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RELEASE DATE (EU): 1994 GENRE: Vertical Shooter
// review by SoyBomb

Good game... TWO!

Before there was Power Strike II, there was Power Strike GG Aleste, short for "Galvanic Gunner Aleste", supposedly (although I have reason to believe the "GG" stands for "Game Gear", "good game", or "Gross Goiter"). I found it to be a game to be a bit on the dry side, attributed to its less than adventurous overall design and my ability to plow through the entire game with an overpowered homing weapon. It must have resonated with enough shooter fans, however, as the game received a sequel that, unlike the first, was localized outside of Japan, though only in Europe. It was given the title Power Strike II, sharing a name with the Master System release around the same timeframe, though the games are entirely different. Power Strike II is also known as "GG Aleste II: Lance Bird" in Japan... and wow, Lance Bird sounds like the name of a feathered detective.

There isn't as much of a story this time around, but according to the back of the box, "The enemy is planning a major attack on our solar system. You are the best pilot! You must lead the counterattack! Strike now!" Not later, NOW! NOW! In other words, get rid of all the enemies and win the game. Sounds pretty straightforward if you ask me.

Whereas GG Aleste felt like a relative breeze, Power Strike II...was nothing of the sort. I was far worse at it, on par with most vertical shooters of its kind. Instead, things get hectic pretty quickly, with ships and bullets flying all over the place at a far more rapid rate than before. The Homing Weapon (now known as the Hammer Hawk) is overall far smaller and less attracted to enemies than before, meaning you can't rely on it to help you survive the seemingly infinite waves of enemies headed your way. Instead, you have to be constantly keeping your eye on everything around you.

In addition to the Hammer Hawk, our unnamed Japanese fighter hero can also choose from the Neo Napalm Gun (which, believe it or not, shoots napalm bombs), the Delta Form, which creates mini-ships that orbit your own, and the Rising Masher. RISING. MASHER. No, it's not some sort of elevated potato-squashing device; it's a laser. Yeah, not quite as exciting. Unlike the first GG Aleste, you choose which sub-weapon you want before playing, and you simply power up by collecting "P" icons, rather than find sub-weapons as you traverse the levels. Power Strike II also introduces bombs, a feature somewhat sorely lacking from GG Aleste, that causes death, destruction, and funky colour scheme changes all over the screen.

Far more detail, far more action, far more being struck by power.

With great power comes great eye strain, and Power Strike II does its best to keep your visual field occupied. There is always a lot going on, sometimes too much to register at once with ships flying in from both sides simultaneously, their bullets floating about randomly. This is a game of memorization; it throws a lot at you, and your first playthrough, like many games of the Aleste series, could very well be disastrous. The bosses have also upped the ante, particularly the brutal final boss battle that will grow so much hair on your chest, you'll think you've sprouted the Everglades.

At least the game generally looks nice, more so than its predecessor, though the backgrounds whip by so quickly, it's often hard to even notice any finer details. The game handles the action on-screen admirably with little flicker and no notable slowdown, except for when a bomb is exploding (although that may be intentional). Likewise, the music is of typical quality for the Game Gear, filled with upbeat notation and vibes of positivity. Trying to remember any song from the game outside of play, however, is futile.

Power Strike II kicked my behind. It kicked me so hard, I have boot marks on my esophagus. It is not only the technically superior Aleste game on the Game Gear, but it's also the more difficult by a significant margin. Compile obviously learned from the development of GG Aleste that they needed to amp up the difficulty to meet the expectations of the "Aleste" name. If you're looking for a portable shooter that aims to destroy the fabric of your being, this one will do nicely.

Enjoy that hair on your chest.

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