The Switch is certainly seeing its fair share of Psikyo shoot 'em ups lately. Zero Gunner 2 is the most modern one yet complete with 3D graphics and novel gameplay but does it hold up to the classics?
First of all, it's odd that Zero Gunner 2 released before the first game considering Zero Gunner remains exclusive to Japanese arcades. I personally have never played any games in the series so I jumped at the opportunity to check out this sequel even though I didn't play the original. Anyway, I wasn't expecting it to have 3D graphics so I was impressed right when I booted it up. The visuals look somewhat modern and everything's crystal clear which is great because most 3D shoot 'em ups look too polygonal. Additionally, the stages are diverse, detailed, and animated and the bosses look fantastic, too. On top of all that, the soundtrack is full of upbeat tunes with orchestral elements that'll inspire you to give it your all. In the end, Zero Gunner 2 is one of the best-looking 3D shmups I've ever played and it sounds awesome, too.
Zero Gunner 2 is played by controlling your helicopter of choice in order to take down swarms of enemies and massive bosses across the campaign's seven stages. You do so by shooting your main weapon and unleashing an "option attack" whenever you're in a sticky situation. Your main weapon powers up whenever you collect the appropriate item and you get additional option attack stocks once you fill the energy meter by picking up "E" capsules. All this is standard stuff but where Zero Gunner 2 gets interesting is in its rotation mechanic. Basically, you can rotate your chopper by placing a turn marker in front of you. As long as you keep the button held down, you can freely move about the screen as you rotate around where you placed the marker. This allows you to strategise as you shoot. You can place a marker on an enemy to target them, quickly tap the button to make minor adjustments, or simply place it in the center of the screen if you want to keep spinning around. It's an extremely unique mechanic and very well implemented, too.
Each of the three selectable helicopters plays uniquely with their own basic shots and option attacks which allows you to experiment and pick the best one that matches your play style. Doing so will make working through the stages a lot more enjoyable. Speaking of which, the stages all look unique and the bosses at the end of each are very memorable and rewarding to beat. Therefore, when you complete the campaign, you'll think back at all the cool moments that you just experienced and will likely want to play through it again.
Zero Gunner 2's biggest downside is that the gameplay is super-simple. Once you master the rotation mechanic, all you're left with is mindlessly shooting and unleashing the odd option attack. I wish there were additional shots such as charged attacks to add an extra layer of strategy but that's all there is to it. Also, there is no way to customise the controls which I find very strange considering other Psikyo releases on Switch allow you to. For the record, I would have rather flipped the shot and turn marker buttons. Finally, the campaign is extremely short and can easily be finished in about half an hour. Plus, the fact that there are no extras or leaderboards makes the replay value almost nonexistent. This is too bad because the core gameplay is so fun that you'd want to enjoy it longer.
If you're looking for a unique shoot 'em up then you can't do much better than Zero Gunner 2. The spectacular visuals and strategic rotation mechanic make it a must-have shmup for any genre fan.
- + Enjoyable shooting with a spectacularly implemented rotation mechanic
- + Awesome 3D visuals and great music
- + Memorable stages and bosses
- - For some strange reason, there's no way to configure the controls
- - Extremely short with no extras
- - Gameplay could use a bit more complexity