“Defender II has a lot of great things going for it.”
– excerpt from the full review, which can be read here.
Maybe it’s my love of Star Wars.
Maybe it’s my growing appreciation for shooters. I’d say I’ve gone soft on shooters lately, but I just recently review another space shmup from HAL that didn’t do too hot in my book.
Maybe it’s memories of my mother teaching me how to get the second ship in Galaga.
Whatever it is: I really like Defender II.
I truly believe that it represents among the most ideal arcade ports on the NES.
Hey, go read my friend Dylan a.k.a. Questicle’s take on the game, too — he is right. And that point about how old-school games effectively use the canvas of a black background to convey the emptiness of space? Great insight.
We all know that some of the otherwise-classic games that were converted to the NES just are not nearly as good in 8-bit form. This is a shame, because with the still-going popularity of some arcade titles and their high-score pursuits (see: King of Kong/Donkey Kong), I would love to see an Internet-aided modern renaissance of NES mastery, where some of us are going hard at each other on these games.
Many of the arcade-style games are well-suited for that. I really like Marble Madness, for one. I know Mason Cramer has done excellent work on Millipede. Do we really know the upper limits of these NES games? Are there kill screens we have never reached as a community? I love pondering unknown territory like that, and I think we have a lot of room still left to explore in the undiscovered countries of competitive NES gaming.
So, hey, I have a soft spot for Defender II — and this is one big reason: I suck at it, yet of the many many games I am terrible at, it is among the foremost titles that I want to be great at. There is some untold, deep, unsettling nature to Defender II that is so compelling, so evocative… it demands my best. It urges me, drives me, makes me want to practice and hone my edge.
Maybe it’s just me, but there it is. Defender II is solid. If you want a space shooter, if you want an arcade port, if you want a simple game to pick up, if you want mindless fun, if you want high-precision perfection — Defender II is an 8-bit game that hits all those marks and more. Seriously!
Read The Full Review For: More thoughts on what precisely makes Defender II a great arcade port candidate to the NES, notes on the very intriguing soundtrack, a little gaming history lesson, and some silly words at work.
NES Gameplay Tips For Defender II: Don’t fly too fast. Don’t worry too much. Exploit greedy saucers for bonus points. And fly on, star pilot. Fly on.