Okay, anyone that knows me probably knows I suck at most scrolling shooters. At least today I do. Back in my younger days, around the early to mid-90’s, I was much better at them. At least I think I was. I probably sucked back then too. Anyhow, Photon Strike by Gamespire is my newest addiction (I get addicted easily – just look at my current playtime in Tiny Station 2 for proof, nearing 300 days). Overhead scrolling shooter fans that have a penchant for Dan Brown novels will enjoy this one.
What we get with Photon Strike is a decent overhead scrolling shooter. Sure, it is no M.U.S.H.A. but it is also no slouch in challenge. Over on the Google Play store they bill it as a bullet hell shooter, I beg to differ on that one. A bullet hell shooter would be something like Ghost Blade HD (sister site link). Photon Strike is no bullet hell shooter. That may be why I like it.
The levels are short. Early levels are literally less than 30 seconds long – shorter than the commercial for most games. They do get longer as you play but they are still anemic when compared to something with meat on its bones like Robo Aleste (Tengen for the Sega CD). The backgrounds are nothing to write home about – though the 2.5D effect is cool and I personally like it a lot. That effect adds a lot of depth.
Early on the levels are simply scaffolding and other machinations floating in space. You even must blow up, or avoid, debris floating around the early levels. As you progress through Photon Strike you will see the backgrounds begin to take on more complete looking status. The progression is slow and almost unnoticeable.
Enemies are where shooters excel, or should. Photon Strike doesn’t have “bad” enemies per se. Rather the enemies remind me of various things. Some remind me of Scourge from the animated Transformers movie. Other enemies remind me of a few of the power sleds from Wipeout. Your mileage may vary here so just do your best to pay attention to the bad guys coming at you.
Photon Strike is not a bad overhead scrolling shooter by any means, it is just slightly above mediocre for me.
Firepower is another area that scrolling shooters are going to excel at if they want to capture your attention long. Photon Strike has an upgrade system for your main weapon, shields and various secondary weapons that are available. Powering up these weapons is accomplished in two methods. One is to pay to do so between levels (kill enemies and collect those little triangles that float towards you). The other way is in the levels themselves. As you destroy enemies you will see big triangles with icons in them floating around. Grab those so that you can use your powered-up weapons. No matter how credits I sunk into the main weapon it just didn’t seem to get that “oomph” behind it at least visually.
Photon Strike is a good beginner shooter for those of us that are not into bullet hell shooters, or need a slight refresher course in the genre. Just remember, it is no Space Megaforce or Raiden.
Now for the bad. Ads. I understand developers need to make a bit of money off the moochers out there. After all, there are more moochers than people willing to drop a few bucks (or more) on freemium games like Photon Strike. The problem is compounded when developers/publishers go overboard with the advertising like here. What you can expect is 30 to 45 second video ads every couple of levels/deaths. This could be painful for those on a limited data plan so be warned, extended play may drain your data plan early (and cause unnecessary overages).
The cheapest purchase I saw was $2 for a credit doubler. I say that because according to the in game advertising for IAP, any purchase will stop the ads. So, basically, if you like Photon Strike, $2 will stop the ads and give you a little bonus in earning enough to max out your weapons (and purchase some new ships). There is an IAP for a ship at $7 to watch out for.
Photon Strike by GameSpire
Platform: Android (ZTE ZMAX 2 used for review)
Genre: Overhead scrolling shooter
In App Purchases: Yes (for credits and optional ships)
Rated: Everyone 10+ years old
Available now on Google Play