Mary and Edgar's- sorry, Edger's- battle to save Colony 9 and Cynthia's casket begins in Round 1.
Straight away, you'll notice the biggest change between the arcade game and this one- bottomless pits. About half the rounds in this game are suspended over pits, and taking a dive costs you a life, no matter how much energy you've got left. Since there's no continues allowed, losing a life this early on must be avoided, so you'd be best grabbing the Jetpack. Of course, one of you will have to go without if you're in two-player mode. There's not much going on here- the hardest part is right at the beginning! If you go full-pelt, a blue ghost will spawn and chase you, and you can't outrun them, so wait for them to spawn and kill them, then press on, being careful during the first jump (hit your head on the ceiling and you'll fall) to grab the Jetpack. Also watch out for the red platforms that fire bullets at you- wait for them, then push on. The other enemies are easily avoided, except the glowing sphere (it follows you in an awkward area, pictured above- wait for it before proceeding), and you just need to be careful when they spawn- a cloud will appear when an enemy is about to enter the stage, so be ready. Aside from that, you just need to adjust to the game physics (especially moving) and you should be OK.
The Star Power appears shortly before the boss, in the gap between two towers, so don't miss it.
On the plus side, there's no faffing about looking for the key on this early stage- the boss is right in front of the door. It's a giant bird that flies up and down, shooting a spread shot of bullets when you attack it. Ideally, you should have the Jetpack for this battle, but the all-important Power Drink is underneath the platform the boss is on, and since you can't crouch while wearing the Jetpack, you'll have to get hit. Let a bullet hit you, while being careful not to be hit too high up so you can't reach the Jetpack, then crawl into the space under the platform where the Exit is. Move all the way to the end, shooting the corner on your way, and it'll appear after a few shots, so grab it then get the Jetpack to take on this boss.
Since it'll fire a bullet spray when you attack it, you're best shooting the boss when it's moving away from the floor, i.e. get below it and shoot when it's moving upwards. Your best chance is it'll ocassionally slowly descend- shooting it when it's doing this won't get it to fire back, instead it'll fire only when it lands. Pump it full of lead and it'll drop the key, so just go through the door and we're done here.
Here's the results screen after each stage.
For some reason, your overall score is called Gold, and on this screen you'll see the points you earn added to the Gold score to give you your running total. For a game that places a fair bit of importance on your score, it's odd that this is the only place you'll actually see it. You can't even see it when you pause the game. What's more alarming, though, is judging from this first stage, it doesn't look like you'll be getting that many points per stage. How will you get the gun upgrades? We'll find out soon enough, but for now, let's rush into the next combat zome.
Oh, and between stages, you get 3000 extra energy points. You'll need it!
Round 2 is slightly nicer in terms of level design- no pits to fall down, which is a plus- but we meet two of the more annoying enemies here. First, there's stationary eyeball enemies that can't be hurt when their eye is closed- you have to shoot them once to get their eye to open, but when they do, they'll shoot at you. Shoot 'em, duck, then quickly shoot 'em again! The other one is what I can only describe as flying lips that are also eyes. These guys follow you relentlessly, and open their eyes (shoot them when they do!) then stick their tongue out at you to fire a bullet. They're faster than you, so you're better staying away from them until they leave themselves open... But if you do take it out, it'll respawn quickly, so just run. Fortunately, you can avoid encountering them entirely by not using the platforms in this section.
Aside from those enemies, there's not much to report here. You might want to grab the invincibility missile on your way- shoot at the stationary eyeball enemy just beyond the Exit door repeatedly and it'll appear. Whether you grab it or not, get to the end of the blue room and go through the door (no key required) to end up in the second area of this round, a blue room/ From this point on, stages will be split into two areas- the manual calls the first area the Surface World, and the second the Under World. For the sake of simplicity, we'll just be referring to them by what they look like, so the blue room is what this one is.
Again, you'll just want to dash through here, stopping only to deal with eyeball enemies. You might notice the Star Power appear on a ledge at the top, but you should get it on the way back. At the end of this corridor, the boss appears! It's a chameleon sorta thing that flits around, firing bullets at you. There's a Jetpack just before the boss, so grab it and make your way to the lower-left corner. The boss won't move into this section, but it will get close, so take that opportunity to wail on his with your gun. He doesn't take that many shots to take down, so once you're done, grab the key and let's get going!
Before you do, though, go back for the Star Power.
It's in this alcove here. Destroy the top eye cannon and it'll appear, as will a power drink after the boss dies.
Now, what we're supposed to do is go straight for the exit door, but before that, let's talk secrets. As we saw at the end of the first stage, you really don't earn that many points in this game. How are you gonna get your gun upgrades, then? I mean, you could beat the game without them, but your starting gun sucks, and the extra life you get at 80000 is very handy. I feared initially that the only way to get the required amount of points was to grind for them, but a mostly-complete super-play of the game by player GMIX6809, found on YouTube had the answer- you must find the bonus rooms to stand a chance!
Every round after the first one has a secret room to find, hidden in the doorway between each room. To access them, you need to do something special in the stage before entering the door, and you'll be taken straight to it. In these rooms, your energy meter stops draining, being hit doesn't take any energy away, and you'll fight floating orbs that home in on your position until your undisclosed time is over and you're booted back to the main stage. The special thing about them is these enemies only drop items worth 500 or 2000 points. Needless to say, this is very profitable, especially since they attack in packs of five. The main tip here is to enter when you've got the Jetpack so you can hit the orbs easily, and don't get hit- that may sound obvious, but when you get hit in these rooms, you lose your Jetpack and it doesn't reappear for you to get it back. I'm guessing it's done this way so it's impossible to lose the Jetpack (and the key) permanently in this room. Just watch out, yeah? Try and get the orbs gathered in one spot, them destroy them all for points!
In this case, after beating the boss, enter the door back at the start of the room, then go in the door again.
You'll end up here. Shoot the orbs! Get them points! Level up, damnit!
When it's over, you're back in the blue room. Get back to the cave room and work you way to the exit.
See? We're now a Captain, and Mary's pleased about that- her gun now has better range...
... As we'll find out, that might not be a good thing.
Round 3 has a new obstacle for you- destroyable blobs. They're only in the first room, but carving the right path would be a good idea, as if you don't, you'll be hemmed in with some of the most annoying enemies. You don't want that to happen. First, get the Jetpack- blast a path through the middle, avoiding the bird that keeps spawning, then once you're airborne, leave the way you came in and go through the top route instead. You'll reach a door at one point, skip it and just go through the top route again. Watch out for the new enemy, the skull- you can only destroy it when it turns to face you, and you'd better kill it quick because it makes a beeline for you! When you reach the end of here, there's only a barrier of blobs between you and the boss.
Don't go in guns blazing yet, though. See the row of blobs Mary's aiming at in the screenshot on the left? Fire there a couple of times and a secret invincibility missile will appear. Make sure you carve an exit out of the blobs before you grab it, though- you don't have long before it'll wear off. The boss moves its head around erratically and fires bullets (what a surprise) so what you need to do is stay on that head like glue and fill it full of bullets as fast as possible. If you manage to stay close to the head and avoid missing too many shots, the boss should go down before your invincibility wears out. If you're not fast enough, though... You'll probably get hit before you can react, but once you get your bearings back, get away from the beast and focus fire on the head. Once it's dead, go through the door.
It's time to get to that bonus stage! I had to find this myself, as the super-play mentioned previously is missing this round. Fortunately, my time spent playing The Tower of Druaga has given me a sixth sense for slightly bullshit game secrets (although it's apparently not good to discover the other four secret rooms on my own, hurr) and it's actually pretty easy to find. Once you're in the yellow room with the pots, immeadiately go up and to the left- the path's blocked by a pot. Shoot the back of the pot- nowhere in particular, but shoot it a lot. About 20 shots ought to cover it. Head back to the door you entered the room from, and...
Hey, look at that, we're in the bonus room!
If you don't autoamtically get sent here, go back and shoot the pot some more.
Back in the pot room, now we're in here for more than five seconds, let's look at the major hazard here. Half of the pots will spawn little metal balls a few seconds after you scroll them on-screen- they'll hurt you if you touch them. Also, shooting them makes them pop quickly upwards in a spread pattern- when they hit the floor, they'll roll along it, so don't let them roll into you. Really though, the only reason you shouldn't blaze through this section with your Jetpack is to grab another power drink- after the first hole you should shoot the black tentacle-y alien, then drop the Jetpack so you can crawl under the platform where the power drink appears. Well, it should appear, but for some reason this one only seems to appear when it feels like it.
Also, the final pot before the exit hides the Star Power- shoot its lip until it appears. Then get the hell outta here!
Ah, it's the results screen again... Except we've put it here twice. What gives?
See, if you reached the bonus rooms in Rounds 2 and 3, you should be looking at around 55000-60000 points from each of those stages. That means you might just get over 12000 points, upgrading you to Colonel and giving you the wave beam. If you're a little short, you'll only get the Major rank upgrade and an extra life. However, if you do get the Colonel ranking in this stage, you'll miss out on the extra life given to you at the Major rank. Remember, there's no continues, so this is a problem.
There are two ways around this- either build up about 20000 points in the first round via grinding so you skip Captain and go to Major at the end of Round 2, as the wave shot has the extended distance you'd get from being a Captain anyway, or score low enough to miss becoming a Colonel on Round 3- you'll never earn enough points to go to the next rank on one round, so you won't miss the wave gun. The super play video we used for reference took the former option, but because a) I'd like to avoid grinding if I can, and b) most normal players (hello) would probably get the lower score anyway, we're going into Round 4 as just a Major. We'll get that wave gun soon enough.
On the next page, Mary and Edger finish the fight!