Ikari Warriors review
Frustration in its purest form
Ported from the arcade, Ikari Warriors is an overhead gun and run game where you shoot everything that gets in your way while getting from Point A to Point B. Games like this really influenced a lot of third person shooters, like Gears of War for example, with an overhead camera view and the objective to shoot or blow up stuff. Suffice to say, Ikari Warriors on the NES seemed pretty good at face value and during the late-80's or mid-90's, but unfortunately, it aged fairly poorly. Sluggish movement controls with a very limited soundtrack that sounds mediocre at best with some above-average looking graphics... I seriously don't know how this is considered a cult classic. Maybe because of the antagonizingly bullshit pull-out-your-hair difficulty leaving people satisfied when they finally beat this game, or maybe this cult is crazy or... Whatever the case, I just don't feel it. It's an above-average game that hasn't aged that well due to feeling sluggish.
Story: It's war, and your army has to go and kill the enemy army. There's probably some backstories here and there, but like that matters, the story is still going to be an excuse to kill a lot of guys. It's not bad but it's not good either, and... Again, it serves the purpose of being an excuse to kill some bad guys.
Gameplay: At an overhead view, you slowly move from Point A to Point B, while shooting enemies down. Sounds like rudimentry stuff, but for an 8-bit title, this is fine, and to be frank, this is the bare basis for how games like Gears of War are played. Your arsenal of weapons include a rifle and grenades, and when you kill certain enemy soldier or destroy enemy vehicles, you can get refills... Loads of refills, so conserving ammo is a waste of time, just unleash hell with bullets.
Now, what do I have against this game? Well, the fact that it gets pretty redundant after a certain amount of time. Every level plays basically the same way as each other. I mean yeah, lots of NES games do, and games I like such as Jackal play very similarly to this... Look, what I'm getting at is that Ikari Warriors have long stages and the fact that your character moves like a slug makes them seem even longer. You can control vehicles and shit to go faster and unleash much more pain, but the reality is that these levels are too bloody long and by the end of the first level, you'd already be bald.
You will go bald from how frustratingly difficult this game is. Enemies take cheap shots at you and you can't do too much about it because of your main character's sluggish movement, and of course, one shot will kill you. And this is not a fun challenge; this is frustrating to the point where you feel that you have to cheat to beat the game. Enemies come from all sides; cool, this is seen in Contra, but what makes this one annoying is because unline in Contra, your movement is stiff and most of your shots miss by like half a pixel while enemies' bullets could miss by that much and you die.
And just like Contra, there is a cheat code. This game's cheat code allows you to continue from where you left off after losing all three of your lives. Simply punch in A, B, B, A and you'll continue. THIS IS VERY VERY VERY USEFUL! If you go without this cheat code, you'll never finish the game in your wildest dreams, unless you're really good at this game. And this is such a hard feat, that I'm not going to even believe anybody who says they beat the game without cheating once. I sure as hell can't, and I'm actually a decent enough gamer. Going back to Jackal, I'm able to beat the game without too many problems, at least up until the later levels where the enemies will destroy you. This one, I can't even beat the second level without cheating! That would say a lot.
You know that saying "Just because a game is hard, doesn't mean its bad"? Yeah, well, it most certainly does not apply here. The game is too hard. It seems as if somebody over at SNK just went crazy with enemy placement and littered the game with a buttload of enemies ready to kill you. With the slow pace of this game, it wouldn't really matter how many enemies are around regardless, because the game is boring as sin. If it wasn't for the fact that you really need to watch your back, I'd be fast asleep playing this. There is no good alternative; it's boring, unless the pace is upped some and maybe a couple of enemies per level would go away.
Now, this seems unfair that I'm insulting the gameplay of what could be the first overhead shooter game, but guess what? I don't care, this game is frustrating, annoying and boring to play through! I'm glad games like Jackal were created; to say that your system has a genre with nothing but crap is an insult and it wouldn't influence anything! But hey, it was a good try, so I guess kudos to SNK?
If you want some sort of chance to pass this game without too much cheating - screw it, if you want any fun in this game, co-op is a pretty good idea. You and a friend can go and kill some enemy soldiers together. This should make the game considerably easier and much more fun with a friend than with just yourself. Two soldiers against infinity... Sounds more fair, doesn't it?
Controls: While A and B respond well enough and make sense to what they're doing (one for grenades and entering vehicles, one for the gun), the d-pad... I could've sworn that my d-pad was functioning weirdly. Controlling the soldier is like controlling a tank, which I find pretty ironic since you can control a tank in the game and it controls a little better than the soldier. Getting used to this control is required if you plan on getting far without cheating. Most other games like this have similar control, but at least they're coherant in movement! I'd rather have some choppiness there and dodge the shot than fully animated transitions where after turning 90 degrees, you'll get shot in the head. I'd also rather some speed in movement. Not Sonic-speed, but at least some. Your soldier is WAY too slow and he gets gangraped so often when mines in the water and enemies get close to him. This is a real pain to deal with.
Graphics: They not too bad, but nothing special. As an early NES title, I guess I can give it the benefit of the doubt. The animation feels kind of choppy, with two frames per animation for movement from everybody and the fact that the game seems to run on ten frames per second. Dying takes about three seconds when it could've taken about a second based on the amount of frames (about three?), and... Well, the game just runs slowly, so a slowdown would be a nightmare, and trust me, when there are, you might as well pop some energy pills - you'll need them. At face value, the ground looks good and the vehicles look mostly nice and detailed, but the buildings and soldiers don't have too much detail. Makes sense for the soldiers to get them to stand out, but the buildings...? Whatever, they look close to good at face value and that's all that really matters for an NES title.
Audio: I...I can't quite understand the composer of Ikari Warrior's audio. Okay, make everything that sounds decent sparse in number and only last a second or two anyway, but make any tune that makes drunken people puking sound like Mozart, and have that tune carry on for the entire game. That's the logic of this composer, because the background music sounds like a symphony of Atari 2600 soundtracks put into one. It drones throughout the entire game (which is long as hell I might add) and cound potentially give you a tumor - scratch that: try super AIDs. The sound effects sound pretty good however. Makes sense to what's happening, plus they're of pretty good quality (for 8-bit anyway haha).
Replay Value: If you manage to beat this beast of a game, you can always try again... Yeah, like that'll ever happen! Maybe in half a year's time or whatever, but not too soon. The only way this game will ever do more than collect dust is if you play this co-operatively with a friend of yours. There is no other way I'm afraid.
Overall: Ikari Warriors is not that great of an NES game despite what the cult fanatics will tell you, and because of its frustration and agony, you'll only find yourself playing this once with the mute button pressed on your TV. If you're looking for a serious challenge and hardly any games in your NES library provide you with that anymore, go check this game out. Otherwise, you may want to avoid this game and try out similar, better games.
Replay Value: 3/10