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Thread Author: Lord Thag
Thread ID: 5221
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There are 13 posts in this thread, and it has been viewed 3876 times.
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Why is Alpha Mission II sonpoorly regarded?
Lord Thag
So here is something I have been wondering. Why is Alpha Mission II generally ranked so poorly? Most of the internet reviews rank it around 2 out of 5 generally. Which I don't get.

Sure, it isnt as good as Pulstar or Blazing Star, but its still really good. While the graphics default to the usual alien space station stuff, its well done and sharply executed. It is tough but fair, and the twin power up systems are complex, interesting and varied. Its an earlier title so it isnt as flashy as the two big gun neo shooters, but its a damn solid, fun shooter in my opinion. It is to strikers 1945 what Last Resort is to Pulstar, yet Last Resort is generally well regarded while Alpha Mission is not.

I am curious as to why. Any fans of Alpha Mission here?
I agree, I think it's heavily underrated by most reviewers.
It seems most people makes the unfair thing and compares it to Blazing Star or Pulstar and just writes it off as the least interesting game.

Personally I love the game and it's one of my favourites for the system, but I can still see why it's not in the top of everybody else's lists.
Lord Thag
Yeah I think it suffers from what I call the 'Neo Geo effect'. I've noticed neo geo games are often rated against other neo titles only, rather than the era at large. Compared to Pulstar and Blazing star it would get rated lower. Compared to the 16 bit era across the board, it's a 4/5 easy.

Neo Geo games are so advanced compared to the genesis and snes I think we tend to get a bit myopic sometimes.

Alpha Mission is just a good, solid shmup with a creative power up system. I like it much better than the generally better rated Aero Fighters games, though they are fun too.
Yeah, Cyber Lip is another example of this.
It is often compared to Metal Slug, a game released five years later....
How fair is that? Roll Eyes

Cyber Lip certainly got it's flaws, but to say it's a bad game just because it's not MS isn't fair.
Lord Thag
Yeah thats a good example. Cyber lip doesnt get much respect either. It gets unfairly related to metal slug and because its one of the few AES games you can quarter feed through. Do a 1cc run and its quite fun indeed.

Its funny how the neo geo is like that with ratings. You never hear people saying super mario brothers is crap compared to super mario 3.

You get it with the fighting games too. People will pan say KoF 95 or Fatal Fury 2 when either will trounce anything you get on the other consoles at the time.
I'd like to give this another try since I haven't put a lot of time into the game and it's been quite a long time since I last played it. ASO II just didn't make a big impression on me when I tried it. I know it's an early Neo Geo game but I felt it could have been better graphically. Also the power-up system seemed a bit confusing. Will give it another go soon.

I've always been surprised that Zed Blade isn't held in higher regard. That's actually my favourite Neo Geo shoot 'em up.
I agree that the power-up system was very confusing. Also it seems that your ship is very weak, even when maxed out. I will have to play it again and maybe refresh my memory.

shot in the eye
shot in the brain
shot in the ass...
Lord Thag
For anyone wanting to give the game another try, here is how the power up systems work.

Shoot the blue power up containers and they become a speed upgrade, shoot them again and they become a laser upgrade, then a missile upgrade and finally gold. Your lasers and missiles can be upgraded 4 times. Once one is upgraded fully it stops appearing in the power up cue. Once both are upgraded, you will start getting reversed letters, which are power DOWNgrades, so avoid them.

The second system involves bombing bases on the ground. You get three types of things. Glowing 'K' symbols which allow you to keep your powerups upon death, gold (which allows you to buy upgrades at level end) and ship parts. The ship parts will flash between the name of the upgrade and a number. It takes picking up 3 of the SAME type of ship upgrade to actually get it, so say you pick up HOME, you will then need to pick up the 2 and 3 versions of that to aquire it.

Once aquired you cycle theough all of your collected ship upgrades and deploy them with the C button.

Here is what a lot of people do wrong: don't hoard them. Your basic weapons are not meant to be overpowered. Many of the ship upgrades last until you are hit (giving you extra hits) or add shields, extra firepower etc. The more firepower you have the easier time you have of destroying ground bases and get gold, which allows you to buy more upgrades. It adds a lot of strategy as to which upgrades you want to pickup in a given level because you cant get all of them, and picking up one often prevents you getting another.

Choosing what to use when adds a lot of replayability. Hard sections of the game become easy with the right upgrade. Have fun, hope that helps.
I really like Alpha Mission II but at first I did think it sucked. It doesn't look that great and feels a bit slow (before you get the speed-ups) and creaky and the power up system is over-complicated. I understand it now but at first it was very confusing.

Once you get the hang of things and get the right power-ups for the right situations it becomes very satisfying to play. I haven't completed it but I've watched playthoughs and it's more varied than many schmups and I like the huge final robot boss too.

The appeal for me now is partly that it does feels like a schmup from an older time. Something different to play and enjoy.


I actually didnt like Blazing Star much the first time I played it. I was treating it like a progresion-based shooter and the first 2 levels felt like nothing. Not like Pulstar where you have to work hard to get through. And all those annoying 'BONUS!' shouts too. Big fan now though. Thumbs Up
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Thanks for the explanation about the power up system Thag.
Great game and a tactical shmup in the flavour of Slap Fight and of course the follow up to ASO. Nice contrast to the Cave madness. You really have to get into it to like it.
Ah-hah, this - since my very first post on these boards was defending ASO II in its GOTW thread! After all these years, it's my favourite Neo shmup after Last Resort.

OP pretty much nailed why it doesn't get the love it deserves - it's not as flashy as the better-known shmups on the system, and the complex two-tier powerup system is not very well explained. Add to that a fairly difficult first level with ton of ground targets and enemies swooping quickly from offscreen and crashing in the player, and you have a game that doesn't make a very good first impression.

The irony is that this is the one Neo game that warranted its "How to play" screen, and the one that didn't get one, although I suppose arcade operators wouldn't have liked having too much downtime since there would be a lot to explain.

Another problem with the game is that planning your armor purchases is undermined by the very strict time limit in the between-level shop. You ony have 10 seconds and there's a downtime every time you buy an armor, which means you can fail to get something even if you know exactly which armor to purchase. The game is better played on AES mode, which removes the irritating time limit.
I noticed that time-limit on the MVS. It is pretty tough to buy armor as fast as you want! Something else that makes Alpha Mission 2 good is you have to put quite a lot of effort in to get the best out of it. So by really putting the effort in to learn the game you automatically become closer to it and love it more. Thumbs Up
Edited by RiKo on 24. October 2015 19:58
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