This up-scrolling shooter from Capcom is frustrating and brilliant in a lot of different ways. The first thing you notice, is the fact that on a graphical level, Gunbird 2 would look more at home on the Saturn or PlayStation. The Dreamcast version of Gunbird 2 looks worse than the arcade of the original Gunbird, which hit the arcades back in 1994. Capcom has made absolutely no effort whatsoever to make any use of the Dreamcast’s graphical might. The sprites are poorly animated, with no attempt made to make them aesthetically pleasing.
On the other hand it plays superbly. Capcom cut its shoot-em-up teeth on the brilliant Side Arms back in 1986. Forget R-Type, Side Arms was THE definitive shooter, taking the power-up mantle from Konami’s Nemesis and Salamander series. This pedigree is in full effect in Gunbird 2. The power-up system is excellent, with bonus items split into standard fire, power-up, coins and smart bombs. Your craft begins with a pretty measly amount of forward firepower but with a few power-ups under your belt, you can pretty much engulf the entire screen with bullets. As has become standard now, your primary fire operates in a variety of different ways. As well as just shooting forward, occasionally more powerful ammunition is released. You can also charge up your primary fire by holding and releasing the button, R-Type style.
Gunbird 2 is controlled using three main buttons. Primary fire, close range attack and smart bomb. The close range attack, when activated, emits a powerful prong from the ship, about the length of three ships. Smart bomb kills all minor enemies on the screen, causes damage to major enemies and bosses and turns all enemy bullets into candy and other goodies. The bosses in Gunbird 2 are bog standard shoot-em-up bosses, each turning into another craft once destroyed, until it is finally killed off for good.
If you are fan of proper arcade shooters, own a Dreamcast and have some spare cash, make sure you get a copy of this fantastic title.