This is good and clean bullet hell fun
Bombastic bullets, bombs, and special attacks. You’re getting a taste of everything in the wild vertical shooter Gunbird 2 from shoot-’em-up practitioner Psikyo. Whether that taste is enough to whet your appetite for further shmup adventures is another story, one I believe is worth at least reading.
Gunbird 2 is your average vertical shooter in that it subscribes to bullet hell environments. There are seven characters to choose from, each with their own motivations for capturing three mystical elements and presenting them to their god. All of them fly around various stages in the Gunbird world, blowing up enemies and taking on the boss Shark and her cronies Blade and Gimmick of the Queen Pirates. The story is simple to get into and won’t take up too much of your time through static screens explaining the situation at hand.
It’s easy to understand the mechanics as well. Each character has five attacks: Primary, secondary, charge, melee, and super weapon. The primary weapon is either a concentrated or spread shot with all other weapons specific to the character in animation. It’s fun to try all of the characters to see how their weapons animate and behave, and it’s important to as well, because there is strategy involved. Knowing when to initiate a super weapon is crucial for maintaining combos and saving yourself or your teammate if you’re playing alongside someone else. The attacks are all assigned to buttons so you don’t have to do too much to move around and attack. It’s simplistic and yet chaotic at times, but it’s fun chaos.
The presentation is gorgeous while you’re dodging enemies and getting shot from all directions. The color palette is beautiful and the character animation shines. And, yes, even though Psikyo carried over Morrigan’s dog-tired sprite from Darkstalkers it still works here. You immediately know who she is, and it doesn’t look to terrible against the backdrops of bullet hell. The other characters look good for late ’90s animation. While the animation is good, the soundtrack is passing, if not a bit late ’90s mediocre. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t standout. A single track caught our attention, which is OK. Not all shoot-’em-ups get to be Galaga Arrangement or Gradius.
Overall, Gunbird 2 is a good vertical shooter in a crowded genre populated by heavy hitters. It shoots its way to the middle of the pack, and while it won’t knock your socks off, it’s got replay value and charm built into its laser.