Top Gun: The Second Mission (NES)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Audio
  • Visuals
  • Entertainment
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Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/16/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night

As the name suggests, Top Gun: The Second Mission is the sequel to the commercially successfully but definitely flawed Top Gun for NES.  This, however, is an example of a sequel done right.  Konami clearly listened to the criticism that the first game got as well as the praise it got and set about fixing the problems and expanding on the strengths.

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The first thing that most will notice is that this game looks a lot nicer than the first one.  It’s not a night and day transformation like Super Mario Bros to Super Mario Bros 3, but it’s a definite upgrade.  The cut scenes look much better, and the enemy sprites got a nice touch-up, as well.  Likewise, the combat feels much more refined.  The dog fights truly do feel like dog fights here.  I compared the first game to After Burner in first person, but this game feels much closer to a true arcade experience like that.  In addition to the inverted vertical controls like you’d find with a joystick, they added the option for more traditional controls where pressing up on the D-pad moves your plane up.

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The gameplay is also a lot faster.  Like, a LOT faster.  Truthfully, it feels a little too fast at times.  Enemies flit off the side of the screen much faster than in the first game, and missiles reach you much more quickly, as well.  The increased combat difficulty is matched, however, by a significantly simplified landing sequence.  Whereas I had to try and try and try over a dozen times before I got my first successful land in the first game, I have never failed to land in this one.  There are also only three missions as opposed to four, but I’d say the game is probably about just as long as these three missions are all much longer than the four missions from the first game.

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The first Top Gun was a fun experience that was unfortunately marred by a brutally difficult landing sequence that honestly ruined the game for a lot of people.  Fortunately, Konami remedied that problem in this sequel.  The combat is way tougher than what you found in the previous game, so don’t expect the easy landing sequence to make for an easier playthrough, but it’s a ton of fun, and at least here, you’re going to die due to missiles and machine guns, not accidentally kamikazeing your own aircraft carrier.

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