Thunder Cross II

-Konami (1991)

 

The Story:

Three years after their defeat, the Bacterian Ė I mean, Black Inpulse Empire tries once again to conquer the galaxy. They have used these years wisely as they have many new ships and creatures in their larger attack armada. Figuring they would try again, we have spent this time further developing the Thunder Cross. Brand new in the previous war, it only had one weapon and a bomb. Now the Thunder Cross has four different weapons whose power can be increased to unheard of magnitudes. Furthermore, we have given you control over your options. Find the brains of the enemy empire and destroy the Black Inpulse once and for all.      

My Thoughts:

The developers obviously saw most of what the previous title lacked and improved the sequel. Thunder Cross II features more weapons, more varied and better enemies, and more shooter goodness. The game starts with the Thunder Cross launching from the carrier while some of the greatest, most epic fanfare ever heard plays to get you pumped for some hardcore shooting action. 

In addition to speed power-ups, you have access to four weapons; normal vulcan shot, some kind of neutron gun, lasers that fire in front and behind, and a boomerang weapon that bounces back when it hits an enemy. Each can be upgraded multiple times. Instead of dropping the Lilí Baby mega bomb from the first game, when your weapons get to their maximum, you get newer, massively powerful weapons. These fire from your options, but the new uber-weapons have a limited amount of fuel. Your options get all pumped up with the new power and become bigger than your ship. This time you can also control the position of your options. You still get two above and two below your ship, but now you can move them up and down to take out enemies so you donít have to move your ship as much. 

The stages see in improvement as two of the stages have multiple paths. For example, stage two is a cave, but you can take the normal cave route, or go through the cyber cave below it. The enemies are vastly varied than the first game. New creatures, ships, and even Xbox ships, show up in each stage, but like the first there are still enemies that are taken from Gradius. The boss that tried touching you with its long, one-eyed appendage from the first game returns, but transforms this time. The other bosses are more varied and only two resemble Gradius-type ships this time. The ship from the massive ship stage in the first game has a smaller, redder counterpart here. The bosses are no longer weaklings and the difficulty is a little more substantial. 

In stage seven you are not allowed to continue. You must defeat the stage with only the ships you have left. I didnít know this the first time I reached the stage and had to start the game over. The second time through I lost my two extra lives pretty early in the stage and was in panic mode for the rest of the battle. I was able to narrowly out-maneuver the enemies and emerged victorious. It was all pretty exciting. The ending was disappointing though. All it does is show the bosses and their names, which are terrible. Ragamuffin, Dinosaur Junior, and Sprouts Layber are neither fear inspiring nor bad-ass. Interestingly enough, the music for stage six is again a remixed version of the Gradius theme.  Overall Thunder Cross II is an improved, solid shooter, even if things are again borrowed from Gradius.                              

Score: 8.0    

-Shawn

 

Thunder Cross II also contains Xbox's Little Secret

Here you see the original inspiration for Microsoft's Xbox. This is an X ship of the Black Inpulse Empire from Thunder Cross II. Though purple, you can see the resemblance is uncanny. Either Microsoft took the design of the Xbox from this game, or Konami accurately predicted Microsoft's attempt of world domination over a decade ago.