Strikey Sisters

A game by DYA Games for PC, Mac, Linux, and Switch, originally released in 2017.
Less than a year passed between DYA Games’ previous effort, Bot Vice, and Strikey Sisters, both of which share a similar structure and art style. Bot Vice is modeled after the “gallery shooter”, a genre best represented by Wild Guns, and features a female protagonist running along the bottom of the screen and blasting up at colorful baddies with a variety of weapons collected as powerups. Strikey Sisters has more in common with Wizorb (and by extension, Arkanoid), with a female protagonist – or a pair of them in 2P co-op – running along the bottom of the screen and bashing a magical orb upward to smash bricks and damage colorful enemies while grabbing various powerups. The game is inspired by a relatively unknown fantasy brick breaking game called Firestriker on SNES.

As in Bot Vice, Strikey Sisters takes on a 16-bit style, with some visuals and sound effects reminiscent of classic Capcom games, especially the main character’s victory yell and the announcer’s “You win!” exclamation, which closely approximate similar samples from Street Fighter II.

The eponymous sisters are witches named Marie and Elene, and they are on a quest to rescue their pet, Sachiro, from the evil Lord Vanik. Between battling through brick-based arenas, the duo meet up with each of Vanik’s supplicants for some purposely cheesy dialogue exchanges… although there are some questionable line reads amongst the voice actors, and the pacing of the dialogue is quite slow. After each exchange, the player engages the villain in a boss battle.

Gameplay is fairly typical of the Breakout-originated genre, except that players control a human character rather than a paddle, and swinging a wand to strike the orb gives players more directional control, allowing them to knock the ball away at any angle, even returning it along its previous course. Players can also charge this attack to send the orb flying away at a higher speed, which can crush blocks in a single hit (they normally require two hits), and instantly kill weaker enemies.

Enemies are spawned into the playfield continuously until all of the bricks in the arena are destroyed. These enemies plod slowly around, with some merely acting as obstacles, but many of the can unleash attacks that affect the player or the ball. Several enemies and bosses can avoid or deflect shots if they are hit from the front, requiring the player to shoot for side or rear attacks… although enemies can be hit directly with the wand to damage them regardless of their defensive abilities, so long as they move within the player’s range. Some enemies can fire slow-moving projectiles that deflect the ball when hit, faster projectiles that can damage the sisters when they get hit, or special projectiles that have secondary effects like creating a pool of slime on the floor that slows the sisters down when they run through it.

The sisters only have three units of health – which is shared in 2P mode – with one unit drained each time they take a hit or lose the ball off the bottom of the screen, and levels must be replayed from scratch upon death. Fortunately, enemy projectiles can be deflected with a charged attack (or destroyed with a regular swipe), allowing players to not only defend themselves, but also defeat enemies and break blocks even when they aren’t in contact with the orb. In addition, health restoratives occasionally appear in the form of chicken, and there is a robe that acts as a shield, protecting the player from one hit of damage, or one lost ball, before disappearing.

Destroying enemies reveals powerups, which fall slowly down the screen, per genre conventions. There are two classes of powerup: those that are activated instantly, and those that can be held in reserve and cast as spells at the player’s command. Instant-use powerups are stackable and include the aforementioned chicken and robe, as well as a ball slowdown, a character speed up, a double ball (which unfortunately does not stack with itself), a flaming ball that leaves patches of fire behind to damage enemies, and an iron ball that crushes blocks in a single hit and passes straight through them.

Spell powerups include monster traps that drop randomly around the arena, damaging ground-based creatures when they step on them; a gorgon head that turns all onscreen enemies to stone, preventing them from attacking and allowing them to be destroyed by a single hit from the ball or another spell; a 5-way magic blast that bounces off of solid surfaces; lightning that strikes randomly around the arena, potentially damaging enemies and breaking blocks; bombs that are tossed at each onscreen enemy; and the incredibly useful dark flame that allows players to unleash a blast of purple fire straight up the screen, killing most enemies on contact and destroying up to two rows of blocks – even those on the far side of solid objects – as it travels upward.

Since each destroyed block drops a coin, and each destroyed enemy drops a powerup, and many enemies toss projectiles, the playfield can become chaotic at times. Unfortunately, the game commits the sin of letting the ball be obscured by other objects, rather than ensuring that it always remains on the top layer. This means that it is possible to occasionally lose track of the ball and potentially lose health as it falls off the bottom of the screen.

Collecting falling coins reveals treasure chests at certain thresholds, with the first being a green chest, the second brown, and the third blue. Chests are randomly placed on the playfield, and the player must strike them with the ball in order to open them, at which point, their treasures descend to be collected like other powerups.

The threshold for the green chest is low enough that players should be able to reveal it on each level. The treasure within is a spell card that may be used to capture a single enemy and add it to the player’s bestiary, which is in place solely for bragging rights. There are dozens of enemy types, and a list of enemies appears as the player moves between points on the world map, allowing him to see which creatures have been captured and which have not.

The brown chest reveals a green gem, and collecting it turns the world map icon from blue to green. Finally, there is the blue chest which has a high coin threshold and requires diligent collection. Opening this chest reveals a blue key that unlocks additional paths on the world map. However, there is no indication on the map as to which levels have been opened with a key - versus making normal progress - nor is there any indication of which levels still contain keys to be collected. As such, players may simply reach a point in the game where they have explored the world map and have no apparent route forward.

As with most brick breaking games, there are several minor annoyances, such as the ball being deflected at a narrow angle, causing it to bounce back and forth for a long time without returning to the player, and this can be exacerbated by the fact that enemies continue spawning until the last brick is destroyed… although they may also drop a powerup that helps the player destroy the last brick. And as always, things are not terribly exciting when there is just one hard-to-reach block left on the playfield.

Boss battles work somewhat differently, as players are simply tasked with defeating the boss itself, with the level ending regardless of whether all of the blocks have been destroyed, athough enemies still spawn into the arena infinitely. Most bosses fire projectiles, which may be deflected back at them for increased damage, and this also makes short work of bricks and weaker foes. Each boss has some personality quirk that is revealed in the preceding cutscene – such as a queen bee that is overly obsessed with physical appearances – and they utter phrases during battle that fall in line with this. Like Bot Vice, these lines change as the boss nears death, but the bosses do repeat the same phrase over and over.

Strikey Sisters was developed by DYA Games, a studio based in Spain and headed by a pair of brothers: artist Alberto Vilchez Carpio and programmer Dani Vilchez Carpio. The developers previously created the Wild Guns-inspired Bot Vice (which was originally envisioned as a brick breaking game) and numerous arcade-style games including Super Star Path, Castle Scout, Star Path: Alien Galaxy, UFO Complex, Dirty Depths, The Humanitos, Bike Assault, and Firemen Rush. The game’s soundtrack was composed by Dominic Ninmark.