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SummaryThe revolution will occur in slow motion!
The GoodSome of the more frequent criticisms of Ikari Warriors strike me as too harsh. The graphics are often knocked for being blocky and a little garish (blues, greens, and even *gasp* pinks, all thrown together in a rather tacky mess). True enough, but this is a first-generation NES title after all. Besides, a little unrealistic color variation makes the levels seem less monotonous as you plow through them.
The music and sounds are a little weak, but not bad. Sure, it’ll make you want to hit the mute button and listen to your stereo, but the same thing could be said about 90% of the other 8-bit games out there.
Conceptually, this game really ought to work. It’s just enough of an evolution of the Commando template to stand on its own. It adds 360-degree movement and firing (including grenades) capability, limited ammunition, playable vehicles (tanks, choppers), and—perhaps most importantly—a two-player cooperative mode. These additions combine to create a rather different experience from Commando. It suggests a slower, more thoughtful breed of shooter that rewards patience and conservatism over adrenaline and quick reflexes.
The BadThe cold, hard truth, though, is that Ikari Warriors is still a bad game. Why? Because it is simply far, FAR too difficult. And I don’t mean “difficult” in the way all 1980s arcade games were difficult. I mean pull-your-hair-out, stomp-your-feet, maddeningly difficult. This is one of the hardest games I’ve ever encountered, period.
You only start out with two lives, and one hit kills (even counting friendly fire!). This wouldn’t be so bad if you had the usual advantages that shooters give the human player: faster speed, greater firing range, unlimited ammo, etc. Alas, in Ikari Warriors, the swarms upon swarms of CPU enemies are given all of these advantages instead.
Yes, you can hop into tanks and helicopters to help even the odds, but that just gets at the problem here—it merely keeps you in the game. Usually an arcade game will give you a superweapon so you’ll have a few brief moments of unbridled power over your enemies, allowing you to rip everything onscreen to shreds until you return to normal status. Not so in Ikari Warriors. Tanks simply allow the player to compete on an even footing with the computer. Which means that losing your tank almost guarantees your game is over, so you might as well go ahead and hit the reset button.
It’s a crying shame that Ikari Warriors is so woefully unbalanced. If this were a movie, you'd want Arnold Schwarzeneggar to be your warrior hero. Instead, you're stuck with his dumpy little "twin," Danny Devito. The movement of your soldier is so slow and cumbersome, it destroys whatever considerable appeal this game might have had to shooter fans.