Saturday 12 September 2015

The Krion Conquest (NES review)

Developer: Vic Tokai
Publisher: Vic Tokai
Released: 1990

The Krion Conquest is an action-platformer that was initially developed as a licensed game called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

There's five stages (all with three acts apart from the finale) and your mission is to destroy the Krion Empire and its robot hordes. The B button shoots but you can also charge up a Super Shot that does massive damage. It's clearly a Mega Man clone but it does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, you can shoot upwards which gives you more freedom in your attacks. There's also six magic abilities but you can switch between them from the beginning. Normal is a standard gun that fires straight ahead while Freeze temporarily ices enemies. Fire wipes out everything on screen but uses up a third of your life while Ball ricochets shots at an angle. Shield forms a barrier to hide behind and Broom allows you to fly and reach otherwise inaccessible areas. The action is incredibly tough with respawning enemies and parts that rely on memorisation rather than skill. Cheap hits are a common occurrence and health pickups are scarce; your health doesn't even regenerate when you finish an act and if you die during a boss you're sent back to the start of the third act! This leads to frustration, especially later in the game when you're forced to replay brutal sections. To make things worse you only have three lives and no continues to beat the entire game! There are some decent ideas though such as the Water stage where you need to keep an eye on your O2 meter and the Sky stage which requires you to fly while fighting robots. The bosses are easy once you know their pattern but the final battle is fun as you have to switch between weapons depending on the displayed hit point location.

The Krion Conquest is a seriously challenging game that gets off to a bad start and never recovers. Instead of capitalising on its strong core mechanics it seems set on annoying the player with its cheap deaths, uninspiring level design and egregious lack of continues.

Random trivia: In 2004, the game was ported over to mobile phones on the Vodafone network in Japan.

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