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Iridion II

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Released: 2003

Genre: Shoot-’em-up

Format reviewed: Game Boy Advance

Publisher: Shin'en Multimedia

Developer: Majesco Entertainment

Submitted by: Jack Craig

From its very inception and eventual release, Iridion II was always destined to be a true classic doomed to an eternity of obscurity; following the commercially damned path already beaten by the decidedly mediocre and critically panned Iridion 3D, (a game which, in itself, was originally supposed to have been a Game Boy Color side-scroller – and would have been a far better affair had Shin’en’s original vision been carried out) Iridion II differs from its earlier, more rudimentary cousin in a multitude of quite prominent ways – and the one that hit home hardest and first was how much better it was than its predecessor in its every aspect.

Pushing the Game Boy Advance’s diminutive hardware to the absolute maximum limits of its functionality with its incredible graphics and sound engines, Iridion II was, inarguably, an utter technical marvel – and, as is inverse to the general norm, plays even better than it looks; sporting classic, vertically-scrolling shoot-’em-up gameplay as opposed to the more AfterBurner-esque tunnel-shooting stylings of the original Iridion 3D, this incredibly underrated sequel manages to utterly and systematically destroy every other handheld shooter with a kind of superbly fluky finesse that little-known European developer Shin’en really shouldn’t have been able to accomplish.
The game’s music, provided by in-house composer Manfred Linzer, is a work of genius in itself; using a custom, proprietary, super-efficient sound engine to afford an insanely high quality of sample-driven synthesis to run in-game along with the pre-rendered FMV backgrounds and ultra-detailed sprites, Iridion II’s fantastic ’80s dance-style soundtrack serves only to further complement the game’s other incredible elements – it’s a catchy, toe-tapping synth-fest that totally revolutionised the way that Game Boy Advance music should be made.
A criminally ignored and highly underrated masterpiece in its own right, Iridion II remains to be one of the single greatest shoot-’em-ups that money can buy, though it was tragically held back by its franchise’s reputation and the mediocrity of its far inferior predecessor – it’s a great shame that such an excellent, innovative, technically superb and generally fun game should be so outright underappreciated.