Eight years after its debut on the Dreamcast and Neo-Geo, developer NG:DEV.TEAM's shoot-'em-up game, Fast Striker, is now out on PlayStation 4 and Vita. It's ultimately a simple game with a simple goal: beat the top score. It's also best described with one simple word: mediocre.
A basic top-down shooter with a few bells and whistles thrown in, Fast Striker features four difficulty/play modes that offer a same-yet-different gameplay experience. In addition to each mode (Novice, Original, and Maniac) being progressively more difficult than the last, they each have their own space ship. This means that the weaponry used in each also differs. In Novice, for example, the player pilots a blue ship that has forward- and rear-facing projectile weapons, whereas Original uses a green ship equipped with a front-facing spread-shot cannon, missiles, and a temporary shield that can be activated on demand. The final mode, Maniac, the player's ship is equipped with a massive front-facing laser beam. The final mode is just bonkers difficult and, really, is more of a frustrating chore than anything else.
How players score also changes from mode to mode. In Novice, players collect stars that spawn when enemy ships are shot down. In Original, players instead collect gold nuggets which can be chained to increase their value. Maniac bucks the trend and relies of players to chain together kills. If players take down enough opposing ships with their laser beam, it changes color to signify a score multiplier. The final mode plays quite similar to Maniac, just with more chaos.
The game boasts six stages and players will find it difficult (if not impossible) to make it to that final stage. Even on Novice, the game just gets ridiculously hard. So much so, in fact, that it loses any sort of entertainment factor and just becomes a frustrating mess. After the first level or two, the game goes well beyond pattern recognition and memorization because there is just simply much too much going on on the screen at any one time to possibly keep track of it all. Honestly, it's a good thing the final scoreboard is the goal rather than completion because 99% of players will probably never see the end credits.
In terms of presentation, the game comes up lacking as it's really where Fast Striker shows its age. While it could be billed as "retro," what it really is is just plain old. It's colorful, sure, but the feeling players get is just kind of "blah." It's uninspired and rather unappealing. It's almost like it's a full-on port of the original Dreamcast/Neo-Geo game from 2010. No updating, no polishing... no nothing. It just..... is.
One nice thing about Fast Striker having played it on the portable PlayStation Vita is that, despite the complaints, it's a decent on-to-go gaming option. Games don't last terribly long with some are over rather quick depending on a player's (lack of) skill or bad luck and it doesn't exactly take a video game wizard to kill some idle time with it. On console, it would be a bit of a disappointment. On Vita, however, it's mildly acceptable as it will help pass the time during a road trip or while waiting at the DMV.
Even then, though, it'd be a tough overall sell.
Final Score: 5 out of 10
A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of review.