Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo (Switch)

Back in the 90’s and seeping a bit into the 2000’s, one of the kings of arcade 2-D shooters was Psikyo.  Now NIS America has compiled a couple of collections of Psikyo’s games on the Switch, so today we’re going to take a look at the ones in Bravo, as opposed to Alpha.  I hate it that I missed out on reviewing Alpha earlier, but I liked this Bravo collection so much that I went out and bought them both, so I can talk about Alpha later.


So first we’ll take a look at the games on Bravo.  The first is Gunbird.  It’s a 2-D vertically scrolling shooter and you can pick up power-ups to increase your rate and range of fire, and also pick up screen clearing bombs.  If you hit an enemy craft, you’ll lose one of your power ups, but if you hit one of their bullets, you’ll lose a life!  Instead of spaceships, you control a cast of somewhat silly characters, like a witch girl on a broom, a lady based on the main character from Journey to the West, a robot, and more.  Two players can play co-op as well.  This game actually did come to the US back then, but under a different name.  If you remember the budget PSOne title “Mobile Light Force” with that horrible box art of military ladies running toward you (which had nothing to do with the game at all), yeah that’s Gunbird!  Interestingly enough, there was a Mobile Light Force 2 on the PS2, with the same horrible box art, but it was actually a different shooter, this time Shikigami no Shiro!

Gunbird 2

The real sequel is just more of the same.  Even the power-ups are identical.  But it has better graphics and new characters to play as.  The witch girl is back, along with a fat Arabian dude on a magic carpet and more.  This game came out on the Dreamcast in the US, and I own it.  Since the Dreamcast version was published by Capcom, they added a couple of new characters, including Morrigan from the DarkStalkers series.  But this version doesn’t have that, so sorry Morrigan fans.


This is a Gunbird spinoff game.  I don’t know why it’s called that, as it looks like someone tried to say “Gunbird” and sneezed about halfway through.  If I were naming the game, I would’ve called it GunBlock, but maybe that name was taken.  Anyway, after playing the first two games I was worried that every game on this collection would be practically the same, but that’s not the case here as Gunbarich is a BreakOut/Arkanoid clone!  You can choose to play as the witch girl (guess she’s the Gunbird mascot) or a pirate kid that looks like the main character from Zack and Wiki.  You’ll break blocks, collect power-ups, fight bosses, and repel bullets with your paddle in levels.  Your paddle is actually a pair of pinball flippers and you can press a button to give the ball more power if you time it right.  It’s a nice change of pace from the other games in this collection.

Samurai Aces (Sengoku Ace)

So after that bit of a change, we’re back with another vertically scrolling shooter.  It’s a lot like Gunbird, just with a different theme and characters.  The game has kind of a feudal Japan setting, with flying enemies based on Japanese folklore.  Characters you can play as include a ninja lady, priestess girl, samurai dude, a dog, you know, typical Japan stuff.  They fly in these fantasy style airplanes as they shoot anything that moves.  If this all sounds weird to you, it’s probably because Psikyo was founded by people who previously made a famous shooter for another company called Aero Fighters.  In that one, you can play as a dolphin, baby, or pop star as they pilot fighter jets!  Interestingly enough, Samurai Aces was also Psikyo’s first game as a new company.  This game is definitely harder than the others in this collection, and has more of a ‘bullet hell’ feel to it.

Tengai (Sengoku Blade)

They decided to change things up in the sequel because instead of being a vertically scrolling shooter, now it’s a horizontal one.  Still plays pretty much the same, though.  It was called Tengai in the US but I don’t ever remember seeing it in the arcades.  Some returning characters include the priestess girl who throws cards, but now she’s a bit bustier than before.  There’s also a ninja princess who has a lemur animal pal with her.  They don’t pilot planes anymore, though, as they just fly around by themselves.  Guess they took their vitamins.  The 2-D pixel artwork in the backgrounds are especially nice.

Samurai Aces 3 (Sengoku Cannon)

Apparently this game was on the PSP, but I’m not sure if it made it to the US or not.  It’s pretty much the same game as before, except with 3-D backgrounds that are a bit lacking in detail and can get choppy sometimes.  The busty priestess lady returns (guess she’s the mascot of these games) along with some other characters.  It’s not quite as good as the second game, but they did add a neat gameplay feature that I do like.  Along with your rapid fire shots and bombs, you can shoot out a charged beam and if it delivers the final blow to an enemy, all the bullets on screen turn into coins and can really boost your score.  I also really like the character art in this game.  It was done by Jun Tsukasa, and I really like some of this artist’s work.

And those are all the games on Bravo!  At any time during these games, you can pull up an options screen and toggle all sorts of things, like how you view the screen and difficulty selection.  You can make the games super easy if you like, which is great for people like me who love to play these kinds of games, but are horrible at them.  One thing you can do is rotate the screen on vertically scrolling shooters so it’s on the side.  This is also called “tate” mode.  Only problem is that you have to take out the Joycon controllers to play this way, and there are no stands that I know of to make the Switch screen to stand on its side like that.  Someone should make a Labo cardboard arcade cabinet!  Luckily if you play the games in the original format, it’s not too hard to see the action, even in handheld mode.  I guess it’s because since these games are older and have lower resolution.

The only other problem I had with this game is that it’s a bit bare boned.  It’s just the games and that’s it. Which is fine, but last year, NIS America released a collection of SNK arcade games on the Switch, and it had all sorts of cool artwork in the game and facts that even I didn’t know!  It just would’ve been nice if that was on this collection as well.  And I also don’t like that they split up the games into two sets.  I don’t think there’s any reason why they couldn’t have been all in one collection.  And if you want to buy this game physically, you have to get the special editions, which are a bit overpriced.  There’s no regular edition you can get cheaper that I’m aware of.  But even with these problems, I enjoyed playing this collection and learning more about the games.  It’s hard to describe, but there’s something about these kinds of arcade games that just draws me into them.  So yeah, I still really liked it.

Kid Factor:

Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes.  You shoot lasers and missiles and other projectiles at mechanical flying ships that explode or fall off the screen when defeated.  Some of the anime styled female characters are well endowed and wear revealing outfits.  All games have two player support so more folks in the family can enjoy it together.  I certainly enjoyed playing games like this with my brothers when they were younger.

2 Responses to “Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo (Switch)”

  1. Well. These are obscure.

  2. These look cool! I didn’t know about Psikyo. Reminds me of classics like 1943. .

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment

Tired of typing this out each time? Register as a subscriber!