Have You Played… Major Stryker?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every weekday of the year, perhaps for all time.

Truth be told, I don’t know which of my muddled memories are of Major Stryker and which are the many other gloriously over-the-top shmups of the late DOS era. I just know that, for a time, I loved them more than anything: the action, the explosions, the really big guns you got if you collected enough orbs, the fact they weren’t particularly difficult (which made bullet hell games such as Ikaruga a nasty shock when I tried ’em years later), the way you could blow up things on the ground for no reason other than DESTRUCTION. They were everything games needed to be.

The name Major Stryker lodged itself in my head above all others, and it’s only really now that I know it was blatantly given that name in the hope of bottling Duke Nukem lightning again. I imagine Apogee, the predecessor to 3D Realms, had money and talent to pour at their shmup which other studios lacked, and so it would have been the glossiest one, the biggest one.

Of course, I never played anything except the shareware version, delivered to me by a cover disk on PC Zone. This means that, one day, I will be able to treat myself to the other two-thirds of the game (now officially made freeware), and the only reason I don’t is because it would shatter memories and illusions. Best to wait until my faculties start to wane, and simple things become incredible. Then, Major Stryker, we shall at last meet again.


  1. Joe W-A says:

    What a video game. Blue Hair Lady looks more ridiculous than I remember

  2. Syme says:

    It’s the way with so many apogee games, played the shareware version as a kid, then if it was one I really liked my dad would order the full version as a birthday or christmas present. And I’m always tempted to go back and finish some of these off but never quite do.

    • acheron says:

      Same here. The era of shareware Apogee games looms so large in my memory of gaming, though when I really think about it I realize it was maybe 4 years.. 1991-1995 really.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Yeah, I played so many shareware games from various cover discs and other similar things. Here in Denmark, however, it was impossible to actually buy the full versions of these games, because simply no store that sold them existed. And good luck convincing your parents to go to the bank, get some american currency and send it via the mail (not even including that sending money in the mail is not allowed by the postal service) to the United States to get a videogame back.
      I figure that’s part of the reason why the consoles were so big here, noone could get PC games till sometime around the mid 90s when small PC stores started stocking the ones that weren’t shareware. It was slightly different in the few bigger cities, of course, but most of the country, you could forget about games that weren’t either shareware or warez.

      • JiminyJickers says:

        Same here, the country I grew up in, also had no way of buying most of these games. Very few were available.

      • Doubler says:

        We were in the same situation in the Netherlands, but instead of consoles the only things that got big were black markets and sharing games around among your friends at school :P

      • dauw says:

        It was the same in Norway if I remember correctly, but I also remember playing and beating the full version of this game. No idea how I got my hands on it.

        • dauw says:

          Scratch that, it was the shareware version. It had a big badass mothership at the end of that first act, though. Must’ve felt like I really beat the whole game at the time, haha.

  3. Jackablade says:

    It’s no Raptor: Call of the Shadows or Zone 66, or even a Tyrian 2000, but I remember putting hours of horribly inept space ship piloting into this one

    • Shockeh says:

      Hello, my Internet clone! You managed to get to your PC and basically type my reply word for word, rendering mine superfluous.

      The only thing missing to my mind was Xenon 2: Megablast.

    • Harlander says:

      But is it a Traffic Department 2192?

      • Dukey says:

        The shareware version of that game ended with a massive cliffhanger, if I recall, which wasn’t resolved for me till about 20 years later when I finally tracked down the full version. Pretty decent game with an AWESOME story

    • TomxJ says:

      Nothing is Raptor:Call of the shadows.

      That Game Made me.

      • vlonk says:

        Sadly Raptor and Zone 66 have not been recreated yet. Some try (Galak-Z and Jamestown come to mind) but none compare. Vlambeer you hear me? Do something about this when you are done with Nuclear throne.

  4. acheron says:

    Oh yeah. I even played the registered version, and beat it if I remember right.

    While I did go back and play Raptor and Tyrian in recent years, I haven’t been able to replay Major Stryker… there’s a feeling of “or I could just play Raptor if I want to play an early 90s Apogee shootemup”. That said, maybe I’ll give it a try next time I’m in Dosbox going through the collection of DOS games copied off my 386’s hard drive.

  5. Dachannien says:

    Ah, the barely tenable memories of downloading this game from a BBS over my 2400 bps modem and then blasting away at whatever you blast away at in this game.

  6. icarussc says:

    Raptor … Ah, Raptor. Now there was a game for a young boy.

  7. GallonOfAlan says:

    The minimum specs on the web page are a larf:

    Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

    Intel Core 2 Duo or higher.

    Minimum 2GB of RAM.

  8. islisis says:

    That method of reviewing must explain where the rest of the text on this site comes from then.

  9. Risingson says:

    I have been a fan of shoot ’em ups since the first coins inserted in Galaxians. I spent a lot of money in Aero Fighters and Raiden series, got obsessed with Tokyo and Typhoon, finished Terra Force and UN Squadron with just one coin.

    And I have never understood what people saw in the rubbish Raptor, the most boring example of the genre, a game I revisit from time to time only to find it miles less imaginative, fun or pretty as Tubular Worlds, Xenon2, Tyrian2000 or ProjectX, the other few shoot em ups I remember inPC. Clearly one of the worse Apogee games.

    • ansionnach says:

      Agreed. Wasn’t a big fan of this one or Raptor. I’d guess that the love for them may be something to do with a limited supply of such games on PC. There were loads of pretty woeful shareware games that were lapped up back them even though they were always a bit rubbish. A lot of them were platformers.

      I remember Tubular World for its graphics, sound and difficulty (never got very far). Felt a lot more like those console games that weren’t on PC, though. Played a lot of Xenon 2 and loved it at the time but I don’t think it’s really that good, either. One game I did like a lot was Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom. Got it on some cover disk, like Raptor, Major Stryker and Tubular Worlds. Think it kept crashing at a certain point on my 386 so I could never finish it. Not going to claim to be anywhere close to a shmup expert but I would say that Stryker was the runt of that litter.

  10. Paracetamol says:

    I recall this being a good game with a pretty good soundtrack for the time. It felt … compact.

  11. Doubler says:

    I still have Mayor Striker on my hard drive, along with a number of other shmups I occasionally return to.

    It’s sad there’s not much life left in this genre, especially if you don’t enjoy bullet hell games.

  12. Bweahns says:

    I remember playing some demo as a young teenager. I think it was on some shareware cd that came with the new family PC, a 486DX 66. Boss! I just watched a video on youtube and memories came flooding back.

  13. dauw says:

    Ahh yeah, I remember playing and beating the shareware version as a little kid. I even have a ton of very inspired spaceship drawings stashed away somewhere. Didn’t know the name of the game until I saw it on here, though.