Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shirtless Warriors Fueled by Coke and Doritos !

This week we look at a game that I've always loved and spoke highly of…. Now I'm not so sure.

In 1985 the Arcade Juggernaut CAPCOM released Commando the first non-space themed shooter, it wasn't so much of a "SHMUP" either though it was a new concept altogether an on foot War Zone styled game a "Run N Gun" as the genre became known. Not to be out done and wanting a piece of the market Game manufacturer and noted CAPCOM Arch-Rival SNK launched its own war based RnG entitled IKARI meaning Fury in Japanese. State side and in Europe the game would become known as Ikari-Warriors.

Ikari Warriors put players in control of Paul & Vince or in Japan Ralph & Clark, the Ralph and Clark personas would out live the other two as the duo over the years became staples in the King of Fighters series since KOF '94 and also appearing as new playable characters the in Modern/Classic Run n' Gun series Metal Slug 6 & 7. Oh and yeah I did just say that they're are TWO players, SNK's Ikari Warriors made several improvements over its rival. Ikari had you control these rough and tuff bare chested lads with the use of  a eight way control stick that also had a rotating function so as you walked on screen you could easily turn to face a enemy from any direction while continuing walking in another, this brought about an almost real movement to the game and added a level of play to the newly spawned genre. SNK didn't stop there with the innovations it busted out tanks and helicopters…. whats that you say Commando had those …? Well you're right !! But you couldn't pilot them yourself now could yah sonny jim?
NO YOU COULDN'T !!! Sooo sit down!! The inclusion of drivable tanks and a Pilotable Copter was really kool and made those portions of the game feel cutting edge. This also of course led to friends and strangers alike fighting over who would grab a lone or remaining tank. Although I want to mention that if your vechile runs outta gas it explodes… ? Thats just a strange lesson to teach kids. Despite the lack of logic the game ate so many quarters in Arcades that it was ported to the Famicom & Nintendo as well as some home Computers I don't know nor care about… hey sorry I was too poor to own a Computer till '95.

 Tradewest handled the porting and Ive heard many say its graphically unimpressive or that the controls suck but to be fair the Nintendo version was a very ambitious port. Back in the day all my favorite games were in the Arcade and home-converstions is what owning a console was all about so you dealt with these issues like in the cases of Double Dragon or Bad Dudes, I feel sometimes people forget what we had to work with back in the day. Moving forward …  Unlike its rival SNK decided the player should have limited ammo and grenades this adds difficulty at home since if you wanted to use your Nes Advantage for the turbo fire or any other rapid fire controller it quickly drain your supply and left you begging the gods for a single bullet as you over throw grenades past intended targets and then feverishly run from glitchy blue and pink soldiers. The Basic Enemy soldiers were blue with some item dropping pink ones sprinkled in to the mix, don't doubt the manliness of the pink guys, when they rush past you off screen they double back unlike the blue boys. Quite a few variants on these two pop up through out the game such as the Bazooka troops, elites, swimmers, kamikaze, snipers and a shield carrying one but personally Ive always been found of three particular guys the Robo-Trooper, the Ralph and Clark Clones and of course who could forget Macho Man…. not Randy Savage but just a hulking huge sleeveless mohawk sporting individual that comes charging down the screen swinging a giant wooden club in a fire fight….. Yup its weird.

Snap in to a Slim Jim Bitches

In 1986 I was so excited to bring home a copy in its shiny silver box with the action promising painted art on the cover. But the box could have been blank for all I cared as I had liberated hundreds of quarters from my dads dresser over the last few months and pumped them directly in to the Ikari Cabinet at my local Luncheonette (news stand/eatery). Excited to not have to steal change anymore from my towering father I slid the cartridge from the dust jacket and into the grey toaster like Nintendo. When the two heroes walked on screen and rotated 360 while firing at the game logo I couldn't wait to press start, lifting my right thumb off the start button my jaw dropped as I watched the heroes flaming plane crash land in the Jungles of South America in what I thought looked graphically as good as the Arcade. Paul I mean Ralph sprang from the wreck and enemies rushed in from the top of the screen. Griping my uncomfortably sharp edged NES controller I pressed forward mashing the B button mowing down enemies and grinning as they suddenly seemed to recognize my threat of death and turned away running, as I came upon the first armored bunker much like in the arcade game I moved forward to draw its fire and then turned to make a strafing run at it and blow it to smithereens as I had done a thousand times in the arcade when suddenly I died….What the HELL I just saw Ralph and Clark doing the 360 movement on the title screen how can you show me something in the same graphics as the game and not let me do it 3 seconds later !?!?!? This was one of my first experiences with frustrating home conversions as a kid. Now the Controls are a big hurtle in this port since the NES D-Pad doesn't do rotating and there is really no way to emulate it at home even with the Nes Advantage. This causes the player to have to make sort of a U-turn every time you want to change direction. The U-Turn controls were not the only hurtle as the characters hold the machine guns one handed and SNK made it "realistic" by having the bullets fire from off to the side of your avatar where the gun is located. As correct or eye pleasing as this is it really makes it hard to target enemies that are designed to rush at you firing and then dart away to dodge your counter attack, the rotating joy stick really helped correct this in the Arcade version. These things did hinder my game play but as a kid very excited to own a Arcade hit I pushed onward. A few scrolling screens later and I felt the speed of Ralph was not the same as in the Original it felt as if I was really forcing him beyond his will to move forward. The slower progression probably is partly due to the constant serpentining I was forced to do to navigate around the map with out the 360 controls. My frustrations hit me head on when I died and had NOOO continues……. WAIT A SECOND in the Arcade if I had more quarters I could play all day ? Now that I OWN the Game and paid probably 50 or 60 bucks for it I can't freely continue all I want or at all even? What the Mutha Lovin #$%^&*#$%^&*!!!!!! After complaining to my non-caring adult handlers I sat down and just kept at it trying to memorize the game enough to inch my way further and further. After dinner the next day I went to my shelf and pulled out my copy of THE OFFICIAL NINTENDO PLAYERS GUIDE. Reading the book previous to owning the game I remembered it mentioning some code… A,B,B,A, thats what was to be entered in at the moment of death before the game over text pops on screen so that you may continue from the very spot you drop. Haleighula !!! Praise Mario !!! So I sat back down and attempted to play through the game some more but after having replayed the game with out the code all day and with it being a school night, saving the world would have to wait till tomorrow. At school all day I waited to get home and play it again with my new found weapon A,B,B,A. Running home with my friend Reggie in tow we sat down and I briefed Reg on how to do the code and we set off to beat the game….. I should mention that when doing the code one can not rush or mistakes will be made also when utilizing 2 player mode if one player dies and goes to enter the code the other player must not die him or herself be fore the first player rises or else NO ONE continues….. so excited nerves and tired thumbs lead to being forced to completely starting over again…. so go kiss your memory cards and hard drives right now ! After several attempts we got tired and gave up.

My Fake Nes Rig

"Damn it Launch Pad !! "

A few weeks later and my cousin CJ came to spend the summer as he always did and we sat down to decide what game we would complete, upon seeing Ikari Warriors in my stock CJ was very adamant about what game would be first especially with the Nintendo Players guide giving us maps of the entire game and item locations my cousin pointed out. I felt glad someone had noticed the usefulness of the guide (I didn't) and we sat down with a fresh 2 liter of Coca Cola Classic and a bowl containing a party sized bag of Doritos. After many hours and a very long and dangerous paused game for dinner we came to the last portion of the game the guide book displayed. We had no idea the first level alone was sooo long hell you could beat Contra Three times in the length of the first stage. When we finally got to the end of stage two points were issued and the game carried on….. Nope not like the Dreaded Ghost and Goblins this was a completely new area !! Stages 1 & 2 looked like the same jungle but stage 3 was something wholly new and not a redesign…. the Nintendo Players Guide Oh excuse me the OFFICIAL Nintendo Players Guide stops mapping the game at the end of Stage 2 ?!?! Yet it doesn't mention it and shows several other games all the way through like Goonies2, Super Mario Bros, Tyson's Punch Out, Kid Icarus, Castlevania, Ghost n' Gah Damn Goblins OH and COMMANDO!!
So whatever right ? I mean we were shocked and fatigued but Hey more game for the buck right !? I mean we got Caffeine and whatever the hell is in Dorritos and A,B,B,A so were good man. The Cold grey Orwell 1984 inspired stage was creepy with unfamiliar landscapes and new hazards like pursuing land mines popping up all the time. A portion had this weird piping all over the floor that some of it you could walk over and others prohibited you and if the boys were not careful someone could get stuck . Also waiting on one screen too long meant that missiles fired from off camera would randomly start descending on the heroes taking out the mobile and immobile alike. We got really far on the Third stage when CJ went to use the continue code and it didn't work then I died shortly after and tried and it with no response either thats when we learned the code stops working 3/4 of the way into Stage Three… @#$%^&*(*&^%$#$%^&*&^%$#!!!!!!! With our young over caffeinated hopes of glory crushed we shut off the extremely overheated NES and passed out for the night. Either the next day or the Following we started early and went at Ikari Warriors head on with finely tuned thumbs punching out the A,B,B,A's with such methodical precision we both should have became surgeons. This time making it all the way to the end of Stage 3 and finding the End Boss already dead behind his desk, yup. He's already dead? After blowing up his corpse we danced around throwing grenades and found a staircase hidden at the base of his desk. Traveling on to the practically hidden Stage 4 the unthinkable happened the NES over heated……YUP !! The first Red Ring o Death ever !! The console just froze the screen and emitted a hellish ringing beep from the TV…… well we wanted to scream bloody murder and smash the game but we owed it to ourselves to defeat this Fu*ker!

Creepy just Creepy...
After taking a lunch break we started over from the beginning and added a small electronics cooling fan to the NES. With rage and grim determination we went after Ikari Warriors like it had punted our NES off a roof top and replaced it with the Atari 2600. During lunch CJ had once again consulted the Nintendo Players Guide for some hope Official answers to our eternal struggle…. and guess what he found some…. the Guide said that at the Title screen enter the commands - UP-DOWN-A-A-B-LEFT-RIGHT-A-B-UP-A-DOWN-RIGHT-RIGHT-LEFT-B-UP-LEFT-A-RIGHT-B-LEFT-RIGHT-A-LEFT-UP-A-DOWN-A-RIGHT-LEFT-B- and you will be able to select the stage you wish to start from, wait ???? What?!?!?!?! Oh My God!!!! After all that, days of playing over from the start and we could just "warp" to the stage we left off at? After about 30mins of trying to enter the damn code we selected Stage 4 and marched off in to the Tron esque landscape. Even though we now had the Stage Select code we had to play at our best because the continue code would not work from here on. Forty minutes later we had restarted the game 3 times and we made it to the Final Boss a Giant metal skull that chattered at us as its robo-force swarmed us. Some well lobed grenades took out the bitch ass Metal Mumm Ra, YESSSS !!!!!!!! Dropping the sweat covered controllers to the floor we fell backwards in relief….. I quickly jumped up to see the visual ending I had expected based off the Plane Crash intro, there had to be a graphic out-tro.. right? The screen went black and all that was there was a horribly translated in to english message from General Kawasaki reminding us that we are the very prevailer that protect right, and that he would like to express his sincere and that we should take good rest, Oh thats nice…. WHAT THE @#$%^&*&^%$%^ ?!?!?!?! TAKE GOOD REST???? WHAT THE SH!T DOES THAT MEAN!??!?! All that and we got crap ……. except the right to say we beat IKARI WARRIORS on the playground for full bragging rights so I guess that was all we needed…..

Seriously are you High at work again ? 

Games like this didn't help my undiagnosed Dyslexia as a Kid… not kidding.

This wouldn't be the last game me and my Cousin struggled to finish over the years to come…
I guess after looking back on that experience and replaying both the Arcade and NES versions for this article I can say I still hold Ikari Warriors in high regard. Ralph and Clark are favorites of mine in KOF and it was great to see them in respectively displayed in Metal Slug. The Ikari Warriors are classic and old friends.

Check out the NES Ikari Warriors on the Wii Virtual console for mere peanuts or play the God intended Arcade version on the PSP,Vita and Ps3 also available from the PSN store is the sequel Victory Road which is total craziness and my absolute favorite in the trilogy….. Trilogy?!?

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  1. Nice read, I could almost feel your frustration and struggle with this game. And I didn't know Ikari Warriors was a trilogy!

    1. Haha Thanks ! Yeah I love the second one Victory Road but the arcade version not the NES .