Section Z comes to the system after Gradius so it already has a lot going against it if it wants a shot at the Essential Games List. Section Z is remembered today for giving players the option of shooting behind them. I’ll be honest and say that when playing the game it never occurred to me that other SHMUPs didn’t let you do this. It’s a cool thought, but when you actually see it you kinda just wish there weren’t enemies behind you in the first place. Where Gradius offered the player choice over their play style, Section Z chooses to provide only the illusion of choice. You can decide to go up or down in each room, but it won’t really be anything other than guess work. Some send you far back others send you far ahead, the only way to know is to try it. This results in either a very short or VERY long game. The one thing that doesn’t change throughout though is the gameplay loop. There are some power ups, but for the most part you’re merely doing your best to shoot everything at your direction. I can’t vouch for that being a ton of fun, honestly at times it’s frustrating.