Galaxy Force II Review
Posted by Corbie Dillard
Galaxy Force II is another classic Sega arcade shooter that hasn't aged very well.
Galaxy Force II debuted as a Sega arcade release, using the same type of sprite scaling seen in Sega's other arcade title Space Harrier, and basically mimicked 3-D scrolling without the use of actual polygon graphics. While Sega's Saturn console would later get a nearly arcade perfect rendition of the game, Mega Drive owners had to suffice with a less visually appealing home console port. The gameplay was still intact, and the soundtrack was accurately produced, but the visual flair that made the arcade release so impressive was greatly decreased and it hurt the end product's overall appeal massively, although it didn't help that the arcade release wasn't that great to begin with either.
The game play in Galaxy Force II is best described as a cross between Space Harrier and Afterburner. The game features the same "flying into the screen" style of scrolling as both of the aforementioned games, but the overall movement and feel tends to more closely resemble that of Afterburner. You control your ship with the control pad in a "flight-style" setup, which basically means pressing up on the control pad will make your ship drop in altitude and pressing down on the pad will make it ascend in altitude. If this isn't your style, you can always change it in the options menu, and you can adjust the game's difficulty too, if you're so inclined.
You have two types of firepower that can be used against the onslaught of enemy ships. The first type is your standard cannon fire, which proves to be a bit difficult to use since accuracy isn't very stable given the 3-D viewpoint from behind your ship. Luckily your ship also has homing missiles at its disposal, which will prove to be an invaluable asset when you begin to see the heavier barrage of enemy ships. Your ship will automatically target enemy ships that come into view and you can then press the button to fire off a group of missiles at the targeted ships, but since you only have a set number of missiles, it's important to pace yourself while navigating through the level. You'll definitely want to keep some missiles on hand for when you end up inside the enemy fortress.
Your goal in each level is to first traverse the planet's surface in order to make your way to the enemy fortress. Once inside the fortress, you must navigate your way through the tight corridors that tend to be chock full of enemy ships. At the end of the fortress corridor you'll reach the enemy control centre that you must fire missiles at in order to destroy it and move onto the next level.
The control in Galaxy Force II is responsive enough, but the viewpoint from behind your ship can make it very difficult to accurately target enemies with your standard cannon fire. This will cause you to spend much of your time trying to avoid enemy ships in order to conserve your homing missiles for the later parts of the level. It doesn't help that the hit detection can be a bit streaky at times, which can make avoiding these ships a bit frustrating. It's still a playable game, but it could have been much better with a few game play tweaks here and there.
The visuals in Galaxy Force II are actually fairly impressive by Mega Drive standards. Now of course it's not nearly on par with the arcade title, but Sega still managed to cram some fairly impressive 3-D style scrolling into the game and tossed in some very colourful and detailed backdrops to add in even more eye candy. If you haven't played the arcade game, you'll probably appreciate how good the game looks on the console, but fans of the arcade version are likely to find it a bit too stripped-down for their liking.
Musically, Galaxy Force II was never a very impressive package to begin with; even the music and sound effects in the arcade release weren't anything to get excited about. In fact, a better word for the audio presentation would probably be forgettable. It's your typical 16-bit synthesized music and ultimately comes off sounding very generic, even by Mega Drive standards. It's clear that the developers focused most of their attention on the visuals of the game and didn't give the audio experience much thought at all.
Galaxy Force II is basically an average port of a mediocre arcade shooter. The play control feels a bit too loose at times and the repetitive nature of each level tends to make the game lose its appeal far too quickly. If you're a big fan of the arcade release, you might enjoy this Mega Drive port, but you'd be better suited to track down the Saturn version of the game instead. For everyone else, this is one arcade shooter you should probably pass on.