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ASO II: Last Guardian (also known as Alpha Mission II) is a vertically scrolling full screen shoot 'em up released by SNK in 1991 for the Neo Geo arcade and home systems. It was later released for the Neo Geo CD in 1994.
The game has only 2 or 3 buttons used depending on the selected shuttle mode. Pull the joystick to maneuver the shuttle. The first shuttle mode enables you to fire missiles and laser shots simultaneously with Button A, but in the alternate mode press Button A for laser shot and Button B for missile shot. Laser shots are used for air-to-air attacks and Missiles are used for air-to-ground attacks. When a drone is shot, power ups can be collected: S for Speed, L for Laser shots, M for Missile shots and G for credits. Credits are useful for purchasing weapons in between stages. The power ups are changed by shooting them. When Laser shots and Missiles are maxed, they are more widespread and combined in power. There Hidden items can do certain things like an R item can put the shuttle in Reverse for a certain distance. The shuttle is destroyed by the one shot or by running into an enemy unit or hazard. Unless the player collects enough K power-ups beforehand, the missiles and laser shots will be lost to minimum power when the player loses a life.
This page will use first mode (Type A) to explain the controls.
Press Button B to bring up the weapons selection provided you have weapons available, select the weapon (which also act as armors) with Button A. To cancel the weapons selection press the button used to bring it up. Different weapons serve different purposes, though most allow you to retain your basic laser-missile firing, which means you press C to activate them. Some weapons override the main laser-missile weaponry and thus will use the A Button to activate.
Laser maximizes your normal laser power and provides a wide-range charge option but limits air-to-ground attacks in a way that the best way to perform it is to hold the A button under the first mode (thus simultaneously charging the laser cannons). Very low energy consumption.
Fire fires a flamethrower that is very destructive on both air and ground targets. It even eats up enemy energy bullets. This weapon overrides the main missiles and lasers. The flamethrower's length is about half the screen and its hitbox increases when farther away from the ship. How long you hold down A determines how long the flamethrower is out. The damage done by this armor is incredible; it's ideal for taking down bosses. Moderate energy consumption.
Shield gives your ship an energy shield. It's easily the most defensive armor in the game, taking only about 10% of what other armors would have had from enemy fire. (Bear in mind that all armors have different defense ratings.) This armor also has an offensive option where one can charge six energy balls that fire out in a spiral-spread formation. However, this drains a lot of energy from the armor. On the downside, this armor gives the ship a bigger hitbox because of the shield.
Phoenix has a huge start-up time that summons flames in a bird formation (hence the name) to act as a shield that fires forward when the C button is released (affects both air and ground enemies). It's arguably the most advanced armor in the game, as it has more offensive options than any other armor. Holding the button down for a short span of time will only result in wasted energy. The phoenix flame can act as a shield, but it consistently and quickly drains your energy. On the other hand, a held-down phoenix flame can be used offensively. Used properly and it becomes an armor with firepower that will surpass even the Thunder armor's. Larger enemies will only be destroyed after a phoenix is fired (touch first). High energy consumption.
Black Hole literally fires a black hole that will completely remove the screen of all airborne small enemies and projectiles temporarily. It also does considerable damage to both nearby ground and aerial enemies. Missiles cannot be fired while the a black hole is in effect. Moderate energy consumption.
Homing is basically a homing missile launcher that launches six homing missiles upon command and is strictly designed for air-to-ground combat. These missiles are significantly stronger than your standard missiles. Low energy consumption.
Side is basically an auto-targeting armor for air-to-air combat, which is designed to fire secondary lasers in a specific direction outside the player's control (straight at the nearest enemy) (hold down the A button to not fire the side lasers). This is the perfect armor besides Shield for those times when there are several enemy homing missiles coming at you. Low energy consumption.
Bubble basically replaces the laser with a single bubble, which "explodes" upon contact with airborne enemy and does a sizable amount of delayed damage. However, only one bubble can be on-screen at a time, making this armor a little less than useful in hordes of enemies. Save it for boss battles (try it on the Area 3 boss). Low energy consumption.
Shotgun fires two huge waves of energy that only affects ground-based enemies. It's fairly low firepower makes it good for taking on a row of enemies rather than bosses (very useful in the 2nd half of Area 2). Moderate energy consumption.
Nuclear gives you the option to fire a single, powerful nuclear missile that can damage both air and ground targets. It has about 70% of the firepower of Thunder. It's circular hit box makes it very useful on clusters of enemies. Moderate energy consumption.
Thunder, arguably the best armor in the game, makes your ship fly to the center of the screen and fire off a huge blast of lightning that destroys (or damages immensely) all that is onscreen. High energy consumption, takes away 1/3 of the energy bar per use.
The weapons have a limited power indicated on an energy meter on the left or right side of the screen, depending on whether if you're player 1 or 2. Using the weapons or getting the ship damaged lowers the energy. When the energy level is low, a warning sound will play. The energy can be recharged by E power ups. Red Es fully restore energy, Blue Es restore an amount approximately equivalent to one Shotgun fire, and small red Es that come from the blue diamond capsules recharge only one bar.
There are seven stages in the game, with the last one consisting of a single boss battle. The player has to fight through them avoiding hazards in addition. Mid-bosses very occasionally appear in the game. When the player meets a mid-boss or end stage boss, the player must destroy weak points and various parts of the boss to destroy it.
- 1. ASO (1985)
- 2. ASO II: Last Guardian (1991)