwing Kunai, while her sub-weapon has her lemur throw ninja stars at different angles. Her charge attack has the lemur grow in size and breathe fire on enemies. Her bomb causes petals to cover the screen and damage everything.

Ayin/Flush: The final character returning from the previous game, as well as being a secret character. Can only be selected by inputting UPx3 DOWNx3 UPx7 over the random select option in the character select screen. Once again he is on a quest to find his sister, His main weapon is his bow which surprisingly fires arrows. His sub-weapon is a floating sword that sends projections of its edge forward to cut through foes. His charge attack has him swing his sword in front of him, it is a risky move but it does massive damage to whatever is unlucky enough to be hit by it. His bomb creates an afterimage that rushes forward and cuts through enemies.

Overall, An extremely entertaining side scrolling shoot em up, The character and enemy designs are great, the gameplay is addictive but challenging, and the bosses are interesting and well designed. one of my favorite parts of the game are the bits of story you get at the end of the game which are usually pretty funny.

Samurai aces 3
The third game in this series and the most recent game of the entire collection. Featuring 3D environments, fully voiced cutscenes and some cool new mechanics. While it is once again a side scrolling shoot em up, there are several key differences from the last game. The first major difference you will notice are the controls of the game. By default holding down “Y” will do your normal shot, nothing too dramatic about it however by holding “X” your shots will get faster but your movement speed will slow to a crawl. By pressing “A” you will perform a cannon shot which is a powerful attack that causes defeated enemies to give more points, however after using it you are left unable to attack for a bit. By pressing “B” you will use a bomb which, like usual, deals massive damage and destroys enemy bullets. Careful timing and smart use of all of the tools given to you are essential to completing this challenging game.

The story of the game isn't too complicated. A princess has been captured by bad guys and its your job to save her.

Masamitsu:  A swordsman who is betrothed to the captured princess. His normal shots are crescent shaped sword slashes that have a wide spread. His stronger shots are lasers that also have good spread, however they are thinner and require a bit more aim. His cannon shot is a larger version of his normal projectile. His bomb makes him gather energy and shoot it out in many streams at enemies in front of him.

Miko/Koyori: Returning yet again is everyone's favorite busty shrine maiden. Once again she shoots Ofuda in both her regular and strong shots. Her bomb is essentially the same as in the previous game, where an Ofuda is shot forward and it explodes into a ball of plasma. Her cannon shot is a powerful blast of energy.

Mizuka: A young woman and the disciple of Tengai. Her normal shots are fast and have a wide range, while her strong shot is a small kanji laser. Her bomb is just a larger more powerful kanji laser. Her cannon shot is a fast moving but small blast of energy.

Ayin/Flush: Once again searching for his “missing” sister, flush is back and as unlucky as ever. His normal shot is just a volley of arrows, and his strong shot is just an even faster volley of arrows. His bomb is an extremely large and powerful laser. His cannon shot is a fast blast of energy he shoots from his sword.

Tengai: The first of two secret characters, which can be unlocked by inputting a code on the title screen. Left x3 Down x1 Right x9. His normal shot has him shooting necklaces, they have surprisingly good range. His strong shot and his bomb are the exact same as Mizukas, a small and strong kanji laser respectively. His cannon shot sends his bird flying forward.

Junis: The second secret character. Her normal shot are a widespread volley of Kunai. Her powerful shot is a more focused volley of Kunai with less spread. Her bomb is the same as in the previous game, where she jumps into the foreground as a rain of cherry blossom petals rain down and damage everything on screen.

Visually the game is a mixed bag, while the sprites, attacks, and character portraits look better than ever before, the 3D backgrounds are low poly and their textures are sub-par, so far this game has the worst backgrounds i've ever seen in a shoot em up.

The sound design is a lot less of a mixed bag, the music is great as always, and the sound effects are impactful. The voice acting is also surprisingly good.

Overall, it's a fun game, the new gameplay mechanics are fun to mess around with, however, compared to the previous game this game falls flat in a lot of ways. While the characters and enemies look amazing, the low poly backgrounds are extremely jarring and lessen the appeal of a lot of levels. The bosses also aren’t as fun or interesting as in the previous game.

Back to the vertical style of shoot em ups we have Gunbird. The controls are back to the usual normal shot, charge shot and bomb style of Psikyo’s games.

This game is a lot more light hearted then the games before it, everything from the music, to the visuals, to the character designs reflect the tone of the game.

The 5 playable characters are:

Ash: A bespectacled explorer with a jetpack. His main shot is a standard shot without much spread, his sub weapon fires fast moving rings of energy that gradually get larger. His charge shot shoots a sphere of plasma that explodes on impact and fires smaller spheres in many directions.  His bomb is just a regular bomb with a small explosion, however it stays on screen for a few seconds.

Marion: A blonde witch flying on a broomstick. Her main shot has a decent spread, and her sub weapon fires homing stars at enemies. Her charge shot fires a burst of energy with the silhouette of a rabbit in the center. Her bomb causes a cross of crescent shaped energy beams to fire out in multiple directions.

Valnus: A flying robot soldier. His main shot is another standard one without much spread, however his sub weapon fires lasers next to his main shot which extends its spread somewhat. His charge shot is a “Rocket punch” that doesn't have much range, but it does deal some good damage. His bomb fires out a cross of powerful lasers.

 Yuan-Nang: A Son-Wukong inspired character flying on a cloud. Her main shot is yet again another standard shot without much spread, her sub weapons are energy swords that are shot beside her standard shot giving her decent spread Her charge shot causes her to jab her staff into any oncoming enemies. Her bomb has several doppelgangers fly forward to bombard the enemies.

Tetsu: A bizarre old man flying an improvised flying pedal-powered helicopter. His main shot covers a fair bit of ground, while his sub-weapon fires slow-moving missiles forward. His charge attack fires a volley of missiles. His bomb causes several pillars of fire to spread toward the end of the screen.

The visuals are once again pretty good, with an odd contrast of low tech characters against an army of sci-fi high tech super robots. The enemy designs aren't the most original things in the world but the character designs are definitely unique, even the one based on a pre-established character.

The music in the game is pretty upbeat and enjoyable, and like always the sound effects are well done and satisfying. There's even a fair bit of voice acting in the game.

Overall it's a pretty enjoyable game and a nice change of pace from the previous games. While the enemies and bosses aren't anything to write home about, the charming design smooth gameplay and great music more than make up for it.

Gunbird 2 
The sequel to Gunbird and yet another enjoyable vertical shoot em up. This time around there are 6 characters, and the ability for you to choose 2 characters to alternate between after losing a life by holding up and X on the difficulty selection screen.

Timing your bombs right before an enemies shot would hit you rewards you by turning the enemies shots into candy which you can collect for points. The charge shots are based on a charge meter that powers up to 3 levels, each level makes the charge shot larger and substantially stronger.

Alucard: A spectacled flying vampire. His main shots are green energy bats with a slight spread and his sub-weapons are purple bats that slowly flap their way across the screen. His charge attack causes a swarm of bats to cover the screen and destroy everything they touch. His bomb has him soar into the air and fire a red cross-shaped laser.

Marion: Returning from the previous game, this blond witch has a few new tricks up her sleeve. Her main shot has a decent spread, and her sub-weapons are homing stars. Her charge shot shoots energy bunnies again and her bomb has her twirl in the air and send out a spiral of energy stars.

Valpiro: A bulky flying robot. His main shot doesn't have much spread, and his sub-weapon fires saws that slowly cut through enemies dealing constant damage to them. His charge attack sends his arms forward where they violently spin and shoot bullets in various directions. His bomb causes him to fire a laser that first attacks behind him and to his sides before converging in the middle to become a larger, more powerful laser.

Tavia: A spectacled girl with a jetpack. Her shot and sub-weapons resemble Ash’s from the previous game, with no spread and gradually expanding rings of energy that extend out a bit further than the main shot. Her charge shot fires a volley of unsteady missiles, and her bomb causes a fleet of robots to fly across the screen and destroy whatever they fly through.

Hei-Cob: A chubby man on a flying carpet. His main shot has a decent bit of spread. His sub-weapon fires spinning scimitars forward. His charge attack summons a genie to stay in an area and keep firing shots. His bomb summons his genie to cause a massive explosion.

Aine/Ayin/Flush: Somehow on the search for his “lost” sister he made it into this game… somehow. He can be played by pressing down over the random character select option. His main shot is a volley of arrows, and his sub-weapons are even more arrows. His charge attack has him swing his sword and cut through everything directly in front of him. His bomb has him strip almost entirely naked and he ends up dealing damage to anything he touches while in this state.

The game is even more visually impressive than the previous game, with more interesting but still pretty uninspired bosses, but at least the sprite work is as great as ever. The music is also once again pretty upbeat and catchy.

Overall, This game is a lot of fun, it's also extremely silly and got quite a few chuckles out of me especially with Ayin. The visuals and music are excellent and the gameplay is solid as always. This is one of the most enjoyable games I've played in quite a while.

A dramatic departure from the rest of the collection. Gunbarich is a breakout clone with a twist, there are enemies that are constantly trying to sabotage you as you race against the clock to break every brick in the level. The game is divided into several worlds, each with 3 levels. The 3rd level of every world features a boss fight.

As per usual in breakout, you attempt to use a ball to break a bunch of bricks without your ball touching the bottom of the screen. If you press A right as the ball touches your paddle, you will send it flying faster. There are various powerups that drop as you play, touching them with your paddle will give you their ability for a limited time, and these range from causing your ball to multiply into several balls, to making your paddle wider, and even powering up your ball so it can cut through multiple bricks. After the first world, you will encounter enemies that shoot yellow balls down. If they reach the bottom they will explode and leave a sphere for a few seconds that paralyze you when touched. As you progress through the game the enemies can get extremely frustrating, so don't let the games cartoony appearance fool you, the game is rather challenging.

The story is simple. You play as one of two magicians in an attempt to prove you are a great magician. There are only two characters in this game...

Marion: The witch from the gunbird games is here to prove her worth, Her ball isn't very powerful but she is fast, and her magic abilities are fantastic.

Grutan: A young pirate. His ball is powerful, but his speed and magic aren't nearly as good as Marion.

Visually the game is very cute and cartoony, which can be a turn off for some people, however it is still well made and it looks great. The music is extremely catchy, but some of the sound effects can get a bit annoying.

Overall, This game is extremely fun, probably my favorite game in the collection. The game is highly addicting, the visuals are a bit cutesy but they are still very well made. Like the rest of the games in this collection the character designs are great, from the playable characters to Majora, a witch that gives you guidance between levels.

FINAL Verdict: Recommended
Like the previous collection, I highly recommend this game to everyone with a switch, shoot em up fan or not these games are perfect pick up and play multiplayer capable experiences that the switch pulls off wonderfully.