Saturday, 4 May 2013

Metal Warriors (SNES)

Metal Warriors SNES title screen
Today I'm taking a quick look at Metal Warriors on the SNES. It... apparently has giant robots in it. Plus that starry background leads me to assume it'll be set in space. I don't know much else about it really.

Ever notice how many title screens feature a shiny metal logo in front of a black background or starfield? Because until this month I had no idea it was so common. For some reason my site's front page has become a sea of chrome and darkness, and every new game I play seems to perpetuate it.

Doesn't matter if it's a classic Japanese fantasy RPG, a cartoony first person shooter, or even an isometric platformer about a snake eating balls, almost everything I've played lately has gotten the shiny text. Manic Miner probably would have had it too, if the game hadn't been created way back before the human race invented metal.

Ah, this is some kind of run and gun platformer. I'm playing as some kind of robot, and I have a jetpack! They've thoughtfully given me a practice mode so I can test out different controls and see how they work out, but there's a lot to remember here for a platformer.

I'm kinda hoping for a short tutorial in game just to give me some hints, as I can imagine having two kinds of shields and two types of attacks getting confusing in the heat of battle.

The game has a single player storyline mode and a two player Head to Head mode, but it seems that lone players have their mech chosen for them and miss out on all this cool art. Though are those handlebars sticking out over its head? Don't tell me I have to ride this thing's shoulders.

Then there's this guy who looks like a seat! Maybe they join together to form some kind of quad bike walker, and then another robot climbs on and rides it around. Man, that isn't even implausible.

There's a few other robots here to pick from, like a spider mech, and one that looks like a starfish, but I should probably get to to showing off some actual gameplay.

Okay, the game starts with a page or two of scrolling text explaining that it's 2102 and that the United Earth Government is under siege from the forces of the Dark Axis after a bloody three year war.

But I thought I'd skip that and get straight to the switches. That is some fine switch action, I love this kind of animation. Anime inspiration plus SNES limitations combining to form something new and cool. 

Now that's a big ass mech. I always find it weird when they give these giant robots a humanoid shape, complete with a head, but then put the pilot way down there in the chest. Actually I find it weird that they give them a humanoid shape at all to be honest.

Wikipedia claims that the game was developed by LucasArts and published by Konami, but I almost wonder if they got the two mixed up as, well, just look at it! You couldn't make this look more Japanese if you tried.

This one definitely isn't an authentic ingame screenshot (I even put a few of the stars in myself to fill in some gaps), but I had to go widescreen for a second to show the full scene that it pans across. This is all animated in game by the way, with explosions going off, and my mech flying off into the distance to fuck someone's shit up. Probably. Actually that's a point, what am I even meant to be doing here?

Oh right, it seems I've been sent out on a mission to break into that space colony looking thing on the right, locate Agent Marissa, then get her out as fast I can.

Good, now I know that the shield works. This doesn't seem like a fair fight though somehow. For one thing, the little bastard's so short that my bullets fly right over his head. I can angle my gun arm using up and down on the d-pad, but it's not overly precise and it's not kind of thing I want to mess around with in the middle of a firefight.

Aw screw him. I've got a jetpack, he hasn't, and I'm leaving to pick on something my own size.

After stomping off a bit to the right I ran into this purple mech, which likes to hover above my shots, and drift backwards to stay out of range of my melee attack. He's a bit of an asshole really.

Fortunately this is a rescue mission so I don't have to kill him or anyone else. He can hover up there as much as he likes, but until he figures out how to follow me down here he can't do shit to stop me.

Oh crap... these people have a mech crusher built into their corridors? Taken out in one hit, how depressingly typical for me.

Whoa, no lives? I've gone straight to continues?

I don't know why they're even bothering to ask me if I'd like to continue, as who in their right mind would chose to use up a continue on level one? I'll be starting again from the beginning either way.

Come on, just float into my lightsaber, please! This thing is usually a one hit kill but it's so painfully slow that I practically have to corner an enemy before I can use it and even then I end up taking damage.

Oh, also I can't use it when I'm flying with the jetpack. Guns yes, sword no.

Aha, now I'm getting the hang of this. If I drop a shield wall, I can fire through it to kill enemies without taking damage myself. Though unfortunately that little bastard down on the right is well out of range of my shots. Maybe there's a weapon in that crate up there I can use against him.

You have got to be shitting me. An instakill door now? The rooms are more dangerous than the enemy mechs in this game!

Hmm, still going to have to go with 'no' there. Also I only get 5 continues to last the entire game? Seems a bit harsh, especially as there's no way I can earn more with points, as the game doesn't have any.

I mean come on, even the original Castlevania gives you infinite retries and no one ever complained about that game being too easy. Actually you know what, I bet someone actually has.


MUCH LATER... ON LEVEL ONE.


I'm think I'm getting the hang of this gun now. Pulling diagonally on the d-pad instantly aims diagonally, sensibly enough, so I don't have to resort to fine-tuning my shots too often.

Oh shit I've just noticed that my mech has become a scorched sparking mess! There's no hud to keep track of my health, but I doubt this thing has many more hits left in it right now.

Damn, his arms fell off, my mech has no arms! Great, now I've got no way to fight back. The best I can do is buzz around with my jetpack dodging bullets and hoping that I manage to reach this agent before my legs fall off as well.

I should mention that despite the level being more or less a straight run to the right, I've actually been getting a lot of use out of the jetpack. The thing's pretty handy for checking out side corridors and never runs out of thrust. In fact I'm not entirely sure how all my screenshots so far have shown me standing still.

They got me through the floor! I mean look at that, there's no floor left anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining about it. I'm just pointing out that some parts of the level can be cut up by weapons fire and that's a cool feature. (Except when they do it to blow me up.)

It's going to make me work for this isn't it? Maybe if I lose level one 20 times in a row it'll unlock an ultra easy mode with lives... and checkpoints! Actually it's interesting how this has absolutely no difficulty selection at all. It's following the Dark Souls philosophy that later game content should only be accessible by the skilled or the very patient, which I can respect.

I wouldn't expect to see any screenshots of the later levels from me though.


EVEN LATER, AND YET STILL ON LEVEL ONE.


Is that a health pickup? Holy shit I think it is and knowing my luck it's going to flicker from existence in a second or two. Come on, cut a path through the bloody scenery already, before the guy on the right cuts through me!

Man, it's giving me Terraria flashbacks, all those times I had to cut through a column of three blocks before I could step forward, one block at a time.

I'm back to full health and I think I just found my agent in distress! Whoa, is that it now, have I finished the level?

Oh fuck yeah, I'm finally done with level one and I've been rewarded with cutscenes. Personally I'd rather have a save screen or even a password given a choice, but hey cutscenes aren't bad.

Nice looking bridge. I have to respect a design that forces the captain to climb a step ladder to reach his chair. Lighting the room from underneath with a glowing blue floor is an interesting choice as well, but I can't argue with the results.

Wait, the floor is actually the briefing screen? That's... different. Though they're likely going to end up with footprints and crap all over it, plus huge scratches and scuff marks from their spaceboots.

Still, it could've been worse. Imagine how sore their necks would've been if they'd put the thing across the ceiling.

For mission two I have to board and capture this enemy supply ship and whoa, they actually gave the thing a bit of colour to it. 55 bonus points to Metal Warriors for not taking place in an entirely bland and grey universe.

Anti-grav pick up! It wears off in seconds and doesn't actually seem to have much of a point to it, but walking on the ceiling is its own reward. Though I'm getting my ass kicked pretty badly here and I should probably run and hide, maybe pick them off from cover or something. But I'm walking on the ceiling man, so I don't even care!


LATER.


Against all odds I still haven't exploded yet, but I've come across another problem: the arrow on my map says to continue heading right, but the corridor in front of me is too low for my mech. Apparently it wasn't designed to crouch, so I'm kinda stuck here.

See, this is what happens when you stick oversized shoulders and a pair of handlebars on your mech to make it look cool. Maybe there's a button here to jettison the head...

Whoa, I can climb out of the mech, Blaster Master style. Though once I'm outside I'm stuck with just a jetpack, a pistol, and a handful of hitpoints, and these little bastards are still trying to duck under my shots. Why can I never duck under anything, huh?

Oh SHIT, they can climb into my empty mech! Uh... RUN!

I hid for a while around the corner waiting for him to give chase, but nothing happened. Cautiously I flew back up to see what he was up to and found he'd disappeared entirely. So it seems I've lost my mech, but I still have a shot at finishing this if I can just avoid being in front of any more bullets. 

I lost half my hitpoints to enemy fire in the blink of an eye and the enemies just keep coming in from that door up there. Plus now they're throwing grenades at me, which is always a laugh.

I must be right at the finish line now, but if I mess this up I'm going to be thrown back to the start with 20% of my continues gone. No pressure then.

And that's level two completed, with no continues lost! Such an adequate display of skill.

And so the heroic forces of the United Earth Space Navy continue their desperate mission to fight off the evil Dark Axis and save the Earth. But they're going to have to do it without me as I'm turning this off now.


So Metal Warriors then, is it any good? Well from my brief exposure to it I'd have to say... probably. It took me a while to get the hang of how it plays, but once I'd gotten over that I found myself enjoying it. It's got nice graphics, it's mostly free of frustrations (so far anyway), and there's a fair few options for the player during combat. Plus while the cutscenes are mostly there to look awesome rather than to tell an actual ongoing story, I was always glad to see them. On the other hand the lack of saves, passwords, checkpoints or even lives is a pretty big negative to me. It seems that the entire game has to be finished in one sitting and with just the five continues, which is just harsh really.

But somehow I want to keep playing it anyway and so it qualifies for my awesomely arbitrary Gold Star award. It's the fun alternative to a real rating system!


That's it, I'm all out of words now. But you're welcome to leave a comment yourself if you have anything to add about Metal Warriors, my writing, my humble site, etc.

2 comments:

  1. Nice review!

    If you have the ability (and a willing friend), then I recommend that you try out the Head to Head option. It's a split-screen battle mode which is rather fun.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, MANY a fun hour can be had playing this two player with friends!

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