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Score: 8.0 / 10
Although it sounds like it belongs on the
Periodic Table of Elements, Iridion II (I2) is actually a nifty,
quasi-3D, scrolling shooter – but with an unwelcome throwback to simpler
That throwback comes in the form of passwords given at the close of each
level. Instead of the game automatically “saving” your progress, I2
gives you a password that you have to enter before you can pick up where
you left off. This was a feature annoying 10-years ago and it’s even
more frustrating and aggravating now. It can’t have escaped anyone’s
attention that the GBA is a mobile platform, which means to me “catching
me without a pen to write down the password.” This forces you to borrow
a pen and scribble it on the handiest part of your body (hopefully, your
own) or try to remember it long enough to
write it down. At first, I enjoyed the hit of nostalgia entering
passwords – but that quickly died. Everything else I2 does it enjoyable
if somewhat standard.
After the insufferable Story mode, with its passwords, the Arcade mode
is a welcome feature (even if you have to enter a password since they’re
available after completing the levels in Story). Finishing a level in
the Arcade mode gives you a code that can be entered at the I2 website
(www.iridion2.com) allowing for online rankings. This is also applicable
to Challenge mode where you face off against waves of Boss ships. This
is a cool feature and one that I hope catches on because there’s nothing
like having bragging rights.
But on the Boss battles, they provide a solid challenge if only by the
shear number of on-screen bullets. It takes 3 or 4 seconds to recognize
the attack pattern and exploit it. It doesn’t make the battles a
cakewalk but it does draw them out for longer than expected, especially
if your smart bomb inventory is zero.
Weapons can make or break a space shooter.
I have good memories of the classic Truxton even though it only had
three weapon types. I2 sports five different upgradeable weapons but
only three seem to be of any use. But unlike Truxton, you can switch
weapons on the fly to suit the situation. The weapons themselves range
from the Swarm Gun to the Seeking Laser to the Radial Gun. You can also
charge up your ship to unleash a powerful bolt of energy. The charged
bolt does not take on different characteristics for each weapon type,
which is too bad because I can see how each would be super-charged.
The levels, or in this case, planets, are mostly straightforward with
only a few surprises to keep you on your toes. However, the roster of
enemy units is extensive and they each have their own attack routines.
Surprisingly, I2’s music is quite good. You wouldn’t pump it through
your stereo – although with the GBA Player connected to the GameCube you
can – but it’s good. The big and bright visual side of things is good,
too. It’s impressive the amount of onscreen action that can unfold
without slowdown. The backgrounds have a 3D feel to them and enemies get
bigger as they approach (and your craft gets smaller when you zip to the
top of the screen) but there’s no vertical axis to worry about as the
world slowly cruises by.
As far as games go, I2 places above “time wasters” on a ranking
continuum. It offers some decent old-school action and the web stats but
the old-school passwords kick it in the teeth.