The 3DS is almost at the end of it’s life, with the factories closing down and Nintendo dropping support for the eShop early next year.
There’s still a few more games coming out for the ageing system though, such as Fragrant Story in the US, and the eShop exclusive Silver Falls series coming to both the 3DS and the WiiU later this year.
But here in the UK at least, Andro Dunos 2 is almost certainly the final physical game ever to be released! So, is Andro Dunos 2 a fitting swansong for the system? Let’s find out!
For a bit of context, The original Andro Dunos was made by Visco and released on the Neo Geo back in 1992, and now goes for well over £1000… I played it on the Mister last year, and went back to play it again before making this review to see how it compares to the sequel.
The original game is honestly a pretty average shooter, with nothing that memorable outside of the fairly interesting power up swapping mechanic. In 2020, PixelHeart bought the rights to Visco’s IP’s and began to issue repros and ports of their past games, both to the Neo Geo where they were originally released, as well as modern consoles, and the dreamcast, which just refuses to die!
I was surprised to hear that as well as a re release of Andro Dunos, Pixelheart actually announced a sequel too!
Not only has it been released on the 3DS, it’s also out on: Dreamcast, Switch, Steam, Xbox One and PS4.
I’ll take a look later in the review and compare it to the switch version, but for now, let’s take a look at the game it’s self, and see if this new game is an improvement on the original…
The Gameplay is very similar to the original, with the very welcome addition of a hyper shot, which I keep forgetting to use! You can assign the buttons to however you feel the most comfortable, for me that is Y to fire and B to use special.
The interesting gimmick with this game is the rotating special shots, each one can be levelled up to increase the range and firepower, and each one has a different way of shooting and a different shield and missile style.
The weapon, missiles and shield can all be powered up individually, either by collecting the corresponding item in the stage (An “S” icon for increasing the weapon level, or a Red / Green icon to power up the missile or shields.)
Each weapon also has it’s own Hyper Shot, which is a super powered version of the weapon you can use like a bomb to clear the screen. After you use the Hyper Shot, you have to wait until the recharge bar under your ship fills back up before you can use it again., I kept forgetting about this, so make sure to remember to use it to escape some dangerous situations, especially in the later stages, which can get really chaotic!
- 1: The standard forward shooting blue beam which grows in size as you power up, this one is great for blasting through enemies straight ahead! This one has front facing shields and missiles that also shoot straight ahead.
- 2: This one that fires both forwards and backwards, and comes equipped with read shields and a missile that fires down.
- 3: Third is my favourite weapon, a green piercing laser, which can begin to aim in multiple directions as it’s powered up, coupled with rotating shields and homing missiles, which I always love in these games! It also has a cool screen clearing spinning attack for it’s hyper mode!
- 4: The final one is another useful attack, this one can eventually shoot a burst of energy in all directions, as well as having a good face on attack, the hyper for this one is a front facing attack that covers a large area. The missiles are replaced with the side shooting lasers for this one, and the shields got on the front and back
So, the weapon system is great, one of the best in this style of game in my opinion!
Apart from that, it’s a pretty standard horizontal scrolling shooter, with a few nice level designs which include multiple scrolling directions and some interesting backgrounds, as well as good enemy placement, and great boss fights!
The boss fights in particular are a highlight for me, with interesting movement and bullet patterns, plus this one reminds me a lot of this boss fight from Kirby’s Fun Pak!
The game begins easy, and it’s not really until level three onwards that you will begin to feel a challenge, but once it picks up, it can be a bit frustrating with narrow corridors and limited movement available to dodge some of the bigger enemies…
Add into that the slow frame rate of the 3DS version, and it can become frustrating later into the game… There are some difficulty options, but they just make the beginning few stages less fun to revisit, at least there’s the option to select any stages you’ve already beaten, so you don’t have to begin all the way from the very simple first level every time you get a game over. There’s also some other options such as how many lives you start with, and how many points are needed for a continue.
Apart from the frame rate and the annoying later stages though, there’s really nothing to complain about in terms of gameplay, its all very responsive and it’s easy to swap weapons and the graphics do a good job of separating the bullets and pickups from the background.
Next is graphics, and there’s something very wrong with this port of the game. The scaling for the sprites and backgrounds is all wrong. The whole game has been stretched to fit the 5:3 aspect ratio of the 3DS, with no consideration to how that will actually affect the graphics. It’s even more apparent on the opening logos where the names of the companies are barely legible, compare this to the switch version and you’ll see what I mean…
It really is a shame they couldn’t have kept the correct scale and just extended the backgrounds a bit each side to make it fit the screen properly, or even have borders..
The problems are even more noticeable when the 3D is turned on, you can see beyond the borders of the backgrounds and notice where they join and repeat, which is quite off putting!
There’s also a few other issues with the 3D which could have easily been fixed, such as being able to see behind the white screen at the end of the stage because it doesn’t go all the way across.
It’s such a shame, because the actual 3D effect is great most of the time! I love seeing layered 2D sprites stretch out into the background, and it actually helps with the gameplay too, being able to easily separate the bullets from the background as they stand out more in 3D.
There are a few spots where the 3D doesn’t seem to quite be programmed properly, for example in this level where it looks like the enemies are floating in front of the scenery when they should be standing on it.
There’s also one section where the buildings in the background look like they are infant of the ones that should be closer, which is a bit off putting! Overall though, the 3D effect is really good and definitely a highlight of the game for me, I was always a big fan of stereoscopic 3D!
Scaling issues aside, the actual sprites and backgrounds themselves look great, with each stage having its own unique theme, and the scenery and environment flies past as a fast pace, helping to keep the game feeling frantic and exhilarating to play!
The enemies all look great too, especially the interesting boss designs! The bullets are mostly easy to see and the different weapon types all look interesting and powerful too!
Audio next, and this is definitely a highlight of the game too, I love the music here! It all has a cool retro 80’s synth sound to it, and the boss fight theme in particular sounds amazing! Honestly I was sad the first time I bear the level 1 boss so quickly because of the awesome music! Have a listen, and check out this amazing gameplay from Supa Play:
The stage music isn’t quite as cool, but it fits the mood of the game and is pretty atmospheric too!
The sound effects are all good too, and although a little generic, are well designed, and not too loud either, which can be a problem in these types of games.
Unfortunately, it does have a problem with looping the tracks, it’s not smooth, and will cut out awkwardly between levels too, but that’s more of a complaint about the technical aspect of the game, and not the audio it’s self.
Overall, the audio is definitely one of the best things about the game.
Now, you have probably guessed already that this game isn’t exactly a technical showpiece for the system… In fact it’s actually really quite bad, really bad even.
First of all, there’s a very long loading screen, which is very uncommon for a 3DS game! After that you’re greeted with the ugly pixelated and stretched company logos, before being presented by a glitchy game logo, which seems to have some misplaced green pixels, which weirdly, are in a different place on the switch version…
Then when the game begins you’re greeted with a very pixelated image of someone in the cockpit of the spaceship on the bottom screen which awkwardly animates as you move around. I have no idea why the quality is so bad on this image, and it’s there throughout the entire game. It was a nice idea to have the animation, but the execution and the low quality just make it feel like a cheap afterthought. The bottom screen could have had some really interesting uses, such as extra score information, touch screen weapon wapping, or a level map to show progression, but instead we just got this shoddy JPEG.
Then there’s the terrible frame rate, One of the most important things about shooting games it to quickly be able to reappoint to oncoming bullets, but when the frame rate is this low, it makes everything feel a bit sluggish, and is not very pleasing on the eyes! My heart honestly sank when I started the first stage and saw how slow it was running…
The 3DS can do a lot better than this! Even the original DS had plenty of shoot em ups that ran at 60fps! It just makes the whole package feel rushed and not properly optimised.
Then there’s of course the stretched screen which makes everything look wrong, there’s blurry font which is even worse in 3D because certain parts of the letter only appear in each eye..
The corners of the background flicker and sometimes you can see the stage behind here you’re supposed to be, it just all feels very slapped together for the 3DS, and certainly way below the quality I was hoping for, especially as most of these issues aren’t present in other versions of the game, I’d be interested in checking out the Dreamcast version to see how that one holds up…
Andro Dunos 2 is one of the most disappointing and unoptimised experiences on the 3DS system, even the original DS should be able to handle the game better than what we ended up here, just look at something like Nanostray which manages to run at a smooth 60fps, and be in full 3D, on the original DS, and that’s on a much weaker system too! Even the DSi Ware exclusive Dark Spirits ran better than this!
I honestly don’t understand how it can be this bad, it feels like a game awkwardly running on an unoptimised emulator with some 3D added on as it’s only saving grace, I’m going to give Technical a 2/5, just because of it’s decent implantation of 3D, otherwise, everything else about it is a 1/5 for sure…
While the game isn’t that original as a concept, it’s pretty unique to get a sequel to a pretty under the radar Neo Geo release from 1992, plus it has a really good and well implemented weapon switching system, which rewards experimentation. I think the developer did a great job taking the original game and expanding on it’s ideas, creating a great follow up.
It is also one of the only shoot em ups on the 3DS, I can only think of a few others, the excellent Steel Empire, which was a port of the Mega Drive original, which also included some really nice upgraded 2D sprite work and had the same amazing stereoscopic 3D layers backgrounds, except this one ran at a smooth constant 60fps, and some others on the Virtual Console or the Sega collections, so really, this is the ONLY completely original horizontal scrolling 2D shoot up for the system, and that’s got to earn it a point at least!
Plus it has pretty impressive 3D, despite the odd issue with it’s programming…
I’m a bit conflicted by Andro Dunos 2, on one hand it’s a very good shoot em up, but on the other, this version in particular has some serious issues which really dampen the experience.
I’d say definitely pick the game up on one of the modern systems, but maybe give the 3DS version a pass, unless you’re a collector, or you really want to experience the game in stereoscopic 3D. The 3D effect is really cool, but not really worth the price of the game just for that when there’s many other better ways to play it.
So my overall score, taking the scores for each category into account is, 16/25, turned into a percentage gives a final score of…
Final Score: 64%
Watch this review on YouTube: