Written by  :  Luis Silva (13622)
Written on  :  Jul 21, 2006
Platform  :  Genesis
Rating  :  4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars4.6 Stars

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Best of the bunch

The Good

It's hard to get started, as there are so many things to choose from. Graphics are now true 16-bit quality, with large, well defined and animated characters, crisp backgrounds and great presentation, of near arcade quality. Some levels include some interesting visuals, such as the foggy Alien House, but for the most part, the style of the game follows the first, except a lot more detailed.

Gameplay, however, was the most improved part, mostly thanks to three things: the larger characters made the playfield smaller and by extension, gameplay faster, the rocket-attack was replaced by a more useful special attack (which doubles in both offense and defense) along a wider array of moves, and finally, names and life bars for everyone. Weapons are also more useful with some characters than with others: Max can make a huge deal of damage with a pipe, while Skate can barely do anything with it. These two characters also add more variety than in the previous game: while Blaze was only a little less strong and a little more fast than the two guys, Skate is lightening fast (and in fact, the only one with the upcoming dash move) but very weak, while Max is... well, saying "a walking battletank" does justice to him.

Music was once again provided by Yuzo Koshiro, and needlessly to say, it is again a wonderful piece of work, both inside the game and on it's own. The man himself considers this one to be his best work, so who are we to disagree ?

The Bad

For some reason, the difficulty level was tweaked down a lot. I sincerely doubt that anyone but a real novice in the genre can finish the game without losing more than a couple of lives in the process. If the players picks Axel, then things get even easier: his "Grand Upper" move is incredibly devastating, able to inflict a load of damage without much risk. One of the most difficult parts in the first game was dealing with the fat fire-breathers, as they were difficult to dodge if you were not ready, and couldn't throw/slam them. Well, now they are easier to dodge, and can throw them at will. It would make sense if Max could, but Skate? I don't think so.

Levels, while now visiting more than a place in each one, lack the traps of the first. The bridge gaps are sealed, and you can't get rid of some of the most annoying punks by "inviting" them to go head-first into the first floor, and the factory is lacking the presses, so most of them only change graphically, all being plain side-scrolling efforts (except the elevators).

The Bottom Line

This second installment in the series does exactly what a sequel should do: find out what was missing or wrong in the first, fix it and improve what was already good. The result is the best in the series, one of the best games of the platform and of the genre, to boot. While it is too easy for pretty much anyone (which only hurts those looking for a challenge), the gameplay goodness combined with the quality graphics and music make up for it. A true classic.