Astro Duel 2 is a shooter/platformer for the Nintendo Switch. When I say shooter/platformer, I don’t mean it simply merges these genres into one. No, Astro Duel 2 features two distinct components: platforming and shooting. It’s a cool concept that generally works, despite a few flaws.

I enjoy shooters and platformers, so a game combining both is right up my alley. In Astro Duel 2, levels begin with a short platforming experience before your character jumps into his or her ship. You’re instantly in space, taking down all kinds of alien craft. Then you notice some kind of portal on the edge of a building. Flying to this edge transports you inside where you can run and gun to defeat even more enemies before popping back into your ship at another doorway. This seamless transition between gameplay styles makes this title easy to enjoy. It’s only fair, then, to talk about each half of the game separately. Let’s start with platforming.

I’m a huge platforming enthusiast; running and jumping are my jam. Astro Duel 2 presents a simple approach to the genre, with a small sprite who can run, jump, and shoot. Each section is self-contained, comprising small rooms to dodge and attack enemies. It works well, with basic controls that make it accessible. 

Astro Duel 2 - Nintendo Switch - screen 2

Having said that, it’s not always obvious how to do certain things, like use special weapons. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realize that picking up new weapons didn’t automatically change my default weapon. There’s a separate button for that, and they have limited use in terms of ammunition. An indication of how much ammo is left for these special weapons would be welcome, too.

The shooter section keeps things equally simple. On the plus side, this creates something easy to jump into and enjoy. On the other hand, it lacks the depth to keep players hooked for long periods. Flying is generally fine, though I found my ship somewhat hard to control. It feels a bit loose, but maybe that’s meant to emulate the feeling of being in space? It’s not uncontrollable by any means, it just feels a little different from what I expected.

Shooting is also slightly different. Rather than having the ability to shoot repeatedly, you’re limited to three bullets at a time. These replenish after a short wait, but it feels slightly stilted and unnecessary. While it helps create a more strategic approach to shooting, I prefer the fast-paced action of a typical shooter. 

Astro Duel 2 - Nintendo Switch - screen 1

Still, different does not equal bad, and Astro Duel 2 presents a fun experience once you know what you’re doing. There are several stages to play through, each featuring waves of enemies. You can take three hits before dying completely, requiring you to restart at wave one. 

Shooting enemies drops money, and earning enough will allow you to open new missions. It’s a simple prospect that forces you to keep an eye out for moolah floating around. Some repetition is necessary to earn enough for some levels, but, thankfully, each mission is succinct enough that replays don’t feel too burdensome.

You can choose from four pixelated avatars, even giving your selected astro assassin a unique name. There are two modes to select from: missions and co-op. What’s missing, though, is a story mode. The missions, though enjoyable, become repetitive after a few hours, particularly without the overarching threat of a bigger enemy to work towards.

Astro Duel 2 - Nintendo Switch - screen 3

Overall, Astro Duel 2 is a neat combination of two popular genres. The simple setup is fun, despite my initial issues with the controls. It could benefit from a little more variety and some kind of story mode to tie it all together, but the addition of a co-op mode is welcome.