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Iridion II

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everybody
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Majesco
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1
Genre: Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

It has been a hundred years since the evil Iridion forces were driven out, but the time has come for another SHN Fighter pilot to take center stage and take out the evil alien menace. Iridion II puts you in one of these fighters with a top-down view that leaves you remembering classics like Centipede and Space Invaders.

The simple, but detailed, artwork put into each world helps to place you in the game as you fly around dodging and destroying enemies. The detail I saw while flying around is above par for the system, and the sound comes through loud and clear.

One of the interesting features put into Iridion is the Music Maker function. At the Start Screen, you can alter the main theme by adjusting the Lead, Chords, Bass and Drums. This way you can play through the game with your own personal version of the Iridion theme. This small and seemingly inconsequential ability really pulled me into the game.


Gameplay:

Iridion II starts, after a brief explanation by your commanding officer, in a VR training session where you are taught the basics of flying your SHN Fighter. After that, you head off into your first galaxy, appropriately named Alpha Galaxy. In each galaxy, you must get past three worlds.

You have three lives to use in order to get through each of the galaxies; once you have used a life, it will stay lost until you defeat that galaxy. Though you can encounter the worlds within the galaxy in any order, they seem to be laid out from easiest to hardest (left to right) anyway. I guess this is to appeal to different people's play styles. If you want to tackle the hardest and most grueling world first, then by all means do.

The game has three basic modes: Story Mode, Arcade Mode and Challenge Mode. Story Mode is, as the name suggests, the mode that takes you through the plot. Once you beat a world, you are given a password; this password allows you to return to this point in the game instead of using a saved game system.

The other two modes have an interesting 'online' feature that reflects what some other online games are doing these days. In Arcade Mode, you play through each level that you have unlocked. Here you only have one life, and upon defeating that level, you will receive a code. With this code you can go to Iridion II's web site, www.iridion2.com, and submit it to see how you compare to everyone else around the world.

In Challenge Mode, which is unlocked after completing the Story Mode, you go up against all of the bosses, one after another, and after winning there you are given another code that you can post on Iridion's site.

There is also a Jukebox feature, unlocked after the Challenge Mode, and a Gallery feature, unlocked after the Story Mode.

As far as in-game content is concerned, before starting a flight, you must choose one of six different weapons, each with different spray patterns. While in the world, your weapon can be upgraded three times, once to add satellites that release two more beams, and two more times to make those beams more powerful. In the level, you may also be able to pick up other weapons and switch between them at your leisure.


Difficulty:

There are three difficulty settings in Iridion II: Starter Pilot, Advanced Pilot and Ace Pilot. Although this may seem like your typical Easy, Medium and Hard set-up, I found it to be more like going to a fast food joint and finding out they only have large, extra-large and mega-jumbo-super-thirst quencher drink sizes. I found myself more than challenged in the Starter Pilot range, and didn't do so well in either of the higher two categories.

I think a little more balancing could have been put into exactly what qualified as Starter, Advanced and Ace.


Game Mechanics:

The control system for Iridion II is very straightforward. You move your ship around with the D-Pad, but unlike Centipede and Space Invaders, you can move up and down the screen as well as side-to-side, though the screen is moving at a constant speed forward and it is possible to get caught behind obstructions and be killed.

The A-Button fires your current weapon, double tapping and holding the button charges the weapon to release a Super Beam. Once you have collected an upgrade, you press B to activate it, unless you have turned on the Auto-Upgrade feature, in which case the B-Button is basically useless. You can also release a Smart Bomb (by smart they mean a flashing ball that sprays other flashing balls across the screen), which is done by pressing both Left and Right Shoulder Buttons at the same time.

The controls are fairly intuitive and easy enough to pick up, so you only really need to worry about how to get past the next wave of Iridion forces that are heading towards you.

As GameBoy Advance's first 'online' game, again it is based on the fact that this is what some other games are claiming to be with their Online-Posting feature, Iridion II is a fun game to play through and see how you are doing compared to the other pilots that have somehow gotten through the difficult flights.

This is a good game to rent if you are a casual gamer, and if you are really into the space combat genre, then this is something you will want to pick up for keeps.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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