Monday, November 14, 2011

Before any snarkiness, before any banners about becoming master of Nintendo, before any screenshots or gameplay .gifs, one thing needs to be made clear:
So much so, I've produced a PSA to educate the youth of America on the dangers of Ikari Warriors:

I programmed better games on my TI-82 during Mr. Reineck's Calculus class ('Quest for the Golden Sipa Sipa' was awesome). There's exactly ONE COOL THING about Ikari Warriors, and it doesn't happen until 3/4 through the game. I could have cleaned the bathroom grout with my tongue. I could have eaten Cat Litter. I could have done literally anything other than play Ikari Warrios and it would have been a more satisfying experience. As much as I want to veer from The Angry Video Game Nerd's territory, any discussion of Ikari Warrior requires the following preamble:
Ikari Warriors Box

Shit! Ass burger with cheese! Feck! Balls! Grundle suckers!

Okay. Got it out of my system. 

Ikari Warriors, made for the arcade by SNK and ported to NES by Micronics in 1986, is very much like the musical, 'Mama Mia!' They both require ABBA.  When Micronics ported Ikari from the Arcade version, they included a 'virtual quarter' of sorts. After you die, simply press A, B, B, A, to get an extra set of lives.

With infinite lives, I can see how Ikari would be fun if you're a) playing with a buddy, b) stoned, c) under 8 years old, or d) all of the above. Plop down on the sofa, crack a few beers and shout obscenities as you and a buddy blast drones to pixelated hell? That could be fun. But playing solo, careful to avoid every damn bullet and kamikaze solder? NOT FUN AT ALL. The rules on becoming
clearly state "NO CHEATS," so ABBA and its dancing queen infinite lives falls were nix. I think I'll need those beers after all.

I pressed start, and Ikari Warriors treated me to the following prologue:
Ikari Opening
It's fitting this game starts with a wreck.
Ikari Level 1
This sums pretty much the entire Game
Ugh. After that cinematic masterpiece, you're shuttled to the jungle floor to kill baddie after baddie after baddie. The 'gameplay" (I use the term loosely in Ikari's case) is an overhead shoot-em-up in the style of Commando. The problem is that your bullets can travel in only 8 directions, whereas the baddies (and their various projectiles) don't have the same restriction.This means killing the hordes of drones involves equal parts prescience and luck. You have to anticipate where the baddie will be and try to hit that spot rather than the baddie.

TankHeliSeveral power-ups exist to upgrade your grenades, gunfire and foot speed, but they're too few and far between to be of any real assistance. The only safe havens in Ikari Warriors are the vehicles: the Tank and the Helicopter. The Tank is invulnerable to gunfire and kills any baddie it touches, making your nearly invincible inside it. Unfortunately, it cannot cross water. The Helicopter, although less powerful than the Tank, is equally invulnerable and can cross both land and water. Both have time limitations in the form of "fuel," when the fuel counter reaches 00, they blow up with you inside.

Educated that cruddy video game programming is usually a 2-way street, I spent a bit of time trying to exploit Ikari Warrior's glitches. Death after death after death (after death), I learned that Ikari Warriors lacks any sort of "two drones at a time" or "invincibility spot" glitch. With those avenues closed, I tried drone farming for 1-ups. Alas, standing immobile too long clears the drones and fires rockets at you. So no 1-up farming a la Contra.

Damn. The grisly reality is that to beat Ikari Warriors means trudging through (literally) miles of baddie-infested jungle (and space ship). Whereas other games ratchet up the difficulty from level to level (in order to create a sense of variety in the gameplay), Ikari Warriors is a long, flat plain of suck. The levels swap palettes and change some baddie sprites, but end up being copies of one another.
Baddie Swaps
The drone upgrades, from L to R: Dimitri Martin, White Mr. T and an old school Cylon.

Ikari Final Boss
I've played Contra, and you,
sir , are no Contra
After hours of drudgery, the final boss is... a wall. Nice. As opposed to the rest of Ikari Warriors, there's no real challenge here. To reward you for your hours of play, the programmers put a safe spot right in front of the boss/wall, meaning you simply walk forward, lob a few grenades and collect your glory. For all the time I put into this game, I was expecting, at the least, a brief animation depicting my army man asending a mountain of slaughtered corpses while things explode in the background.

But I got this:
Ikari Ending
At least he expresses his sincere.
Barf. A few lines of pink Engrish text on a black screen. After imbibing the glory of General Kawasaki's poorly-worded and poorly-punctuated attaboy, it's back to the jungle floor.

Zombie HitlerAnd that ONE COOL THING I mentioned earlier? Two words: Zombie Hitler. Flanked by drones, Stage 3's boss is a corpse behind a desk who bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Hitler. Considering the original Japanese version of Ikari Warriors was teeming with swastikas, I'd say its a safe bet to say your reward for finishing 3 levels is chucking a grenade at Undead Adolph. It's all downhill after that.

Ikari Warriors sucks. No Controllers of Difficulty. It just sucks.

NES MONSTER!I swear, if any of the other titles on this list suck as bad as Ikari Warriors, I quit. That grout in my bathroom remains un-licked, and I have a whole tub of cat litter, which means there's ALWAYS something better than shitty NES games.

Hopefully #6 on the Top Ten Hardest NES Games of All Time won't geaux as badly as Ikari Warriors.

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