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Zero Gunner 2 for Nintendo Switch (Switch) artwork

Zero Gunner 2 for Nintendo Switch (Switch) review

"Vertical shooting bliss."

I haven't played every Psikyo project ever released quite yet, and I probably never will, but that just means you could tell me Zero Gunner 2 for Nintendo Switch is the best title the company ever released and I would totally believe you. First made available in 2001 in arcades and on the Sega Dreamcast around the same time, the original game is a visual stunner that still pleases in 2018.

The story is that-- well, scrap that. I'm not sure what the story is, exactly, and I can't work up the energy to care. You're flying big choppers through the sky, shooting down planes and mechs and trains on rails and all the sort of targets the best sci-fi shooters seem to have in endless supply, all while guitars wail and deadly shrapnel clutters the screen. It's shooter bliss.

Zero Gunner 2 for Nintendo Switch (Switch) image

There are three craft available for your selection: orange, yellow and blue. One fires a focused shot. Another unleashes a twin blast. The last one strikes with a pulsing twin charge. You can enhance the damage your shots inflict by picking up the P icons enemies routinely drop, and in a jam you have what I guess a person might call "specials": overpowered attacks that unleash a barrage of missiles or pods that stay by your side and enable you to unleash the sort of Armageddon that will quickly fell even the heartiest of adversaries.

You also have the ability to start flying at an angle, for those times when your enemies aren't content to drift lazily into view from the top of the screen. Sometimes, your added maneuverability really matters. In one memorable scene, you loop in circles, firing at a foe that tries to catch you at a disadvantage by shooting from your flank. Your dance through the skies creates a spectacle for anyone who might be watching from somewhere below. It's intense in all the right ways.

Zero Gunner 2 for Nintendo Switch (Switch) image

I suppose Zero Gunner 2 is a score chaser. I say that because it actually doesn't feel brutally difficult and that fact is bound to leave a certain portion of the game's audience asking "Well, then why should I play?" I myself started by playing on the "Child" setting, an unspoken admission that I tend not to get more than halfway the typical Psikyo shooter before it starts feeding me such a steady diet of death that I begin to lose interest. In this case, selling myself short was a mistake. I didn't even lose my first chopper until something like halfway through the campaign. So then I played through again on the default "Arcade" setting, which is 5 out of 7 notches up the difficulty scale, and that option felt just about perfect. Enemies still spattered the screen with bullets, but I felt capable of actually dodging most of them. The highest difficulty setting is a bit much for my tastes, but that's okay; it's not built for mediocre pilots such as myself.

My real point isn't that I suck at shooters, though some would say I do. My point is that the game accommodates all manner of skill levels, even before you head to the menu to treat yourself to nine choppers and unlimited continues.

Zero Gunner 2 for Nintendo Switch (Switch) image

Usually, this is the point of the review where I would talk about how I like playing on the Nintendo Switch so I can rotate the system 90 degrees and enjoy the game played at its original aspect ratio. But I didn't need to take that step this time around, because the action filled up my HD television set and looked beautiful doing it. There were no bars to either side of the play area, filled with information and character of concept artwork that I would ignore. Instead, I had the whole screen as my playground.

I enjoyed being able to move about more freely in that space. The freedom of mobility is exhilarating. And there's no shortage of activity, so the sky never feels empty. The chaotic mess I alluded to near the start of this review contributes to the sense that you're flying through a world that is actually alive and wants to kill you, rather than letting you soar over it. Screenshots can't do justice to that design, but I really felt absorbed as I played.

If you've been thinking about downloading a Psikyo classic or two on Nintendo Switch, I heartily recommend making Zero Gunner 2 your first choice. It's everything I look for in a vertical shooter: pretty, loud, fair... For a casual shooter fan like me, it's about as good as the vertical shooter gets. In that sense, perhaps you're better off saving it for later as a special treat. Just make sure you do get around to it eventually. Odds are good you'll be glad you did.


honestgamer's avatar
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 07, 2018)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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