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150 SNES games reviewed #22: Super Strike Gunner (aka Strike Gunner S.T.G.)

Super Strike Gunner (or Strike Gunner S.T.G. as it was known in the US) is a vertical scrolling shoot ’em up game originally developed by Athena it was released in the arcades by Tecmo (in 1991) it was then ported to the SNES, and this version was published/distributed in the UK by Activision.

There was quite a wide supply of shooters back in the 16-bit days and although the Mega Drive seemed to end up with more of them the SNES wasn’t exactly left short. It has to be admitted though the Mega Drive was better known for them, the SNES might have been superior in  a lot of areas but it definitely had a slower processor and this usually meant more slowdown in this particular type of game when there were a lot of small, fast moving objects on screen.

There were a few big, famous shooter titles on the SNES but this game seems to have been forgotten by a lot of people. When people talk about shooters on the SNES they tend to talk about Axelay, Gradius III, Super R-Type, or U.N. Squadron, very rarely will people mention Super Strike Gunner.

In Super Strike Gunner you take control of a high-tech jet called the Strike Gunner (hence the game’s name), and like most games of this type you face wave after wave of enemies. In this case they range from helicopters, to jets and tanks and so on. In this case you fly up the screen vertically with stuff generally coming down at you (some things will come from the side of the screen or the bottom corners but most stuff tends to fly down towards you). When you start each level though you have a large choice of special weapons, but there is a catch. You can only choose one weapon to use and you can only use it for one level. Among the choices are heat seeking missiles, super stronger lasers and there is even a mega-beam cannon, which seems to just blow the living hell out of anything in more or less one shot. This does add a bit of tactics to the game, because obviously if you use the strongest weapons or the ones you find yourself best suited to first then you wont have them available to you for the later stages. I would suggest starting with a strong weapon until you get a good feel for the level and then once you feel you know a level like the back of your hand taking it on with a weapon your less attached to.

You have a special power bar, which decreases when you use your special weapon. Some of the less powerful special weapons will drain the bar very slowly but then there are others which will just make the bar disappear in seconds. Heck, one weapon depletes the bar in one. There is however a friendly aircraft which comes to you usually several times a level and drops things to help you. It can drop power ups which speed you up, increase the power of your ship’s main weapon, or fill up your special weapons bar.

Over the years I have seen this game receive all kinds of reviews and scores. Back in the day I think it got score generally around the 65% mark. Some called it a mediocre shooter complaining that it was slow-paced and repetitive, with levels that felt too long and had predictable enemy waves. Yet others seemed to love the boss fights and the super weapons. I will say that the backdrops are very basic but I found the game rather enjoyable. In a world which has seemed to want all shooters to turn in to full on bullet-hell ballets I found this game rather refreshing. I am going to go so far as to say I think people have been a little harsh to it over the years and have slightly underrated it. The game is not an all-time classic but its a decent game so I would have to give it a seven out of 10.

If you want to try it you tend to see copies of it come up now and again for around £10. If anything it seems to be a game which is much cheaper and easier to pick up in PAL. My copy was got from a market five years ago for around £3, but the days of walking back from markets with three or four SNES games seem to be long gone.

I do recognise there were better shooters on the SNES but this game is not bad at all. It is also a game which is basically selling for what I would consider to be a fair cash-to-playability ratio unlike some good games which seem to go for a small fortune.