Damn, this game is good. The first one was great of course, but suffered from being a bit too limited in scope - it was great for a quick blast but the fact that there was really only one game mode worth playing (the other being a retro take on the same thing) made long sessions unlikely. The sequel resolves this by including 6 different game modes, with competitive and co-operative multiplayer variations thrown into the mix.
All the game modes are fun, and all quite different, with the possible exception of ‘Evolved’ and ‘Deadline’, which are variations on a theme; the former being ended by losing all your lives, the latter giving you a fixed time limit. The addition of new enemy types, and the genius of the ‘gates’, which both reflect shots (giving you extra points if you hit things with the reflections), and give you a bonus if you fly through them (destroying nearby enemies), but include the twin dangers of lethal points on either end and that they can lure you into flying into difficult situations to chase a bonus. Definitely a great risk / reward system. They’ve also changed the multiplier system, basing it on collecting ‘geoms’ from vanquished enemies, and it has no upper limit, leading to multiple-hundred multipliers if you’re good. It really does separate the men from the boys, and I can only look on in awe at some of the scores in my friend list (Falagard, how the hell?). This surely does harken from the arcade machine era.
‘King’ involves only being able to shoot while inside ‘bubbles’ which decay as soon as you enter them, ‘Pacifism’ is a grueling mode where you can’t shoot, and can only destroy enemies by flying through gates (incredibly tricky), ‘Waves’ is a continuous onslaught of waves of ‘rocket’ enemies that travel from edge of the arena to the other in great lines that you have to frantically shoot holes in to survive, and ‘Sequence’ is a series of setpiece levels that you just have to survive, destroying all the enemies in 30 seconds, and feature some of the most outrageously intimidating enemy sequences since Robotron 2084. If you’re not squealing like a girl by level 5 as you desperately bolt for cover, you’re clearly on some kind of chill-out medication.
This is easily my favourite arcade game so far, finally edging out Pac Man Championship Edition (a stellar game too - buy it). If this was 1982 you could put this in a cabinet and take it down to some public area and just watch it devour people’s money insatiably for weeks. Having just watched King of Kong recently (great film if you’re a retro game geek in need of some nostalgia) it seemed highly appropriate. Now we get to pay a mere £6.80 for unlimited number of plays - we’re so spoiled. Highly recommended.