Galaxy Force 2 Review
October 8, 2015
Galaxy Force 2 on the 3DS Eshop is a spruced up port of a arcade title from the 80`s.
Very similar to After Burner and Space Harrier it’s a pseudo 3D on-rails shooter with a pumping retro soundtrack and balls to the wall action for it’s short duration.
This is one of the best ports I’ve seen in a long time. Not only would a ancient arcade title like this be notoriously difficult to port but they’ve accomplished it and went above and beyond the call of duty. The game has a lot of supplementary additions which help give some much needed replayability.
Options are offered to the player to help adjust the levels of their shield, energy and the difficulty. Obviously arcade titles are well known for their intentionally designed brutality (in order to suck up quarters) but the new options make getting into this game a joy. Playing with all the settings on the easiest options makes the game a joyful breeze, whereas on the other end of the spectrum it’ll have your palms sweating.
A playthrough only last roughly 20 minutes, but its such a short lived intense blast that you’ll feel compelled to replay it to master it. Similar to Starfox and arcade shooters of old.
Sega’s arcade development team had a lot of practise making these types of game, and Galaxy Force 2 is shining accomplishment to their roster. The game is silky smooth and controls perfectly with the 3DS. The world is made using a complex array of sprites scaling toward the screen to give you the impression of zooming through alien planets. Imagine if you will, the way that sprites zoom and rotate on the SNES but pump that up to 11.
It’s a style which suits the stereoscopic 3D extremely well. Experiencing stereoscopic 3D this is extremely sharp and tactile.
The gameplay is a paced mix between movement, shooting and aiming lock on missiles to down multiple targets at once to rack up big combos.
Simply saying `movement` as a gameplay premise might sound underwhelming but the game moves at an impressive speed, plus there’s sequences where the game forces you to choose from multiple paths, lots of vertical and horizontal obstacles to dodge, frantic enemy attacks and tight corridors to skilfully swerve your way through. The game is a beautifully designed balancing act between all these elements. The pacing supplements all these elements perfectly. Plus, you’ll be surprised at just how wide the paths your funnelled down can be. It’s not painfully linear.
As for shooting, there’s little bullets you can autofire directly in front of you and another button which will fire multiple rockets at targets you’ve locked onto by moving your cursor over them before firing.
It’s a tried and true formula for an arcade shooter and it’s used well here. Lining up dozens of rockets to take down turrets on a enemy gunship to cause the whole thing to come crashing down is a visceral delight.
The enemy roster is superbly paced. Every level has their unique set of baddies to shoot down, and they all have unique characteristics.
My favourite part of the game is the openings, they do an excellent job of getting you hyped and setting up the scene. The lava planet level has you scaling on a platform down from a ship before firing you off at top speed, dodging lava trails streaking through space. Or the final stage, has you skilfully swerving through a psychedelic multicoloured tiled tunnel.
Like rainbow road meets independence day.
It’s a small touch but I love that each level begins uniquely. Some have you already in motion, some are moved via levers and platforms to get into launch position and then there are the aforementioned tunnels. It’s a really small thing to note, but it shows the attention to detail present and how much individual care went into each stage. I love this design philosophy of arcade games where you have to jam pack in as much fun as possible in a short amount of time.
The soundtrack is really jamming. It nails the 80`s arcade atmosphere perfectly (funny that) lots of funky riffs and even some iconic compressed audio dialogue.
The port itself is worthy of some more praise. Sega have been nailing it with their 3D classics range of titles. There are options to have the game displayed in a arcade cabinet. You can have the game world rotate and tilt like how the physical arcade unit moved around. 2 versions of the game are present, the original which lacks transparency on sprites and a few unimportant visual downgrades and the preferred “special” version which the game is defaulted to. One thing which confused the hell out of me, the ending sequence on the arcade mode lacked music. Which made me sad because the ending jingle is perfectly triumphant and wistful.
Have a listen. Soak in that atmosphere.
The game is a perfect pick up and play title for Nintendo’s handheld. I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone regardless of skill level. The only reservations I would bring up are it’s value per dollar (pick it up in a sale if you can) and the genre. If you aren’t a fan of arcade shooters then this wont change your mind.