Great 2D shump, just don't expect a cakewalk as you did with Giga Wing 2.
After playing the most crazy shooter ever made, Giga Wing 2, I thought to my self, could Capcom (or should I say Takumi) possibly create a single, more impressive shooter than their last 4-player spaz fest? The answer...yes. Mars Matrix is the alternative to the Giga Wing series. They are developed by the same developer and it shows. Giga Wing 2 was a cakewalk, and not only was it easy, it was short. Mars Matrix however, is the exact opposite. Not only did Capcom bring back some old school 2D shooting, but they cranked up the difficulty, big time.
Mars Matrix was originally on Capcom's ultra old CPS-II arcade system, therefore the graphics are not as hi-res as Giga Wing was. It would have been great if they used NAOMI, oh well. The graphics aren't amazing, but its passable. With all of the on-screen action, the graphics don't really matter. There are some real neat effects. The gameplay is fast and crazy. There is a bit of slow down, such as when you deploy a GHB while the whole screen is covered with enemies, but not enough to annoy. Besides, there's always some slow down in all shumps, right?
Starting up, you get a choice of 3 chaotic modes of shooting madness: Arcade, Elite, & Score Challenge. However, Score Challenge is not unlocked right away, you must first purchase it in the shop. (I'll get to the shop a little later on.) After starting a mode, you get to pick from 2 different ships, Mosquito 01 or Mosquito 02. They are both noticeably different. (Player 2 can join in anytime, but beware, you share the credits.) Mosquito 01 is red colored, shoots a wideblaster and is slower than its partner. The wideblaster is not as strong as Mosquito 02's laser shot, but it has a wider range. (Think of the two types of power ups from the first Raiden). As mentioned earlier, Mosquito 02 has a laser shot, rather than a wideblaster. The laser shot is more powerful, but it only shoots straight on. Mosquito 02 is also faster than is partner. I personally like Mosquito 02 as its more powerful and quicker moving. During the game, you have the option to fire normal shots or the piercing cannon. The cannon does a great deal of damage opposed to standard fire, but you must be very close to use it. Your ship is also equipped with the absorption barrier mosquito, similar to the reflecto force of Giga Wing. You hold A down when the meter is fully charged to absorb enemy bullets. If you hold down A until the meter is fully drained, the you will shoot a gravity hole bomb (GHB), which damages everything on the screen. The closer you are to an enemy, the more damage it takes. If you release A before the meter drains then you release the bullets you absorbed.
Here's this game in a nutshell: The screen is ALWAYS filled with enemy bullets (except the first stage), making the game crazy, as well as making INCREDIBLY challenging. This is one of the most difficult shooters I have ever played. However, its also one of the most enjoyable. This is a pretty big nutshell... err... never mind.