There are as many Japanese shooters as there are grains of sand on the Earth's beaches. To play every shooter would be a futile waste of this white-wash singular life we somehow have. So why not focus on the few that are certainly worth recommendation? I hear the Costa del Sol is great this time of year. Oh, sorry, you meant shooters.
I have this story about Gunbird 2 I like to tell. Imagine that I'm twelve, I'm over a hundred miles from home, and I'm being dragged through a shopping mall by my uncle I've only known existed for half a year. Naturally, I'm not happy. I already played Space Invaders on the Game Boy Advance to death. I'm miserable, and I want to go home.
There's a GAME store in the mall. We walk in, and there's this bin of Dreamcast games near the front. The console is obviously not selling well, or as well as was envisioned. Chu Chu Rocket, Sonic Adventure, ugh, Pen Pen Triicelon... And then, near the bottom, Gunbird 2. My eyes light up. A gorgeous anime styled cover, crazy looking screenshots on the back. I bought it on a whim.
And that's when my love for shooters bloomed. Gunbird 2 got me into the genre. With its silly jokes about fat people, sexual preferences, age difference relationships, and its cute girls, bunny rabbits, sexual deviance and perverted old men, the game resonated with me. Yes, at twelve. Shut up.
It just doesn't take itself too seriously, and it could be why I don't take myself too seriously either. A game where you can play as the son of Dracula, a witch, a robot, a chubby Aladdin... and you spend 90% of the time getting killed by waves of bullets. Where do I sign?
Well, I sure understood it in my awkward teenage years.
By the way, the Dreamcast version of Gunbird 2 was published by Capcom, and contains a full playable cameo from Morrigan, pin-up girl of the Darkstalkers series. Though to say she comes from the Darkstalkers series is a sick joke these days, most players probably know her from Marvel vs. Capcom. If you're going to bring back Darkstalkers, now would be a good time, Capcom! Morrigan's cameo isn't just delegated to a simple player character, because she also has a combination ending for every character, cementing her an a believable part of the game's story.
I want to briefly touch on the game's main antagonist (and who wouldn't?), a buxom space pirate with two ridiculous-looking assistants. They're usually a pushover, but they will always be back, sometimes twice in the one stage. Persistent blighters, but also a core component of the game's lunatic charm.
With its endings, Gunbird 2 is insanely replayable. At the time, Internet-enabled players could appreciate a worldwide ranking system, but of course such features are long defunct. The Dreamcast edition features more voice files and an artwork gallery loaded with concept art, in-game illustrations, and promotional art.
I said this was a game that doesn't take itself seriously — gather the elements "Sun", "Moon", and "Stars", bring them to the "Potion God", and get a magic potion that grants any wish? Most of the endings are "be careful what you wish for" scenarios, and they're all hilarious. I honestly couldn't fault the game on any of its aspects, even the rock hard difficulty. I'm so glad I picked this game up, as even now it could have been a game I never had the chance to experience. Twelve year-old me, you at least did something right.