Galaxy Force II (ギャラクシーフォースII) is a 1988 arcade game developed by Sega. It is an update to Galaxy Force, similarly to After Burner II. It is a third person on-the-rails shoot 'em up, where the player controls a spaceship traveling across various planets destroying enemies. Like all Sega Y Board games, it is heavily reliant on sprite scaling and rotations to produce three-dimensional graphics.
Galaxy Force II adds two extra "Scenes", allows you choose the first five Scenes in any order, and addresses a number of bugs.
Scene A/Level 1: Junos
Scene B/Level 2: Velteor
Scene C/Level 3: Malkland
Scene D/Level 4: Orthea
Scene E/Level 5: Ashutar
Scene F/Level 6: Hyperspace
Hyperspace can only be accessed once the previous five levels are complete. In the arcade version of Galaxy Force II, if you die on this level, the game is over — on previous levels you have the option to continue (except in the Japanese version), but this one will send you back to the title screen regardless of how many credits you have.
Galaxy Force II was ported to the Sega Mega Drive in 1991, and a selection of computers including the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. Due to the inferior hardware of these systems, large cutbacks were made regarding detail and the reception has hence been mixed. There was a more respectable port to the FM Towns Marty in Japan however, which kept the sprite scaling, and there was a re-release for the Sega Saturn under the Sega Ages label. Many of the computer releases mis-label the packaging as "Galaxy Force" rather than "Galaxy Force II", but the in-game title screens retain the numbering. A port to NEC's SuperGrafx was also in development and shown in magazines, but never completed.
In its original form, Galaxy Force II was designed to make maximum use of the Sega Y Board hardware, capable of rending vast amounts of sprites at 60FPS, all scaled and rotated natively by the hardware. At the time of release, no home consoles or computers could match this raw processing power, leading to significant downgrades in graphical quality.
A 1990 port to the FM Towns computer, then a relatively high-end Japanese-only machine was for many years the closest home conversion, retaining the majority of the arcade game's features but running at a lower resolution and frame rate. Fewer sprites are rendered on-screen (and rotations/scaling are estimated) causing noticable "pop-in" in places, however the release came with a remixed CD audio soundtrack exclusive to this version of the game.
The Sega Mega Drive version is the most widespread, having landed on the system in September 1991 before being included in several Mega Drive compilations and the Wii's Virtual Console service. On the Mega Drive, Galaxy Force II's frame rate is cut even more (leading to an artifically longer play time) and sprite rotation is entirely eliminated. Scaling, like many X and Y Board arcade conversions, relies on pre-rendered sprites of differing sizes being swapped in and out at runtime, leading to a "jerky" look. The slower pace of play compared to OutRun or After Burner and the more 3D-esque playfield exacerbates these concerns.
Interiors and textured surfaces (such as the lava in level 2) are simplified, becoming flat colours attempting to simulate movement in a similar manner to OutRun's road. Transitions between outside and inside portions of levels are removed, usually in favour of fade-ins/outs and black screens.
In the West, home computer ports were published by Activision, and all both drop the rotation effects and simplify the scaling in a similar manner to the Mega Drive. The Amiga and Atari ST versions are similar in nature to the Mega Drive, but run in a smaller window and are generally less responsive. Unlike their console counterpart, however, interior walls are textured (though floors and ceilings are still not). ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC ports take further cuts to resolution, colour counts and frame rates, resulting in ports more akin to the earlier Space Harrier than Galaxy Force.
The Commodore 64 resembles the arcade version the least, with very choppy scaling and busy graphics, making it difficult to judge what is going on.