Gunbird 2 was developed by perennial shmup (shoot-em-up) makers Psikyo; maker of cult hits such as Mobile light force, Zero Gunner, and the Sengoku Ace Series (Which was recently revived on the PSP). I was eager to see how well they could do on the 2D powerhouse that is the Dreamcast. I was unfortunately disappointed.
It's a damn good thing that shooter's graphics tend to be ageless and look at the least decent years down the road, because this game makes ZERO attempts to take advantage of the Dreamcast's power. One has to wonder about the decision to wait two years to release it for a console, as it's age shows (in fact, it appears to actually look worse than the arcade version) in the end though it is passable. Most of the enemies and levels are bright and mildly creative with mix between steam punk, futuristic, and fantasy. Character design is not in this game's favor, the characters are the stereo typical anime staple; blonde witch thingy, vampire, robot, fat mystical guy, etc.
The story is a about a paragraph's worth of talking heads. Story never was important to an arcade game though. I guess I can't fault them too much for that.
Gunbird 2's game play is functional. That's it. Functional. There is no depth nor strategy, just power your gun up as high as you can and try not to get shot. I realize this is acceptable for an over head shooter, but way back in the 16 bit era games like M.U.S.H.A. on the Genesis brought more strategy and depth to the table. In fact the weapons system is IDENTICLE to the one in Sengoku Ace Episode 3 (PSP, oh, and better game) I'm not sure which game the developer took the system from, but it proves a lack of creativity on their part.
The sound is bland and boring, I'm almost 100% sure the Sega CD could have done this. Once again I realize it's a two year old port of an arcade game, but the lack of improvement is pitiful (I hope it's a lack of improvement, if this is an improvement then I don't even want to go there).
Gunbird 2 does have a couple bright spots though. The co-op is very enjoyable with a friend, adding a tiny amount change to the non existent story. They did make the game playable in three different screen styles; include one where you turn your TV on its side Ikaruga-style, which is the best way to play.
At first I had mix feelings ... I love shooters after all. After much thought, I've realized that this game is sub par. Gunbird 2 can be beat in about 30 minutes, even shorter in co-op where you can fry the bosses way too quickly. So it's not really worth the price of admission. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Dreamcast; there are lots of great shooters to play. Gunbird 2 should be on the bottom of your list.