2. General hints and tips
The biggest tip I could possibly give you is that button mashing shoots faster than holding down the fire button. By this extension, if the game proves too difficult, especially on Arcade, a turbo controller will help immensely. Not enough to beat the game for you, but enough to make it reasonable. I've recorded a video using the same settings for normal, mashing and turbo controllers, which will give you an idea of how much each method will help.
Normal: 3.55 seconds
Mashed: 2.57 seconds
Turbo: 1.05 seconds
The Merenstein only looks like it isn't upgrading. At level 3, a second beam is added. At level 5, two more go out diagonally for a bit of spread. Subsequent levels add torpedoes to the mix, doing extra damage. The biggest thing working against the Merenstein is the lack of spread; the damage output is otherwise very nice, but it's only noticeable at high levels.
Arcade? The lack of spread makes this a challenging plane to work with.
The Soprano has an odd spread to it. At level 3, the beam spreads out to its maximum width. At level 5, it fills in the gaps. Every level from there on tightens the gap until, by level 10, it becomes an almost solid beam of destruction. At high levels, this is a powerful plane, but you have to get there and stay there to make it work.
Arcade? If you want the challenge. It's certainly doable, but there's better choices.
The Liberator is likely the plane you'll end up settling on. At level 3, it upgrades similar to the Merenstein, but at level 5, it adds two more beams to shoot straight ahead. Subsequent levels add some much needed spread.
Arcade? This is the recommended plane for Arcade mode. Level 5 is very easy to reach, which gives this plane a focused, destructive beam. Level 7 and onward is just icing on the cake.
Argus Pytel - Seeker Missiles
Seeker Missiles fire a large salvo which then converge upon target(s) in no time at all. If a target evades, it will continue to track until it finds another target or gives up. It's rather rare for it to flatout give up. They are stopped by walls, which limits their effectiveness.
Rating: C. These are good against certain enemy types that may overwhelm you, and it's not terribly great against bosses. Still, it's better than nothing.
Akyta Dryad - Azimuth Battery
Azimuth Battery fires a large shotgun blast of energy that quickly spreads out.
Rating: F. Akyta is the preferred candidate for primary weapon only runs because Azimuth Battery is borderline worthless.
Durak - Sonic Sword
Sonic Sword extends two beam swords behind the plane, then swings them around in a half-circle to meet in front of the plane. Negates bullets. Ignores walls.
Rating: B. The bullet negation is a huge plus that can help you through difficult patterns that you might not want to use capsule for.
Lynthe Ytoo - Zebaoth Driller
A continuous beam is fired from the plane. Negates bullets.
Rating: A. This beam lasts forever and a day, plus it erases any bullets that happen to get in front of it. Definitely a keeper.
Ronotra Koss - Punk Spirit
Causes an explosion centered on the plane that does continuous damage. Negates bullets. Ignores walls.
Rating: A. It does great damage to bosses and it eats bullets for breakfast. What more could you want?
Myryan Magusa - Gemini Drone
Two drones appear above and below the craft and continuously fire.
Rating: C. This adds more firepower, but adding a significant spread likely doesn't help matters. Very situational.
Garai 74/22876 - Cluster Bomb
Several bombs are fired out in a random pattern, exploding in a wide area. Ignores walls.
Rating: B. While it does great damage, especially against pain bosses like Domus, I find the large area of effect keeps it from being as useful as the other A rank weapons.
Slows down time for everything but you. Allows you to find a hole in a pattern and manoeuvre through it as it moves slower.
Rating: D. As useful as it sounds, this won't help you out of tight spots as much as you'd want.
Rewinds time to give you another shot.
Rating: B. A few interesting advantages here. First, using roll back doesn't affect your rank like the other capsules. Secondly, you can completely refill it with a single powerup - pick up the restore capsule, then roll back to pick it up again. While it's good for scoring high, it leaves you without a way to get around difficult patterns and may end up rewinding just to drop you in the exact same tough position.
Gives a temporary shield that reflects bullets.
Rating: A. The biggest advantage to reflection is how little you have to use in order to bypass a tricky pattern. Tap the button just before you get hit to give yourself a breather. Furthermore, it works on everything, so you can use it as a deployable invincibility if you need to get through lasers or hug a wall.
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