Tuesday 17 November 2020

Metal Storm (NES review)

Developer: Tamtex
Publisher: Irem
Released: 1991

Metal Storm is an action-platformer that was re-released by Limited Run Games in cartridge format in 2019.

Playing as an M-308 Gunner, your mission is to enter the battle station Cyberg and unlock the self-destruct device on the powerful LaserGun that's currently pointing towards Earth. The B button fires your gun and power-ups can be collected that include a Shield Force (deflects bullets) and a Power Beam (increases the width of your shots). Gravity can also be flipped by pressing Up + A together, and if the Gravity Fireball power-up is active when travelling through the air you'll damage all enemies in your path. The gravity feature is perfectly implemented and creates some interesting gameplay in terms of you strategising on its usage, particularly as you can use it to move enemies to a more advantageous position for yourself. It does take a little while to adjust to the unconventional controls, but once you do it's so much fun pulling off more advanced techniques such as the Jump and Flip (launch off a ledge and then activate reverse gravity to reach the underside of the platform) and Distance Flip (again, using gravity to reach higher platforms); these give the action a neat puzzle-like element where you need to figure out how to manipulate gravity to reach a certain platform. The level design is expertly crafted to showcase your abilities resulting in some playful and intriguing gameplay. The bosses steal the show thanks to their clever patterns, though I do wish there was a more epic finale rather than you only needing to plough through the same foes you've already beaten. The difficulty curve is spot-on and I like how a password system is available to continue your progress.

Metal Storm employs an innovative gravity mechanic and encases it within top-tier level design that constantly shifts gears to challenge the player. Add to this the rock-solid controls, inspired boss battles and perfect difficulty and you're left with a title that can hold its own against any other action-platformer on the console.

Random trivia: Irem published numerous games on the NES, including the excellent Kickle Cubicle (1990).

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