Strikey Sisters for the Nintendo Switch
Reviewed by: @micramanic for
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: 14/02/2019
Published by: DYA Games
Strikey Sisters is a little thin on the ground when it comes to a compelling story, that said with this style of game it’s less about the story and more about the gameplay. All the colourful characters you meet throughout your quest more than makes up for this however.
You follow the adventures of the titular Strikey Sisters Marie and Elene.
One day Elene seeks help from her sister Marie when she notices her pet Sachiro has vanished. She deduces that the evil Lord Vanik and his minions must have kidnapped her. Marie agrees to help Elene seek vengeance on Lord Vanik and anyone who stands between her and Sachiro.
If someone was to have told me that there was a game that fused 2D action adventure style dungeon crawling with Glaive style brick breaking I would’ve laughed at them. Well, that’s exactly what DYA Games have done and let me tell you it’s fantastic.
After the brief introduction cutscene you are thrown straight to an overworld map screen in which you can progress in any direction you please.
Each glowing counter on the map represents a puzzle/dungeon. The aim of Strikey Sisters is that of a traditional brick breaker game, clear all the blocks in the room using the ball to win.
Ok that’s where the similarities end. Instead of having a paddle that moves left and right to bounce the ball back up the screen you will control Marie and you have to bat the ball back with her sword.
If that wasn’t enough you also have to deal with the spawning monsters who will do their utmost best to ruin your day. These can be vanquished in a number of ways such as hitting them with the ball, using powerups in the form of spells (more on these in a bit) or simply smacking them with your sword.
One crucial thing to note is that the demon hoards will continue to spawn until every block is cleared, then and only then can you take out the last remaining monsters required to clear the dungeon.
If this sounds a bit much fear not, for you have numerous powerups and buffs at your disposal. These are called spells and they come in many shapes and forms. From the obvious brick breaker tropes like “Slow Ball” and “Double Ball” to the whackier ones like “Energy Shot” and “Lightning Storm.” These are obtained by killing enemies and they come in very handy for mopping up those last pesky enemies or blocks.
Speaking of blocks each one you destroy drops a coin. Collect enough coins and chests will begin to spawn. Hit these chests with the ball and catch the gems, keys, etc that drop to earn unlockables and achievements but I’ll touch on these later in the review.
DYA Games have done an excellent job of breaking up the repetition and grind which often plagues these style of games by simply dividing up the map into bite size chunks. Each of which are themed, ie forest, snow, cave etc. These smaller areas will have their own unique set of enemies, challenges and bosses.
Yes that’s right, at the end of each area you face off against a boss. Boss fights are handled slightly differently from the dungeons in which the only requirement is to kill the boss. Killing the other monsters or destroying the blocks won’t be necessary however they all add to the threat level.
In each stage you are only given three hearts. Get hit by an enemy, a projectile or let the ball fall off the screen and you lose one heart. Lose all three and that’s it you will have to restart the stage. You can replenish hearts by collecting “Chicken!!” (Still makes me chuckle just saying it, you’ll found out why in SOUND).
Controls feel very tight and kept simple enough to be intuitive and easy to pick up and play in short bursts. As mentioned earlier you control Marie by simply strafing left and right with the left stick. You swing your sword to hit the ball, enemies or deflect incoming projectiles by pressing A. Holding down A however grants you a charge shot which is useful for dealing extra damage to enemies, hitting the ball back with added force and it can even deflect projectiles back at the monsters.
Spells are mapped to B and you can only hold one spell at a time, so it’s wise to use them if you have one as other spells you collect will replace the one you were currently holding.
Although my entire playthrough was done on a Pro Controller it is clear to see that the game was designed perfectly for the Joy-Cons as you only need one stick and two buttons to play it.
There is multiplayer in the form two player couch co-op but unfortunately no online play.
Co-op play switches up the dynamic completely. Firstly to make things interesting you are given two balls that you must keep in play. Failure to do so will result in you BOTH losing a heart so the emphasis is placed squarely on teamwork and tactics over competition.
I love the art style chosen for this game. It’s fair to say that the eShop has pixel art games in abundance, however I have always preferred the 16 bit era of games over the flat blocky visuals of the 8 bit systems. I just feel like they age better.
So when I saw Strikey Sisters pop up on the eShop I instantly said “that looks like A Link to the Past!”
Which in and of itself is a testament to just how much love went into this game and shows DYA Game’s mastery over the halcyon days of the SNES/Mega Drive.
The colours are suitably vibrant and dingy when they need to be (dependant on the level theme) and they have even included an option to toggle “smooth graphics” on or off depending on your taste.
The use of textures and shading is also impressive and all the various monsters, bosses and cutscenes all look different and unique.
I never saw a single dropped frame or any slow down, whether in TV mode, handheld mode or playing two player. This is great to see as this style of game relies heavily on quick reactions and would get very frustrating with anything less than a perfect framerate.
Oh boy the sound! Strikey Sisters is fully voice acted and like the aforementioned story it isn’t really a necessity per say in this style of game. Though I always commend any developer willing to go that extra mile to include it. I have always found that listening to a narrative as well as following a storyboard really helps me personally with the immersion.
I found the voice acting was done very well along with the writing. It has something for everyone from the cheesy over the top sisters to the unique and quirky bosses which all had a personality of their own.
However if all the 90’s pop references, melodramatic sisters or cringy boss fight one liners gets too much for you then you can always adjust these in the options menu.
Along with the basics like music and sound FX volume sliders you can also toggle cutscene voices on/off. But then you won’t get to here all the throwbacks to the likes of Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer to name but a few!
Also in the options menu you’ll find a V-Sync toggle which I can only assume helps match the audio/video in case there is any latency issues.
Music comes in the form of some very upbeat retro synth tracks which really suit the theme of the game. No chiptunes here which again is a refreshing change in my opinion. Cutscenes with the bosses are appropriately foreboding and dramatic which is always a nice touch.
As for the sound effects themselves, each swing of the sword sounds powerful especially with Marie grunting for those charge swings. The blocks actually sound like bricks being smashed and all the powerups sound very impactful to the point where you know it’s being used despite you desperately trying to keep your eye on the ball.
As you frantically dash along the bottom of the screen to get the last ditch save shot in it can be hard to see which powerup (if any) you are picking up. Fortunately there is a handy announcer voice which calls out the plethora of pickups heading your way. My absolute favourite being “CHICKEN!!” I don’t think it ever failed to bring a smile to my face.
The boss battles are also ramped up to 11 with the bosses themselves bombarding you with those corny one liners and outright taunting you when you get hit. I felt that it really added to the tone of the fights and made the wins all the sweeter.
It took me just under 5 hours to complete the main campaign. Though I did play through on easy so as to see the story to it’s finale. I have no doubt that you could easily double this figure on normal or hard difficulty. As mentioned earlier there is lots more to collect. There is 10 achievements ranging from simple goals like find Sachiro and beat all bosses to harder ones like beat all extra levels.
These extra levels can be accessed upon completion of the campaign and there are 60 in total. The extra levels work the same as regular ones except you are collecting bronze, silver and gold stars instead of gems and keys.
You have 15 cutscenes, a huge bestiary to fill and a really cool image gallery which contains some awesome concept art, all of which are earned through the story mode.
For those that love to chase that elusive 100% completion I can certainly recommend picking this one up. They really have included something for everyone here, whether it’s a fun and very humorous story, multiplayer or collectables.
At just £8.99 in the UK and $9.99 in the US I think it’s great value. I’ve played games twice this price with far less content or replay value.
A very fun retro romp with a very unique twist on a much beloved genre to which I’ve never seen before.
Reviewed by Micramanic on the Nintendo Switch, game provided by DYA Games