Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Game of the Day - Night Striker

If the guy from Space Harrier hopped in a futuristic hovercraft and threw in some sweet graphics and some even faster-paced gameplay, he'd be Night Striker.

Night Striker is a 3rd person "over-the-shoulder" shooter that, as the name implies, takes place mainly at night. You have many different scenarios to trudge through. Cityscapes, seascapes, tunnels (tunnelscapes?) are all part of the game - and the beauty is that you can control (some of) your destiny as the game's levels branch out in a pyramid style and allow you the choice of which way to go after each level.

The graphics are good and what you'd expect in this era from this type of game.  But it can be hard to really appreciate them as there is always and I mean always something to shoot or avoid.  Controls are very simple - analog stick (I tried both my joystick and trackball) and two fire buttons.  One of the fire buttons in MAME is for rapid fire, the other is for single fire.  I tried to determine what the game config was like originally and had a little trouble.  The flyer refers to guided missiles - maybe that's what button 2's shots are, but they look just like the regular fire to me.
Your lives are translated into shields in NS.  It clearly shows you at the bottom of the screen your current shield strength.  As you might have guessed, each hit taken reduces your shield strength by one.  If you lose your shield altogether and are hit... you are croaked.  To help, with each finished level, you are awarded a bump in your current shield strength.

There are bosses of course, and they look great (especially like the dragon).  They take some number of hits, but not tooooo many.  There's also a boss timer counting down, so get on with it.  Finally, upon completing a stage, there are bonuses that reflect how well you did (the world of Night Striker is a meritocracy).

The controls are very smooth.  I enjoyed the game equally with my 8-way joystick and my trackball. The joystick providing a better feeling of cockpit action and the trackball providing more subtlety in the control.

Night Striker is remarkably simple and straight-forward, and therein lies the beauty, because it is extremely well-done. You jump in, start flying and shooting stuff and enjoy the scenery.  It's a good way to burn some time and 14 calories.

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