Thursday, November 19, 2020

Aero the Acro-Bat 2 (SNES) Review

Received: December 21st, 2017 | Written: November 10th-19th, 2020
Year: 1994 | Developed by: Iguana Entertainment and Iguana UK
Published by: Sunsoft

Oh, alright, let's talk about Aero some more... because I haven't covered enough content published by Sunsoft this year clearly...  ๐Ÿ˜‘
Iguana Entertainment's Aero the Acro-Bat, the brainchild of David Siller released for the MegaDrive/Genesis and SNES in 1993, was the company's answer to Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog as a speed-based platformer.  I don't consider it a great game by any means but I do commend its ideas and variety of ways to challenge you as a way to keep things fresh and its concept is sound... it's just too bad that it felt rather unpolished and constantly had you keep control of your pacing and traction so you don't quickly lose damage which got in the way of being consistently enjoyable for it ended up being only sporadically so.
Regardless of what people thought its overall quality was, though (personally I think it's okay), it was going to be a success regardless as it stood out among the other exhibits in Consumer Electronics Shows, David Siller's Aero the Acro-Bat won Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine's Best New Character award, Sunsoft gave to the first hundred people who sent them a 3x5 postcard with their address a free copy of the game, and because it ended up being a success even before the final release Sunsoft made the Acro-Bat their American mascot until 1995.
Images from GameFAQs
And it was the very same success that prompted the creation of the direct sequel, Aero the Acro-Bat 2, which Sunsoft released in America on November 1994 for the SNES and Genesis and later that year in Europe for the PAL SNES and MegaDrive market (distributed there by Bandai).  Created and produced by David Siller, directed by Nigel Cook and Carl Wade, designed by Cook, team led by Wade, programmed by Richard Cowie and Wade, project managed by Jay Moon, consumer product managed by Steve Gehrke with Al Artus acting as technical manager, and Craig Galley serving as technical director and executive produced by Iguana founder Jeff Spangenberg, this game was dedicated to the memory of revered Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna de Silva who sadly died at the age of thirty-four in a fatal crash while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy that May 1st, a fateful day that changed Formula One forever.
Aero the Acro-Bat 2 was co-developed by Iguana Entertainment and Iguana UK, the latter of whom worked on additional programming.  Iguana UK was originally founded in 1988 by brothers Jason and Darren Falcus as Optimus Software in the United Kingdom but got acquired by Iguana Entertainment five years later until 1995 when it got renamed Acclaim Studios Teesside (in 1999) after Acclaim acquired Iguana UK.  Some of the other games Iguana UK worked on under that name were the Nintendo 16-bit home conversions of Midway Manufacturing Company's NBA Jam and NBA Jam Tournament Edition, Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball, and College Slam.
I apologize to everyone for having to look at awkward NES-style borders again
Now if you'll recall from the end of the first game (if you managed to get that far, that is), after Aero came across as a psychopath as he anticipated his enemy's imminent death and got into a full-on celebratory dance after hearing a crash believing Ektor to be dead after deliberately pushing him off the edge with a drill attack, it teased that there was more to come.  This sequel takes place immediately following the ending of the first title; and like its predecessor since I've only played the SNES version, the SNES version is what I'll be covering.

Zero's only presence in this game outside of a password icon
For a visual recap through this game, though: following the defeat of a more intimidating-looking Edgar Ektor this time around as he escapes from the malfunctioning skull he rode on in the nick of time but lands on the edge of the platform barely containing his balance and gets knocked off by Aero with a drill attack.  As Ektor plunges towards the ground a loud crash is heard which Aero presumed meant the young prankster turned bitter old man for being banned from the circus for almost killing a lion two decades prior bit it, but unbeknownst to the Acro-Bat Ektor's right hand helper Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel rescued him.  Ektor then commands Zero to enact and put into action Plan "B".
Meanwhile, Aero heads back inside the Museum of Horrors and stumbles upon a room he had not previously accessed on the way here.  Concealed behind a curtain was a hidden room with a magic door floating above the ground; curious, Aero decides to approach it and investigate a little closer, and as he entered the magic door it began to act up and before he even knew it the door disappeared and vanished.  This is where Aero's adventures continue... because this platformer is technically the Part 2 to Aero the Acro-Bat's Part 1.

Left: Magically taken to Bell Castle | Right: Sliding down a leafy incline ๐Ÿƒ
In the action-platformer sequel Aero the Acro-Bat 2 you once again take control of the eponymous anthropomorphic crimson-colored acrobatic bat circus performer who is back with his old moves and has also developed new ones for this follow-up.  You can move left and right for this is one of those games where the longer you hold down a direction the more gradually you'll begin to run and gain traction, you can climb a ladder up and down, and you can crouch by holding down (with the wings cradling Aero's body acting as a deflector shield for any incoming projectile headed his way).
Left: Does a hunchback live here?  If not, why is there a literal springboard bed in the middle of the hallway?  Can't imagine that's comfortable to sleep in... | Right: Gathering all four letters spelling Aero's name, the subsequent stages will have each letter separated and spread out
The default controls for the face buttons are as follows: you can jump with the B button and press B again going upward or downward which will allow you to do a drill attack (which you'll be allowed to do again upon touching an enemy this way), with the Y button you can shoot a star towards your foe as a projectile weapon (which is really optional when you've got the more close-ranged drill attack, but it's there), and by holding down the X button and holding down any of the eight directions you can look ahead of, in front of, behind, or below Aero to survey the area around him.
Left: Peering at a magic bonus door | Right: Sliding down the ladder
There are also things you can make Aero do by pressing the right shoulder button (which isn't mentioned anywhere in the options, meaning you'll find out by accident; much in the same way you'll find out by accident that you can run in Jaleco's first Rushing Beat by holding either shoulder button down and do the slide maneuver in Hori Electric's Run Saber with either button because the in-game options sure aren't going to mention it, I mean it's not like they're required to surpass a peculiar obstacle or anything--oh wait...):
Left: Idling in the mist | Right: (That dopey-eyed blue bat looks like he'd react over the top a la a Creative Capers animated Disney character if I land a hit on him... let's try it)
while on the ladder you can choose to climb down normally or press the right shoulder button to make him slide down (like you could in the first game only with the X button the first time), and speaking of sliding should you have built up enough traction while moving left or right by pressing the button at the right moment you'll be able to make Aero slide under the very tiny gap which is mandatory on several occasions, and if you wish to do the drill attack while heading straight down simply press the right shoulder button in midair for you'll not only get an enemy right below you this way but also open up a delicate spot on the ground like that.
Left: Never trust a clown in monk's robes... moreover, never trust a clown in people clothes to make a valid criticism | Right: Upward drill attack
Throughout each stage you'll be gathering many items that will come to your aid or benefit: various food items for points, stars to augment the amount of star projectiles in your arsenal, a winged A icon to replenish your health by one (your capacity is five) which you can also get by drill attacking a winged A icon box with an unlimited supply in certain secret spots, a B icon to access the bonus segment, a pair of wings which will briefly allow you to fly up in any direction, gathering all four letters spelling Aero's name which will give you access to Ektor's Deal, a battery icon which will extend your airtime by letting you do two drill attacks in a row for an allotted amount of time, an S icon which will give you for a temporary period of time a flaming drill attack which will render the enemy that normally takes more than one hit to oust to be defeated in one blow, and an Aero head to get a new life.
Left: Skyrocketing up a cork | Right: Wipeout
In each stage you'll come across checkpoints in the form of tall striped markers which will take you back there should you lose a life, and your goal is to dispose of enemies in the way and reach the magic door; if you search thoroughly you'll be taken to a secret segment upon entering the magic door with the word "Bonus" flashing on it until you grab a life icon.  At the end of each non-boss stage you'll be tallied up based on how many stars and food items you collected and how many enemies you dispatched of, and should your overall percentage be 75% or above you'll garner a "free man" and you'll be taken to Ektor's Deal upon gathering the letters "A", "E", "R", and "O" (should you find them all).
Left: Aero quivering at that dreadful "bats in the belfry" joke heard in Golden Films' The Handsome Hunchback of Notre Dame Golden Films "adaptation" of Victor Hugo's book that Phelan "Phelous" Porteous reviewed almost five years ago and feeling shame by association for sharing the same species as those that laughed at their own non-joke | Right: Dropped off at Boardin Zone
Aero the Acro-Bat 2's visuals were done by Adrian Ludley, Gregg Hargrove, Patrick Thomas, William B. Yeatts, and Matt Stubbington, led by lead artists Jonathan Casco and Michael McCallion, and it is a really good game to look at; some of the backgrounds have been prerendered too, which is also neat.  And as a cool bit of continuity like the last game there are either color-coded stages based on which act you're in (green, blue, purple, et al) or the sky will go from dawn to dusk like in Boardin Zone and Fortress Redstar (with it being set during the day in the first act, followed by the red sunset sky in the middle act, and the third act transpiring during the night).  ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
Left: Jump over the rock | Right: Jump up from the icy, frozen waters quickly, in quick succession
Inside Bell Castle are windows with a parallax scrolling view of the outside, heavily shaded corridors with bells sometimes emanating from the shadows, and at one point the whole area is shrouded in atmospheric mist; the Boardin Zone and Fort Redstar stages have both got a deeply chilly and snowy look and feel (especially with the parallax scrolling in the latter stages); Dr. Dis Industries is darkly colored with the wired fences looming in the foreground to give it an added sense of visual depth; and the Performer's Dungeon stages have got circus tent-like weaving backdrops but are shrouded in eerie shadow and occasional jail bars.
Left: Gathering food points | Right: Properly time your jump from the ramp to leap sky high
My favorite-looking stages in the game are the ones that take place in Disco Fever as it appropriately takes place in a music-themed setting (which is always great to have) with the instruments like the cymbals and xylophones, deadly metronomes with spike-adorned pendulums, vinyl records and musical notes used as platforms, lava lamps serving as tall obstacles, and best of all in the background are funky psychedelic colors that gradually shift and morph into different colors throughout the course of these stages which give them a real '70s flavor and aesthetic.  Absolutely mesmerizing to look at and vibrantly flashy to boot.  ๐Ÿ˜Ž
What scientist wears sandals?  ๐Ÿคจ  What a weirdo!
After clearing each area and before you face a boss there are very nicely drawn still images as a way to progress the story while the narration and dialogue is being told right below it, with a solid sense of colorful detail and interestingly chosen perspectives (though when it comes to interacting with the human scientist Dr. Hans Dis it's from Aero's point of view as he hovers above him in a continuously circular motion).
Left: Open a passageway with a switch | Right: Invisiplatforms
The animation is also improved upon as it's solidly fluid; Aero the Acro-Bat now has a sauntering animation with his eyes closed which turns into dashing with determined eyes the longer you hold down the direction while retaining that smile, he crouches this time with his wings shielding his body, his drill attack animations are swiftly done, I like the animation for when Aero slides below tiny gaps, and I really appreciate the sense of detail with the snow slush coming from his snowboard or shoes any time Aero moved in Boardin Zone and Fort Redstar;
Left: Cossack dancer | Right: About to be shot up a cannon
and when he loses all his health in this sequel he turns into an angel with gray robes with angelic wings on his back as he peacefully plays his silent harp while floating upwards as the screen fades to black, and for another death animation be sure not to get knocked by a bell or spiked ball or to be pushed by the heavy winds of the fan otherwise he'll fly towards the screen and wipe down from that spot unconscious (with a brief white flash the moment his body makes a hard impact).  I love how the spotlight stays on him as you decide whether to use a continue or forfeit when you're taken to the game over screen.
Left: In the process of dismantling a stack of Russian Mettaurs | Right: Slippery snow
There is a good variety of enemies you contend with; like the clowns in monk robes, spiders, Cossack dancers and bouncing head enemies with Cossack hats that sometimes appear in a stack (basically Russian stereotypes), sentient music notes, jiving and coin flipping '70s disco stereotypes with blatantly loud and outdated fashion designs with ridiculous wigs on (the ones with the red wigs make me think of Ronald McDonald for some reason), snow cap wearing robots, miniature clowns, fire conjuring anthropomorphic wolf creatures, engine mechanics with walrus mustaches, and different kinds of bats (including normal-sized ones, which is weird considering what kind of animal Aero is), et al.
Just a little refresher on what he looked like at one point--look at how helpless he appears trying to maintain his balance, and Aero who knocks him off is supposed to be the hero?  Suuuuuuure...  ๐Ÿ™„
And Edgar Ektor has also received a visual overhaul as he looks more menacing and intimidating in design than he did in the first game whenever you got to fight him in the end of that one, aided by the heavy amount of shading he was given to emphasize how evil he was versus the bitter old man in a lame clown getup that tried too hard to look scary to no avail.
Left: Look at that snow slush, great attention to detail | Right: Blasted upward
The music and sound effects for Aero the Acro-Bat 2 were once again provided by Rick Fox of Fox Productions (who's also done music for Iguana Entertainment's Aero the Acro-Bat, their Super Famiport of Data East's coin-op Side Pocket, Frank Thomas Big Hurt Baseball, and All-Star 1997 Featuring Frank Thomas), with the music coordinated by Jay Moon and Darrin Stubbington (both of whom also acted as music coordinators to Fox for fellow Iguana Entertainment titles Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel and NFL Quarterback Club), and I consider it to be a huge improvement over the first game's soundtrack as it not only aimed for a more engrossing and atmospheric composition but also added a '70s and '80s flavor in the mix which make the themes sound bouncy and catchy.  ๐Ÿ˜ƒ  On top of that, the upgrade in sound quality is incredible.
Left: Jumping on a moving platform | Right: Star toss ⭐
The title theme, which is also played in Fort Redstar's second act, is very fun-sounding and jovial; the theme heard during the first part of the introduction (as well as the first act in the Performer's Dungeon and credits) really knows how to draw you in with its atmospheric aura; all three of Bell Castle's themes are engagingly catchy; the theme for the first and third acts of Boardin Zone is such a riveting listen and reminds me in some aspects of the eerie atmosphere of one of Rare's Donkey Kong Country/Super Donkey Kong's snow heavy area themes; the themes for the first and third acts of Fort Redstar has got a thickly Russian sound and instrumentation to match the very chilly country it's very clearly parodying;
Left: Wings act as a deflector shield this time | Right: Not sure why Aero is tipping at the top of that snow-dipped incline there, but if it's worthy of a screenshot...
I dug the two themes from Disco Fever with the '70s influenced aesthetic and how infectiously catchy they are to listen to; all three themes in Dr. Dis Industries all have a nuanced sense of composition with the frequent use of slap bass while sounding mystifyingly quiet with an atmospheric '80s vibe; the second act Boardin Zone theme (which also plays in the final Ektor's Engine stage) has got a deeply and atmospherically thrashing do or die quality while also reminding me of a theme from the aforementioned Donkey Kong Country in certain aspects;
Left: Those health supply boxes have infinite supply of lost health for you to replenish when you find them, and they will stay in place forever| Right: Who knew November 1994 SNES Sunsoft releases required at least one single half pipe boss segment for its boss to attempt to roll over you?  The other one that springs to mind is the Timekeeper in Funcom's Daze Before Christmas
my favorite theme from this platformer however is the third Performer's Dungeon theme (which is also played in the second part of the intro, the continue screen, and while playing Ektor's Deal) which I find to be so simultaneously soothing and relaxing as well as hypnotizingly entrancing and tantalizing it's that succinctly composed (in fact, it's almost ethereal).  The sound effects are solid, and this time there are high-pitched digitized audio bytes coming from Aero on occasion with "WOW!" (when the Sunsoft logo shows up and when you get a life) and "Yeah!" when you replenish your lost health.
Left: Disco Fever | Right: Record hopping
Each location is divided into a few stages, and at the end of a few locations (and the end of each of stage in Dr. Dis Industries) you're required to defeat a boss to progress to the subsequent area for they require ten hit points to take out.  Clearing the whole location will grant you a literal four character password to pick up from that point, and like its predecessor you have a limited continue system.  Using up a continue will set you back at the beginning of the present stage you were at when you lost your last life (if you got a game over during a boss fight you have to start from the stage that led up to it) which is more reasonable than starting from the beginning of the entire area like its predecessor had you do.

The only time Mode 7 is ever used is during the mini-game Ektor's Deal as his floating head scales towards you when he says "Welcome!" or "You Lose" with a deep, bellowing digitized voice upon choosing wrong or disappears into the darkness gradually once you chose correctly.  Ektor's Deal is really Aero the Acro-Bat 2's take on "Three Balls, One Cup" (accessed after getting all four letters spelling Aero's name in each stage or in the options screen where you're given four speed settings),
only in this case you're given a chance to either pick the cup that features an Aero figurine to get a new life or a spring (at least, I think that's supposed to be a spring?) for what I presume must be to attain another continue (if that's not the case, though, I don't know what purpose it serves),
so you'll have to keep your eye on the prize if you hope to win it by paying attention to the cup that's being moved; in later chances, however, Ektor will shuffle the cups at a faster rate than before and magically switch them on occasion by joining his hands together, so be careful with your choice.  Look at it this way, though: you have two times a success rate given the figurine and spring(?) than you would in a regular game of "Three Balls, One Cup".  ๐Ÿ˜
At least I can press Select even while the cups are being shuffled, which is not unreasonable in the case of KCE Hawaii's Frogger's Journey: The Forgotten Relic/Frogger: Kodaibunmei no Nazo
As advantageous as it might seem, though, it's still very reasonable especially at three cups.  And there's a reason for the game to work with three cups primarily, because if you try to add a couple more and increase the speed with each round to the point that it's too quick for even your eyes to register because they're a literal blur,
I used the Photos software to adjust the coloring of this screenshot I took (thereby making the colors of Frogger's blue shorts and brown vest more pronounced), and I'm glad I did, it looks more colorfully appeasing this way  ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
then it just becomes exhausting, wouldn't you agree?  ๐Ÿ˜ต

I learned of the Aero the Acro-Bat games well over a dozen years ago, with my first recollection of seeing Aero in the Sunsoft logo whenever I played Argonaut Software's Scooby-Doo Mystery on the SNES with my cousins as a child during the '90s; I had no idea there were games featuring him back then (none of my cousins owned either game featuring Aero, on the SNES or the Genesis) until I found out about them on the internet as a teenager (or that he even was an actual video game character until then).  Consensus always said the second game was more polished and superior to the first, but I wanted to be fair and play it in the proper order.  In the Summer of 2017 I played the original (which I didn't really muster the courage to play all the way through until years later) and I asked for Aero the Acro-Bat 2 for the SNES that Christmas.
Aero the Acro-Bat has got a good concept behind it with the variety of ways it challenged you to keep things fresh (like going through hoops, riding a roller coaster, doing a barrel ride, using the bungee cord, discovering secret passages, et al) unfortunately the execution proper didn't really live up to its lofty premise as it made the grave mistake of valuing quantity over quality.  With no password (unless you count a stage skip code, though it is possible to get to the end without it) and an unforgiving continue system forcing you to start the area from the beginning, you constantly had to maintain Aero's speed or midair position so as to not lose damage quickly (or insta-die to spikes and fire) due to lack of control (or careless playing) and it suffered greatly from lack of polish.  That's not to say there weren't moments when it wasn't fun, there were, it's just a shame that it wasn't of the more consistent variety.  ๐Ÿ˜ž
I reviewed Iguana Entertainment's first successful game back in April and gave it a 6 out of 10, which I feel is fair as I find it to be okay for what it's worth; and since I don't recycle video game screenshots from my reviews like I did in the past (as doing that gives people the impression that reviewers don't play the games anymore after reviewing them which is not true in my case as I still play games even well after I review them regardless of quality) I had to play through it again to get these new screenshots you see here to elucidate my point.  On the bright side, Aero the Acro-Bat's Mode 7-based freefall diving in a pool bonus stage of the circus made me think of the skydiving sequence of and give cause to reference Nintendo's Pilotwings before I got to review it this Summer and wished that flight simulator classic a Happy 30th Anniversary which deserved it because that's a great game in my opinion.  ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
Left: Lava lamps | Right: Cymbals and notes
Now Aero the Acro-Bat 2, the Iguana Entertainment platformer I was curious of the most, was a refreshing breath of fresh air.  Sure, it retained most of the controls from its predecessor, but it was more enjoyable to play and felt much more polished this time around.  ๐Ÿ˜ƒ  It may not have had as much variety in terms of ways to occupy your time and challenge you but making up for that is that this sequel did the very thing its predecessor should've done in the first place: have quality matter over quantity.
Left: Arrows don't always take you to the correct path but to hidden items, so stay cautious | Right: Sliding down shiny vinyl records (or... they could be CDs, but that format didn't exist in the '70s)
Swinging controls have been greatly improved as now you can swing back and forth to allow yourself some momentum when letting go of it, I liked that you could slide down very low gaps with the right timing (I just wish it was made a bit clear in the options and didn't require to be learnt by accident), like the last game there are walls you could walk through and certain paths that had to be drill attacked in order to access it, you can now slide down sharp inclines,
Left: If you want to summon the magic exit door you must accurately play a piano equivalent of "Simon Says" | Right: Sliding below
certain paths in some stages had to be opened by finding and pulling a lever which gives an extra task so as to not be too simplistic, Dr. Dis Industries has got a series of warps where progression is made by utilizing the correct one, and most importantly the gameplay and structure and area design have been made more forgiving and reasonable this time.  The second set of areas, Boardin Zone, is devoted entirely to snowboarding and is a nice detour from the action platforming fare, too.
Left: Swinging on a set of cymbals thereby making them clash | Right: Standing up after doing the slide
The game focuses a lot more on exploration given the open-ended designs of the stages but there's plenty of moments when speed comes into play (including one where you're chased down by an avalanche) so long as you dealt with the enemies beforehand; once you clear out an enemy you won't have to deal with that enemy anymore until you start over via continue or just for the sake of starting over, and the same applies to power ups you pick up especially after using up a checkpoint.  For the most part the gameplay and structure and flow feel more agreeable and fun; and to keep you honest there are certain obstacles where if you're not careful they will knock you towards the screen.
Well, they are all rodents, technically
I said it before but Aero the Acro-Bat and Aero the Acro-Bat 2, when played back to back, form up one whole adventure that spans two games which is a very interesting choice when most sequels at the time opted to take place some time after the events of the first iteration and not immediately after the fact.  That said though, given that information, there were a few moments when I questioned its direct continuity: in the former game we know that Aero is a circus performing acrobatic bat gone rogue but sometime in the latter game it's revealed that he is a member of a band named Rusty Rust and that he "missed practice for weeks"...  What???  ๐Ÿ˜ฒ  Did Aero have two jobs and we're only just finding out about this now??  Was this planned from the get go or was this merely an afterthought?
The way she was grasping for an alibi and calling herself a runaway slave made me think she was faking it and not risking to say an inappropriately titled profession for a family-friendly game but when I got to the Boris boss fight at Fort Redstar he asked Aero if he saw his "slave"...  oh, so I guess she was being genuine, then...  ๐Ÿ˜•  Not that her "Uhhh"s at each grasp to placate Aero in a rather seductive manner made that very clear...
Once you clear all of Bell Castle you'll stumble across a female bat named Batasha of Eastern European origin whom Aero immediately falls for and doesn't detect any clear treachery from (even after impromptu kissing Aero--which would be a complete "Yikes!" (๐Ÿ˜ฌ) if he wasn't completely receptive to the femme bat he had just met--and taking off a piece of his wing as part of Ektor's Plan "B", but he doesn't know about that at this point); which feels a bit wrong in retrospect.
For that matter, didn't Aero have a girlfriend in the first game that he helped liberate from a cage early on?  I guess Aeriel didn't really matter all that much to him (or character creator David Siller, for that matter) as she neither pops up nor gets referenced in this sequel; in fact, she's been completely forgotten and has amounted to nothing.  What a sad waste of a character Aeriel was, as part of this game's plot revolves around Aero looking for Batasha... spoilers: he never sees her again!  ๐Ÿ˜‘
Left: Record jumping | Right: The left note goes "๐Ÿ˜" to which the right note goes "๐Ÿ˜†"
One of the recurring themes (outside of Boris prior to his fight in Fort Redstar, Dr. Hans Dis in Dr. Dis Industries, and Edgar Ektor at the beginning and pre-final stage cutscenes) is that a vital character will physically show up once in a cutscene (or in one case, during battle) and then never again outside of a password icon.  It's not a game-breaking issue or anything but it is a bit distracting once you realize it.
So, no ninja mechanic squirrel occasionally thwarting or squeezing the living daylights out from a supposed bat hero in this sequel as he was too busy starring in his own platformer which coincidentally came out around the same time as Aero the Acro-Bat 2 and was apparently a lot edgier on the Sega version as you'd have to be thirteen to play it--unless Sega's pre-ESRB American video game rating system was on Quaaludes (I haven't played it yet, so I wouldn't know, and don't wish to find out until I play it for myself).
In all seriousness, though, Crash Bandicoot in spite of his silent video game protagonist status has got much more charm and likability than Aero the Acro-Bat ever will in my book... and I just realized one of my favorite video game characters from childhood turns twenty-five next year, WAAAAAAUGH!!!!!  ๐Ÿ˜ฑ
And Aero would've probably headlined more games (and become Universal Interactive Studios' mascot) had it not been for that darn bandicoot.  Kinda makes you feel bad that the publisher bought the Acro-Bat off from David Siller after he left Sunsoft in hopes to create more games with him in vain until he bought him back years later.  I guess it comes to show that Aero, who used to be a success in the early '90s, stopped being relevant come 1996 and that Crash was here to stay (RIP Aku Aku voice actor Mel Winkler).
I can only imagine how washed out, needlessly brightened, and/or fuzzy the colors and visual quality of their emulation were like on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console  ๐Ÿ˜”
It's still a mystery to me how both the SNES versions of Aero the Acro-Bat and Aero the Acro-Bat 2, games long since developed by a company that had been defunct for years, managed to see a digital rerelease on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console in 2010 (unless someone at Sunsoft contacted David Siller and asked for his permission to digitally upload games featuring his creation) but it's nice that the choice was there for those who didn't own a physical SNES console or still downloaded games from that digital shop by this point (until it was shut down completely in January 2019).  Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel couldn't join the fray as he technically wasn't David Siller's baby but his baby Justin Siller's baby.
Left: Running on top of a record bridge | Right: Do the bonus record slide
But if I'm to be fair, with the two games forming up the Part 1 and Part 2 of an adventure as a whole (a through line narrative pretty much), Aero's journey was pretty much over.  As self-congratulatory as it may feel at the end, Aero the Acro-Bat 2 had reached a concrete resolution for the Acro-Bat's entire adventure that spanned two games.  There was really nothing more for Aero to accomplish or achieve at this point; I mean, where else could they go with him?  In that respect, Iguana Entertainment made the right decision.
Left: ๐ŸŽต Ooh, yooou can daaance, yooou can jii-iiive, having the time of your lii-iife ๐ŸŽต | Right: Deathly metronomes
The password option is a very helpful tool, but luckily if you're got the skills and adapt to its difficulty curve it can be beaten in one whole sitting... it's just going to take two to two and half hours to play through depending how you do.  Seriously, this is the longest non-RPG/non-real time strategy/non-interactive mystery solving Sunsoft-published Nintendo 16-bit game I've ever played, I find it insane that a platformer under their label could last this long (not even its predecessor had this much longevity).
Left: Tuba blast | Right: Riding on a literal two-note platform
It's a manageable two to two and a half hours if you stick with it and is generally fun to play, don't get me wrong, but the length does feel a bit exaggerated to be honest.  It's also worth noting that the entirety of the final stage leading up to the battle with Edgar Ektor on Ektor's Engine is a full-on force scroller where you must contend with enemies, be sure to leap over spikes, and avoid taking damage as best as possible lest you wish to restart from the nearest checkpoint.
And while I consider today's game to be an improvement in almost every regard I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I had a hard time making out some of the names of the people involved in the credits because of the faux chrome color scheme (y'know, blue at the top, white in the middle, and yellow at the bottom) with the blue blending in too much with the starry sky.
Ah, yes!  Aero couldn't possibly have sensed that Ektor was going to be saved because he was too busy anticipating his death with that psychotic expression on his face to notice a jetpack-wearing Zero whizzing right past him--like a myopic buffoon!!  ๐Ÿ˜ 
As horrified as I was at the horrible implication of Aero's actions, considering his supposed protagonist role, at the end as it kept cutting back and forth to a helpless falling Ektor and Aero standing at the edge of the platform, I could at least read the names in the first title because they were colored green and didn't blend in with the blue NES-bordered cloudy sky.
Though Sunsoft did promise us "many new and exciting games" at the end of Aero the Acro-Bat which is true (based on what I played, that is) as the publisher could only go uphill from there in regards to the quality of the games they released so they kept their promise which is nice (especially when one of them is an improved upon sequel).  Well done on actually keeping your end of the bargain, Sunsoft.  ๐Ÿ‘
Left: Flaming up | Right: Shooting stars at a moving target
With its predecessor serving as the Part 1 to this game's Part 2 I find the jump in quality between games to be incredibly astounding; going from an entry with very good ideas undermined by its unpolished execution and inconsistent enjoyability factor to the subsequent entry that had an added sense of largely consistent fun to the mix if not for the badly needed polish then for its comparatively forgiving difficulty and structure even if it is a bit too long for its own good.  Playing through both games really puts things into perspective as it shows that Iguana was willing to improve upon the previous platformer's flaws and slightly expand on the gameplay.
Left: Infiltrating Dr. Dis Industries | Right: Engaging in battle with Alter Aero
Aero the Acro-Bat 2 is also that rare case of a video game where I ended up liking it more than I did the actual title character; his personality just doesn't sit well with me and more often than not I found Aero to come across as unlikable (and don't think I'll let go of the end of the first game anytime soon).
Christmas is coming next month, YAY!!!  ๐ŸŽ„
As video game bats go, he is certainly no nice chap, I'll tell you that.  ๐Ÿง๐Ÿต
The most I've personally found Aero to be endearing was in his holiday-adorned appearance in the Sunsoft logo screen from Funcom's Daze Before Christmas, though this game's cutscene of Aero curiously investigating a mysterious magic door makes a close second.  And considering the impurity of the implications behind his actions, watching Aero ironically turn into an angel upon losing a life is pretty amusing.
Left: Ah, a platform worthy of Capcom (in particular Makaimura) | Right: Round Two!  Fight!
If you have to play just one Aero the Acro-Bat game, make it be this one as it's fun and fairly structured and polished and all the stuff I wish the first one had been; though if you feel that you have to play the first game, don't let me stop you.  It's not necessary to play it prior to this one (this sequel does recap the ending of what came before so you don't miss the plot) but you might gain a bigger perspective of the adventure spanning two games if you do.  Aero the Acro-Bat 2 is a game well-worth playing, the second best crimson-colored rodent platformer on the Nintendo 16-bit console behind Ocean Software's Mr. Nutz in my opinion, and it's a good (if not needlessly long) time while it lasts.  ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

My Personal Score: 7.5/10
d(^-^)bTO EACH THEIR OWNd(^-^)b
● Anyway, no more reviews of games beginning with the letter "A" for the remainder of the year from me, I think four is more than enough for 2020.

● The reason I started with one life instead of the usual three is because the first in-game screenshots I took of this game for this review were from Ektor's Deal which I played once from the options.

● I'm sad that Alex Trebek died.  ๐Ÿ˜”  Jeopardy! (and the world) will not be the same without him.

Thank you for reading my review, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think (neither spam nor NSFW allowed); hope you have a great day, be a nice human, keep yourself protected during this pandemic, and take care!  ๐Ÿ™‚
Oh, Aero, Aero, Aero, you couldn't learn that from the first time, could you?  You already have a trademark symbol by your title, you don't need one beside your person, too!  Seriously...  ๐Ÿ˜‘