Considering how this is my third review of one in the past three months, I shouldn’t need to preface how I enjoy visual novels, specifically of the Japanese variety. When done right, they are able to tell captivating stories with an enjoyable cast of characters, often interspersed with a lot of things that would be difficult to do in another medium. But that’s not to say that the medium is free of its own share of trash. So without further ado, time to talk about Cho Dengeki Stryker!
Cho Dengeki Stryker (All Ages Version) Review
Specifications: Intel i7-4790, 16GB of RAM, R9 390, Windows 10
Cho Dengeki Stryker is the story of a young boy who sacrifices his memories and identity to become his favorite generic shounen super hero, Stryker Zero. A decade later, they called to defend Japan from a ragtag group of terrorists from a foreign empire. Battles ensue only to be interspersed with a form of anime styled shenanigans and derivative characters that had me groaning as I drudged through the story.
Now, there is nothing wrong with tropey characters or ones who maintain a very specific role or personality, but that is not the case with a single character here. The hero is fixated on justice to an obnoxious extreme. The antagonists are a grab bag of any goons seen in a hero show or Shounen manga, fail to develop past this, and are only given a hint of ingenuity by being greatly impoverished. While the gaggle of girls who act as love interests to the hero are the childhood friend, the timid, and the tsundere. There is also a big bad villain who is sympathetic to a degree, but their malice and abuse of power makes their inevitable death seem like an act of justice.
Even characters like Jack, the crossdressing Texan ninja, are little more than an amalgamation of derivative characteristics that I could tolerate and even enjoy if done properly. There is so little to the story here beyond these predictable elements that I found myself skimming the text just to get to the end of this dull story. Well, for the most part.
I won’t spoil it, but at the 70% mark, a very interesting idea is put forward to explain why everything feels like an overly simplistic shounen storyline. It’s not fully explored, at least not in the one ending I received, and more importantly does not redeem the boring characters the story focuses on. All of whom remain being archetypical shounen characters before ending in a predictable shounen manner.
It is entirely possible that there is more to the story to be discovered in successive playthroughs. But considering just how irritated and disinterested I was throughout the seven hours I spent with this game, I’m not giving it another chance. I don’t believe that a story which contains a scene where most of the female characters compare breast sizes is capable of adequate genre deconstruction. I do not care about any single character introduced in this story. I would have prefered a bad ending wherein the hero fails, everybody dies, and literally nothing was learned other than how you should read a contract before you sign it.
I may have been more inclined to enjoy this game if it looked a bit better, but as it stands, the artwork is an incredibly generic looking anime style affair. It looks fine, acceptable, and there are a good amount of CGs, even though a few more action focused ones would have been appreciated. Especially if I were to correlate the game’s $35 price tag to something similarly priced, like Danganronpa. But what kills me about the game visually are the effects and transitions used. They look like they were purchased from an asset pack, and make the game feel like a far more amateurish affair. The music fares similarly, and was of such quality that I simply disabled it after an hour, much to the betterment of the experience.
I don’t like being reductive or downright mean to games, but when I feel as if I wasted my time and money on an experience that did little to annoy me, it’s hard not to get a trifle bit peeved. To reiterate, I easily could be missing something about Cho Dengeki Stryker. But the boring story, characters, and general annoyances that came with a single playthrough were too much for me to justify playing it further in the vain hope that it gets better in successive scenarios. I thought it was suspicious how it sold less than five thousand copies on Steam. Now I’m confused by why MangaGamer thought this was worth localizing. Maybe because there’s a version with gratuitous sex scenes… Yeah, that sounds about right.