The arcade shoot 'em up ports keep on coming and here's a classic from the turn of the century. The original Gunbird may have been a bit too simple but does this sequel offer anything new and exciting?
Gunbird 2's core gameplay should be familiar to anyone who has ever played an arcade shmup as you soar through clouds of projectiles while shooting at enemy forces. Although this is all tried and true stuff, there are a handful of additional mechanics that you can try and master in order to get higher scores and topple the tough bosses. For starters, the power bar from Strikers 1945 II is back which allows you to perform special abilities such as a melee and charge attack whenever certain thresholds are met. Collecting score medals is even an interesting dynamic considering they offer more points when you collect them as they shine. Trying to time when to do this while chaining a bunch together and getting a huge score boost is satisfying stuff. Last but not least, if you activate a bomb while having some bullets graze you, you'll earn a massive score boost. In short, the core gameplay may be familiar but these additions will definitely appeal to hardcore genre fans.
Just like the original, Gunbird 2 is a colourful and upbeat game. The characters have strong personalities and the short cutscenes that play between stages and after the campaign are full of hilarious moments that'll make you wonder if they were even translated properly. The stages are distinct enough from each other as they present unique assortments of mechanical enemies that are a blast to shoot down. Meanwhile, the soundtrack is fantastic and sounds like it would belong in the world of Mega Man 8 with its bouncy and catchy melodies. Overall, Gunbird 2's fun-filled world makes it an enjoyable game to either play or observe.
As with most Psikyo shoot 'em ups, Gunbird 2 includes an array of selectable characters. Each one features their own play style so experimenting to see what they're capable of is great fun. The only two characters from the original are Marion and an upgraded Valnus who is now known as Valpiro (unfortunately, not Milf 2000). Other characters include Alucard (not the same dude from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night), a guy on a flying carpet named Hei-Cob, the jetpack-riding Tavia, and a secret character in the form of Aine (who is also known as Flush in Samurai Aces and Ayin in Tengai). Thankfully, there's a collection of tough and memorable transforming bosses that'll put this diverse cast of characters to the ultimate test. Trust me; they get super-challenging.
Even with the cool scoring mechanics and special shots, Gunbird 2 still doesn't do quite enough to forge its own identity. This is especially true considering it borrows heavily from other Psikyo shmups. Unlike Dragon Blaze which offers some truly original gameplay features such as riding and dismounting dragons, Gunbird 2 merely feels like a concoction of "been there, done that" gameplay elements. Finally, do I really have to say this again? Gunbird 2 (just like almost every arcade port nowadays) has absolutely no special features. Seeing as it's such a short game that you can easily finish in one sitting, bonus content would have went a long way.
Gunbird 2 is a huge step up from the first game but it still doesn't do enough to stand out in such an oversaturated genre. That being said, what's here is a challenging classic shoot 'em up with intricate scoring mechanics that'll appeal to hardcore genre fans.
- + Solid shmup gameplay with plenty of intricate mechanics to master
- + Upbeat music and sense of humour
- + Great selection of characters and bosses
- - Gameplay doesn't do enough to stand out
- - Pretty short campaign with no extras