hadn't even played the first till now. reminds me of the pseudo 3D stages from Contra (the even stages), but with the handy addition of the rolling dodge and the grenade instead of weapon ups (i keep expecting somebody to drop spread-shot, lol).
gotta say, i'm pretty impressed. fairly replayable, and not too overdone musically or difficulty wise, the balance is pretty well spot on. good game. thanks for the experience.