Sunday 29 November 2015

Isolated Warrior (NES review)

Developer: KID
Publisher: Vap, NTVIC
Released: 1991

Isolated Warrior is an isometric shooter with minor platforming elements.

You play as Max Maverick and your mission is to reclaim a planet called Pan that's been taken over by aliens. The action is vaguely reminiscent of Zaxxon (1982, Arcades) and the screen automatically scrolls while you shoot everything in sight; however, there's no one-hit kills due to the inclusion of a health bar. Two weapons can be switched between on the fly (Spread or Laser) and each can be powered up to Level 5.  You can also jump to leap over gaps, and while in the air the A button launches upgradeable Bombs. The gameplay is tough when you have a low-powered weapon as it takes longer to defeat enemies; the lanes you have to work in are always extremely small and avoiding the barrage of incoming fire is difficult. However, the more I played the more I enjoyed the game as I became more familiar which the strategic element of which power-up to collect and when I should use certain weapons. Switching between weapons is vital to succeeding and you'll need to use both depending on the situation. The level design is interesting and features lots of variety including on-foot sections, hovercraft and motorcycle areas that affect the speed of the action. The bosses feature impressively large sprites and all are unique such as the Stage 4 boss where you're riding a motorcycle along a war-torn highway and need to jump over gaps while shooting it. The graphics are superb and I particularly love the trippy, swaying visual effect that occurs in Stage 3 when you're travelling over the moving bridge. There's also some nice looking cut-scenes that help tie the story together.

Isolated Warrior is a unique and highly addictive take on the genre. By combining minor platforming, awesome shooting mechanics and a deep upgrade system it creates an interesting fusion that hooks you in the more you play.

Random trivia: KID developed many other NES games including Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man (1990) and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1991).

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