Strikers 1945 II is one of the many similar Psikyo shooters. It is the second iteration of their World War 2 formula, but unlike its prequel, this game features a surprisingly deep weapon system.
The basic premise is simple, you have a normal weapon to fire by mashing the A button, and a super bomb to release with button B. Holding the A button will charge up a special attack. These special attacks can appear in 3 different power levels, as indicated on the level bar at the lower left corner of the screen. Every upper level is roughly two times as powerful as the one before. Strategic use of these attacks can destroy even the bosses in a matter of seconds, although in a game as fast paced as this, strategy is seldom used.
The good thing in Strikers 1945 II is that it retains all the aspects of previous Psikyo Saturn ports. That is, detailed information on the ingame planes (in FMV form, but narration only, in japanese), and a great amount of screen options. Since this is a TATE (vertical) shooter, such options are a must. Interestingly, the most common option - borders on the left and right sides - is missing. The game never zooms out the whole screen - everything is always displayed pixel perfectly like in the arcade.
The difference in the display modes are the following: you either have full display with vertical scrolling, full display with no scrolling (part of the upper screen is cut off), or rotated screen where everything is displayed as it is in the arcade - of course, if you rotate your display as well. However, at your disposal is an option to rotate the controls instead, turning the game into a horizontal shooting game instead. In my opinion, the lack of bordered display mode is annoying since every other display mode is quite awkward. The wealth of options is always a plus though. Also, the small cutscenes are all rearranged in shape to perfectly fit the different display modes, which is a nice touch as well.
Gameplay wise you have the basic bullet hell you can expect from Psikyo shmups. The levels are short but very action packed, if you can manage doding then the game can be beaten in a matter of minutes. The real meat of the game is the set of radically different fighters at your disposal. You can select a different fighter plane at the game start, and all of them bear completely different weapons, specials, and bombs. Mastering these is the key of being effective in the game.
Special attacks are of utmost importance, because of their attributes. Some such attacks will create a shield blocking all enemy bullets, others just act as a single-shot bomb attack, again others will set up a continous barrage, a wall of fire. Also, because they charge up as you hit enemies with your normal attacks, the special meter fills up fast enough for you to launch multiple specials at once. To balance this seemingly overpowering effect, boss enemies usually consist of multiple smaller parts (as the next part enters, your special attack wears off), and move around very fast (nixing fixed target specials). Also, the special meter is filled at different speeds per fighter plane, for example the one with the Shield special will charge up much slower, so you can't create impregnable defenses by unleashing shields constantly.
Of course, you have to think very fast to use these special attributes to the best, as the game is incredibly hectic. Nonstop barrage of enemies swarm the screen, never easing up on you. It is nice that this also applies to loading times (which doesnt exist in this game), also, you can start a game by holding the L shift to "speed up" the fighter select screen.
All in all, Strikers 1945 II - like all Psikyo shooting games - is a fast, intense, but very short, mediocre arcade style shooter. Best played with a friend for some simple blasting fun, don't expect much depth from the game even with the special weapon system.