Upon its western release in late 2010, Paul's Shooting Adventure was a pleasant surprise. It starred a flying baby named Paul, also known as The Ultimate Pacifier, who battled evil alien sea creatures because, hey, why not?
It was a surprisingly fun game with colourful graphics and an upbeat soundtrack, not to mention simple controls and an unexpectedly high level of challenge. In fact, it's probably worth reading our Paul's Shooting Adventure review because just about all of it applies here as well.
In fact, so much of it applies to Paul's Shooting Adventure 2 that they're practically twins, a thematic resonance that carries through to this game's main advancement: the ability for a second player to join in as Paul's similarly superheroic brother.
We'll get the bad news out of the way first: this game is very similar to its predecessor, especially if you intend to play solo. Paul flies around at a touch of D-Pad and fires with the A button. Holding down A will cause Paul to charge his attacks, and L and R cycle through any additional abilities you've picked up along the way. Soar through a stage, defeat a boss and rack up points along the way. So far, so similar, and while that's not an inherently bad thing, it doesn't exactly make this an essential buy for those who have the first game.
Having said that, there are some minor tweaks to the formula (pun intended). For starters, Paul's enemies this time are insect-like, which does serve to provide this game with a pretty distinct visual identity. Taking out an entire wave of insects will net you a bonus or power-up, which you can then use to defeat a boss; power-ups don't carry over to the next stage, however, so use them as you get them. Pressing B will detonate a smart bomb that can help you out when the screen gets overwhelmed with enemies and projectiles, which happens more easily than you might think.
Gone is Paul's ability to transform into a clone of his enemies, and in its place is an increased emphasis on special weapons. These special weapons range from simple throwing stars to arcing hammers to knife-throwing duplicates of Paul himself, and the bosses are difficult enough that you'll need to wield these abilities effectively if you want to succeed.
But by far the biggest change in Paul's Shooting Adventure 2 is found in the two player mode. Using local play, a friend can control Paul's brother and you will both engage in a cooperative blitz through the game. There are three levels of difficulty, and anything above Easy offers a significant challenge. You can't save your game when you're finished playing, but the game will record your top score for each difficulty level.
Apart from that, Paul's Shooting Adventure 2 doesn't deviate much from the original. In a way, that's a good thing, as it means the visuals are just as vibrant and engaging as before, and the soundtrack just as much fun to listen to. The controls are solid and the challenge is there. For those who already own the first game, however, the real value of Paul's Shooting Adventure 2 comes from the multiplayer. If you intend to fly solo, though, expect more of the same.
Paul's Shooting Adventure 2 is a pretty safe bet for fans of the first game. There are some minor gameplay differences, but overall the main draw here is its simultaneous 2-player mode. While this does require two copies of the game, the low price can justify another purchase. It may not move the series very far forward, but it sure is having fun along the way.