So… Are we all fired up? Are we locked and loaded?
Mission status: Active.
Unit identity: Unknown.
Area of operations: Classified.
Mission objective: Classified.
Ikari Warriors. A game resembling the classic ‘Commando’. Well if it isn’t broke don’t fix it right?
Well SNK took an already fantastic game dynamic and re-invented the shooter to their own.
There were many differences and comparisons with standard up scrolling shooters on offer at the time. The first thing that should be noted is the two player option, a fantastic addition to add to the engine of the game. It’s on this note the elaboration of the story must unfold, so let us begin.
Engine failing after being shot down over the lost fortified islands of the pacific, the mission is to rescue a captured colonel. Of course the task would be made simpler if the destination was reached before your plane was riddled with bullets and given the whole nine yards to be left in dangerous decent way before the target landing zone.
After salvaging the wreck and gathering all the ammunition you can carry for the mission ahead, the beach head is left and the dense jungle is entered.
Safety off! Head band pulled tight! Boots tied! The clock is ticking to free the high brass hostage.
So the comparisons. Well as with any standard joystick set up, the directional control was an eight way directional control method, however the clever thing here was the ability to straff, allow me to elaborate. While having access to the multiple directions while scrolling ever forward to the objective, the inclusion of being able to twist the joystick was added to still move in those directions but shoot in the desired direction whilst having all the freedom of movement during gameplay. This was something a whole generation of gamers would have to get used to as this was tricky, well tricky to begin with as once mastered the game opened up to a new level, a good one too as bullets could be fired off in the desired direction while throwing grenades straight to the blast area above you.
We did mention other unique additions didn’t we? Then allow for elaboration as these made for a classic.
In any theatre of war the addition of armour would sway the advantage to the side with the metal, here is no different as enemy tanks soon are called to halt your efforts by the military posted on the islands. Choose your weapon wisely because although a powered up grenade can blow the tanks sky high, their movement is deadly and accurate so be sure to keep a keen eye where that gun barrel is pointing. At times unused tanks can be found along the way to jump in and blast the enemy to kingdom come and gain important ground and territory to reach and free the lost colonel, however be aware of the ebbing fuel slowly emptying as once depleted the vehicle ignites and destructs, unless of course this has already occured from the firepower of the defenders arsenal which varies from tank to helicopter gunship, just to make things especially more deadly!
Patroling through jungles, waist high tropical rivers and forgotten asian temples, the theatre of the operation is vast and sprawls across a wide area so being able to navigate through these is a must to reach the heavily fortified bunkers, machine gun pillboxes, minefields and…Well the assets are indeed vast and numerous, they’re not about to give up all they’ve worked for and holding on to, at least not to you!
Ikari Warriors was a forgotten classic and really opened up a whole new genre of lone soldier shooters while keeping all which that type of game needed to make any arcade shooter a great game. So here the ‘Ikari’ stand in the hall of arcade greats.
Review by Rob Joy.