Gunbird 2 developed by Psikyo & published by Capcom, is a 2D vertical scrolling shooter, released in Japanese arcasdes in 1998, running on Psikyo SH2 hardware. In 2000 it was ported to Dreamcast, which adds an exclusive character, in the form of Vampire Savior's Morrigan. This addition would be found in all subsequent home ports. Japan & Europe saw the release of compilation Gunbird: Special Edition in 2004-2005. On the 17th of December 2009 it was announced that Gunbird 2 would be coming to PSP as Gunbird 2 Remix; this game had since been canceled. In 2016, Gunbird 2 received and Andriod/ iOS port and the Nintendo Switch received a port of Gunbird 2 in June 2018.
The Gunbird series is defined by it's playful mix of eccentric characters, colorful pre-rendered backgrounds, and a generally bizarre, lighthearted tone. Gunbird's story revolves around each character's desire to attain the three elements needed to synthesize the 'Almighty Potion'. Brief story scenes for each character are told between levels, and unique overlapping plot lines between characters are exclusive to co-op playthroughs of the game.
Those familiar with Psikyo's shooting titles will notice the similar structural design choices of Gunbird 2. Stages are selected randomly from a pool of four, with each subsequent stage increasing in difficulty, resulting in more dense and varied enemy firing patterns. Stages four through seven are set levels. Clearing the game without the use of continues will reward the player with access to the second loop. After the fighting the final boss the player is asked if the would like medicine for someone else, or for themselves. Each answer results in a different ending scene, though if the player chooses the medicine for someone else, the second loop will begin. This first stage of the loop will be that which the player did not receive in the random drawing from the initial pool of four. Similar to the Strikers 1945 series, levels end with fights against multi-stage bosses, some of whom have firing patterns quite similar to their 1945 boss counterparts.
Gunbird 2 like many Psikyo games falls under the criticism that in the late game bullet patterns become too fast and cannot be dealt with on reaction. Patterns must be memorized and practiced by the player. Bullet patterns must be handled somewhat differently than the more methodical micro dodging and intricate weaving of contemporary maniac shooters, like those of Cave or Shanghai Alice.
Bombs as in most shooting games, are used in a pinch, to clear the screen of enemy fire. The player begins with two bombs, and will find one bomb dropped by a destroyed enemy on each stage. Gunbird 2 also adds a "Nice Bomb!" bonus, rewarding players with a multiplier when a bomb is used when a bullet is overlapping a characters sprite but is not in contact with their hitbox. While bombing is encouraged for casual play, it should be noted that players will receive a bonus upon second loop completion for each bomb still in their possession.
In the lower left of the U.I players will find their power gauge. This meter builds as enemies are destroyed, and has the potential to reach up to Lvl. 3. With each level, players can spend this meter either by performing a charge shot, by holding the fire button, or by using the close attack button. Close attack's are used for high damage, often used high level play to quickly defeat bosses, at the risk of being in close proximity to enemies. Charge attacks are used often against larger enemies, their specific timing and placement often netting the player with additional enemies. With higher levels of the power gauge, the charge attacks gain additional attributes and higher damage output. Also of note, players can score "Tech Bonuses" when close attacks and charge shots are used to attack specific parts of a boss.
Since each character possesses a unique set of primary and secondary fire, close attacks & charge shots, certain characters are favored for their universal abilities and utility.
* Tavia's melee attack cancels bullets, which is exclusive to her, an invaluable asset for survival run strategies.
Destroying specific ground based enemies will cause them to drop coins, and collecting these coins will net you 200 points. The trick is that collecting the coin during the few frames of their rotation animation in which the coin is flashing whit, will not only net you additional points, but will begin a score multiplier. This multiplier can be found as a gold number underneath your score, and will increase for each coin collected during the flash frame of the animation. The coin multiplier carries across levels, and will be broken, either when the player misses a coin, or collects a coin when it is not flashing. This is the key to scoring, and consequently structures how runs are planned out on scoring runs.
At a certain point of each level, if the player is positioned in a specific location, a gem head will appear. As long as fire is focused on this head, it will spout gems, each green worth 1000 points and the final blue gem 4000 points.
*The Gem Head is also found in Psikyo's final shooter Dragon Blaze.
End Game Bonuses
Upon completion of the second loop the player nets additional bonuses.
100,000 for every life
100,000 for every bomb
- Morrigan and Aine can be selected by highlighting the random question mark and pressing up or down at the character select screen.
- The final boss Potion God is based off the Japanese pharmaceutical mascot elephant Sato-Chan.
- Gem Head Locations for first four stages.
Note that these all require the screen to have scrolled a specific incriminate for Gem Head to activate.
- Venice, After defeating the submarine, past the diagonal bridge, position character on the left side, under stairs overlapping far left post in the water.
- Western Town, After destroying the large sign, position character, above the middle balcony window.
- Japanese Village, After crossing the bridge, position character directly atop the bridges right lamp post.
- Castle, At the gate of the castle, below the moat, position character atop the right tower, above to bottom round strut.