Volguard II - dB-Soft

Volguard II

1985 - dB Soft

Reviewed by A.S.Rajkumar.

Come 1985, and the NES/FC didn't have a big game library shmupwise. A lot of solid, if not excellent, shmups were to come the very next year, but for now the best shmups one had was a solid port of Xevious and Star Force (not bad at all, in fact). Then there were these two shmups by dB-Soft: the quaint and ultimately frustrating Galg and Volguard II, the subject of this review. (Tangentially, dB-Soft also wrote the Flappys, all of which are intensely frustrating puzzlers.) The original Volguard was written for the MSX, so I don't know how much of a sequel this is.

Volguard II is a horizontal shmup, with areas and levels (the latter probably referring to loops of the game; I haven't yet cleared Area 1). You have a boss at the end of each stage, and later in the game, there are some bigger enemies which you may call sub-bosses if you want to (and indeed, they can cause you as much grief as the boss himself). It can remind you of the solid Aldynes if you're not paying attention too closely, too. At least that's how I felt the first time I saw Aldynes.

For a shmup, Volguard II has two rather unusual features to it: a shield, and limited ammo (shock!). The former is handled well, the latter almost always downright annoying. I say 'almost' because this game has just managed to balance ammo loss with simultaneous ammo gain. There may be other shmups who use the limited ammo gimmick well, but please do tell me if you run into them. One way the game handles these issues is several power-ups for ammo and hits in the game. some enemy patterns are also structured for you to fill up your ammo quickly.  Later on, too, there are shields which can let you blow stuff up (especially on the ground) without ammo. But this disappears at the boss, alas. As a side note, enemies spray bullets quite liberally at you, odd enough for an NES shmup in 1985. To return to the shield, you are allowed 99 shots (a bit much, yes), which is fair since you have to go to some difficulty to keep your ammo up. These can be recharged as well. But the shield doesn't protect you from a direct collision. You are warned.

Volguard II very faintly offers you the novelty of a transforming ship once you pick up an 'option' in the course of the game. You can transform, but I didn't find it that useful. You can only punch stuff, jump and it's not easy to jump up and punch ships. There eventually are mechs on the ground whom you can duel with (and have Arthur Conan Doyle write about it). There are some thoroughly incongruous 'enemies' out there too: a goo-goo-eyed penguin is just one of them.

Graphically, the game isn't too great. Your ship is all squashed up, and it can be mistaken for a pen, or a dragster, instead of your ship. Scenery gets monotonous fast too. Common enough complaints for the time, I daresay. However, some of the enemy animations are quite fancy, and there is some sort of parallax when you pause the game. The music is quite drab, with ditties that can at most be counted on one hand and three fingers.

 I suppose if I were reviewing this game in 1985, I may be more excited, but I guess not.


A vaguely futuristic Greek background interspersed with lots of mountains. To make more ammo than you use, try and shoot rows of enemies. Or bomb the installations down.

This chap drops in every now and then to fill up your 'ammo' and recharge your 'shield'. Very useful in the first stage when you haven't got the hang of things. 



This helps you out too.

Don't waste your ammo here; these guys give you nothing in return. Just like bad women in country songs. 



El Meano Bosso (TM). Your shield (if you have one) runs away here and if you're not careful, your ammo can run out. It can also happen that you knock him flat on the first go. He appears at the end of all stages.

Here we are with 'option' and shield. The helicopters aren't fun, though. 



And here is the mech I was telling you about.

Something of a change in scenery 



These mechs want a punch-up, but you're missing the right equipment. Oh well.

Don't ask me what this penguin is for. You shoot him, he looks aggravated. You run into him, you die. 



Reeeally nasty things. They are indestructible, and jump up and down n the screen. Weaving your way through them requires some skill.

A late miniboss. Lots of bullets and hit-points. 



Another inexplicable and useless 'item'- a Famicom controller.

My last word? Get the ROM if you can find it. It's a shmup curiosity, for sure, and quite interesting for its time. There are better NES shmups out there, but it is worth checking out.


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