Genre: shoot-'em-up game
Developer: Majesco Games
Publisher: Majesco Games
Release Date: May 29, 2003
Buy 'IRIDION II': Game Boy Advance
The evil Iridion empire has risen again after over a hundred years of peace. Purging all life from the human outposts on far off planets, it seems they will stop at nothing until humanity is nothing more than a faint memory. Earth is too far away to send support yet, so the challenge of destroying the Iridion empire has fallen to one lone ship. The question is, is that ship out of fuel, or does it have one good fight left in it?
Iridion II is the sequel to the GBA launch game, Iridion 3D. Developer Shin'en has scrapped the "3D" from the title with good reason: gone is the behind-the-ship view of the prequel, opting instead for a classic vertical shooter perspective, and (I'll save those of you who are in a hurry some time here) pulled it off with fantastic results.
Like most shooters, Iridion II has a story, but since it plays no part whatsoever in the game, you're probably better off making up your own story about invading aliens who like blowing up stuff almost as much as you…almost. The gameplay's the thing in Iridion, and it's surprisingly deep. Before each stage you're prompted to choose which one of the game's six weapons you want to start off with. These range from a standard straight-shot, to reflecting lasers, to a spread gun, etc. As you progress through levels, you'll find upgrade power-ups which enable you to either activate another of your onboard weapons or upgrade your current one (each weapon has three upgrade levels). This gives a sense of strategy to the gameplay, as you learn which weapons work best for specific stages.
Besides your standard weapons, your ship also has a charge beam and smart bombs. A beam at full charge mows through all the enemies in it's path, while smart bombs are deadly enough for you to only be allowed to carry a maximum of three at a time.
I can't go on without talking about the graphics. Iridion II servers looks amazing. Unlike most vertical shooters where the view is strictly a 2D, top-down affair, Iridion II has a pseudo-3D feel. You genuinely feel like you're flying though a canyon, or a space station mining satellite. Objects grow larger as the screen scrolls, giving you a better sense of perspective. It's not much, but little touches like these give the game a unique feel of its own.
The game's one downfall is that the save system requires a password. Don't count on beating the game in one sitting either: the game is divided into 5 galaxies, each with 3 planets you have to liberate. The levels aren't a cakewalk, either: if you get through them without losing at least one ship, you're lying.
Iridion II doesn't skimp on extras, either. Any levels you've completed in Story mode can be revisited in Arcade mode. Once you complete Story mode, you unlock a gallery (full of pictures of the enemies and bosses seen in the game) and a challenge mode which is basically a boss-rush mode. Upon completing challenge mode, you're given a specific code to enter at the Iridion II website to see how your skills stack up to those of people around the world. Finally, after you complete challenge mode, you unlock the jukebox, which lets you listen to all the sounds and sound effects from the game. The songs are all of the upbeat, techno variety which suits the game very well, although some songs sound a little too cheery for blasting aliens.
"I" seems to be the letter of the day for shooters on Nintendo systems. With Ikaruga on Gamecube, and now Iridion II for Game Boy Advance, shooter fans have plenty to keep them occupied for a good, long time.
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