Title: Vulcan Venture/Gradius 2
Rom Player: MAME
Reviewer: kasketdarkfyre

Synopsis: -The Game Play-

The game play is pretty much what youíve been accustomed to in other horizontal space shooters, in which you pilot a fighter craft through several different stages of enemy annihilating madness and mayhem in an attempt to save the galaxy from the clutches of evil aliens. Through your adventures, youíll find weapon power ups that will allow you to add onto your little flying ship of death with the likes of lasers and whatnot, but the true focus of the game doesnít just revolve around blowing enemies up as it does making sure that your ship is a true power house! Defeating groups of enemies allows you to gain small power ups that will effect different aspects of your ships performance.

Through this performance, youíll be able to work with a ship that is drastically different than the one you started out with, therefore changing the game play ever so slightly as you progress through the stages. While this doesnít seem to be too much of a change from the normal, everyday space shooters that you may play, the innovation with a working attribute system is something that was relatively unheard of back in the mid-eighties! Challenge throughout the game, and the replay value that you may find with this title is also extremely high, in which you have to have the right reflexes, and the right power ups in place before you go speeding into certain stages. Without these power ups, you may find that the game becomes relatively impossible to surpass

The control in Gradius is yet another piece of the puzzle in which it changes constantly. While the game doesnít necessary have anything too advanced attached to it, youíll find that with the gain of other power ups, your ship will change in the way that it speeds along! This will constantly test your ability to keep an eye on your ship, in which it can be rather difficult to speed through the waves of enemy fighters if your ship is moving faster than you can compensate for. Again, this another instance of something that had not been introduced yet into the genre, and during its time, this was about as good as it got for the way that the game played. The level of skill that is required to control the game is nothing however, and anyone of any skill level can learn just how to move and control the game without having to resort to some sort of advanced schooling on how to play games of this type!

-The Visuals

Visually, Gradius II is a slightly more upgraded version over the original. Instead of having mostly flat black backgrounds, there are plenty of places where bright color and vivid enemy designs come through. Youíll find that the game doesnít really focus on the visuals here though as the series does in the later games, but there is enough of the original feel to keep you interested in the overall game. From the fire pits to the huge open space fields, youíll have plenty of weapons effects, explosions and huge bosses to keep your field of vision fulfilled. However, the visuals are dated in a way, and you may find that looking at the simplicity that the game offers allows you to retake a look at the way that games such as these were created.

-The Audio-

Audio wise, the game music has itís high points {such as the first, second and fourth stage} and itís low points {third and fifth stage} but all of the stage music comes together nicely and really applies the feeling of urgency and adrenaline throughout the entire game. Youíll find that the lack of repeating goes a long way in saying something about the way that the game sounds, although some of the sound effects are lack luster in the way that they are presented! Some of the shining moments in the sound effects though, come through in the most interesting ways, with the main point being when youíve been shot down. There is nothing more impressive {although aggravating because of it} then hearing the explosion of your ship go down after taking a barrage of damage!

-The Verdict-

Though this game is better known as Vulcan Venture, the fact that it is another one of the Gradius games makes it worth playing simply because of the difficulty level involved. You might find that the game is dated a little too much for your liking in light of what we now have, but is still fun if you like a good challenge. The visuals, though upgraded slightly and the audio are pretty much the same as the first game of the series, though the control and the game play are just as tough to work with, if not tougher than the first. Worth a buck in quarters to play, Gradius II should be worth a look and a few minutes of your time to play through an awesome series.

Best Cheats: Nothing Entered

Game Play: 7
Graphics: 8
Music/Sound: 9
Originality: 8
Overall Rating: 8

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