It's been said that the suit makes the man. If that's true, then the men in Assault Suit Leynos 2 are the manliest men to ever suit up. Leynos 2 is the sequel to the Genesis game released in the US under the name Target Earth. This original title was one of the greatest side-scrollers to ever grace Sega's 16-bit system. It featured an amazing choice of weaponry, several mission objectives, and an exciting plot. And now there's Leynos 2, a game that carries the Leynos/Target Earth torch into the 32-bit era, but unfortunately doesn't add much along the way.
The main enhancement in this new installment of the Leynos line has got to be the control. Instead of having to cycle through their weapons and items one at a time, players can assign any item (machine gun, jumpjets, napalm launcher) to any of the six Saturn buttons. In addition, two weapons can be brought along for use when the ammo for one of the existing weapons is depleted. The rest of this sequel takes a "more than the previous game" approach - more weapons, more armor, more types of robots, and more plot interaction.
The game's plot is furthered at the beginning of each mission, and is furthered through the use of in-mission radio transmissions, which appear in text boxes at the bottom of the screen. Of course, this is also the only part of the game that appears in Japanese. However, most of the mission objectives are fairly obvious (blow up the huge boss at the other end of the level, protect a convoy from enemy attacks) so non-Japanese readers should be able to play along quite easily.
The graphics have improved quite a bit on the old version and now include a zooming camera that varies the view depending on the range of the currently-armed weapon. The backgrounds are terrific, some of them going back several layers. What's more, each of them scroll independently. Bosses are huge, with most of them taking up more than one screen, no matter how far the view zooms out. The music and sound effects are also great, particularly the explosions and when the player's mech is firing.
In a perfect world, this game would see a US release. But since the Genesis prequel was the very definition of a sleeper, don't expect it to happen. However, if you're starving for some new Saturn games, (and given the current crop of Saturn shooting titles out there today, you probably are) do what you can to import a copy of Assault Suit Leynos 2. If for no other reason, this game provides a great example of why side-scrollers can still hold their own on 32-bit systems.