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FAQ/Walkthrough by Mav

Version: 0.56 | Updated: 03/08/01

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                         (Strikers 1945 PLUS)
                             -by PSiKYO-	    		


     a work-in-progress
   Arcade FAQ/Walkthrough
       by Mav (c) 2001               email: web_tester226@yahoo.com
\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
Version 0.56 -- Minor Update

NOTICE: As with all Internet FAQs, this FAQ is protected under
international copyright law. Reproducing this FAQ for any use, and in
any manner, shape or form without the express permission of the author
is strictly prohibited.
     For Website Postings: You must have my express authority to use any
of my FAQs on your website, must adhere to any conditions placed on
having my FAQ(s) posted on your website, and must give full credit where
credit is due. (The Three "Must"keteers (hehe)!) I think that covers all
the bases ;). The most recent version of this FAQ will always be
maintained at: http://www.gamefaqs.com.
     This FAQ is intended as a guide to help interested and would-be
interested Strikers 1945 Plus players towards better progress, higher
scores, longer playing times, and hopefully more fun! And don't forget,
it's only a game...

Version History, Etc.--

v0.5 -- 11/16/2000: Liftoff/creation date of my second FAQ, this time
for Strikers 1945 Plus. Many, MANY omissions, errorrs (hey, there's one
now! *grin*) and info gaps expected. More updates to come after this FAQ
is completed, I fly more of the other planes, get farther in the game
(and man do I have room for improvement ;( ), have new and improved
insights and techniques, etc.

***If for some reason you've actually seen this sub-par FAQ before and
after revision and you noticed I slightly edited the above comments
though they shoulda in a purist sense stayed as they are for time
immemorial... I just felt *grin* was nicer and friendlier than "heh." Is
that so wrong ;)???

1/9/2001 -- v0.5 complete!

1/12?/2001 -- visited local arcade again and played Strikers 1945 Plus a
couple of times to see how well my gaming skillz have (or haven't) held
up. Tried out the new Ascender, got 300k, not great, played the Flying
Pancake, got 400k, also not great. *sigh* :)

1/14/2000 -- visited a different arcade and played a little bit of
Strikers 1945 II. Strikers 1945 II and Strikers 1945 Plus don't play the
same at all, I can tell you that.

1/15/2001 -- Quick update v0.55a created for a brand new stats n' stuff
section on the secret, but still very accessible, P55 Ascender craft.
It's quite literally based on first impressions, but it'll give you a
feel for the craft (don't worry, I'll update if it's all wrong :P) Other
minor additions and revisions added. Oh, and the code to get the
Ascender is just below!

3/6/2001 -- Hello again! Just thought I'd stop by and tack on a few
minor bits n' pieces of info, correct some some errors, and add in a
couple new strategies that seem to work better than the old ones. And in
case you're wondering, yep I'm about as bad at this game as I was when I
first started plateauing :P, although I'm usually pulling a so-so 400k
or more each time. And I am back to making it to level 1-5 on a fairly
consistent basis. But I'm still trying to improve... Also, what's
depressing is that I end up getting the same score no matter WHAT
happens...whether I go into stage 4 with all my planes, or LEAVE stage 2
with no planes to spare. Go figure o_O...

*****
Advance thanks go out to:
-- lfo (lfo@daddelkingz.de) for showing me the way to the official
Strikers 1945 PLUS homepage, info on why the playing screen is the way
it is (PSiKYO arranged the screen to compensate for the NeoGeo's
inability to vertically scroll naturally), and most importantly,
enlightening me on how to get the super-secret P55 Ascender!!! (at [?]
box move the joystick up, down, up, down, up, up, up, up, down and then
press a button)

-- Skyknight (cross_sinker@my-deja.com) for politely informing me that
my statement that the Strikers series has no backstory was completely
and utterly wrong ;). A brief synopsis of the plot is in Section II.


Advance _apologies_ (ehhe) go out to:
-- CJayC for (me) writing rather long FAQs and burning up all his
bandwidth when the infrequent visitor comes along :). Thanks for
accepting them anyway!
*****

S  E  C  T  I  O  N  S
------------------------------------------------------------------------
I. Introduction/Disclaimer

II. About Strikers 1945 Plus, and the Strikers Series in General

III. The Playing Screen

IV. Controls

V. Power-ups, Pickups and Items

VI. Select Your Fighter! Stats, Commentary and Stuff

1. F5U Flying Pancake
2. Fiat G.56
3. Focke-Wulf Ta152
4. P38 Lightning
5. Spitfire Mk.VI
6. Zero Type52
7. *NEW!* The Ascender!

VII. "Flythrough" (hehe) (get it? :P) (incomplete)

1. Mission 1
2. Mission 2
3. Mission 3
4. Mission 4
5. Mission 5 (Yes, I know it's repetitive, but I gotta have some
structure here :P)
6. Mission 6 (incomplete -- will it ever be?)
7. Beyond Mission 6

VIII. Helpful Hints, Closing Thoughts, Mysteries of the Game, and Other
Stuff

IX. High Scores and Rankings

X. Credits
------------------------------------------------------------------------



I. Introduction/Disclaimer


Here begins my humble second attempt at an arcade FAQ (official attempt,
anyway)! Hope you find it helpful, or at least amusing and entertaining
to read. Heck, I think it's fun to read through FAQs of great games I'll
never even play :). There's lots of great FAQ writers out there!
Strikers 1945 Plus is a cool game to play, although it will take some
time getting used to, maybe even for all you Raiden masters (Strikers
plays somewhat differently).

This FAQ also goes out to all the can-do gamers who've seen the game,
watched others play it, and decided to pop in those quarters and give it
a spin, to HECK with the humiliation of being a beginner! And believe
me, sometimes you feel like this game's purpose is to humiliate you. No,
it doesn't have stereo surround sound mockery from commentators or
invisible wingmen, but let me just say...the flak will be flying...
possibly like no other game you've ever seen (with the exception of
maybe Giga Wing -- no reflect force here -- or the other PSiKYO top-down
shooters). It's kinda hard in the early going.

Of course, no FAQ or guide of any kind can replace the experience you
get from playing the game for yourself. At the very least, I'd like it
if this FAQ could help gamers last longer than 3 minutes. ;)

Some advance words of warning (note the "Disclaimer" :P). I'm no expert
at this game. Maybe slightly above-average, but no ace. A fellow F5U
Flying Pancake pilot is just creaming the rest of us would-be Top Gun
wannabes :P, and his top score is a good 450,000 points away from my
personal best (I'm 560k, his top score is over a million!!!). I've seen
the guy in action, and man is he good. I'm gonna need another quarter-
million points or more just to be #10 on the high score board! *mumble*.
He's on Mission 8, although he hasn't passed the last boss yet...whereas
I'm not even close. I've made it to Mission 6, once, as of this writing.
(I follow a no-continue policy, at least until I get v0.5 done and
suddenly realize it might be a smart idea to swallow my pride, spend the
$2 or so to pass the game, and make a COMPLETE v1.0 FAQ before the local
arcade decides to pull the ol' switcheroo on me -- did someone say
"where'd Zombie Revenge go?" eheheheh, sigh :) ). Too bad this isn't a
game you get better at right away...

Also, as I hinted to on the "splash page," this FAQ is in no way meant
to be THE way to get ahead in Strikers 1945 Plus. If the million scorer
I mentioned writes a FAQ by chance, go read his :P. This FAQ is written
from a single-player point of view and my own style of playing, since I
haven't played with a second player yet. The only fighter I'm consistent
with/play much is the Flying Pancake. I haven't passed the game, and the
best player is far ahead of me; many times I go for points over safety
and survival; I don't always get to the same level with my plays; etc.
If my strats don't work for you, try your own! Well enough of all that,
here comes the FAQ! Hope you enjoy it!
************************************************************************



II. About Strikers 1945 Plus, and the Strikers Series in General


Strikers 1945 Plus is a fun and frantic 2-D top-down scrolling shooter
from PSiKYO, created in 1999 according to the arcade splash screen. It
takes place over land, air and sea, with a nice variety of environments,
enemies and imaginative multi-part bosses. It might not be 3D, but it's
got plenty of explosions, good graphics and other nice touches, though
there's not a lot of secrets (if any exist) like the Raiden Fighters
series (not by PSiKYO, I believe). To the best of my knowledge, the
people at PSiKYO have been making these kinds of games for quite some
time. I think I've played 3 PSiKYO shooters prior to Strikers 1945 Plus;
the first one, which I can't remember the name of, mixed together more
modern fighter planes with mystical pilots flying on the backs of giant
birds or other creatures. Choose your bird: mechanical or living, hehe.
Didn't play it more than a couple times, but it's hard to forget a
"bomb" which makes your giant eagle flyer invincible while you launch
deadly white kanji (?) at your enemies :).

But I digress. I don't think that was part of the Strikers series :P.
I've played two other Strikers games, Strikers 1945 and Strikers 1945
II, Strikers with different planes and a helper plane system, and the
Strikers II being this game's precursor, with some of the same fighter
planes and many of the same enemies, but with different gameplay (the
super-shot meter system, bomb effects and game speed have all been
changed in Strikers 1945 Plus).

While the game itself gives you absolutely no hint at a storyline other
than a CG sequence with all 6 regular selectable fighters in it (but
what does _that_ tell you?), Skyknight informs me, and after doing a
little background research I'm inclined to believe that, there's
actually quite a nifty little plot behind the top-down scroller. Let's
just sum it up like this: Alien technologies and crabs and hidden
conspiracies and mysterious organizations and last-hope internationally-
assembled pro-Earth freedom fighters for the forces of good and
peace...oh my.

But this new revelation of the Strikers storyline only reinforces my
previous hunch...that your fighter is the good guy and everybody else
that's firing at you is a bad guy ;P. So...blast everything that moves!
;) And go to it "For Great Justice!!!" (OK, I've been bitten by that
particular bug too) ;)
------------------------------------------------------------------------



III. The Playing Screen


The playing screen in Strikers 1945 Plus is kinda different from most
other top-down shooters. Your essential info takes up a sizable chunk of
the screen, top to bottom. If you're playing the 1P position, this info
panel takes up the far left side of the screen; if you're in the 2P
position, it's on the far right side of the screen. Anyway, here's the
breakdown.

At the very top of the panel is your all-important score. You start at
just plain 0, with none of those pesky 0 placeholder digits, so go for
the highest score you can!

Right underneath that is the icon of your selected fighter plane. To the
right of the plane icon is the number of planes you have left. You've
got 3 counting the first one you fly, and it's a whopping 600,000 points
until you can earn an extra one (yep, extra life at 600,000 points...
eaassyyy :P). Use em wisely.

Underneath the planes remaining indicator is your "bombs" (really
support fighters) counter. Bomb effects vary per fighter. Basically
though, the support fighter(s) on the screen you summon will absorb
effectively all shots in its/their way (blue and pink bullets, anyway),
and is/are very hard to destroy. As a bonus benefit, almost all the
support fighters will fire back at the enemy, helping clear the screen
in various degrees. You get 2 bombs to start off with, and get a fresh
load of 2 bombs if you're shot down. You can also pick up additional
bombs from certain fixed enemies, but you won't find many. If you
continue after losing all your planes, the game gives you one extra bomb
to pick up for free. These bombs can be crucial to help you out in a
pinch (many of 'em could be considered virtual extra lives), but do note
that when you right after you use up a bomb, an X will appear over the
bomb icon. You won't be able to use another bomb until the X disappears.
Also note that using another bomb quickly after your first can cause the
first bomb to finish up early, decreasing its effectiveness. So again,
like your planes, use these bombs wisely. But don't be afraid to use
them -- if you're shot down with bombs to spare, they're gone for good,
and you've suffered a considerable setback in protection and support.

Finally, under the bomb counter is your Super Shot indicator. The Super
Shot varies per fighter (explained in the Select Your Fighter section
below). The Super Shot indicator consists of two components; the super
meter itself and a "bullet" meter to the left of it. The bullet meter
varies for each fighter. The number of bullet containers indicates the
maximum number of super shots you can use without charging the super
meter (basically, super shots you stored for future use). When a super
shot is used, one bullet container will empty from the bullet meter. You
start the game with one super shot charged, and come back with one super
shot available each time your fighter is shot down. As your fighter
plane shoots at and hits targets (your super meter will charge
regardless of whether you destroy the tougher enemies, so long as you're
hitting them), the super meter will gradually increase. The rate of
increase varies per fighter. When it fills, the meter will flash, you'll
hear a sound, and one bullet container will be filled. When you can
charge up no more super shots (bullet meter is full), your super meter
will continuously flash. As a visual cue to help you, your super meter
will be dark brown to signify you have super shots available, and will
be faintly reddish if you have no super shots to use. Note that the
super shot itself will not charge the super meter. Note also that you
can still fire your regular weapons while the super shot is being used,
allowing you to rain down the punishment on the bad guys.

Lest I forget, in between these two panels is the gameplay screen. This
is where all the action is. And finally, at the top center of that
screen is a little level indicator. 1-1 is the first level, 1-2 is the
second level and so forth.
------------------------------------------------------------------------



IV. Controls

The controls for Strikers 1945 Plus are quite simple, making it easy for
the mediocre-at-this-type-of-game person like me to fly into the fray.
Maybe I'm not twitchy enough...

(Sorry about the maze.)


              ------- Fire - one tap fires a short volley
             |        of bullets, tap continuously to
      -> O   v        repeatedly fire your fighter's primary
     |   |   O O      and secondary weapons
     |         ^      (--hold down the fire button briefly
     |         |      and release to use Super Shot)
     |         |
     |         |
     |          --------- Use bomb (calls out support
     |                    fighter/fighters)
Joystick, moves your
fighter in all
directions

In any case, the game explains the controls briefly before play begins.
------------------------------------------------------------------------



V. Power-ups, Pickups and Items


There are three power-ups, pickups and items of interest in Strikers
1945 Plus.

First, there's the P (power-up) icon, which looks like a vertical shell
casing facing upwards. It's found by blowing up a distinctive red plane
in a formation headed by 2 or 3 blue planes (they fly straight down and
then arc away from you), or by destroying fixed enemies. Collecting the
power-ups will increase the "power" of your fighter's primary and
secondary weapons. I say "power" because in gameplay this isn't always
easy to see (in the case of the F5U Flying Pancake, power-ups can even
make things harder!). In other cases getting power-ups will actually
DECREASE your fighter's weapons power (see the Fiat, and maybe the
Focke-Wulf, below). But by no means is collecting power-ups a bad thing.
The more powered-up your weapons, the faster your super meter charges!
That and you get nifty secondary weapons, more range and things like
that.

Anyway, before I go completely off the deep end, each fighter's weapons
can be powered up four times (for the sake of clarity, from Level 1,
your beginning weapons power level, to Level 5). If your fighter's
weapons are at their maximum power level, collecting power-ups
thereafter nets a hefty 4000 point bonus. If your fighter is shot down,
your weapons will lose 3 levels of power; however, this is made up for
somewhat since your destroyed fighter will leave behind one power-up for
pick-up, and the aforementioned red plane will soon appear in a
formation (if your weapons power is Level 2 after picking up the first
power-up). Also note that if you have the misfortune of being run into
by certain wimpy planes that dive towards you (they take only one hit
from anything you've got), you will lose one level of weapons power.
Lucky you, you're not blown up outright...sometimes. Solution: don't let
em hit you, and keep firing away no matter what. The game is fairly
forgiving, and will generally give your plane's weapons priority over
the diving wimpy plane -- so the plane gets destroyed and you don't lose
a level of weapon power.

***UPDATE!!!* By the way, if you REALLY feel like it, it appears you can
run right into bosses (the non-ground-based ones, anyway) without
getting blown up! Yep, I tried it. So long as the bullets they're firing
don't hit you, that is. You'll lose one level of weapons power, with a
POWER DOWN message and some red smoke trailing from your craft, but
other than that you'll be OK. Just something to think about, I guess.
I've yet to find any use for doing such a thing.

An additional note on weapons power. Your fighter's primary weapon will
reach its maximum power by Level 4 (three power-ups); however, if you
can gain another power-up (to Level 5), your secondary weapons will
reach their maximum level of power, which is a nice bonus. Sometimes a
REALLY nice bonus.

After power-ups, there's the B (bomb) icon, which basically looks like a
bomb facing downwards. It's only found by destroying specific fixed
enemies at a certain point in certain levels. Sorry if that sounds kinda
vague, it becomes clear during play where to find the bombs. As you
might guess, getting the bomb pick-up adds another precious bomb to your
stock.

Finally, there's the gold bar item. Unlike the P and B icons, collecting
these is entirely optional and has no effect on gameplay. The gold bar
item can and does, however, have a sizable effect on your score. Gold
bars are left by various tanks, turrets, ground-based vehicles and
certain buildings that you destroy in the land-based stages (or any
stage that has land on it, logically enough). Also unlike the P and B
icons, the gold bars conveniently stay right where they are, instead of
bouncing all over the screen. You have to collect them quickly, though,
before they scroll past the bottom of the screen.

Gold bars come in 2 sizes and various point varieties. The more common
gold bar is a single gold bar. It will award you 200, 500, 1000 or 2000
points for collecting it (you'll hear a special sound for getting the
2000-point bar). As you play more games, you'll notice that the gold
bars glisten, and not only that, at intervals. The more shiny the gold
bar when you collect it, the higher the point bonus. If you collect the
gold bar just as it reaches "maximum shine" (the gold bar basically
looks white), you will receive the highest bonus. If you just miss it,
no worries, you'll get the next highest point value (unlike Raiden,
where if you miss the medal's flash, you end up with the lowest point
value). You'll figure it out, although the action is frequently too fast
and furious to worry much getting the most out of the gold bars :P :).
The less common gold bar is a triple gold bar (looks like a small pile
of gold bars), which awards 500, 1000, 2000 or a whopping 4000 points
for collection (again, you get the special sound for the 4000-point
bar). Since gold bars are fairly common, at least when tanks and turrets
are around, collecting every one you possibly can may add tens of
thousands of points to your score -- making them a must for high
scorers.


And now we move on to the good stuff -- the fighter planes!
------------------------------------------------------------------------



VI. Select Your Fighter! Stats, Commentary and Stuff


(Info on many of the fighters (except the Spitfire and Flying Pancake)
may be somewhat inaccurate in terms of speed and primary/secondary power
ratings. I'll make updates as I play them further.

After plunking in your 2 or so quarters and hitting the start button,
the game immediately takes you to the plane selection screen. Move the
cursor left and right to view a larger graphic of the selected plane and
hit any button to choose it. For the more adventrous among you, there's
also a [?] selection at the far right end of the selection bar which
randomly and rapidly flashes different planes. I'm almost certain the
planes are flipped through too fast to correctly time a choice :P. Press
a button anytime for your surprise selection.

Unless, of course, you want to give the P55 Ascender a try :). In which
case you move the cursor to the [?] selection, and then move the
joystick up, down, up, down, up, up, up, up, down. The Ascender and its
graphic will suddenly appear! Then, just press a button to select it.
(Thanks to lfo for the tip)


1. F5U Flying Pancake

Notes: Consider it "The Little Blue Plane that Could." It's an avionic
marvel, and my personal favorite fighter in Strikers 1945 Plus. It does,
like its name suggests, look much like a flying pancake, being rather
round though still small and compact. It's also the swiftest plane in
the game, excellent at dodging all manner of enemy fire. The widest
range weaponry, a good super shot, and my favorite bomb/ support
fighter, the Flying Pancake is in my opinion the best all-around fighter
-- it's got it all. And tons of style to spare :). Perfect for any
player.

Speed: Fastest of the planes. Blazingly fast, compared to almost all the
other fighters. Maybe even too fast. But its nimbleness serves the
Flying Pancake well. In case I didn't mention it: all 10 high scores on
the local arcade's Strikers 1945 Plus machines are from the Flying
Pancake. Coincidence? I think not.

Weaponry: Excellent range. Not exceedingly powerful, but still adequate.
Successive power-ups upgrade the Flying Pancake's primary weapons to
twin-shot streams to quad-shot streams to finally a wide, arcing spread
of 6 whitish-yellowish shots total (in 3 "clusters"). Cool as they look,
damage is only so-so. (However, you'll notice that in the heat of a
dogfight, you'll have a hard time noticing any REALLY BIG difference in
primary weapon power other than maybe the Fiat.) The Flying Pancake's
secondary weapons are orange semi-guided lasers. They don't actively
pursue their targets, but always hit their mark when the target is
stationary or big enough. The first power-up yields two very small but
quick orange laser shots. Additional upgrades power-up the lasers to 2
longer lasers, a little slower but much bigger, then 4 lasers that can
be on the screen at one time, and finally 6 lasers. The lasers are very
weak, but are great for shooting down the weaker one-hit planes that fly
around from all over the screen, and can also do considerable damage if
concentrated on one opponent. The lasers also zap through multiple
enemies, ensuring you can destroy most bogies. Do note two problems with
the Flying Pancake's weaponry, though. While you have the best chance of
hitting and shooting down everything, the wide-arcing primary weapon is
less effective against smaller enemies like tanks, small planes and
skinny enemies (like vertical subs -- ugh) than the other fighters.
Also, the lasers have a mind of their own, and won't always fire at the
target you'd like them to.

Bomb: Simply wonderful. Using this bomb calls out a large white
triangular stealth-bomber type plane from either the lower-left or
lower-right side of the screen, depending on whether the Flying Pancake
is on the left or right side of the screen. It will then slowly move
upwards straight up towards the top of the screen. It's big, so it
provides great coverage for one side of the screen. If you're insecure
about incoming bullets, you can fly on "top" of the support plane for
protection :). The best part about this support plane is its relentless
triple stream of decently damaging flak from its three cannons. The
bomber's shots are "guided," which can only be said of 2 fighters'
support planes, and they NEVER MISS! The support plane will acquire up
to three targets at once, hammering away until the enemy is destroyed,
effortlessly moving onto the next target. This bomb almost always clears
the screen of enemies. The "bomb" is also very effective against the
bosses, where the triple-cannon stream combined with your own firepower
and super shot make for a very potent and damaging combo.

Super Shot: Burn, baby, burn! This super shot, when readied for use,
causes the two cannons at the Flying Pancake's sides to glow. When
unleashed, you get twin orange and thick laser beams of mass destruction
that will melt down all but the most durable enemies. While the Flying
Pancake's super shot is far from the most powerful super shot in the
game, it does have two important advantages. One, it persists for a good
length of time, about 3 seconds, and cuts through multiple enemies.
Second, the super shot is manueverable, unlike almost all other super
shots -- you can literally sweep the entire screen with the laser beams!
Use liberally on the tougher enemies and bosses. The super shot meter
charges very quickly, but you can only store up to 3 super shots at a
time. Perhaps because the super shot is so darn useful :).

Overall Rating (highly subjective) (A-F scale): A+. If you want to have
the best possible shot at passing the game, and want to get the highest
possible score, this is your plane.
*****



2. Fiat G.56

Notes: This red-and-yellow plane seems to be the smallest of the
fighters, and almost looks like a toy plane of sorts. It's still a
fairly effective plane if used properly, though. Primary weapon power is
not its strong suit, but its ability to fit between bullets and its
interesting bomb and super shot help to balance things.

Speed: Fair. Not quite as fast as the Flying Pancake, but then again,
all of the fighters are slower. Most other fighters have basically the
same speed as the Fiat, except for maybe the Spitfire and Zero.

Weaponry: Not great, probably the worst or second worst in the game. The
Fiat's beginning primary weapon looks just lousy -- you can barely
notice the tiny little red flak streams. The first power-up doesn't seem
to make much of a difference either :P. Still, in the beginning, that
wimpy flak stream cuts through tanks quite well! But as you obtain
more power-ups, the Fiat finally ends up with a reddish stream of fire
that's a little wider than the plane itself. Note though that the flak
flies straight, and doesn't arc -- like all the other fighters below.
For all the power-ups you collected, the primary weapon's "top power" is
rather horrible...it takes time to destroy a tank. What happened to all
that power earlier? (Beats me.)
     The Fiat's secondary weapon is a little strange, but it's still
useful enough. As the Fiat gains power-ups, you'll begin to notice
little pinwheels being fired from the plane. These little guys fly
slowly forward and wave back and forth a little bit, but they do seem to
track enemies somewhat. Unlike the Flying Pancake's lasers, though,
don't expect the pinwheels to provide coverage from the sides or behind.
When they hit an enemy, they cause a circular incendiary explosion that
persists for a while, doing so-so damage. The Fiat, fully-powered up,
can fire 5 of these pinwheels at a time.

Bomb: Kinda interesting. The Fiat will call out 3 medium-sized fighters,
either in a formation of 2 in front and 1 in back, or 3 in a sorta
vertical line, that hang around for about 5-6 seconds to protect it. The
formation is random. The support planes have some straight shooting
cannons that do adequate, not great damage. The novelty of the Fiat's
bomb is that the support planes will "follow" the Fiat, and drift to the
left if the Fiat moves left, and drift right if the Fiat moves right. In
this way the Fiat can "move" the support planes to cover itself. It's
not that bad a bomb, and there are much worse.

Super Shot: Not too shabby. When the Fiat readies its super shot, you
will see an orange-reddish glow underneath the plane, and when you let
it go, a thin orange-reddish laser beam will be shot out that persists
for a couple of seconds, which is fairly damaging. Like the Flying
Pancake's super shot, this "line laser" also goes through multiple
enemies. However, the Fiat's super shot cannot be moved! The thin laser
beam is basically "dropped" where it's fired. This is great if you want
to concentrate on a tough enemy but don't want to stick around, but
horrible if there's a whole bunch of enemies to get rid of and you can
only fire a super shot at a very narrow area of the battlefield. Not to
worry -- by firing off a super shot, the Fiat is free to fire off
another super shot almost immediately! Since the Fiat's super shot can
be fired rather quickly, you could possibly have SEVEN super shots on
the screen at once!!! Not a bad deal overall, if you choose your targets
wisely. Do note that if the Fiat is at the bottom of the screen, the
laser only reaches to about 3/4 of the screen vertically -- so for best
results, move the Fiat up a little before firing. The super shot meter
charges incredibly quickly, even faster than the Flying Pancake's, and
you can store up to 7 super shots at a time!!

Overall Rating: B-. Firepower isn't the greatest, and disappointing
speed (compared to the Flying Pancake, which looks "bigger"), but not an
easy target to hit, and with interesting super shots and support planes,
the Fiat stands a fighting chance in the air. Not a superior plane, but
a solid one nonetheless.
*****



3. Focke-Wulf Ta152

Notes: This sorta-camoflage-colored plane can't depend much on support
fighters for survival (more on that later). Focke-Wulf pilots, as it is,
will frequently feel quite alone on the battlefield, since getting the
job done is pretty much up to their planes alone. Luckily, the Focke-
Wulf is very well equipped for offense and attacking power in the skies.
In a pinch, this fighter can also call upon limited defensive
capabilities with its unique super shot.

Speed: Average. Can't say exactly, but the Focke-Wulf's speed is around
that of the Fiat's. Sufficient to dodge the many enemy bullets headed
your way, but if the Flying Pancake is the fighter you choose the most,
this and every other plane is gonna feel like molasses :).

Weaponry: Extremely powerful, if with considerable limitations. The
primary weapon doesn't seem like much to speak of. It eventually gets
upgraded to a thinner, and then a thicker, triple stream of bright
orangish flak. But this weapon has the narrowest flak stream in the
game, and is as weak if not weaker than the Fiat's.
     Basically, it's the Focke-Wulf's secondary weapon that steals the
show. The secondary weapon consists of individually-launched single
missiles that are released, and then after a short delay shoot straight
at the enemy to connect with an incendiary explosion much like the
Fiat's pinwheels, except far more powerful. Additional power-ups mean
more missiles to fire, which get bigger and more destructive. Reaching
weapons power Level 5 gives you 8 very large (and cool-lookin :) )
missiles to fire (on the screen at one time), which cause sizable
incendiary explosions for very good damage. In any case, the missiles
are great for quickly getting rid of annoying tanks, turrets, and other
enemies which crowd the skies with flak. So long as them bad guys stand
still enough to get hit ;). All told, the Focke-Wulf's primary and
secondary weapons alone can finish off a Boss more quickly than the
Flying Pancake with its super shots!

Bomb: At first glance you might say this bomb is utterly horrible, and
that's what I thought too when I saw it in the gameplay demos. The
Focke-Wulf "fires" (or summons) a really huge but narrow green
camoflaged drilling missile that flies up and off the screen in about a
second. I thought to myself, no way, this has got to be the super shot
or something. Then I tried out the Focke-Wulf, and found out for
myself...oh MAN, this IS the bomb ;) (no, I don't mean it that way
:P)!!!
     What to do, what to do? This bomb, if used improperly, will be on
and off the screen in the blink of an eye, sure to cause much cursing
and teeth-gnashing. It's a very narrow missile, and doesn't even look
like it's big enough to protect the Focke-Wulf's wingtips. But look on
the bright side. It does absorb bullets ;).
     But wait, there IS better news, lest Focke-Wulf pilots think that
they're REALLY on their own (why do the people who choose the Flying
Pancake get such a nice bomb, mumble grumble...hehehehehe). The more
bullets the big missile absorbs, the more it's slowed down. The more
enemies in the way of the missile, the more it's slowed down. (To a
point, of course.) So under heavy fire or enemy resistance, the missile
might stay on the screen (in some form or another) for close to 5-6
seconds. Not nearly as bad. Also, the bomb does continous damage to
enemies as it slowly drills through them. Not a bad deal either. So in
sum, the bomb is pretty OK so long as you choose the right occasions to
use it. It comes out quickly, so the Focke-Wulf can be covered in a
short time, and it's great for drilling at the long, big, highly
durable, or mostly immobile enemies you encounter. For best results try
to get the enemy as close to the bottom of the screen as you can before
firing away. The bomb may have other uses as well...for example, it
could act as a temporary wall to shield the Focke-Wulf from a barrage of
fire from one side of the screen, etc.

Super Shot: This is the only super shot that also acts as a shield.
That's because, curiously, the super shot is a shield. Sorta. It's hard
to explain, but the Focke-Wulf will fire out a circular, pink funky
energy field with some mechanical thing in the center (a generator?)
that slowly floats upwards. It'll absorb all bullets that hit it. That
could be very advantageous in combat if it weren't for the fact that the
shield flies straight up, can't move left or right, no exceptions, and
is barely big enough to fit the Focke-Wulf (and even then, there's a
chance you can get shot down while hiding within the shield). If you
hide in the shield, you're pretty well protected, but your line of
attack becomes extremely limited. Still, a shield is a shield, and you
don't have to burn up any bombs to get one. You also can choose to set
down the super shot any place you want for best strategic effect. Also,
the shield itself will damage any enemy it hits. The super shot meter
charges very slowly, and you can only store 3 super shots at a time. So
if you're lucky enough to have 3 super shots available, you could use up
to 3 shields at once for added protection. That could be EXTREMELY
valuable against a Boss, but it would take great skill to avoid bullets
the whole time and slowly build up the super meter...and after the 3
shots are used, what then?? If you're shot down and the flak is still
flying...my recommendation is to just fire off the super shot you come
back with as soon as possible, better to use it as best you can now
rather than waste it if you're shot down again.

Overall Rating: B. The Focke-Wulf is a plane of great attacking power,
but the secret to success is in focusing it properly. Your explosive
missiles will be key, so pick your shots well.
*****



4. P38 Lightning

Notes: Maybe I've been spoiled by the fine fighter that is the Flying
Pancake :P, but I just find this white-and-blue fighter kinda hard to
like. It's big, the biggest of the 6 selectable fighters, feels clunky,
and just doesn't seem to have much going for it in the range department.
I would generally avoid choosing the Lightning if possible. Perhaps a
nicer way of saying this is that only experts should try to tame this
plane ;). Not that it has absolutely no redeeming qualities -- its
primary weapon is high-powered, its super shot is nice and its bomb is
adequate -- but the Lightning just doesn't give players a lot of
incentives to fly it, other than a good challenge :P.

Speed: Slow. Not the slowest plane in the game, but given it's large
size, you'd sure wish the Lightning were faster for dodging those few
thousand bullets flying your way. That combined with its larger size
(although it doesn't make a HUGE difference when dodging bullets) make
for much less room for error when attacking and darting around the
screen. Play the Lightning first, then the Flying Pancake, and you'll be
sure to notice the difference.

Weaponry: Primary weapon: Great. Secondary weapon: Blah. The Lightning's
beginning primary weapon looks exactly like the Flying Pancake's, but
the differences end there once the Lightning powers up. The Lightning
will eventually gain a white-yellowish stream of bullets that gets
thicker and at its highest power level becomes a 5-bullet stream. The
primary weapon fires straight and the coverage isn't great, but man does
it cut through annoyances like tanks with the greatest of ease :).
Arguably this is the most powerful primary weapon in the game, except
for maybe the Zero's. Too bad primary weapon power alone isn't the
deciding factor when fighting very tough enemies, or the huge multi-part
Bosses ;) :P. The secondary weapon provides some extra coverage, but is
rather weak. The Lightning will gain small green homing missiles as it
obtains power-ups, and at the maximum weapons power level will shoot out
a cluster of 5 homing missiles at a time (somewhat reminiscent of
Raiden, but not). The good news is that these missiles always hit their
target, which is useful for taking out those one-hit wimpy planes that
swarm about and crowd the skies with more incoming fire than you already
need :P. The bad news is that these missiles are, as I said, weak. Which
in sum brings the weaponry of the Lightning into a near-tie with the
Fiat's. Ick.

Bomb: Welllll, it does the job, but it's kinda lacking a bit in the
coverage department. Not to say it's a bad bomb, it's just that there
are probably better support fighters out there. If one good thing could
be said about the Lightning's bomb, it's that it persists the longest of
all the other fighters -- the 5 support planes summoned take 10 seconds
to fly off the screen. Another good thing about the bomb is that the
support plane formation will position itself exactly where the Lightning
is at the particular moment. But the nice things to say kinda end there.
The 5-plane formation is rather small, as the fighters are -- smaller
than your own fighter :P -- though it covers a fair part of the screen.
You can't move them either -- they fly straight up. I don't imagine
those fighters can take a heavy beating, either, which isn't good
whenever there's bullets, bullets everywhere (a rather likely scenario
most of the time ;) ). Also, their support fire is kinda iffy. Sometimes
they do decent damage, other times not. I'd rate this the second-"worst"
bomb of the 6 fighters, the Focke-Wulf's giant missile taking "last"
place (but see above for its redeeming qualities).

Super Shot: It's a cool-looking and pretty powerful super shot, but it
takes great timing and judgment to use effectively. When charging the
super shot, two little blue grappling hooks will appear, one at each
side of the Lightning, rotating and ready to go. When released, these
grappling hooks will extend upwards about 1/5 of the screen, glowing,
causing a nifty bluish shock explosion at full extension, before quickly
retracting back into the Lightning. I guess this is where the Lightning
gets its name :). Total damage done to targets is probably better than
the entire duration of the Flying Pancake's super shot, though the
damage is dealt much more quickly. That's the big problem with the
Lightning's super shot -- while it packs a surprising punch, it's rather
short range and it doesn't last long. If you're gonna get the most out
the super shot, you must literally use every part of the super shot,
start to finish -- every bit of the grapping hooks and the blue
explosion causes damage. Also, the grappling hooks stay attached to and
move with the plane, so you will get a limited opportunity to move
around and damage a wider area rather than just one target before the
hooks retract. The super shot meter charges at a fairly slow rate,
basically one tick per second at weapons power Level 4 and 5. You can
charge up to 4 super shots at a time, though.

Overall Rating: C. I'd like to give this plane a higher grade, but
there's just not much to the Lightning in terms of range, bomb coverage,
or being able to exploit the super shot (e.g. having the super meter
charge more quickly woulda been nice). All this combined with the
Lightning's large size and lack of speed make this fighter, in my
opinion, the least-recommended plane to fly -- at least to start with.
*****



5. Spitfire Mk.VI

Notes: This fighter's _basic_ play (as in primary/secondary weaponry
only, not super shots or bombs) might remind you somewhat of the Focke-
Wulf's. But don't be fooled. The emphasis on weaponry has shifted from
offensive power to speed of offensive attack (among other things). In
any case, the weaker firepower of the Spitfire is compensated many times
over by its mobility, nice super shot and really cool bomb, making it a
grade-A fighter.

Speed: Pretty fast. This is the second fastest fighter in the game next
to the Flying Pancake (although the Spitfire still gets left in the dust
by the Flying Pancake's mondo speed ;) -- no bias here :P!). And don't
forget -- your fighter's speed is extremely important in Strikers 1945
Plus, pretty much equatable to how long it's possible to survive out on
the battlefield.

Weaponry: Again, something like the Focke-Wulf's, but different. The
primary weapon is quite different from the Focke-Wulf's. Level 1 weapons
power is actually a double shot! In any case, you can eventually upgrade
the Spitfire's primary weaponry to a relentless orange-reddish stream of
flak, which at maximum power comprises 6-bullet spreads. The firing
coverage of the primary weapon is pretty nice and wide, and damage done
is also good.
     The secondary weapon, at first blush, seems very similar to the
Focke-Wulf's. With successive power-ups the Spitfire will gain twin
missiles that it can fire, straight up, at the enemy. These twin
missiles will get bigger with more power-ups, and you can get more of
them on the screen at once. At Level 5 weapons power, you can shoot a
total of 8 missiles at once. What sets the Focke-Wulf's and Spitfire's
missiles apart is their speed and damage. Unlike the Focke-Wulf's
explosive missiles, the Spitfire's missiles will be launched upwards
without any delays. However, the Spitfire's missiles are much weaker
than the Focke-Wulf's, and cause very small explosions. So, you've got a
strong primary weapon, but a weaker secondary weapon.
     The Spitfire's weaponry is best suited for strafing. Given the
speed of the plane, it's not hard to fly back and forth, spewing forth
merciless streams of twin missiles. Translation: great coverage,
although you still have to move around. Overall, the Spitfire's weapons
power is somewhat less than the Focke-Wulf's weaponry, but is still very
good.

Bomb: My second favorite bomb, next to the Flying Pancake's! The real
selling point about this bomb is that when used, (virtually) all on-
screen bullets are INSTANTLY nullified! The bomb _won't_ stop beams,
laser swords, or things like that...although beams, laser swords, and
things like that are generally pretty rare in this game :). Anyway, how
are the bullets nullified? The Spitfire's bomb comes in two waves.
First, three bluish/white-striped bomber planes will quickly fly
overhead, dropping a series of bombs (though you only see the resulting
explosions) that have great coverage (basically full-screen) and do very
decent damage, even destroying the moderately durable enemies you'll
encounter! While the bombers are strafing, any bullets being fired will
basically disappear. VERY handy.
     The second wave isn't quite as handy, though. 5 smaller versions of
the bomber planes will fly up and stick around for about 2-3 seconds or
so, shooting in a horizontal line formation before flying off the
screen. Damage isn't great since the planes aren't on the screen for
long at all. I'm also not sure if the second support wave will fly up to
cover the Spitfire's present position either, like the Lightning's
support fighters will.
     All in all, though, the duration of the bomb is about 5-6 seconds
if you include both waves. This bomb isn't the best to use against a
Boss, but there isn't any other bomb out there that actually ERASES all
enemy bullets! Very nice overall.

Super Shot: A good solid super shot that hits not once, but twice! Think
of it as something of a double-strafe explosive blast. When the super
shot is charged, a little bomb icon will appear at the head of the
Spitfire. When released, the Spitfire's super shot will cause a narrow
but decently wide carpeting explosion that goes 1/3 or 1/2 of the way up
the screen. After that, you get a SECOND carpet explosion to follow up!
Pretty powerful, and absolutely devastating on the larger, fairly
durable (non-Boss) targets. The super shot meter charges at a so-so
rate, but you can charge up to 5 super shots at a time.

Overall Rating: A-. This is my second-favorite fighter to fly, due to
its good speed, decent weaponry, "2 for 1" super shot, and really nifty
bomb...the only bomb that will almost instantly snuff the screen of
nearly all enemy fire. The Spitfire takes some time to get used to,
since no fighter is as masterful at sheer coverage as the Flying
Pancake, but it's a good choice for novice and pro alike.
*****



6. Zero Type52

Notes: This is one of the toughest planes to get used to, next to the
Lightning. It's weaponry is very powerful but also very limited in terms
of coverage. The Zero's bomb is massive and useful, but doesn't quite
measure up to the Flying Pancake's. The super shot is the strongest of
the 6 selectable fighters, but slow to charge and a little tricky to
use. Not totally insurmountable obstacles, but the Zero also happens to
be a very sluggish plane...which makes things difficult.

Speed: Very slow, one of the slowest planes in the game. As you might
guess, that means dodging bullets isn't nearly as easy as it would be
using the Flying Pancake :/. Things get really tough in later stages and
with later Bosses, where being able to avoid bullets is absolutely
essential. Fortunately the Zero isn't quite as large a plane as the
Lightning.

Weaponry: Powerful, but doesn't provide a lot of all-important coverage.
The primary weapon, like the Lightning's weapon, is quite powerful and
very effective at cutting down tanks. Your wimpy flak cannon can
eventually be upgraded to a triple and then quadruple stream of orange-
reddish fire which has OK range.
     The secondary weapon is rather interesting. At weapons power Level
2, the Zero will fire one pair of incendiary missiles which shoot out at
an angle from the Zero and explode into clouds, which persist for a time
and cause damage. These explosive clouds can travel upwards over half of
the screen. With power-ups, you can eventually fire up to four pairs of
explosive clouds at once. The incendiary clouds, though, are not nearly
as damaging as the Focke-Wulf's. They also fire at a fixed angle and
don't find their way to the top of the screen. They are also much less
effective than you'd expect at concentrating fire on a tougher opponent
such as a Boss.
     Overall, the Zero's weaponry is formidable, but very limited in
range unless you can make the most of the explosive clouds (i.e. by
moving the Zero around).

Bomb: This one phrase says it all:

"Whoa mama!" (credits to Johnny Bravo ;))

That's right, the Zero's bomb is one heck of a big mama plane. It's
simply huge, an impressive flying fortress you've got to see for
yourself. Unfortunately, huge doesn't exactly equate with powerful :(.
Still, you couldn't ask for a better support fighter in terms of
protection (well in the Zero's case, maybe "support mothership" would be
more accurate? :)).
     The Zero will call out a very large plane that pretty much blocks
all shots headed at the Zero, with its large wingspan and fast entrance
onto the battlefield. In the meantime the flying fortress will fire from
all manner of cannons from all over the support fighter. The tail guns
are guided. As the support fighter leaves, the tail guns will fire rapid
bursts of guided fire for a short time.
     The Zero's bomb persists for about 5-6 seconds in all. While you're
very well covered during this time, the support fighter does very poor
damage -- because while there's lots of return fire in the air, little
of it is focused. Most disappointingly, the guided tail guns will fire
very slowly until the flying fortress has almost left. The price you pay
for protection, I guess.
     Oh, and an additional word of warning: the Zero's bomb has a
tendency to behave like the Lightning's, in that the support fighter,
occasionally at least, will fly straight in on your present location.
Once I was dodging fire at the bottom left hand side of the screen, and
used a bomb, only to have the support fighter emerge from the same
corner, providing minimal protection and return fire :P. Just something
to watch out for, I guess.

Super Shot: The most powerful super shot in the game, without a doubt!
But, it's extremely destructive power must be harnessed carefully. Why?
For one, the super shot meter charges very slowly. And the other reason:
there's a possibility you can miss :). Seriously! When the super shot is
readied, a little missile icon much like the Spitfire's will appear at
the head of the Zero. When launched, the smallish missile will fly
slowly straight ahead. If it hits, you get a fantastic explosion with
very good range that'll reduce basically everything to smithereens, with
the exception of the toughest enemies. If the missile doesn't hit
anything...DOH!!! ;). In any case, this very destructive missile is
perfect for clearing out a large area of enemies, or for seriously
weakening the more durable bad guys you come across. Better used for the
latter than the former, though. Note that the missile can also be great
for destroying or getting past one of a Boss's more annoying forms. You
can store only 2 super shots at a time (understandably ;P). Don't
forget, as with the Focke-Wulf or maybe all the planes, if you get shot
down and return in heavy fire, don't hesitate to launch the super shot
you come back with rather than get shot down again without using it!
This super shot is REALLY effective against Bosses!

Overall Rating: C+. The Zero has a lot of potential, but combine its
weaknesses with a lack of speed, and you must fly this plane with
efficiency and very little room for error. And predicting where the
enemy fire will fly when there's so darn much of it...well, it takes
time.
*****



7. The Ascender! (P55 Ascender)

Notes: Welp, here it is! The secret plane (see above for how to select
it)! It's a very interesting craft, with a revolutionary style, to
paraphrase the official (?) Strikers 1945 Plus homepage. It looks almost
exactly like the Shinden craft from Strikers 1945 II, but with a rusty
color, and plays (to an extent) somewhat like the Spitfire. Given its
set of abilities, its bomb and other attributes, I'd almost call this
craft a Spitfire prototype...almost.
     Of course, this is all meaningless background gibberish compared to
the burning question: "So how good is this grand exalted super-secret
selectable P55 Ascender thingy?" My answer: Very good.

Speed: Good. This craft is either as fast as the Spitfire, or almost as
fast. All in all, a fairly manueverable craft. The Ascender is also a
rather small craft, which also helps immensely with the flak dodging.

Weaponry: Also very good. The beginning weapon of the Ascender will
eventually upgrade to a flak stream that looks exactly like the
Spitfire's Level 3 primary weapon, only brighter and with different
coloring! Eventually though, the Ascender's most powerful primary weapon
is a quad-stream of straight-shooting bright-colored flak, each cannon
slightly spaced out to add some range. It's about as damaging as the
Spitfire's primary weapon.
     The Ascender's secondary weapons are quite different from any of
the other fighters' secondary weapons. The Ascender will at Level 5 be
able to fire 8 missiles in a manner much like the Spitfire (they fly up
right away and at the same speed, etc.) This time, though, the missiles
look more like glowing red energy missiles! These energy missiles also
act exactly like the Shinden's from Strikers 1945 II, in that they will
immediately slow down when they reach a target and continue to damage
the opponent for several seconds or until the enemy is destroyed! Very
nice! I don't believe these missiles are _extremely_ powerful (they
don't compare to the Focke-Wulf's), but they're great for concentrating
fire on tanks, turrets, or any of the tougher baddies you'll face!

Bomb: A variation on the Spitfire's. It's either excellent in a pinch,
so-so, or horrible, depending on how you like your support fighters.
Instead of three mid-sized bombers strafing the skies with bullet-
erasing blasts, the Ascender will call out a VERY large white/grayish
bomber (kinda like the big bomber from the Evening Sky stage, but
bigger), which will make a bombing run with even MORE blasts than the
Spitfire's support bombers! These blasts also nullify any blue or pink
bullets, and instantly. And no, the difference isn't just visual, at
least from what I know so far -- the bomb blasts were able to very
quickly take out the large right turret from the Sea stage's Gunship
Sub-Boss with ease =)!
     There is a little "problem," though. While the support fighter's
bombing run is extremely useful and packs an impressive punch, the
bombing run is all you get!!! That's right, after the bomber's dropped
it's payload, you're on your own again! No support fighters to follow
up. Period. Still, this is only one of two bombs that erase enemy fire.

Super Shot: Not bad. The Ascender's super shot seems to be the least
powerful of all the fighters' (not counting the Focke-Wulf's shield) in
terms of the damage it can do. However, it is the ABSOLUTE BEST in terms
of coverage!! When the super shot is readied, two greenish, spinning,
semi-transparent, lightly glowing globes the size of the Ascender appear
at each side of  the fighter. When fired, four energy spheres will be
released, bouncing around in all directions! The spheres will "home in"
on enemy targets, and persist for about 3-5 seconds before floating off
the bottom of the screen.
     A few things need to be said, though. From what I've seen so far,
the globes are not very powerful. At all. They will not absorb any enemy
fire. Also, near the end of the super shot when the energy spheres
leave, very little coverage is provided. An additional problem is you
cannot use another super shot until the energy spheres are completely
gone.
     To compensate though, you do get one nice benefit. You can charge
up 9 or 10 super shots at a time!!! (I need to re-check that -- but
needless to say, the super shot bullet meter reaches all the way to the
top :)) The super shot also charges at a fair rate, similar to the
Spitfire's. So don't be afraid to use this super shot often, but use it
carefully.

Overall Rating: B+. The only reason I didn't give the Ascender a higher
grade is because the bomb's effects last for 2 seconds, tops, and the
super shot can't be fired too quickly, like the Fiat's :):). However,
super shot coverage is superb, the fighter is a swift one, and the bomb
erases flak -- you have to like that. Give the secret plane a try
sometime :).



And finally, we're on to the...
------------------------------------------------------------------------



VII. "Flythrough"


*****
As a preliminary note, the first four missions of Strikers 1945 Plus are
NOT fixed (although they are the same four missions each time). You will
undertake each of the four entry-level missions in completely random
order. Do note that Mission 1 as a general rule is pretty easy to
complete anyway, and things get harder as you progress to higher levels.
I've tried to keep this mind, and tell you how the enemies in each level
get more difficult if you fly a certain mission in levels 3 or 4 as
opposed to level 1.


The four random stages are:

Land Stage -- takes place over land the whole time. Ends with a land-
based Boss.

Sea Stage -- mostly takes place over water. Ends with a sea-based Sub-
Boss and then a flying Boss.

Land and Air Stage -- first takes you over land, and then through the
open, if unfriendly, skies ;P. Ends with a flying Boss.

Evening Sky Stage -- takes place entirely in the air. Ends, as you might
expect, with a flying Boss.
*****

*****
EXTRA SIDENOTE: Enemy Fire

Enemy fire basically comes in two varieties, believe it or not (with few
exceptions). Blue and pink. Pink bullets are the slowest moving variety
of enemy fire. However, they come in various sizes and speeds. Be
watchful for the large pink bullet certain Bosses like to fire, which
"explode" into very elaborate spreads of pink bullets. Generally,
though, the least dangerous kind of flak.

Blue bullets are another matter. Blue bullets generally fly much faster
than pink bullets, so they're much harder to avoid. They take on two
shapes, round or shell-shaped. Like the pink bullets, blue shots also
come in different shapes and sizes, including "exploding" bullets.

Lucky for you, bombs can block ALL pink and blue bullets. If only there
weren't so many of em....
*****


1. Mission 1: Land Stage


The backdrop of the Land stage is basically brownish ground with what
looks like a whole lotta tracks on it. Kinda like train tracks, which
forms a "theme" for this stage since many of the enemies you encounter
will literally come on wheels.

As with any other stage you might take first, you'll come across the
blue plane formation I've mentioned earlier, followed by the red plane.
Shoot the red plane down as soon as possible and pick up the power-up
when it's safe.

Eventually you'll come to your first major obstacles, a turret (fires
blue shots), a tank on wheels (fires pink or blue shots), and a slow-
flying stealth-bomber type aircraft (fires pink shots only) which fly in
to form a kind of barricade. The turret will be on the ground, the
stealth bomber will fly in from the northeast into view and the "tank on
wheels" will slide in from the northeast to meet you. If this is your
first mission getting rid of these 3 enemies is a snap, and won't
require much bullet-dodging at all. At higher levels enemies get much
more durable and fire tons of faster flak at you. By the way, with the
exception of the stealth bomber plane in this level, which fires bullets
in unaimed spreads, everything else tracks you down.

In any case, if you're flying the Flying Pancake it's a piece of cake at
most all levels. Start at the right side, fire up that super shot and
hose down those baddies with the lasers by sweeping to the west. Simple.
:)

Things do get harder along the way. You'll be facing a host of small
tanks (not on tracks), which fill the playing screen with pink shots.
Still, dodging isn't extremely difficult. Try to get gold bars at their
highest point values if you can do so safely. Anyway, your next major
obstacle will be the turret/stealth bomber/tank on tracks combo,
presented in a different way. You might notice the turret or stealth
bomber first, but DO try to take out the tank on tracks, which sneaks in
from the northeast on vertical rails, FIRST. Why? At later levels (or
the longer you go without getting shot down), this tank is most
dangerous to you, firing very quick spreads of 2-4 blue shots at you.
Still, in the early going this second major wave isn't a problem; do the
Flying Pancake laser thing if you can afford the super meter, or
whatever works.

Before too long you'll be faced with a similar threat yet again, with
the turret, bomber and tank on tracks in different places. Again, the
tank should be destroyed first due to its really annoying fire patterns
at later levels. At this point a bomb may be required to help you out if
you can't handle the tank on tracks, which arrives from the far
northwest on vertical tracks. Then shoot down the turret and bomber as
fast as you can.

If getting rid of this third major wave is taking too long, you'll
eventually find yourself flying over what looks like a large roofed
building. It's actually armed, and will fire blue, up to 4-bullet
spreads! Surprisingly dangerous if you're dealing with other enemy fire.
Luckily, it's not too durable, and most super shots can take it down
without a problem (but don't use a Zero or Focke-Wulf super shot if you
can help it). Destroying this building will release a very valuable bomb
pick-up, which you should try to get if at all possible. If you're on
level 1-3 or 1-4 and you're not facing this monster building one on one
(and even if you are), strongly consider using a spare bomb if you've
got one. Those blue shell bursts are fast and a real headache for all
but the best Strikers players. Better to have a net gain of 0 bombs than
to have a net loss of one spare plane and any bombs you might've had on
it!!!

Besides all the other enemies you have to deal with on this stage,
you'll then encounter a mostly empty area with lots of tracks,
particularly two vertical tracks, one running up the left side and one
on the right side of the screen. If this is the first stage you tackle,
a single very long train-tank, which fires blue shots, will slide in
from the bottom left side of the screen! Not too durable or tough, a
Flying Pancake super shot will do the job nicely. On higher levels,
you'll get two train-tanks on both tracks, which don't take much time to
start firing blue shots at you! Not good. A complicating factor at
higher levels is the (different looking) stealth bombers that fence you
in with flak from the north. Rather tricky. If you want to make it
through this part without burning up a bomb (which I still do at the
higher levels, cuz I'm not much good at this game :P), you've got to
figure out WHEN the trains from behind start to fire, and where they
fire FROM to be able to dodge all the incoming flak while taking care of
all the bogies on the screen.

Finally, your last major wave is a formation of stealth bombers. They're
not too durable, and will eventually fly off both sides of the screen
anyway, so don't feel the need to destroy them all. At early levels you
will face two bombers; at higher levels up to four, which fire more
flak. In any case, it's not hard to dodge the pink bullets as long as
you can destroy at least one or two of the bombers.

After getting through this major wave, you face the Boss.


BOSS: Mech on Wheels (2 forms)

Before you face the mech itself, though, you've gotta get by what looks
like a green, large armored train car. It's square shaped, and can move
from side to side. Of course, open fire as soon as you see it. After it
comes into full view, two circular gun turrets, one on each side of the
train car, will pop up. You'll want to get rid of them as soon as you
can, since they fire annoying rounds of blue shots. The turrets luckily,
are not very durable and can be blown off, so things like the Flying
Pancake super shots will be great. Of course, don't forget the gun
emplacement at the center of the train car, which initially fires scads
of pink shots at you (this cannon set can't be destroyed). Get rid of
the turrets as soon as you can, because the center gun will fire more
and more spreads of pink shots at you. Be VERY careful when you see even
bigger volleys, which are harder and harder to dodge (even the Flying
Pancake might need to "roll up" one side of the screen to avoid incoming
fire). Why? Because soon, the center gun will start fire fast volleys of
blue shots at you, and lots of em. Dodge between the blasts if possible
(hope you get shot at with double volleys of 3-shot bursts, they're the
easiest to weave through :P), but keep moving! Finally, the center gun
will stop with the blue shot volleys (whew) and fire spiraling pink shot
blasts. Easy to dodge. Keep concentrating fire on the train car until it
flashes red rapidly (almost done for) and finish it off before it does
any more mischief. Finally, after taking a few zillion shots, the train
car will explode :P.

But it's not over yet. From the ashes emerges a dark green mech on
wheels! A pretty big one too. Of course, fire away at it. If you're
using the Flying Pancake, burn it with a super shot right now. It will
soon travel to the top center of the screen. The very first thing it
will do is bring up a shoulder-mounted cannon of some sort and fire
twisting streams of blue shots at you. If the Land stage comes first,
it's only a spread of 4 bullets, really really easy to fit in between.
At higher levels, the mech will fire tons and tons more ammo, which
becomes very difficult to dodge -- but dodge you must, if you want to
conserve your bombs, anyway. With practice and experience you can
eventually dodge the first volley of blue flak (with the Flying Pancake
anyway) without using a bomb. Most of the time, anyway :P. After firing
the shoulder-mounted cannon, the mech will jump from the top center to
the right side of the screen, ending up a little closer to you.

Now things get a LOT trickier. At the higher levels, anyway. If you fly
the Land stage first, it's still a piece of cake. Most of the time, at
this point the Mech boss will hunch over a little bit and out will come
5 spikey wheeled things. Their behavior can be somewhat unpredictable,
but if untouched, they will eventually form one of two formations: 1) a
line formation at the top of the screen, where they will fire blue shots
at you, or 2) one spike wheel at every corner of the screen, with one in
the center, firing pink shots at you. In any case they're bad news. The
GOOD news is that you can destroy them! If you're flying that snazzy
Flying Pancake, use your super shot and burn em all to a crisp in a
snap. Anyway, whatever you're flying, try your best to get rid of as
many of the spike wheels as you can. Because soon the Mech boss will
fire another volley of twisting blue shots from its shoulder-mounted
cannon. Even worse, before it does that, it may also fire a large pink
bullet that will balloon into a pattern of pink bullets (see above). At
higher levels this second assault by the Mech can be very tough to deal
with. Don't be afraid to use a bomb at this stage if you don't feel
confident enough to dodge all that flak. Fortunately for you
this should really be the only bomb you need to use for this Boss
encounter, whether you're on stage 1-1 or 1-4.

If you make it past the Mech boss's second attack, the rest is fairly
easy. Just keep firing at the Boss (yep, it takes a whole lotta damage),
burn it with a super shot or two if you can afford to, get rid of those
spike wheels as soon as the Boss calls em out, and so on. You might have
to deal with the big exploding pink bullet thing again (easy to see when
the Boss fires and quickly leaps back), but it's a snap on any level
compared to the shoulder cannon. If you can damage the Boss quickly
enough, you'll destroy it without a problem before it reverts back to
its first and second attacking patterns (this does happen if you take
too long to blow up the Boss). Remember: you don't wanna deal with that
shoulder cannon if you don't have to. You can't blow it off. Still, this
Boss encounter should be a pretty easy one. After witnessing a pretty
nice explosion, you'll fly off to the next stage (whichever one that
is).

Just remember one rule of thumb when flying through level 1-1 (the first
mission you fly). Try to keep as many super shots stored as you can, and
try not to use any bombs. It shouldn't be too difficult without them,
and you'll REALLY need em later, when the enemy flak is more plentiful,
and faster to boot.
*****



2. Mission 2: Sea Stage


Depending on whether the Sea stage is your level 1-1 or one of the
higher levels, the first section of this stage can be pretty breezy, or
quite difficult.

Besides the blue/red plane formation you'll come across if this is your
level 1-1, you'll soon meet up with three major opponents. The weaker
enemies to the center and right-center are two fairly durable green
planes. The one on the left is somewhat higher up than the one on the
right. They don't "move," and at level 1-1 are a piece of cake to shoot
down. At higher levels, they'll start shooting volleys of those oh-so-
annoying blue shots at you. In any event, they are first priority to
wipe out of the picture. With the Flying Pancake this is an easy job.
Fry em both with a single super shot, BUT hose down each plane with one
laser beam to get rid of both planes at once! You haven't seen the last
of these planes quite yet, but be glad that threat's over. Because your
main priority should be getting rid of that REALLY BIG battleship on the
left side of the screen! This very large battleship has four turrets
that you'll want to shoot off, since they track and fire, you guessed
it, blue shots. Blow the first two off with a super shot as soon as you
can. Luckily, in the earlier levels the turrets can't swerve to the
left, so use that to your advantage if need be (e.g. if you're out of
super shots). You will now have precious few seconds to pound on the
battleship uninterrupted. Too bad it absorbs truckloads of hurt! Oh
well. Keep at it! Soon you'll scroll some more to, guess what, reveal
two more turrets. Oh great. The problem here is that for some reason,
you can't GET at these two turrets, even with the Flying Pancake's super
shot (maybe with the Spitfire's, I dunno). Maybe since that huge
watchtower on top of the battleship is in the way. Anyway...just try to
keep hammering away at that battleship while dodging turret fire, and
flak from that annoying lone tank on the mid-sized snowy island to the
right (stop... firing...at... me...!!! ;) ). (Easy to deal with at level
1-1, not so for the higher levels, as usual.) It'll be worth it, since
if you can destroy the battleship, you'll get a nifty bomb for your
trouble! (By the way, since you get a bomb for blowing up the
battleship, don't be afraid to use a bomb if you've got one to spare,
especially at the high levels, since it helps get rid of the battleship
quickly and you'll end up with the same amount of bombs you started
with. In fact, I recommend you just use a up a bomb on that battleship
to save yourself the trouble -- it takes way too many hits at level 1-3
and up for your own weapons to destory it in time, at least if you're in
a craft that doesn't have great firepower, because those turrets get
really annoying!) Then proceed to get rid of that lousy tank if you can,
and you're now headed for the second major wave. If it isn't already
upon you!

You'll now be flying completely over water. You'll have some wimpy one-
hit planes come at you, but they shouldn't be your foremost concern (do
get rid of em if you can, of course). You'll also have to deal with two
very narrow vertical subs (kinda large, kinda durable) that surface in
the center of the screen. They don't move, but can fire all sorts of
stuff at you. From the northeast end of the screen will fly in
one...wait, two...hold on a sec, make that three...green planes. They'll
continue to fly very slowly towards the southwest. They're also kinda
durable. Level 1-1: cinch. Might not even need a super shot. Higher
levels: UGH. In any event: your toughest opponents at this point.
They'll be shooting scads of aimed triple blue-shot volleys in your
general, er, check that, SPECIFIC direction :P. Don't feel ashamed at
all to use up a bomb to cover your butt, since you should have one after
taking care of that battleship. But if you're really good, of COURSE you
can dodge all that flak *cough*! Before too long you'll get rid of those
green planes one by one. If only one green plane remains, and you
haven't reached land yet, no need for anything fancy, bring it down with
your regular weaponry if you've still got the time.

After the menace of the three green planes, you've got a couple ground
tanks to deal with and, lookie here, another two green planes
(sorry...all these planes are just...well... green) from the very
beginning of the stage. Probably a good thing to blast em with a super
shot before they cause too much trouble, at the higher levels at least.
After taking care of business, you'll head on up to what looks like a
dock of some sort. On this island/dock/platform there's a regular tank,
a smaller version of the battleship you saw, a tank, another mini-
battleship, and tank, from left to right. I usually start my assault
from the right side. If you're using the Flying Pancake...it's a good
time to fire up that super shot again. Hose down one of the battleships
good, if you can't completely destroy it, weaken it, and then use the
remaining laser fire on the other battleship. Hopefully, you'll get rid
of both with one super shot, but at later levels you can't always get
the job done. Don't stay in one place for too long, the battleships will
fire short bursts of single blue shots, which can be very fast, so watch
out. Again, if you have to use a bomb, use it, but try not to! After
everything's flattened, don't forget to get them gold bars!

Soon you'll be over water again. You'll now deal with two more vertical
subs and a large white plane, all immobile. Focus your attention on the
subs, since they fire the blue shots. If you can't finish them in time,
they submerge for good, no big deal. Anyway, for some reason the longer
you wait, even if you don't even hit the big grey/white plane, the more
the white plane will flash red (thus, easier to destroy), so save it for
last. Once you're all done with this wave, it's on to the sub-boss!


SUB-BOSS: Gunship (1 form)

Next up, you face a horizontal vessel, and it's BIG ;P. Not to mention
stocked with lots and lots of guns. Guess who they're aimed at. Hmmm.

This sucker takes a ton of damage, but not the ship itself, but rather
its many sets of guns. Your objective is very straightforward: take out
all the guns to get rid of the big ship. OK, actually, take out the MAIN
gun banks on the left side of the ship to get rid of it. I THINK the
guns towards the middle and right are optional, anyway.

Well ok, before I go too far off the deep end: What weaponry is the Sub-
Boss equipped with? From left to right:

Left Side: Gun Platforms. Or whatever...this rather large gun placement
has two or three parts, depending on how technical you are. At the front
of the platforms is a line of four or so miniturrets (I think they spray
pink bullets) that can be blown off. The core behind it, though, never
gets destroyed until you finish off the ship itself. Get rid of the
core, get rid of the ship. Easy enough...except for the fact that the
platforms fire all sorts of junk at you! Showers of pink bullets,
spirals of pink bullets, and even extremely quick (at higher levels)
blasts of blue shell bullets! As for the blue shell bullets, they're
fired by the core (oh well), come at ya really fast, and fire faster and
with more bullets the higher your level is. For example, at 1-2, it
fires a pretty dodgable blast of 3 shells in a triangle formation. At
higher levels this becomes 6. At 1-4 it's 10 (but a very wide spray, so
the spray ITSELF is easy to avoid)!!!

Center: Small Triple Gun Turret. Maybe it's part of the gun platforms
too, but it seems more like an accessory of the sub-boss to me than the
core. This fires lots of blue bullets. Fast too. Not too hard to blow
off, though.

Right: Large Triple Gun Turret. This sucker is HUGE. And rather hard to
destroy, too. It tracks, and fires very fast blue shells. Higher levels,
it fires faster and more blue shells...well, you get the picture by now.

So, how to go about blowing up this monster? Well, first off, you can be
a little relieved in knowing the Boss after this is in many respects
EASIER. Still, getting shot down sucks, and you run the risk of losing a
plane no matter how you go about attacking. Unless you're really good
and really fast, using a bomb, if not two, is HIGHLY advisable.

Here's what I do with the Flying Pancake. As soon as the sub-boss comes
into view I open fire on the large triple-gun turret, also opening fire
with the super shot as soon as the big turret is in full view. I then
use a bomb to cover me and keep pouring the heat on the right turret as
I try to bring it down as fast as I can, trying NOT to use more than 2
super shots total, or more than one bomb, while doing so. Of course,
this can be iffy...since the Flying Pancake's support fighter will not
necessarily target the turret with all three, if ANY, of its nice flak
cannons. Anyway, after the right turret is done for, it's just a whole
bunch of happy dodging, spraying with weaponry, and using super shots
until the center small gun turret and the gun platform in front of the
core are destroyed.

After this, it's not too bad since only the core is left. Dodge when you
need to when it fires the blue shells in a triangular pattern, but you
should concentrate on charging your super meter now. Don't use any super
shots now, there shouldn't be any need and you want to save some for the
Boss. Before long the core will finally explode.

(If you've got or come up with a better strategy, please let me know!
That and don't follow MY advice ;).)


BOSS: Transforming Jet/Mech (2 forms)

From the explosion of the sub-boss will emerge the Boss! Where have I
seen THAT before :P? The first form you will face, which you'll notice
of course as it flies up to the top center of the screen, is a unique
red triangular jet. It can only move back and forth. Of course, as soon
as you see it, open fire. Flying Pancake pilots, burn this sucker with a
super shot or two right off the bat. Note that there are NO destructible
parts on this Boss as well; it's just a matter of destroying the Boss
itself.

Its very first attack pattern will ALWAYS be a single large pink
exploding bullet. Watch for the sound of charging energy as a cue too.
The exploding bullet spread is simple to dodge at level 1-1, more
elaborate and tougher to dodge at higher levels. Still, as with the Mech
on wheels from the Land stage, getting past this first attack should be
easy enough on any level without having to use a bomb as backup. In
fact, it's much easier...moving then staying JUST to the left of the
center bullet in the pattern will always leave you unscathed, although
you've got to be in exactly the right spot.

After the big bullet thing, it will then move left (I think) and spray
down a maze of fire from twin cannons, moving from left to right. This
is actually much easier to wave through than it looks. Level 1-1 or
level 1-4, there isn't even much of a difference in this second attack
than the speed of the pink bullet fire. Anyway, here's the secret to
getting past this next attack without using any bombs etc. While the
bullet spreads are firing, move your plane over to the extreme bottom
left corner of the screen. Park it there until the bullets get close. At
that point it will become clearer where to move to avoid all the flak. A
sidestep to the right should do the trick. It works 100% of the time of
me when I use the Flying Pancake. Don't try to figure out how the Boss
fires the bullets, don't even think about it, and you'll be OK. Of
course, there's other routes through the bullet streams, but I think my
way's the easiest :).

After the second attack, the jet form of the Boss will be on the top
right side of the screen. It will charge up again, and then for its
third attack fire a narrow, continuous stream of triple blue bullets at
you. Really easy at any level. The key is to not move too much, stick to
the bottom of the screen, and stay in between 2 bullets in the triple
stream. It seems like a gutsy, rash move, but it's really easy with
practice. Stay at the bottom of the screen! Just adjust VERY slightly
when the Boss adjusts its flak stream. Don't move too much as the Boss
will track you easily. The Boss will fire two streams at you, one after
the other, before moving into its next mode of attack. Don't forget, you
should be keeping up a healthy dose of fire and super shots on the Boss,
though you probably can't at this particular point in the fight.

The Boss, probably still on the top right of the screen, will then
summon (or the enemy planes just fly in, whatever) 5 weak one-hit planes
in a formation to the left of it. These guys just fly straight down, no
problems at all. At the same time, the Boss will transform from jet mode
to mech mode! But by all means, don't take any time to admire the
sights. Get rid of the 5 weak planes as fast as you can! This is most
easily done with the Flying Pancake, which is why I love using it so
much. After this (whether you get rid of the planes or not, I believe
they can fire at you), QUICKLY get to the right side of the screen and
start rolling up the right side of the screen, as the mech-form Boss
will again open up twin cannons and fire a maze of pink bullets as it
sweeps to the left (different this time though, I believe). Don't bother
trying to weave, don't use a bomb, just be quick and you should end up
ABOVE the bullets (the Boss will ignore you and just strafe from right
to left), avoiding them ALL.

This ain't over yet, though. As the Boss ends its strafing run it will
fire a very wide spread of pink shots to its right. Dodge them
carefully, not too difficult at any level. Stick to the right side of
the screen! Then the Boss enters its next mode of attack, bringing its
left (looks like right) gun arm down and fire bursts of blue shell fire
in all directions! Lucky for you they're not aimed, though they cover an
awful lot of ground! Pretty dodgable even at higher levels, with
practice. What you do is stay on the right side of the screen, where
you're farthest away from the Boss, and move upwards and downwards to
manuever between the gaps in the shell spray. At higher levels, it gets
pretty crazy, but hang in there!

After this, I suppose the Boss is getting more frustrated since it can't
get to you, and busts out a new weapon: a laser sword! Here's the basic
pattern. The Boss will be at the left side of the screen after the shell
burst is over, and immediately with its right arm (you see it as "left")
charge downward with a fairly thin laser beam sword swipe. At level 1-1,
REAL easy to avoid, just move away from the sword itself, since the Boss
only attacks straight down vertically. But the Boss adds extra stuff to
the mix at higher levels. In a nutshell, the Boss will display for your
dodging pleasure (heh) snippets of its second pink bullet maze attack,
stop it, and follow up with a vertical sword swipe. Careful, the sword
swipe will eventually result at level 1-3 or even 1-2 in a small spray
of blue flak flying in your direction, so stay away from that sword and
be ready to dodge (or get shot down!). Still, it's not too difficult.
Keep to the right as the mech-form Boss moves to the right, dodge, do
this until the Boss is at the far right, in which case you try real hard
to dodge to the left when the sword swipe comes, cinch. Don't forget to
burn the Boss with a super shot if you get the chance. If the Boss STILL
isn't gone by then (usually it is), it will move near the center of the
screen, and sweep very broadly to the left and then to the right (with
the gun arm) with a quick, fast, wide-reaching shower of blue shells.
Except at higher levels, no problem, don't panic and move too much. If
you can anticipate this attack, consider flying above the Boss, since
the gun arm will only shoot downwards! Oooh, tricky! If you haven't
gotten the Boss yet, it'll change back into its jet form, 5 planes'll
come out, and it'll repeat its attack pattern. But if you keep the heat
on it the Boss will never have a chance to change back :).

After you defeat this Boss (and chances are you might not have needed to
use a bomb at all this time!), you're on to the next stage.
*****



3. Mission 3: Land and Air Stage


One of the main themes for this stage are tanks, and larger, dark
bluish, more heavily armored tanks. And lots of turrets. Not counting
all of the other nasty enemies, of course.

You'll first be coming up on a couple of ordinary tanks. Ho hum, not a
problem. You'll then be met with 2 much different looking tanks. They're
a little bigger than the regular pale-greenish tanks, they're blue-
colored, and for some reason, they're just sitting right there! For some
reason, on ANY level the smaller blue tanks never fire a thing and pose
no threat to you. Take em out with your regular weaponry and charge that
super shot meter.

Nothing else really difficult or remarkable for a while after that. You
might come across another small blue tank, or a couple turrets (at
higher levels turrets becomes real annoyances, get rid of em as soon as
you can), but other than a whole buncha green tanks (they'll be all over
the place), there isn't anything you can't handle. What's a couple
hundred pink bullets? Hah!

Before too long, though, you'll encounter two rather BIG dark blue
tanks, spaced out in the center of the screen. Unlike the smaller
versions of those tanks, these guys DO fire (blue shots). And rather
quickly, too, especially at the higher levels. And that spacing means
taking care of each gets tougher, since each blue tank is rather durable
(they aren't the only enemies on screen at the time). What to do? Well,
as you might guess, the Flying Pancake makes things easy (at least
easier). Flying Pancake pilots should ready a super shot just as the big
blue tanks come into view. Then, it's a simple matter of letting off the
super shot right in between the tanks. If you did it right each laser
beam will just barely hit each tank, and get rid of em without much
problems!

After the double blue tank threat is done with, once again there isn't
anything really special for a little while, just more regular tanks to
blow up and turrets to dispatch in explosive fashion. Quite ho-hum :P.

Before too long you'll be entering the sky portion of the stage, leaving
land behind. But before that happens you'll face an interesting block of
enemies. From the northwest corner of the screen you'll notice two
regular tanks, with a big blue tank to the right. You might think a
super shot would be just fine for the occasion. Well, at least I still
do for now :P. But if you DO use a super shot to get rid of the three
tanks before they become a threat to you, you'll notice a turret fade
into existence. Aw man, what makes THIS turret so special? Unfortunately
the turret comes into play a couple seconds after the tanks. You could
try just using regular weaponry on everything before the turret
"materializes," then using a super shot to hose down everything, but
it's tougher to do safely since they'll be onto you by then. In any
case, get rid of that lousy turret and you'll release a valuable bomb
icon.

Anyway, you won't have much time to think about how to deal with those
four enemies...because here comes the incredibly annoying camoflage
planes!!!!! Often times, for me at least, the turret is still around
firing at me when these camoflage planes start showing up (probably
because the Flying Pancake doesn't excel in the weaponry power
department). Makes for quite the nail-biting experience, at the higher
levels anyway. The camoflage planes aren't all that hard to see. But
they're just durable enough to be a severe annoyance since there's other
bogies around, and at higher levels they fire very quick sprays of blue
shots at you. For the first wave, one camoflage plane will pop in from
the northwest (or northeast, whatever :P). Get rid of it quickly,
because before long another camoflage plane will show up from the
northeast (or northwest, whatever :P). OK, actually, what happens next
depends on what level you're on. Here's the breakdown:

Level 1-1: As always, piece of cake once you get the hang of this game.
After the northwest plane mentioned above arrives, a camoflage plane on
the northeast will show up a few seconds later. I don't think there's
even a third camoflage plane in the picture on this level! Anyway, the
camoflage planes in level 1-1 fire 2 blue shots at a time. Easssy to
avoid.

Level 1-2: Not too much harder...still manageable. Now, after the second
plane flies in from the northeast, you'll have to deal with yet another
camoflage-pattern plane from the northwest after a few seconds. Still
not much of a problem if you keep on your toes. By the way, the planes
now fire a triple spray of blue bullets.

Levels 1-3, 1-4: Much trickier! Now, you'll have to face four camoflage
planes in all! These guys fire 5 blue shots at once, in a 3-spray and a
2-spray, at level 1-4. The extra twist here is that after the first
camoflage plane arrives, TWO camoflage planes will show up at the same
time (to the northwest and northeast)! Result: Really nasty crossfire!!
Many times I end up having to use a bomb here to save my hide :/. If you
get past that, there's just one more camoflage plane that flies in to
let out your aggressions on.

If you've made it through to this point unharmed, don't worry, it's only
a little ways until you meet the Boss. Your only remaining threat,
besides the wimpy one-hit planes that are easily blasted out of the sky
by the Flying Pancake's superior range weaponry, are a series of tiny
purple bombers that float in from the left and right sides of the
screen. They look small, but take a good deal of hits before goin' down
in flames. At higher levels, you'll face up to six of em, where 4 of em
will float towards the center (into a semi-formation) shooting lots of
pink of stuff at you, keeping you distracted while 2 more purple planes
fly in from the top of the screen, firing quick blue shots. For the
Flying Pancake, piece of cake at any level: Activate the Beam of Doom!!!
Ahem, I mean twin laser super shot. It does the job with brutal
efficiency. If you're not flying the Flying Pancake, just make sure you
take out one purple plane at a time to reduce the enemy fire crowding
the skies...for all the bullets on the screen, slowdown is much less of
a help than you might think, because there isn't much of it ;). Anyway,
get past this, which isn't excessively difficult, and you're on to the
Boss.


BOSS: Assault, Err, Something or Other *cough!* ;) (3 forms)

Form 1: Turret Platform

The Boss originally starts out as a really big flying carrier of some
sort. The first part of the Boss you fight is a platform of 5 turrets.
Needless to say they fire all kinds of stuff at you. They spiral pink
bullets, spray pink bullets, fire blue shell clusters, things like that.
Each fires one specific type of weaponry, though, so you can prioritize
which turret to blow up first. All of the turret except the center
turret are destructible (although there is some kinda "core" so you
don't hafta blow up all 5 turrets to move on to the next form). You may
need to use a bomb on this form, I'm not sure.

Form 2: Plane Launcher/Six-Cannon

After blowing up the turret platform nice n' good, you'll next face the
body of the air assault cruiser thing. DO NOT try to burn it with a
super shot as soon as it comes into view, because it's all gonna miss!
You must wait until you actually see the six embedded cannons open
themselves up (also note the cue sound). Shortly thereafter, you're free
to open fire.

Only one section of the plane launcher/six-cannon takes any damage: the
six-cannon itself. But treat it as a Boss "core," because you can't take
out any of the cannons, you just gotta destroy the entire structure.

The six-cannon shoots out blue shots in volleys, faster and harder to
avoid at the higher levels. The plane launcher releases two waves of two
planes, one after the other, at intervals, the planes taking a few hits
before they explode. The planes, however, fire pink shots that float
towards you, so try to mix dodging the blue fire with shooting down the
launched planes to keep the flak to a minimum.

All in all, this form of the Boss is extremely easy if you're using the
Flying Pancake, no matter which level you're on. Keep alert, stick close
to the bottom of the screen at the beginning, bob and weave left and
right to avoid the blue bullets (careful: in the beginning they have an
unpredictable drift), let loose with the semi-guided laser secondary
weapons to take out the launched planes with ease. As the six-cannon
flashes white and then red (which won't take long since it doesn't take
much damage at all), it'll start to quickly fire clusters of blue shots
at you. But using the Flying Pancake, they're a piece of cake to outrun
:). Keep dodging and firing back when you have the chance and this form
will go down without any problems or you having to use a bomb.

Form 3: Strange Flying Helicopterish Mechanical Thingy :) ;P

Now things get weird. From the exploding wreckage of the six-cannon
comes a rather large Boss, with propellers or something, that simply
defies description. Just suffice it to say that as with all final forms
of Bosses, there aren't any parts to blow off, just get rid of the Boss
before it gets rid of you :P. See it for yourself, it looks...um...
interesting. Anyway, open fire as soon as the Boss emerges, burn it with
a super shot if you can afford it too.

Not long after the Boss flies out, it'll start its attack pattern. At
levels 1-1 and 1-2, things should be pretty easy. Instinctive dodging
should basically get you through the whole way without any problems, and
using a bomb can probably be avoided. At higher levels, of course, you
might have more of a problem.

For me at least, and I think it's safe to say beginner-to-intermediate
Strikers 1945 PLUS players, the first attack pattern of this Boss is by
far the most difficult. But with the assistance of a bomb, things are
all downhill from there. I think the problem with this Boss is if you
get nailed by its very first attacks, you get seriously bummed out and
the frustration factor kick in. But get past this initial assault, and
the Boss fight becomes really quite simple so long as you keep your
reflexes sharp and your fighter's movements deliberate.

Here's how I deal with the Boss (see above disclaimer :P) on levels 1-3
and 1-4 (levels 1-1 and 1-2 have less dangerous forms of these attacks).
For its first attack at the higher levels, the Boss will fire 2 triple
spreads of pink shots from each of its cannon-arms, then fire 4 or so
blue shots in between at you. The Boss, I THINK, will repeat this four
times. I've seen the local arcade's best Strikers player just dodge all
this, but it takes a lot of time and probably money to slip through the
cracks between the web of pink and blue shots. If you've got a bomb left
to spare, now's a good time to use it! As you might guess, the Flying
Pancake and its bomb are great for this (but I think most of the
fighters' bombs will do). The support fighter will be excellent for
blocking fire while you chip away at the Boss with your weaponry and
super shot (makes a very potent combo). It will also minimize the amount
of flak you'll have to avoid.

Anyway, get past this attack with or without a bomb, and the rest is
pretty easy. There are only three major attack patterns left (that
you'll likely see, anyway) before that Boss goes down in flames. For its
next attack, the Boss, at the center of the screen, will fire a pattern
of pink bullets around itself (dodge it, cinch), and then charge
downward suddenly (the Boss won't hit you if you're at the bottom of the
screen), firing a pattern of unaimed blue shells. No problem at all,
just dodge it. Of course, remember the general rule, the higher the
level, the more bullets you'll have to avoid.

So that makes two attack patterns to go. Don't forget to never stop
firing at the Boss, and use a super shot if you've got one to spare
(translation: Flying Pancake and Fiat users, no excuse :) ). For Attack
Pattern #3, the Boss (which should be at the center of the screen), will
remain stationary and shoot lots and lots of triple pink bullet spreads
(which will eventually cross over each other if you stand still). Again,
fairly easy to avoid em all. The newest strat I've used is close to 100%
effective for me -- if you get past the last attack pattern I mentioned
(the encircling bullet pattern thingy with the blue shells when the Boss
charges down), try and weave your way to the middle left or middle right
of the screen as soon as possible (I go for the left just because.) Now
stay there for a just a little bit when the triple/quadruple/whatever
bullet streams start firing, and then just move out of the way (to the
middle opposite side of the screen). Dodge the blue shots the Boss fires
and then you're basically in the clear. By starting out away from the
center of the screen you'll have much more room to fly around, and be in
less danger from being hit by this particular attack.

Just once more attack pattern to go, so long as you've been pouring
firepower on the Boss. Remember, you've been doing your job if the Boss
is flashing white or red by now. This one is a little tricky and does
require some practice and quick, precise dodging, but it's still very
doable. If you have enough space and a speedy plane, you can also try to
outrun it. The Boss will fly to the right or to the left, firing some
pink bullet volleys from its twin gun arms for a little while (easy to
dodge)  before stopping and firing a pattern of quick blue shots (almost
a "net" if you think about it). This blue shot pattern will become
somewhat elaborate at levels 1-3 and 1-4 and will require split-second
left-right-left or whatever dodging to keep your plane in the air, but
in fighters like the Flying Pancake it's really not as bad as it sounds.
The Boss will repeat this once, MAYBE twice, before it finally goes
down, and for good. For the whole Boss battle, you probably won't need
more than one bomb.

If by chance the Boss still hasn't been destroyed yet, well, you know
what to expect. There might be one or two new attacks, but then it's
back to repeating its previous attack patterns.

Now, it's onto the last entry-level stage!


*****
Note:

I apologize if I'm making this all sound easy (heh). As a matter of
fact, it's sorta rare if I can past (or maybe even to!) Mission 4
without having lost at least one of my two spare planes. But the enemy
fire is as you know quite plentiful, and hard enemy or not, getting
shot down just...happens (except for the real hardcore experts among us,
anyways, myself NOT included). Anyway, that was just to reinforce my
disclaimer and let you know how I might be doing at this point on an
average day.
*****



4. Mission 4: Evening Sky Stage


You begin this stage, predictably enough, against a backdrop of a
purplish, cloudy sky. Maybe it's evening, maybe it's morning, maybe it's
post-apocalyptic, I dunno :P. Anyway, don't dawdle for long, because
you've got company!

Your first enemies will be two fairly large white planes. One will show
up on the right side of the screen, and another will show up a later
later from the northwest corner of the screen. If you remember the white
plane just before the Gunship Sub-Boss on the Sea stage, they're exactly
the same, though their attack patterns are a little different. Lots of
pink bullets, followed by sprays of blue shots at the higher levels, and
you get the idea. Anyway, focus your attack on the right-side plane
first, even though it IS considerably more durable than the plane on the
left. For me, it's just best to be rid of it since it's your first
opponent. As the Flying Pancake, pour on the firepower and use one super
shot, it should be enough to get the job done so long as you use the
super shot AFTER the plane completely shows up (and not before, it won't
take the full brunt of the blast). It should go down without much
trouble. From there, just deal with the plane on the left however you
want. The bullet-dodging shouldn't be too difficult here at any level,
just keep on your toes.

Next up will be a very large white/greyish bomber that will fly at the
top of the screen. It takes tons and tons of damage. Before and while
the bomber is attacking you, small purple support planes will fly in one
at a time, helping choke the sky with pink bullets. Though they can take
longer than you'd expect to destroy without super shots for those
fighters with weaker basic weaponry, you should definitely try to take
out as many of these planes as possible. 10 or more of these planes will
fly in during the large plane's assault. Anyway, the large white bomber
itself will shoot the usual pink bullets, and after a while fire off a
tracking twin stream of blue shells. With time you'll know when the
bomber will do this. You do NOT want to be at the center of the screen,
since the blue shells track, and you'll need some flying room! At least
on the higher levels, anyway. Use a super shot once in a while and just
keep firing away, since the bomber is quite large, you won't have much
trouble hitting it. After a while the bomber will go down and leave
behind a power-up icon.

After that, you face two mini-squadrons of three grey planes. A bit
hard to describe...they basically have a bigger, triangle-shaped body.
They come in two waves, three planes flying in formation from the
northeast, and then three from the northwest following suit. They'll
hang around for a while, fire streams of pink shots, and then at higher
levels fire some blue flak at you as they fly off the screen. At any
level, though, it's hardly a problem. Just open fire right away at the
first squadron to hit the scene, making sure you take out at least one
or two of the planes in each formation to reduce the amount of
unfriendly fire in the sky. Easy for planes with powerful regular
weaponry, not so for Flying Pancake or Fiat types. Still, try to avoid
using any super shots or bombs, you really shouldn't need any as long as
you're careful.

Next up will be two medium-size green planes to deal with, kinda like
the ones from the Sea stage but bigger, one on the left side of the
screen followed by one on the right side a short time later. The
patterns of pink shots they fire are no threat to you, you can easily
slip between them. At higher levels, though, the green planes will fire
occasional sprays of either 2 or 3 blue shots, so stay on your toes.
Anyway, it's a breeze at any level, mow down the more durable left-hand
plane that shows up first (non-Focke-Wulf, non-Zero pilots, use a super
shot to help out if you've got one), and just blast the other green
plane that shows up later with regular weaponry, it's considerably
weaker.

Finally, there's just one more green plane to go, this time in the
center. Since it's a one-on-one battle, this should be an absolute
breeze. It also gives up a bomb icon for your trouble (very handy soon).

Don't forget, in this Mission there's probably a lot of one-hit wimpy
planes to shoot down too. But they should pose much less of a threat to
you than the major enemies listed above.

Just before the Boss battle, you might notice a rather large plane
flying below the clouds. That's the Boss, in case you were wondering.
Ah, to have a nice destructive surprise to smackdown that sucker from
above ;). Well, no such luck. The Boss is close at hand.


BOSS: Giant Plane (3 forms)

Form 1: Flying Fortress

The first form of the Boss is much more imposing than it seems. Yep,
it's huge. REALLY huge. Probably your biggest opponent yet. (Its body
will remind you of the P38 Lightning.) But don't get intimidated, and
save your bombs if you can! This is not the form to be using bombs on,
if you can help it. This form may become a LITTLE troublesome at higher
levels, but you can generally take the flying fortress form out with
relative ease.

Here's how to go about it. See that big tail of the plane straight
ahead? Blow it off. Flying Pancake pilots, use one of your super shots.
Now what you do next varies depending on the level. The Boss will
shortly begin its attack by firing blue shots from two cannons, one on
each wing, creating a crossfire. At higher levels, the crossfire is of
longer duration and involves more bullets, and you'll have to dodge more
(I believe flying in one direction is a better move than side to side,
which is probably a bad move since the crossfire tracks and the gaps in
the blue flak are too small to dodge effectively.) But all in all, you
won't lose any planes at this point with practice. Anyway, after that
crossfire is over, fly your fighter over to either the bottom left or
the bottom right side of the screen (I take the bottom right side, but
it doesn't really matter). Then the rest is easy. Fire off another super
shot if you've got one to spare, and slowly creep your way left (or
right) to avoid the slow-moving stream of pink and blue bullets. Stay
just ahead of the flak shower so you won't run out of space. While
dodging through the flak streams is possible, and not REALLY difficult
at levels 1-1 or 1-2, I wouldn't recommend it unless you have an
insatiable appetite for adventure, or you're just plain too good for
this FAQ :P. If you've used two super shots and haven't stopped firing,
this form will usually explode before you reach the opposite corner of
the screen. If not, this form should be flashing crazy red and bound to
go soon -- you might have to roll upwards and to thr right just a little
bit, but the dodging is actually not bad at all on any level. Not too
hard to deal with really.

(Note: For all you pointmongers out there, there's actually three parts
of the plane you can bust up for extra points: the tail (pretty
mandatory), and the "wingtips" of each wing (I normally end up getting
one of em anyway), for a 5,000 point bonus each (I think). But other
than the tail, you don't have to destroy the other two sections to get
to the next form.

Form 2: "Mech-Bird" Form

After the flying fortress is done with, you face yet another head-
scratching form of a Boss (hey, it just defies description!) The Boss
core will gain two mechanical arms with which it will base the great
majority of its attacks. However, these arms CANNOT be shot off. Anyway,
the Boss will wave its arms from side to side, firing off various bullet
spreads that are pretty easy to dodge at any level (stay NEAR, not at,
the center of the screen for best results). When the Boss starts this
attack, though, do NOT fly directly at the (bottom) center of the
screen! If so a straight-shooting blue bullet will alsmot certainly
catch you off guard. Anyway, use a super shot or two if you can afford
it, and damage the Boss as much as you can.

The Boss will then arc its "arms" upward and fire spreads of blue shells
from each! At higher levels, you've got a REALLY nasty crossfire. But
breaking things down: At level 1-1, you can either dodge between the
blue shell spread from either one of the arms, or just stay in the
center (riskier). At level 1-2, the dodging is a bit more difficult
without a bomb. At levels 1-3 and 1-4, dodging between the blue shells
is almost impossible (most of the time I just shrug, sigh, and use up a
bomb to help out). However, if you're feeling lucky, it IS possible to
avoid the blue shell patterns entirely on the higher levels. There's a
small area just below the Boss core where your fighter can fly in and
the blue shells won't reach you. BUT you must time it very carefully,
and above all don't fly straight in, since the Boss fires 2 blue shells
directly downward just before raising the gun arms! If you can do this,
you must also deal with the large if somewhat slow pink shot (at level
1-4, I think it's still the pink bullet) that the Boss will fire from
its main core. For some reason I haven't bothered to do that lately,
though I really should to save bombs. The above method takes some
practice, but I have done it successfully once or twice. Still, it takes
some tight flying in that small rectangular zone of (relative) safety to
get through unharmed. If you used a bomb when the gun arms were raised,
just keep out of harm's way and the gun arms should blow off in no time,
leading to the final form. If not, you'll just need to pound away for a
little while longer. The gun arms will be used for one additional attack
(doesn't seem all that threatening anyway) after the blue shells, but
frequently you'll take care of business before that happens.

Form 3: Don't Ask Me!!!

After you blow off the gun arms from the Boss core, the Boss will fly up
and down and diagonally to start, firing off a whole bunch of pink and
blue shots. However, it's all pretty much patterned, and with careful
dodging you should have no troubles at any point. If you can dodge
everything at the highest levels, you might not need any bombs, either.
Really, there's only ONE attack to worry about, surprisingly.

...though it is an interesting one, and at the higher levels requires a
little bit of fancy flyin'. After firing off some pinwheels and other
goodies of flak, the Boss will fly back upwards to the top of the
screen, strafe in one direction with two continuous streams of blue
bullets (there is considerable space between the streams, though), and
then strafe in the other direction with two more blue bullet streams. At
higher levels, the bullet streams may become shell streams, the space
between the two streams decreases, etc. The best way I know to avoid
this attack is to actually fly IN BETWEEN both bullet streams (you'll
notice that the bullets fired eventually form paths where you will be
safe from fire). But you need to be careful. For one, for this entire
attack, stay at the bottom of the screen if at all possible. When the
Boss begins its first strafing run, you should be at the bottom of the
screen, wait a little bit and then, while the bullet "path" is being
"made" for you by  the Boss, fly INTO the space between the streams. If
you move up too much, it seems the Boss will adjust the bullet streams
and make it practically impossible to fit in. Once you're in the center
of the bullet streams, stay in the center for the duration of the
attack! So it's fly left when the Boss goes left, fly right when the
Boss goes right, and then you're just fine. As you might imagine, faster
fighters do better at this. Anyway, believe it or not, this tactic
almost never fails. But for some reason, I've personally found that it's
NEVER a good idea to dodge this attack by anything BUT instinct. Once I
started wondering why I did this about three months into playing the
game, I also started getting shot down by this attack... again, and
again, and again :P.

After this attack the Boss will move around, charge downward, fire lots
of pink and blue shots again, no problem to dodge. By the way, whenever
the Boss charges downward, it's an excellent opportunity to flame it
with a super shot. The Boss will then repeat the previously mentioned
attack pattern, if you haven't done it in for good by this point. If the
Boss is still in the air, it'll then perform an attack hardly even worth
mentioning...it's a virtual sitting duck! So take this sucker out for
the good guys and you'll be headed for the fixed stages (if this is
level 1-4, anyway).


Missions 5 and onward are all fixed, and NOT in random order.
*****



5. Mission 5: Desert Stage

Maybe the first thing you'll notice about this stage is that the screen
scrolls much more slowly than in any of the previous levels (to start,
at least). Kinda makes you wonder what's next on the horizon. Adds to
the fear and exhilaration if this is your first time to level 1-5, just
before you get subjected to more flak than you've EVER seen ;).

Your first opponent really should be a Boss, in terms of durability. It
takes heaps of damage! Heck, it might survive TWO Zero super shots :P.
It's basically a large armored land carrier or tank with a main gun
(fires pink bullets)and four destructible cannons on its main body
(fires a mix of pink and blue shots, as I recall). The megatank also
rolls backward as you progress through the stage (until you finally blow
the thing up, anyway), but always stays towards the bottom/middle of the
screen, so incoming enemy fire is harder to dodge (oh brother). Luckily,
it can only move backward, and in no other directions. It's also not the
only company you'll be having either.

Anyway, if you can, your first order of business is to take the four
destrucible cannons on this megatank out and quick! That way you'll
permanently reduce its firepower. With the Spitfire, Fiat or Flying
Pancake, fire off a super shot once the cannons are in view and they
should all be destroyed. Don't concentrate exclusively on getting rid
the megatank yet, though. The flak it fires isn't nearly as much a
threat as the flak from the new plane in town (hang on, I'm getting to
it ;) ). You've gotta balance keeping up a healthy dose of fire on the
quasi-sub-Boss (:P) with taking care of the other opponents in your way.

This will include normal tanks, and a brand new opponent who will very
quickly snuff you out if you're not paying attention :P ;(. Say hello to
the camoflage plane! No, not THAT camoflage plane, the OTHER camoflage
plane *cough* *sputter* *sigh*. Really, the difference between this new
plane and the other guy from the Land and Air stage is that this new
level 1-5 plane is gold, somewhat bigger, different (weird? heh)
looking, not faded white/grey, and has green camoflage stripes. This new
plane also fires scads of merciless blue shot streams at you :). And I
mean SCADS. You get a few merciful moments while the plane slowly moves
into position, and then...3-volley! 4-volley! 3-volley! 4-volley! 3-
volley! 5-volley! This sucker just plain unloads on your poor fighter
:). And worse yet, this veritable wall of blue shots tracks, so don't
even think about running away. If you faced this plane one on one, it
wouldn't be excessively difficult. Stay aligned with the enemy plane,
and use quick weaving to dodge in between the spaces between the
continous blue-shot volleys (for example, dodge left, right, left,
right, left, right in short bursts as the bullets come down). Buttttt,
well, there's that megatank still around. Flying Pancake or Fiat pilots,
your best bet is to get the camoflage plane in your line of fire, firing
off a super shot when it's in your sights to take it down since it is a
fairly durable craft. If you can neutralize that threat, don't start
breathing too easy yet because there's at least one or even two more
gold camoflage planes you'll have to fight while the megatank is still
firing at you. Don't forget, open fire on the camoflage plane as soon as
you can see it and get to it, though the above-mentioned dodging is
virtually inevitable.

Get rid of those pesky camoflage planes (save/charge up your super shots
for taking down these guys!), as well as the megatank, and you'll get
big boosts to your score (20,000 for the megatank, I believe 2500 for
each of the gold planes). There might be another gold plane or two to
face depending on how early you take the megatank out. If you've got
bombs, feel free to burn one to protect yourself from a megatank /gold
plane double-team, but you may need them later!

Finally, you'll be left in peace for a little while, and you'll fly
without ANY enemy resistance for a few seconds! But stay aware of your
surroundings! On the right side of the screen you'll notice a sizable
circular ground silo of some kind. You can destroy this for points and a
nice triple gold bar icon, but it's also a very important structure to
charge up your super shot meter since yet another gold plane will be
headed your way before long. While you don't have to use still another
super shot when the gold plane attacks, it might be worth it, since this
particular camoflage plane coughs up a vitally important bomb!

There might be still more gold camoflage planes headed your way, but
hey, you can take em by now, right ;P? Anyway, before the end of the
stage, besides the normal tank or two, you'll also run across a reddish-
colored version of the large tank from the Land and Sea stage, but this
one is extremely weak, you won't need more than regular weapons to blow
it up. You'll also encounter a wave of 6 gold planes (they look exactly
the same as the ones from the Evening Sky stage except for their color),
which will fire blue shots at you, but they are not very durable and can
be finished easily, especially with a Flying Pancake super shot Sweep of
Doom (erm, laser) if you can afford it.

Before too long, you'll start running into a number of turrets and small
cannon emplacements, none very dangerous by themselves, but durable
enough to pose a problem if enough of them are around. Try not to use
super shots or bombs here if you can help it (unless one of those gold
camoflage planes shows up). Concentrate fire and try to eliminate the
turrets/cannons one by one. When you start seeing more turrets and
cannons, forming a sort of barrier, and the screen scroll starts to
grind to a screeching halt, you'll know the Sub-Boss is extremely close
at hand. Try your best to get rid of all the remaining turrets and
cannons before it shows up.


SUB-BOSS: Large Cannons

The Sub-Boss, before you know it, will be on its way with some extremely
dangerous attacks! It's a very large cannon in the center of the screen
which moves on a limited set of vertical tracks. It's first attack will
be a very fast and narrow spray of blue shots, either stay far from the
center or stay just shy of the center and dodge the spray, which is
possible (former method is advisable for the more conservative among us
=) ). Soon it'll summon reinforcements, two very large side cannons,
each free to move about on limited diagonal tracks on the northwest and
northeast. Each is extremely dangerous, but it's the center cannon
you're after. The large side cannons cannot, surprisingly, take a whole
lot of punishment, but if you destroy one, another will soon take its
place.

It's hard to describe the attack patterns the large cannons will employ,
but let's just say you'll get your fill of flak and then some. You'll be
introduced to horrifying amounts of pink and blue shots literally
spraying in all directions... the new "exploding pinwheel" of pink and
blue shots you'll see fired from any one of the three cannons is as
impressive as it is deadly. The continuously radiating 8-way blue shots
are also a big chore to dodge. With time, you'll be able to tell when
these attacks will occur, but given the speed and sheer amount of
bullets that fly, being able to dodge them all is a considerably tougher
task ;(. "Fortunately," the main cannon isn't extremely durable (at
least compared to the megatank at the beginning of the stage). Try your
best to hang in there!


BOSS: Mech Scorpion (1 form) -- correction submitted by Skyknight

Should you succeed in destroying the Sub-Boss and STILL have one of your
original three planes left (a VERY impressive feat in my humble opinion,
I might add), it's now onto the also-tough Mech Scorpion(?). This
monstrous, near-pitch-black creation is equipped with a single turret at
its core that can't be shot off, and has four legs with which to slowly
move itself backward as you fight it. Yes, it's kinda like the end Boss
of the first level of the first Raiden, but trust me, it's much, much
worse :):):).

The initial attacks of the Mech Scorpion should be reminiscent of the
Large Cannons Sub-Boss...though as you might imagine they might be a tad
harder :P. Actually I'm not sure, I haven't faced this Boss many times,
and I've only beaten it once :P. But I am certain of this: expect a few
of those pink and blue bullet pinwheels to come flying your way.
Avoidable, but man it takes crazy and very tight dodging. You might also
find an also-annoying exploding blue bullet -- but it's more like a
continuously _radiating_ bullet, that pulsates 8 bullets for a while in
all directions! Ouch. There are other attacks too, of course, but
they're not half as bad as the pinwheel. As before, I can only wish you
good luck :) (until I get some more experience at this game, anyway).

If you have a bomb or two to spare at this point in the game, though,
don't count yourself out of the game yet, even if you're out of spare
fighters! In FACT, you might go from abject fear to even being just the
slightest bit COCKY! Before you think this humble FAQ writer's gone off
the deep end, hear me out.

For some strange reason, this Boss becomes a TON easier once it's been
damaged enough. Don't ask me why :). Of course, bombs help damage the
Boss and provide protection while you can concentrate your efforts on
pouring on the pain. If you've got a bomb handy, use it as soon as you
can, or when you feel the Boss is about to attack, then fire away with
everything you've got, burn those super shots like there's no tomorrow
;P. Unless you can consistently get to level 1-8 with your eyes closed,
heck, go for broke! If you can damage the Boss enough, you will avoid
the pinwheels altogether (well, the ones it does fire will be blocked by
the supprt fighter(s), anyway), and the Boss will perform its second set
of attacks.

This second set of attacks is actually extremely easy to avoid. Your
biggest problem is surviving through all the other levels and enemies
and millions of bullets beforehand to get to this section in the game
:P. It mainly consists of the Mech Scorpion firing huge waves of large
pink bullets in your direction while also trying to pick you off with an
additional blue shot per bullet wave. Stay at the bottom of the screen
as these "bullet sheets" are being fired, and you'll notice a sizable
gap in each bullet wave that you can pass through! Just dodge your way
through each opening, and do it quickly, and you should be fine. If all
else fails, there may even be sufficient separation in the bullet wave
to go through spaces in the bullet wave itself (but don't quote me on
that :P). If you can get past the bullet wave, the other attacks it does
are simple to avoid. The Boss will just do the bullet wave attack again,
and you just weave through. There's also an attack it does at this point
which fires lots of blue and pink shot streams, but at different speeds.
Patience and giving yourself flying room is the key here, but it's not
super-difficult. Keep firing away and fire off a super shot whenever one
charges up, and the Boss will fall.

After which you'll be on to Mission 6!
*****



6. Mission 6: Forest/Jungle Stage (incomplete)

I'd say I got through about 1/3 to 1/2 of the stage before I finally
crashed and burned on my last plane on my best day. Anyway, here's what
I saw.

Besides the other usual weak enemies that fire their usual truckload of
bullets, there's two enemies in particular to take note of in the first
part of this stage. The first enemy is a really strange
helicopter/spinning blade thing. It spins in quickly from the left side
of the screen, and flies straight to the right. It's bright blue
propellers make for a cool effect against the dark background as it
shoots across the sky. You won't have to worry about it running into
you, so much as it firing quick single blue shots at you as a fairly
fast clip. The spinning thing is maybe half as durable as your average
tank, and it's not really tough one on one, but of course, rarely do you
ever fight things one on one, there's probably at least 50 or so bullets
already in the air, and worse yet, about 3 or so more spinning things
usually also fly out around the same time. Oh well ;).

The other enemy to take note of (I think I dealt with 3 or 4 of these
before it was game over for me) is the return of the armed buildings.
They don't look quite the same as the big red building in the Land
stage, since they're smaller and positioned differently, but they fire
even bigger sprays of blue shells at you! If you've got a super shot
handy, especially Flying Pancake and Fiat pilots, don't hesitate to use
it to destroy these annoying buildings without delay!

...

Other than that, that's about all I can say. Hopefully there'll be more
to come.
*****



7. Beyond Mission 6

Yep, even after Mission 6 it's still not over. But here the walkthrough
ceases to become a walkthrough, and becomes essentially anecdotal. Nope,
I can't give any (accurate) advice past this point, but I can tell you a
few of the things I've seen watching the local Strikers 1945 Plus
prodigy.

(Sincere apologies in advance if this starts to sound like some
promotional movie trailer.)

If you thought you saw a lot of flak and crazy enemies before, there's
still much more to come. You get Sub-Bosses who fire sprays of about 25
blue shells at a time! You get a small normal-sized red tank with a
serious attitude! You get strange orange flying orbs that shoot like the
gold camoflage planes from Mission 5! You get a Sub-Boss that has a
greener version of the Flying Pancake super shot! You get bigger and
badder Bosses, the last of which sports a super beam that fries close to
1/5 of the screen...

...and well, that's it for now. Sorry ;).
------------------------------------------------------------------------



VIII. Helpful Hints, Closing Thoughts, Mysteries of the Game, and Other
Stuff

Here's a list of general pointers and other observations I've had while
playing or watching other people play Strikers 1945 PLUS:

1. Dodging enemy fire is essential to survival in this game, probably
moreso than any other shooter out there (that's not made by PSiKYO,
anyway :P). However, strange it might sound, better dodging and thus
getting farther in Strikers 1945 PLUS means more _purposeful_ dodging.
What the heck does that mean? Well, generally speaking, don't move
around unless you have to. Um...er...it's difficult to explain, but
you've gotta be twitchy while NOT being twitchy (I'm not getting the
point across very well, am I, hehe). So, if you see a bullet coming your
way that you can dodge, just move a little to the side, and don't run
circles around it. This general rule of dodging is really almost
universally applicable throughout the game. I'm not saying that you
shouldn't EVER run around the screen like crazy, because in certain
instances it may be necessary, but I think you'll find that economizing
your movements will save you a lot of planes in the long run, and also
give you greater insights into the best and most efficient way to avoid
danger.

2. For some reason, the hit detection on YOUR fighter is fairly
forgiving. If bullets just barely graze you, your fighter will not be
shot down. Just something to keep in mind. But if we're talking super
laser beams or other exotic weapons, all bets are off on that ;).

3. If you play a 2-player game, you play the exact same game as you
would in one-player. Same enemies, same difficulty, same everything,
pretty much. I don't think any special two-ship combo attacks exist like
in the Raiden series though. Anyway, to balance things out in terms of
keeping difficulty up, you can't have have more than one bomb on the
screen at a time (if 1P called out a bomb and then 2P does the same,
1P's bomb will finish up early). Also, of course, same amount of enemies
means the super shot meter doesn't charge up as much for either fighter.

4. If you play the Spitfire, Flying Pancake, Fiat or Ascender, you
really should be using those super shots more than once in a while. They
will save you from many a headache, especially when used at certain
points in the game. If your super shot meter is fully charged or nearly
always fully charged, but your fighters remaining count or bomb count is
low, you might want to think about using super shots more often.

5. A word on the difficulty level in Strikers 1945 Plus: the game ramps
up the difficulty, at least in terms of bullet speed and possibly amount
of bullets flying in the air, the longer you last without getting shot
down. If you lose a plane, the game will take it easier on you for at
least the time being. For the practical among us, that's great (if it
makes little difference when you get to the really high levels)! For the
purist gamer...well, if you want the full experience of maximum
difficulty, well you just gotta fly through this game without getting
shot down even once, I guess :P.

6. In case I forgot to mention it, in regards to the super shot system,
holding down the fire button for longer than you need to has no impact
on the duration or overall power of the super shot (like it does for the
bomb in Capcom's shooter 19XX); this appears to be preset by the game.
So, don't try to "charge up" the super shot since it won't, but DO keep
the fire button held down if you want to _ready_ the super shot, but
don't want to fire it off for another few seconds or so.

7. I think I said it before, but I'm gonna say it again: unless you're a
total and complete master of this game, don't hesitate to use up your
bombs! After you've played this game for a while and get better, it's
all too easy to fall for what I call the "Raiden effect." The better
Raiden (the first one) players I've seen would just save up tons of
bombs up to a max of 7. But all but the best were unable to avoid
getting shot down once in a while...with all 7 bombs still unused!!!
Ouch. And bombs in Sttikers 1945 PLUS are extremely important. So just
keep that in mind.

8. Keep practicing! Early on this game is frustrating as heck, but if
you're willing to keep at it, you will improve! Sort of, anyway. For a
WHILE, I was making it to level 1-5 consistently. Too bad there's at
least _eight_ levels *sigh*. And don't forget that nifty 1-up at 600,000
points, although it is a bit of a distant incentive :P.
------------------------------------------------------------------------



IX. High Scores and Rankings

While passing the game might be your ultimate goal, in the meantime you
play to see how far you get, how high your score is, and how you did
overall. At the end of your game, you'll be given an informal ranking.
High scores and rankings, as you probably guessed, are closely related
in Strikers 1945 PLUS. The higher your score, the higher your rank. As a
very rough approximation, you can attain the next highest rank, not
counting "TRY AGAIN," by scoring 100,000 additional points. However, how
FAR you get into the game (which level you reach) also seems to have an
impact on your final ranking.

The rankings I know so far are:

TRY AGAIN

HOLD OUT HOPES

JOIN THE FORCE

BEGINNER <---hmm. At this point I think the PSiKYO
             programmers are getting just the slightest bit
             sarcastic on me. I mean, 100,000 or so points
             ago they WANTED me to "join the force"!

ORDINARY PILOT <---after reaching this rank, I started to
                   become convinced that indeed, these guys
                   were being sarcastic, and no, this wasn't
                   some bug. I HAVE heard that the PSiKYO
                   folks are known for their particular brand
                   of strange humor, btw. :P

C CLASS FIGHTER <---that's me! Nice and mediocre on my
                    record-setting best play day! *cough!*
                    That and I got this rank TWICE :P.

B CLASS FIGHTER <---
                    |----these two are by inference. If
A CLASS FIGHTER <---     there's a C Class Fighter, there's
                         GOTTA be B and A Class Fighters :P.

GREAT FIGHTER <---reserved for the best of the best Strikers
                  1945 PLUS pilots. (I did see this one, and
                  in case you were wondering, yep the local
                  Strikers 1945 PLUS guru is the holder of
                  this prestigious rank.)

There may be even higher ranks to attain. But I haven't seen them yet.

Do note that the rankings at the end of your game are only for your
personal edification though. What shows on the high score screen, if you
can break into the top 10, are your three initials, the plane you flew
and your score.
------------------------------------------------------------------------



X. Credits

To borrow a classic line from Sabre, author of a Strikers 1945 II
FAQ...

"No one but me! I start the gig!"

=)

(and thanks to the local arcade for having this game around, too)

Well, that's it for the FAQ! Hope you enjoyed it!
-Mav

***END***

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