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Gunbird 2

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Released: 2000

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Dreamcast

Publisher: Capcom

Developer: Psikyo

Submitted by: Phil Abel

Gunbird 2 wasn’t the first Psikyo game that I owned, but it was definitely the one that made me a lifetime fan. It was Strikers 1945 II that first introduced me to Psikyo and I still enjoy playing it to this day, but Gunbird 2 took everything that was good about that game and took it a step further.

Strikers 1945 II had brutally fast bullets, intense multi-part boss battles and some brilliantly detailed stages. What it lacked was a good scoring system. Gunbird 2 delivered everything that Strikers II did but also gave you something more to do than just ‘shoot baddies, collect shinies’. The main scoring mechanic they added was coin chaining. Much like in Strikers 1945 II, you got more points for collecting gold at the precise moment it glinted. However you now received a bonus for every consecutive occasion you managed it. Adding more risk to a game that would already be vindictively hard without making you time all your pick-ups perfectly.
Of course there’s more to this game’s appeal than bare mechanics. It’s got colourfully drawn and animated stages and the same zany sense of humour that the original Gunbird had. It’s just an all round fun game to play even when it’s kicking your ass, which will be most of the time. Although it’s since been surpassed by other Psikyo titles such as Dragonblaze, it’s a truly memorable game and one of my all-time favourite shmups.
The Dreamcast port gives you a straightforward conversion of the arcade original with 60hz support and choice of several screen modes. It also gives you Aine, the hidden character from the arcade version as well as throwing in Morrigan from Darkstalkers as a console only bonus.