Parent Talk: The ESRB appropriate rates Alpha Mission II E for everyone.
Plays Like: Any vertical space shooter.
Review Basis: Played arcade mode on the PS3, and tried online co-op.
Details: PS3/$8.99; PSP/$6.99.
What’s This About?: Originally titled ASO II: Last Guardian, it was strangely renamed for North American. ASO stands for Armored Scrum Object, which sounds awesome doesn’t it? Alpha Mission II is your typical vertical space shooter where players shoot everything on screen, bomb enemies on the ground and progressively collect power-ups.
What It’s Remembered For:
- Vast superiority to the original pre-Neo Geo arcade classic. The gameplay was tighter, the ASO moved quicker, and it was all around a much better game.
- Bad power-ups. Not only must you collect power-ups in a certain order to pull off omega special moves, but the purple ones actually downgrade your spacecraft. Talk about tricky! The level of strategy involved is excellent without ever becoming annoying.
- The armor protects you. Collect enough parts to form the armor addition to your ship, and you may take one hit. Then the armor is gone and you need to collect the pieces again. If you can maintain the armor, your firepower strengthens, which makes acquiring it worthwhile.
- Currency. You collect G while flying around the levels. Before moving on, there’s the opportunity to purchase armor power-ups for your vessel. Again, the strategy here was really something.
- Details galore. If only I could show you video of this bad boy in action. SNK is known for adding tons of detail to their sprites, and Alpha Mission II is no exception. I challenge anyone to find another 1991 shooter that matches it.
Anything Else You Need To Know?
(Note that all Neo Geo Station games support PSN play, PSP play, region-selecting options for blood and added bounciness, visual smoothers, save states, bug editors, and command lists.)
- The online co-op works surprisingly well. I wholeheartedly recommend everyone who purchases this game to get their butts online.
Bottom Line: Who Should Download This?
When I review Alpha Mission of the PSN Minis I’ll flat out say it doesn’t hold up to today’s high standards. We expect shooters to be quick and responsive, but the original is neither. That’s not the case with Alpha Mission II. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre. It’s an all-around excellent shooter, with online co-op. What’s not to like about that?