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Dengeki Stryker Review

Young Yuuki Yamato dreams of becoming a hero someday to protect the ones he loves. Modeling himself after his favorite superhero, Stryker Zero from the manga Dengeki Stryker, Yamato tries his hardest to protect his best friend Hongou Haruna from constant bullying. After yet another failed attempt at saving Haruna from bullies, she tells Yamato that she is moving away. Shortly after, an old man by the name “Memory Collector” appears before Yamato and offers to grant one wish for Yamato in exchange for a memory. Yamato tells the Memory Collector that he wishes to become his favorite superhero from Dengeki Stryker; Stryker Zero. The Memory Collector grants Yamato’s wish, taking away a portion of his memories as payment. Years later, Yamato moves to the city to attend school, where he meets Haruna once again.  At the same time, cyborgs from a place called the Balbora Empire appear and attack the city.

The Balboran cyborgs proceed to pick a fight with the cities police and military. Unable to do anything to the invading forces, the city looks to be in trouble until Stryker Zero appears and engages the cyborgs. The cyborgs inform Zero that their plans are not to destroy the city, but to defeat Stryker Zero and take him back to the Balbora Empire to be dissected so they can learn and harness his Stryker cyborg abilities and eventually conquer Japan using their own technology against them. Stryker Zero defeats them, and the cyborgs retreat to recuperate and plan for another strike. Little do they know that they have just moved in next door to the enemy they are seeking…

One of Dengeki Strykers greatest strengths is its cast of colorful characters and their interactions. The members of the Balboran force come in an array of varying personalities; They even have a talking, intelligent dog who is a giant perv. Yamato is extremely socially awkward and tends to speak in military terms despite the fact that he has been a part of society for years, so to speak. This game also plays on almost every superhero cliche and quirk, and OVERDRIVE did a great job with creating extremely humorous scenes using these quirks.  You know how in a lot of superhero stories, especially Superman/Clark Kent, no one can tell who the superhero is even though the only difference between his secret identity and his superhero one is a change of costume and slight cosmetic changes like taking off their glasses? Well, Dengeki Stryker has a heaping load of this! Also, the guy in the mask (Orson) looks a lot like Vega from Street Fighter…I’m not shitting you. Guess Vega had a few too many cakes bahahaha!
The Balboran’s have no idea that their next door neighbor Yamato is actually Stryker Zero even though the only differences between Yamato and his Stryker form is costume and hair. The same goes for Yamato; He has no idea his neighbors are actually the Balboran cyborgs even though litterly the only thing that changes is instead of their red jumpsuits, they have their green Balboa uniforms on.  At least Yamato has a scarf hiding some of his face, they don’t hide anything at all. This leads to some incredibly hilarious situations and dialogue. Oh, and a character portion of Dengeki Stryker isn’t complete without a part on Jack…

Jack is an American ninja from Texas; Yes, you heard me, an American ninja from Texas. Jack ends up traveling from Texas all the way to Japan in hopes of finding a great lord to serve under. (Jack’s concept of Japan is very…feudal) Jack is like one of the best Visual Novel characters that I have ever come across, I love this character. Jack’s gender is also never outright mentioned in the game. Yamato starts off calling Jack a he, but throughout the game there are several instances where Jack’s actual gender comes into question. Events will lead you into believing Jack is actually a girl, but then retract and make comments that make you believe Jack is actually a man.  Throughout the game, you collect pages from Jack’s diary, and they’re all over the damn place in terms of gender hints. Bamboo from OVERDRIVE has specifically stated that they wanted to keep Jack’s gender a secret on purpose, much to mine and many others aggravation. Which means no Jack route. Ever. 
Besides being a freaking ninja from Texas, Jack is pretty badass in fights and with ninjutsu. Jack’s scenes and mannerisms are also so hilarious I found myself laughing so hard my sides would hurt.  I mean seriously, you find Jack going crazy feral in a trash can barking at cats. And “he” also sleeps all cocoon-like dangling from the ceiling. And uses words like “verily”, and calls “his” ninjutsu Texas Ninpo, Texas style ninjutsu….Damnit OVERDRIVE, why can’t we have a Jack route!?

Dengeki Stryker features a few animated scenes in the game. While most VNs with animation have their H-scenes animated, Dengeki utilizes anime-like scenes for certain portions of the story; Mainly ending sequences, but a few scattered through the story here and there. The animation is crisp, clean, and entertaining. For me, these scenes helped enhance my experience of the game. Battle sequences became more alive with the animation and I was able to see, hear, and experience the intensity of the participants and their battle. Ending battles were made all the more epic with the aid of their animated sequences, especially with the Stryker’s abilities and mecha. I have always been a fan of Nabeshin’s (Shinichi Watanabe) works and he did an excellent job on these scenes in Dengeki Stryker. For those of you who don’t know who he is, Nabeshin is best known for the anime’s Excel Saga, Puni Puni Poemi, and Techi Muyo! GXP.  He has also directed and done storyboards for several other well known animes. It’s too bad his character didn’t appear in the game. Movement and effects are also used during CG sequences to give the feel of movement to the scene.
The fight scenes in Dengeki Stryker take up a good chunk of story time and tend to be long, descriptive, and wordy. I didn’t find this to be much of a problem though as I went into this game expecting it to deal with battle scenes like how they are treated in shounen manga, which tend to go into action sequences pretty heavily. They were nowhere near original Dragonball Z proportions, which I think has set the bar for sometimes aggravatingly long fight scenes, and were more along the lines of normal length for action based anime and manga. This made Dengeki Stryker feel more like a manga/anime hybrid than a visual novel, and OVERDRIVE did a pretty good job of handling it. I’ve heard/read people bitching about the sheer amount of text and time given to action sequences in the game, but I am a fan of shounen manga, so I think you really have to be into those kind of action sequences to really appreciate the detail put into them in Dengeki.
OVERDRIVE is pretty well known for their songs in their VNs.  While Dengeki Stryker is my first OVERDRIVE VN, I will say that I was extremely impressed with the music in the game. The BGM was well done and really went well with the scenes, but what really shines is the actual songs found throughout the game.  Most VNs that I have played generally only have an OP and one ending song, regardless of how many endings there are.  Dengeki Stryker features 5 full-length songs, a generous amount given the length of the game, and includes the OP, a fight scene song, and a different song for each of the three endings in the game. All of the songs are really good, and I found myself bringing up the song library to jam out to the songs frequently. Masaaki Endoh (Power Ranger’s, Yu-Gi-Oh 5D, Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! and others) did an excellent job in Burst Dream and BREAKING! I have heard that most of OVERDRIVE’s VNs feature a plethora of songs like seen in Dengeki Stryker.
Also unlockable is two additional H-scenes after you finish all three sagas; One for Haruna, and one for Sayaka.  These can be found either in the “start” area, or the scene replay section.  For those curious, there are only two H-Scenes in the storyline, one for each heroine.  There is no H-Scene in Sky Saga. These scenes are somewhat lengthy though to make up for that (I walked off with one of them on auto, came back like 15 minutes later and it was still going) and are tastefully done.  They signify the change from friends to lovers for the couple.
Endings in Dengeki Stryker are extremely linear and are played in a forced order your first playthough. There are three endings, or as the game calls them, sagas.  Zero saga is the first, and is Haruna’s route. Zero Saga disappointed me so, so much. There was so much potential for this route and Haruna’s character, but this route felt rushed and people dropped like flies and went nuts. It had some interesting framework, but it seemed like the writers just wern’t too interested in the route or Haruna, as her character doesn’t play a major role until near the end of the saga. Haruna also suffers terribly from normal childhood friend archetypes and while she was a sweetie, I just didn’t find myself connecting with her as a character or heroine, and her and Yamato’s relationship seemed rushed and out of the blue. This routes Stryker was probably my favorite out of the three though; Oddly enough, Zero’s Stryker had probably the most scene time in action sequences and some of the better abilities than the other two. I really, really hope that they give Zero Saga some more love in the expansion disk, Chou Dengeki Stryker.
Heaven Saga follows after Zero Saga, and is Sakuya’s route.  This route is also basically the true, canon route of the game, and a lot of stuff that happened in Zero does not happen in this route; Think of it like a different path Yamato took than the one he did in Zero, sort of like a butterfly effect. Sayaka is your stereotypical tsudere female heroine, but despite that I came to like Sayaka and her route. Sayaka takes a pretty important role in the story early on, and her past and revelations surrounding her made for an excellent story and good character development, although maybe it just seemed great after how crappy Haruna’s route was.  I also felt earnest emotions between her and Yamato and there was actual relationship development between the two, unlike…Zero Saga. The progression of all the characters was also so much better, and our villain gang really shines in Heaven Saga.  I knew there was some great potential, both storyline and comedic wise, for the gang, but they were severely underutilized in the previous saga. One downer I will point out though is the Stryker featured in Heaven Saga gets far less screen time than Zero’s Stryker. I also happened to like Zero’s Stryker more…despite Heaven’s use of a spiked bat. Stryker Ten was also one of my favorite characters, and he really only made an appearance in Heaven Saga. Oh, also, giant mecha. Enough said.
Sky Saga is the last route, and is a continuation after Heaven Saga that follows the character Mirror instead of Yamato.  Seeing as this is a continuation off of Sayaka’s route, there is no 3rd winnable character in this route. This is what I would call the “revelation” route, and a lot of stuff is revealed, some that made me go “whattttt?”. While there is a big, epic fight at the end of the route, Sky Saga focuses more on character development and explaining the true reality of most of the characters and their circumstances.  It is also the most depressing of the three routes; Feels are abound in Sky Saga. Two characters in particular get screwed over pretty hardcore, and I found myself crying into my beer over a particular scene. Most of the main cast from Zero and Heaven take a backseat in this route. While Sky was a good route, I seriously think it may have hit my limit on emotional slappery. The ending could be considered somewhat happy, but me being a pessimist, my heart felt heavy as the credits rolled.  On the bright side, the ending song for this saga/route was my favorite and pretty catchy. Oh, and the Stryker was pretty awesome.
OVERDRIVE did a good job of taking superhero and shounen elements and blending them into a Visual Novel that feels part movie/anime, manga, and Visual Novel. While Dengeki Stryker did suffer some from problems, you can tell the love and passion that OVERDRIVE put into this game from the puns, music, action sequences, and animated scenes. From what I have read of the company, they strove to do something different than their usual type of Visual Novel with Dengeki Stryker, and I think they did a pretty good job. This game really did feel like a manga I would have found in a Shounen Jump magazine/serial.  There’s also hope that many of Dengeki’s issues will be fixed/addressed in the expansion pack Chou Dengeki Stryker, which adds in three new routes. I have not read if it does anything to the other sagas, but Chou Dengeki Stryker has a tentative English release date of Fall/Winter 2013. 
Final Score: 82%
Catchy songs found throughout the game, visually pleasing animation scenes, pretty art (Monkey ears don’t bug me), 9 pages of CGs, heavy on shounen and superhero elements, cyborgs, giant mecha, unique underlying story, plenty of humor, colorful cast. The strykers were pretty interesting. Oh, and Jack 😀 
Zero Saga was terrible even though it had a lot of potential.  Haruna’s character was under-utilized and had an almost non-existent personality. Sometimes the game felt unfinished and rushed. Stryker Kuu didn’t appear until Sky Saga even though she was a major part of the background of Yamato and most of the cast’s reality. Stryker Kuu and Heaven Saga’s Stryker (Not Stryker Ten) were severely underutilized in my opinion. Stryker Ten only appearing in Heaven Saga. Sky Saga’s ending was a bit -too- bittersweet for my taste. Jack’s gender is kept a secret and there’s really no cg’s of Jack. I really felt Rin deserved a route. (Although she gets one in Chou)
Release Info:
Available for sale in English with digital release for PC
VN by OVERDRIVE, English localization by Mangagamer

18+ Visual Novel

Purchase Dengeki Stryker’s digital edition.

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