Sunday, February 24

Review: Strikey Sisters [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Over time it’s pretty incredible that one of the earliest games I remember playing, Breakout, has managed to in some way remain relevant. Most notable among the descendents of that classic was the game Arkanoid, which managed to add great looks, smart power-ups, and new challenges to the mix. Many years later we now have Strikey Sisters, which adds both co-op capabilities and some tricks of its own to the mix.

The first thing you’ll notice is that rather than having a bar you’ll control along the bottom of the screen you’ll have one of two warrior sisters to control. While the ball can bounce off of them for best results you’ll want to slash your sword to hit it since that will make you a bit “wider” in a pinch and it will offer a better chance of influencing its trajectory to what you want it to be. You’re able to power-up your shots as well to do quicker damage but just be aware the ball will move faster as well so if you have any obstacles close by it may be tough not to lose your ball once it bounces off of them. You’ll want to knock out all blocks to clear each stage but look out for a pretty wide variety of monsters to complicate matters by getting in the way and counter-attacking you as well. Each time you lose your ball or get hit by certain attacks you’ll lose a heart, and when you’re out you’ll need to start the stage over.

One thing to note is that this title definitely has a bit of a learning curve as not much at all is explained and the specific ways to make the best use of the game’s many power-ups take time to grasp. For instance, there are multiple power-ups that enable you to shoot but each of them has their own properties. Some only affect enemies while some can also break blocks. This is a vital distinction and will greatly influence how you may choose to use them. The game also has boss fights and working out the nuances of battling them and how to just do damage to them can also take a little time and experimentation. This makes getting up to speed take a little while as you get accustomed to things, so early on in particular the game can feel pretty challenging and even frustrating.

There’s no doubt that the degree of difficulty in the game is modeled more after older school arcades than more modern and often toned down sensibilities. You’re going to need to work for your successes and there are times when everything can go to hell in a hurry off of a series of cases of bad luck or carelessness. Most typically the problem comes down to your character not being terribly fast and it being hard to keep the ball in play since your “paddle” is so small. Learning when you have enough time to go for a power-up and when you don’t is vital since there will be plenty of temptation to grab something only to find you then can’t get into position in time.

For people who are willing to get over the initial hump of getting used to Strikey Sisters there’s plenty of challenging stages and bosses to conquer. In general, there aren’t many titles emulating the classic Breakout, and among the ones I’ve played this is probably the most unique and interesting, but it’s also probably the toughest as well. While it won’t be for everyone it’s a fresh and unique offering in the Switch eShop.

Score: 8

  • A fresh and challenging take on the classic Breakout formula
  • Boss fights and a pretty wide variety of enemies keep it exciting
  • Plenty of power-ups to learn to use effectively

  • There’s definitely an initial learning curve that can be frustrating
  • Character movement is a bit more cumbersome than I’d prefer
  • If the core Breakout game style doesn’t suit you the changes won’t likely be enough to change your mind