In every laundromat in every small town, sandwiched in between the detergent vending machine and the gumball machine that hasn't been refilled since your mother was born, there are three arcade games. These games are Contra, PacMan, and some sort of scrolling shooter game. While the former might be there to occupy children while parents fight over the only cart with working wheels, the latter is there to serve a sinister purpose. It is there to take the quarters of every innocent tot who wanders by, forever and ever without end. It is impossible, it is addictive, and the gleaming rows of High Score initials beckon like sirens on the ancient Tyrrhenian sea, entreating you to join them with just one... more... quarter. Polymer Rabbit brings you a new game in this fine tradition to haunt your productivity until the end of time with Frantic 2.
What? What are you... are you seriously clicking to fire? We don't have time for that! While you can set the options to allow you to manually fire every shot, the default setting is for your ship to emit a continuous stream of hot death. The basic configuration of the game has you moving with the [WASD] keys, and tapping the [space] bar to unleash a special ability when your meter is full. Your special ability is... well, come on, this is a game that features more explosions and enemy fire than a Michael Bay movie. It isn't going to rain chocolate chip cookies.
What, you want strategies now? Here's your strategy. Don't get blown up. While the enemies at first appear slowly and stay on predetermined tracks, it won't be long until breathing space becomes a fond memory. Each enemy destroyed drops coins or power-up tokens, which you'll need to collect. You'll find yourself doing a lot of fancy flying to slip under every bomb and dividing laser to get those coins, too, since you can spend them on various upgrades between levels.
Analysis: If you don't enjoy getting shot at, blown up, or an unreasonable amount of explosions, bullets, lasers, and particles effects, Frantic 2 is probably not going to be your new Best Friend Forever. On "easy" difficulty, the game is a bit of a bully even to veteran fans of the scrolling shooter. Then again, there's a reason the game isn't called "Let Me Stroke Your Feverish Brow And Inflate Your Tender Ego". Frantic 2 is meant to be a game for everyone who has ever complained that an arcade game was "not hard enough", usually when their boy or girlfriend was in earshot.
So it's unfortunate that the last two difficulty levels aren't as knock-down, drag-out difficult as you might hope for. While at any given moment the screen is likely to be full of enough hot laser death to cook a sumo-sized banquet, your enemies never change. Oh, there are more of them, but they never get any stronger or smarter. Most of them still go up like a Roman candle at a single hit, and they never track you down; they just sit on the screen firing until they're destroyed, or follow their set path off like a row of particularly deadly-but-dense ducklings.
But for those of us who can't get enough of explosions and think cel shading is for fancy pants, Frantic 2 is a dream come true. It is simple, it knows what it should be doing, and it does it extremely well. The screen is rarely any less than full to bursting with coins, power-ups, lasers, and explosions, and son, that's how we likes it. It's all the bells and whistles of an old fashioned arcade game without the tokens or the old man behind the prize desk asking why you're not in school. The game offers you several different ships to choose from, and while it all comes down to personal preference, I found that light-and-speedy wins over slow-and-thick any time.
If you like death, spaceships, and graphics lifted straight out of yesteryear, you're going to enjoy Frantic 2. There's no awkward backstory about an evil empire and a wronged youth out for vengeance with his plucky sidekick. Just coins, bombs, and really big bosses. This will probably be the next big summer blockbuster one day, just as soon as they can get Bruce Willis to voice the spaceship and Clint Eastwood to play the ending credits. And it will be awesome.