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Power Strike II

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Released: 1993

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: Sega Master System

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Compile

As the Master System entered its twilight years, Sega was faced with a problem – the machine was worth supporting in territories where it had gained popularity, such as Europe, but it would have to provide original software due to a dearth of third-party support. With sensible outsourcing and very limited production runs to avoid overstocking problems, it could just about manage to make money from the endeavour – and that’s why games like Buggy Run, Masters Of Combat and Power Strike II are so expensive today.

But sometimes you get what you pay for with expensive rarities, and Power Strike II is definitely one of the best games on the system. The vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up comes from Compile, one of the most experienced developers in the genre at that time, and bears many of its hallmark features, from signature weapons to the wave motion power-ups make as they descend down the screen. Your goal is to take out air and ground targets in a world where modern technology has been grafted onto Thirties aircraft.

Power Strike II isn’t a game that innovates within its genre, but is instead an incredibly polished version of it. Quite apart from the excellent level design and the power-up system which allows you to retain a portion of your accumulated power on death, the game’s graphics and sound are amongst the best on the console. In fact, you could argue that Compile maybe even pushed the machine a little too hard, as you can see sprite break-up and other telltale signs of a struggling console. Still, it’s a small price to pay for a great game.