Sonic Wings 2 is one of the more unique and entertaining shooters for the Neo Geo. Though other shooters are more acclaimed, it stands out for its uniqueness. It was released in 1994 by Video System. As a Neo Geo CD, it must be commended for its quality and fine character.
Sonic Wings 2, though not without its flaws, is a quality Neo Geo title. It is not as beautiful as Blue’s Journey or Samurai Shodown IV but what it does, it does quite well. Graphically, it is very similar to Strikers 1945 Plus, only with a much darker tone. The game gives one the feel of the industrial era. With its old style characters and large towering cities, one is constantly in the presence of war. Each building, each plane, each bullet is carefully drawn in crisp detail and the colors “pop”. However, what are most amazing are the explosions. No other system could deliver powerful red and orange bursts of color that magnify themselves across the screen in a pulsing wave of destruction. The Neo Geo CD delivers the explosions with astounding, glorious sprites.
Unfortunately, there is minor slowdown on a couple of the later stages. Anytime a significant amount of rockets flood the screen, the game slows to a snail’s pace. There is also a small glitch on one of the later stages. The graphics become slightly distorted in one area of the ship as it passes. Other than those things, there are no other flaws.
This game proves that the Neo Geo CD is a viable system in and of itself. The music in this game is absolutely incredible. I liken it to an “anime version” of Beethoven where every pulse and ever beat is like a quickening that pours down into one’s very soul. Without the music, the game would be but sub par. With the music, it is a delicious feast that sends one gallivanting into the very soul of combat.
Sonic Wings 2 is very tight and balanced. Out of 8 ships possible, one finds that each ship has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some ships are quick while others are unbearably slow. Some ships offer huge explosive bombs while others only send out a small pulsing mine. The ship variation is enough to give the game depth. Each time you play, you are learning the ins and outs of each ship. It is constantly and uniquely entertaining. The Neo Geo CD pad responds well to every pressed button. Everything always responds. One final game play element that helps to “seal the deal”, so to speak, is the ability to destroy various landmarks and buildings along the way. Interactive backgrounds have never felt so good!
Sonic Wings 2 is enormously difficult and unfortunately short. It is a good thing that there is variation in the characters. Without that variation, the game would inevitably fall flat. What makes matters worse is the game is set to free play and cannot be changed. I personally, would rather have only 3 to 5 lives and then restart the entire game when I die or at least have the option. Even though it is difficult, you will inevitably make it to the end but because you restart every time you die, it is difficult to pass the final stage. This is the only really unbalanced part of the game. There is no progressive learning.
You will inevitably be forced to play this game over and over again. However, this is not a bad thing. With the arranged music and complete emersion in the wartime feel, it will be a continually pleasurable appeal. I would consider Sonic Wings 2 the perfect party game. It encourages others to test their skill, yet allows one to progress even if that skill is limited.
As far as replay is concerned, I think Sonic Wings 2 is equally as good as Pulstar or Strikers 1945 Plus. Any of those three games would be an excellent addition to one’s collection. That pretty much says it all, and there is nothing new here.
Obviously, since this is a review of the Neo Geo CD title, load times would be brought up eventually. Fortunately, Sonic Wings 2 does not have bad load times overall. The first load is at the beginning of the game. Before the title screen, before anything else happens, it loads and is quite annoying because the load takes awhile. I would estimate a good 40 seconds. However, once that initial load passes, it is only a few seconds between each level. In some ways, it is a good thing that SNK put the worst load first. It makes one completely forget about it during the rest of the game.
The first load time is really bad. Even though Samurai Shodown IV loads more, it is broken up into smaller load times. We can all thank SNK this 40-50 second load only happens once.
Overall, I would give this game a 7.5 out of 10. It is not one of the better games like The Last Blade 2 or Twinkle Star Sprites, but it is a game I would consider a must have for any collection. Also, I would not buy this game on the AES. It cannot be stressed enough, what makes Sonic Wings 2 enjoyable on CD is the music. The Sonic Wings 2 CD contains all of the following:
- exceptional music
- a great price
- small or unnoticeable load times
- arcade quality graphics
- group/party or single player replay value
If you can find this game, I highly recommend you pick it up. You will not regret it.
Score: 8 out of 10
Sonic Wings 2 (Aero Fighters 2 in the States) is a fantastic overhead shooting game. Choose from eight characters and take to the skies in 10+ levels of kill everything destruction. Load times on the Neo Geo CD are fast and take nothing away from the gameplay. Challenge wise, it might be a little too easy for some players because you have unlimited continues, though beating level 10 (and 20) is insanely difficult because you have to repeat the entire level over again once you die. Graphics and sound are nice, but the real draw of this game is the fast paced (no slow down here) action. Sonic Wings 2 is even more fun with two players. This will be a great buy for shooting fans. (Ari Nicolas, United States)