Approximate Release Date: October 15, 1992
Genre: Scrolling shooter
Good ideas can’t rescue Strike Gunner S.T.G. from poor execution.
How long should a level last in a scrolling shooter? The question applies to any level-based game, really. When I started playing Strike Gunner S.T.G., I thought the first level was way too long. The same awful forest background kept scrolling and I felt intensely bored. Once the stage complete screen appeared, I thought the first level took me between 10 and 12 minutes. I was prepared to open up today’s post and lambasting this game for featuring such absurdly long, boring levels.
Luckily, I was wrong. It actually took about 5 minutes. Oof. That’s a completely different problem.
So why does time slow down when I play Strike Gunner S.T.G.? I think the biggest culprit is how the backgrounds are terrible in all respects, especially how slow it scrolls. For a game where you’re flying a jet fighter, it sure doesn’t feel like you have a decent amount of speed. Enemies show up in predictable patterns, too, and generally won’t shoot at you until you’ve had a chance to shoot them down first. This is the rare game that I would encourage bumping up the difficulty a bit.
To be fair, the later levels of Strike Gunner S.T.G. that I played were less boring because they were more difficult. But the same issues still existed. There are only two different backgrounds in the first three levels! That is stunning and makes the game feel stretched too thin. Each level introduces some new enemy types, but the majority of bad guys are still the same helicopters and jets from the first level.
It’s too bad, because I like some parts of this game quite a bit. First, there’s some really good music playing in the background, the kind of butt-rock style video game music that is perfect for blasting waves of enemies to. The other interesting twist is Strike Gunner S.T.G.‘s special weapon system. Before every level, you get to choose between one of 15 different weapons, but you can only use one weapon for one level. Once you finish the stage, that weapon can’t be used again. This prevents you from just using the most powerful weapons for every stage and encourages experimentation. Every weapon seemed standard, though, and I would have liked to see some more interesting choices.
But still, there are much better scrolling shooters to play than Strike Gunner S.T.G.
Tomorrow: Randomly capitalized letters in game names rarely bodes well, but I’ll give BlaZeon: The Bio-Cyborg Challenge a fair shot.