Metal Storm (Import) review
Gravity manipulation was never this good
Metal Storm is one of those games that was very well designed and didn't really have anything wrong with it. Hell, I consider it to be perfect! The only problem was lack of advertising. I don't know about you, but I don't remember seeing any adverts for Metal Storm on Youtube or anything. The only bit of advertising I remember was the cover of an issue of Nintendo Power (issue number escapes me atm), but I guess it could only do so much; as in get a few people to buy it and play it, but then not care about later on, and I'm bloody spewing! After buying this game off Ebay and playing through it, I was amazed at how great this game is! Don't believe me? Read the review.
Story: There isn't really much of a story. From what I can tell, evil robots are about to destroy the world, and you're the only thing standing between the evil robot and destruction. It's up to you, an M-308 gunner, to stop the evil robots. It's not really much of a story, but it works fine. As an 8-bit game, the story is not going to matter all that much; it's usually just an excuse to go and kill a bunch of robots, and I can live with that.
Gameplay: This plays a lot like the usual run and gun games like Contra and Mega Man. You sidescroll left to right, going from point A to point B. On the way, there are enemies to shoot and bosses to destroy. You shoot in 4 different directions; up, down, forward and back. Oh, and one hit, you're dead. It keeps that tradition alive. Make sure you don't get hit or otherwise, you'll die! Simple stuff.
The main gimmick and innovative element this game houses is the ability to manipulate gravity. If there's an obstacle that seemingly looks impossible to jump over and there's a ceiling on top, just manipulate gravity. Every movable object (like you and the enemies - not the bosses) will change gravity when it's manipulated, putting all of you upside down or rightside up. That obstacle has nothing on you! Certain obstacles require this, too. If there's some machine firing some really long blast that's blocking your way, just change gravity and the blast will go a different direction. You will eventually grow to love this feature.
Another thing that is different from the likes of many other run and gun games is that some levels literally have no floors or ceilings (I mean they do have platforms, but they don't count, I mean there's no bottom and top to them). You're thinking "oh fudge how am I meant to complete the level". Well, you don't die if you hit the bottom; rather, you'll hit the bottom and come out from the top. The game calls it "warping"; I call it vertical level warping, because it's only vertical. But yeah, it's also quite a cool feature. It's often needed to pass levels (otherwise, why have it).
There are 7 levels in the game. 6 of them have 2 sections then a boss battle, while the last level is just a continous fight against older bosses before fighting the final boss. Each level has a 200 second time limit; I really see no point because the levels often take 60-140 seconds, plus it basically forces us to rush, leading to numerous deaths because we were hurrying up before time was up. The levels are unique to one another; some are just a linear path, some have vertical warping, some have a giant laser to run from and some have you in a moving cage. There are other differences in levels, but you get the picture; they're not all linear paths with the occasional jumping involved unlike Contra (though Contra is still a great game).
One thing you will probably notice is that the difficulty increase between first few levels and the last 4 is quite big. Levels 1-3 are basically to get you into the game, while levels 4-7 basically chucks you in the deep end and forces you to use your skills to get through to the end. If you can't master the gameplay, prepare to be left behind. And if you think level 4 is hard, you haven't seen much yet; A) The game gets harder as you go, and B) There's a password that lets you play the hard mode of the game. Overall, the game is difficult, but not impossible...well, on the normal mode. The hard mode, on the other hand, is a bitch. It's thrice as hard as Contra (if you can believe that) and hosts some very brutal stuff. In fact, the screen that gives you the password says "only for experts". They aren't screwing around; the password IS for experts only! Amatuers would get their asses handed to them in level 2 (hell, level 1 might destroy them!). But that's just what you'll grow to love about this game.
Speaking of passwords, the game hosts a password save system. If you need to take a break after a level, just write down the password given to you after beating a boss, take the break, reload the NES and enter the password to continue from where you left off. Good stuff, even if the game only takes about 30-60 minutes overall.
The game also gives the gunner some power-ups. They range from a stronger blaster, to a gravity fireball that gives you immunity while manipulating gravity (and at a quicker speed), to a shield that protects you from fire at the direction it's pointing, and to...an extra hit. How about that? If you lose a continue (which there are infinite of), you lose the power-up. Well, ain't that a biatch? There are also some 1ups, but they're pretty rare to find. Be happy if you find one.
Last thing I want to cover - the bosses. They aren't all screen fillers, but they are pretty tricky at first. I won't go into specifics, but I'll say this - they're actually pretty cool bosses. Not a single weak one. They all look fearsome and/or lethal, and, as I said, tricky at first. Once you work out the attack pattern, you'll have an easier time, though with a few bosses, that's not going to say much; it will still be one hell of a battle.
So basically, the gameplay is utterly classic! There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. The difficulty is of the fun challenging sort and you'll really be able to get into it. If you don't like it, it's probably just you, because there shouldn't really be much reason not to like this game's gameplay.
Controls: What can I say? They're solid, they're responsive and best of all, super special awesome! The scheme is pretty simple; d-pad to move or aim, A to jump and B to shoot (and you can hold B to keep shooting). Manipulating gravity is actually pretty simple; to get upside down, hold up and press A. To get back to normal gravity, hold down and press A. It responds immediately, and trust me, the controls makes sense for what they do. Jumping is also accurate, lenient and easy to control, so...uh, yeah, that's all I can really say. The controls are absolutely spot on!
Graphics: Amazing! Metal Storm sports some of the NES's best graphics. Everything is just so detailed and looks exactly like what they're supposed to. The color schemes are also spot on and don't hurt my eyes. The backgrounds aren't solid colors; they're actually pretty damn detailed! It gives you the feeling that you're actually in a robot complex. Basically, the game takes advantage of every graphics compartment the NES can manage, and holy crap, if this is what the NES can manage at full power, then I wonder what the other 8-bit systems could do at their full power (because the NES was graphically weaker than the SMS, though the SMS has less good games than the NES). Once again, amazing effort!
Audio: The sound effects are actually very well done. They almost sound 16-bit even, which is amazing because most sound effects are generic, while these aren't! They're also quite distinctive, like when you invert gravity, shoot, explode or have your enemies explode! Another thing is that the explosions sound wicked awesome, much like an 8-bit rendition of a real explosion!
The soundtrack is also of interest. Every song is catchy beyond belief and of pretty damn good quality (though a bit lacking after playing Journey To Silius with it's SURROUND SOUND 8-BIT QUALITY SOUNDTRACK against Metal Storm's itty bitty regular 8-bit quality). It also has a sci-fi theme to it, so extra points there; this is a sci-fi game after all! And let's be honest; does any NES game have a soundtrack as awesome as this? Well, a decent amount might, but not many. The soundtrack designers really seem to know what they're doing to make their soundtrack better than everyone else's with the limited technology they have, and I salute them!
Replay Value: As I said, there are passwords to keep you going. There's, of course, the hard mode, but then you also have the "second quest" (as Gamefaqs calls it) password (which basically inverts the levels and makes the enemies stronger). Two different passwords to keep you challenged after you've played through the normal mode many, many times. Awesome!
Overall: Metal Storm is the sort of game that everyone needs to play in its entirety at least once. It truly proves that it's not about the graphics or 'teh epic soundtrack' or 'epic storylines', but that it's all about having some damn FUN in a game! The problem is that it's so damn rare, that you have to actually might have to resort to emulating, but is that a bad thing? I mean Nintendo probably doesn't give two craps if you emulate NES games (Wii emulation... different story). In fact, this isn't even on Virtual Console! WHAT!? I swear to god Nintendo, I swear to god...Put this game on Virtual Console soon!
Replay Value: 8/10