Handle your own ports next time, SNK.
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: May 1987
SNK, those noble purveyors of fighting games, Metal Slug and the occasional oddball sports affair, brought Ikari Warriors to the arcade in 1986. It was a huge success, thus paving the way for ports for every system known to man (Ikari Warriors on DOS?). Out of all the systems in the late Eighties, the NES should have been the system that got a close-to-perfect arcade translation. True, 1987 was still early in the NES’ lifespan and the developers (in this case, Micronics – SNK only published the port) were still getting used to what the system could do. Nevertheless, this port of Ikari Warriors is big, dumb, and the opposite of fun.
Why does Ikari Warriors work in the arcade but not on the NES? Some would argue that it’s the lack of rotary controls. In the arcade, the rotary control system provided solid twelve-way (!) directional shooting. On the NES, you had to contend with the stiff four-way directional D-pad. While I agree that the controls are an issue, for my money, it’s the slowdown that makes Ikari Warriors nigh unplayable. Every bit of the game chugs along, as if the NES were being powered by a crank or something. Sometimes this can be used to your advantage if the enemy fire gets too heavy. Mostly, it’s just annoying and really takes one out of the supposedly “furious” experience (“ikari” means “fury” in Japanese). Lastly, the bullets resemble white pellets and with all the shenanigans and goings on, it’s easy to get killed and not see the bullet that hit you. If you really want to wrassle with this game, look for those white pellets coming from every direction. If nothing else, your eye sight will be much improved after you beat the game.
SNK would later refine this style of gameplay with Guerrilla War and, of course,the Metal Slug series. Both are excellent and come highly recommended. Ikari Warriors, however, fails to achieve even the modest task of performing as a competent Rambo-style shoot-em-up. Perhaps the sequels will make me feel better about donning a pink headband.