Rescuing the Ikari franchise from Micronics. Go, SNK, go!
PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
RELEASE DATE: February 1991
Surprisingly, the third installment of Paul and Vince’s Shirtless Adventures is the best entry in the beleaguered franchise. While it doesn’t quite hit the highs of Guerrilla War or Double Dragon II, it’s a solid beat-em-up that “rescues” the reputation of the Ikari Warriors series on the NES.
After two despicable adventures with all guns blazing, Paul and Vince decide that the best way to prove their manhood is to ditch the pea-shooters and bring out the big guns a.k.a. their fists. Yup, Ikari III makes the honorable transition from vertically-scrolling shooter to vertically-scrolling beat-em-up and it’s all the better for it*. No longer will you have to worry about constantly missing your target because the D-pad won’t fire diagonally. Just beat up the communistas and let Castro sort ’em out. ‘A’ is punch, ‘B’ is kick, and pressing both at once will make you jump and kick, so yeah, Ikari III rips off Double Dragon‘s control scheme, but at least it feels right. Thankfully, the one-life-and-it’s-game-over BS is over: SNK gives you a generous three and unlimited continues. I’m not sure how I feel about the latter, but I completed the game with them, so there’s that. Were it not for the continues, the game would be quite challenging, as the waves of soldiers certainly like to gang up on you. Once you figure out some of their standing patterns though, they’re not so tough.
Consider my crippling diseases cured. Certainly there are better beat-em-ups for your NES, but I can’t remember a series that started out so crappy, became even crappier, before improving dramatically for the final installment. Paul and Vince should be proud. Not only is their Florida nightclub flourishing, but they completed their trilogy of adventures by saving the President’s daughter and destroying a third-world nation – all without a shirt. You guys have earned the adjective “ikari.”
*I should specify: you occasionally use guns, like during certain boss battles, or on Act IV where Paul is underwater shooting scuba divers for whatever reason. The game is about 95% brawler, though.