Listening to a thundering heavy metal soundtrack while blasting enemies straight from the 16-bit demoscene is, almost surprisingly, exactly as awesome as it sounds. Level 2 – Virus Master, on the other hand, is not as awesome as it sounds. It’s way better.
It’s a perfectly choreographed, on-rails, twin-stick 2D shmup through a master pixel-artist’s fever dream, where everything is happening in sync to the music of progressive metal band Last Chance to Reason and their Level 2 album*, and singing monstrosities and odd bosses seek your destruction in a wild mix of art and action. Yes, this is as Dionysian a celebration of metal and its iconography as the venerable medium of the shoot-’em-up can offer.
Nothing ever gets in the way of your enjoyment either, as death only results in losing a few percentile points and nothing stops you from trying again. Level 2 – Virus Master, in its painstakingly created stunningness, could only ever last for a few minutes you see, and restarting it feels as natural a thing as giving Super Hexagon another try. Anything longer would have probably required a Kickstarter methinks.
Still, a modicum of longevity is provided by its scoring system. You’ll get a percentage representing your performance in each of its four stages and should you do well enough a fifth one will become available, though after a couple dozen or so playthroughs I’ve only comes close to unlocking this fabled stage once. So, yeah, longevity indeed. Should you see it, please let me know what the real finale of the thing actually looks like.
[* Level 2 – Virus Master is a promo game for the band and its titular album by Lazy Brain Games.]