Skip to main content

Ikari Warriors: Will you draw the first blood?

Ikari Warriors on the NES is a port of the 1986 arcade game by SNK. It's a run-and-gun vertical shooter based on the movie Rambo II. However, SNK never acquired the licensing rights, so they renamed it Fury—not a bad title, but then it was changed to Ikari Warriors in English translation.

What made Ikari Warriors popular was its use of two rotary joysticks, which allowed the player to control both the direction in which the hero walks and, separately, the direction in which he shoots his machine gun. However, NES controllers have only a d-pad, so the game's best feature could not be transferred. Even worse, in a case of excessive fidelity, the characters still rotate as they move, even though you can no longer control this rotation independently from movement direction. As a result, turning around to face enemies coming from different directions is slow. The original game had agile characters who could strafe, but the NES versions can't even turn around effectively! They walk as if they were vehicles banking in small arcs, which is not what you want when enemies are swarming you!

This defect is somewhat compensated for with more content. The arcade game is a single stage that loops endlessly, but the NES version has four levels! Don't get too excited, though, as it's mostly more of the same, only with different color palettes. The original has five power-ups (Speed-up, Long range, Fire Power, Blast, and Kill), plus ammunition and grenade refills. The NES port adds six additional, hidden power-ups, which are found by destroying certain objects with grenades.

A pink tank

The gameplay itself is repetitive and uninteresting: you move your character up the screen, shooting enemies, dodging "bullets" (slow-moving circles), and avoiding stationary obstacles like walls and rocks. The best part is when you get into a tank or helicopter. Unfortunately, the game, like so many NES games, uses one-hit kills, so unless you're very good, your run in a vehicle won't last long. There is a secret code (A, B, B, A) that lets you continue right where you died. Without this code, the game would be next-to-impossible. There is a long pause before the game restarts, so a lot of kids probably discovered this code by mashing buttons while waiting.

Left: arcade; right: NES

The arcade game doesn't look or sound especially great, and the NES port is a step down from that. Combine this with the boring game play, sluggish controls, and high difficulty, and you have a mediocre game. The hidden power-ups and additional levels on the NES aren't worth sacrificing the dual-joystick controls, so if you want to try this game, go with the arcade original. Personally, I'd rather play Gradius or Contra.

Grade: D-

Linked Reviews
"Ikari Warriors was the definitive videogaming outlet for bottled-up aggression. This game was macho, manly destructive fun with its simultaneous two-player action."
IGN, #72 of Top 100

"The monotony of the stage design, unfair scenarios, and extremely long and unfun levels will prevent most players from wanting to complete this one."
— Pat Contri, Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the NES Library, 2/4

"There's simply no way to translate the rotary-stick mechanic to a d-pad in a satisfactory way, meaning Ikari Warriors on NES was a losing proposition from the outset."
— Jeremy Parish, NES Works


  1. This game is pretty terrible. I did my own review on it last week.

    1. Despite my D- grade, it seems I had more fun playing it than you did!

  2. This game was amazing when it came out on NES. It was one of first games that allowed multi-player and allowed players to get in vehicles.

    1. I can see that for the time, before Contra.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Street Fighter II: 30th anniversary

Thirty years ago Street Fighter II made the transition from arcade to living room on the Super NES. Although quickly eclipsed by its two successors, for one year it was the hotness. It would be hard to overstate how popular Street Fighter II was in the early 90's. Its predecessor was downright bad, but Street Fighter II invented the PVP fighting genre as we know it. Its roster of eight characters was a huge step-up from Street Fighter's two (Ken and Ryu, who returned for the sequel). The next iteration of the arcade game, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, which hit arcades just as the SNES port arrived, let you play as the bosses as well, increasing the roster to twelve. A false rumor said a secret code would let you play them at home. While that wasn't true, there was a code (↓, R, ↑, L, Y, B) to let both players choose the same character for a mirror match. A prime strength of the game is how interesting each character is: the American airman Guile (think Top Gun); the

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: 30th anniversary

Hard to believe it's been thirty years since The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came out on the Super Nintendo, yet here we are! A Link to the Past is in contention for the title of Best Nintendo Game Ever . It perfectly reinvented, reimagined, and revolutionized everything great about the original Legend of Zelda . First off, the story is expanded, with five pages devoted to it in the manual, including background mythology not included in-game about the three gods that made the Triforce. The opening cinematic tells of a war centuries earlier, which resulted in seven wise men sealing the Triforce away in the "Golden World." When the game begins, the boy Link awakens on a dark and stormy night, hearing the voice of Princess Zelda in his head, asking him to rescue her from the dungeon of Hyrule Castle, where she's been imprisoned by the evil wizard Agahnim. Link finds his uncle, wounded, who gives him his sword. Link's first task is to rescue Zelda, then lead h

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: 20th anniversary

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is special to me because it was one of the first games I played on the Wii U. I hadn't owned a video-game console since the Super Nintendo until my wife bought me a Wii U for my 30th birthday. Since I missed the Game Cube and Wii eras, playing The Wind Waker was a revelation to me. It was as good as I remembered A Link to the Past being. I've read that, when it debuted, some people hated the cel-shaded art style of The Wind Waker. In retrospect that's hard to fathom, because the game is such a visual delight. The cartoony style and feel of the game is probably its strongest feature, at least for me. Sailing the seas and exploring the game's many islands is a joyous process of discovery. There are all sorts of quirky citizens to meet and interact with, including an auction house, bird people (the Rito), pirates, a traveling merchant (Beedle), temples, and the long-lost, sunken kingdom of Hyrule. The mid-game twist delighted me: Link l