Here comes a rather…uneroge-like eroge from Overdrive, to balance out our slice-of-life moe-ge or serious naki-ge. Using the Japanese transforming superhero as its basis, Dengeki Stryker both makes fun of and plays its tropes straight when it comes to a cheesy heroic tale. Of course, beneath the story of justice is a struggle more sinister and personal.
Our story begins with the young boy Yuuki Yamato, who idolizes the main character of his favorite manga: the cyborg Dengeki Stryker who was created by the Japanese government to defend against invasion from the evil Balbora Empire. He would pretend to be the superhero and attempt to defend his childhood friend Haruna against bullies, but ultimately gets teased and beaten up because he is weak. The day before Haruna moves away, Yamato meets a suspicious old man who calls himself the Memory Collector–someone who can grant wishes in exchange for one’s memories. Young Yamato wishes to become Dengeki Stryker so he can have the strength to protect Haruna, but he gives away all his memories for this. From that day on, he is the powerful cyborg Dengeki Stryker with a goal to defeat the Balbora Empire, and no longer remembers his previous life and childhood friend. For ten years Yamato experiences peaceful life, until he moves to the city for high school. He ends up reuniting with his forgotten childhood friend, and the Balbora Empire that had kept quiet finally begins to land in Japan.
The first noticeable thing about Dengeki Stryker is that it tries to do away from traditional eroge conventions in presentation. The story is told from many perspectives, much like the way an anime or a movie unfolds through not only the eyes of the protagonist. The visual novel completely does away with the whole “eroge protagonist = you” idea, giving Yamato a voice and a design befitting of a shounen action manga protagonist rather than generic Asian guy haircut. Yamato also has a distinct personality that is interesting to watch–he is completely serious about his mission, but clueless about how actual high school life works, thus is seen as a complete weirdo by his classmates. Even the resident tsundere thinks he is trolling her, despite Yamato being serious about everything he says. CGs are plenty, and there are even quite a few fully-animated sequences for a game of this length. It really feels like a shounen anime in visual novel form, rather than the usual eroge.
With that said, Dengeki Stryker does run into some of the unfortunate flaws of shounen series. For one thing, the heroines aren’t all that well-written. Haruna was as generic as childhood friend heroines go, and the only other option is her tsundere best friend, Sayaka. They are probably as flat as visual novel heroines go (and I don’t mean that in terms of physique), and Haruna pretty much stayed useless until near the end, like the shallow love interest in many shounen works. In fact, Haruka pretty much got the shaft in the romance and route department, because Sayaka’s route had a much better outcome (and thus my preferred heroine). The most interesting females are not even romantic interests. The character I cared for the most ended up being the protagonist. Yamato was a pretty likeable main character, and is actually capable despite being dense in certain areas.
Aside from the heroines, everyone else is over-the-top and hilarious to watch. Yamato’s sidekick is an American ninja girl (who is actually very helpful in fights) who is obviously pretending to be a dude, and the main Balborans are a bickering, silly bunch. The story ended up being nice with its surprises, but not masterpiece material. It got some feels out of me the same way how enthusiastic friendship speeches in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s (and probably other shounen works out of recent memory) fired me up and/or made me tear up. The writing could be better (MangaGamer’s translation made sense, but doesn’t sound all that nice), but the POV changes were interesting enough and I enjoyed the wacky cast and protagonist.
The h-scenes are pretty much unnecessary, and thrown into the game because ero sells. There are three routes, one of them being the true route with no h-scenes. The other two routes have one h-scene each, and I pretty much skipped them because the plot interested me enough to make me want to skip over the fap material. From the CGs and glimpses of dialogue, they looked like very standard first time h-scenes. The art is cel-shaded, done in an easily-animated style where the character portraits match the style of the animated scenes almost exactly. The animated scenes were well-done, and used at the best moments possible.
My conclusive thoughts are that this is certainly a refreshing eroge. It’s got action, is near spoof-levels at times, wacky supporting characters, a likeable protagonist, and a fun theme. The pacing was decent and the game is not that long, so it’s easy to keep interested for the entire ride. The actual romance was on the weak side, but the actual plot events are definitely more interesting. I had lots of fun reading Dengeki Stryker. MangaGamer isn’t exactly the best at giving life to writing, but the localization was passable. Sometimes I understood the Japanese voice better than the actual text dialogue, but it could be worse.