Monday, August 24, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Metal Storm

Retro Game of the Day! Metal Storm

Metal Storm by Irem for NES, released domestically in 1991 (strangely, released in it's native JPN nearly a full year later. But who cares) So then - what is the story with this fella? Little robot guy? No head? What gives?

Metal Storm released during a seemingly strange period of the NES. It had a cover story on their Nintendo Power magazine, it was built from respectable game auters Irem, it was a game about.. running around and killing stuff, and yet somehow it's never made a mark beyond being a forgettable little soiree out there in the nebulousness. Wonder why this is..

Well, picking it apart, it is perhaps not to difficult to see. Looking at these screenshots, one notes a distinctively garish colorstyle - though the graphics in this game are largely magnificent, the asshole art director decided it would be awesome to make the game player's eyes bleed, and so we are left staring at striking walls of orange interspersed with large bright-green ledges, popped with fuschia electronic columns. Iccckk. This could have been done so much more justice if only they'd not built the whole game in Inverse Color.

And it's a shame since the graphics, colors notwithstanding, are really something else. Enormously detailed, and with many faked-parallax scrolling effects all over the place (a technique usually reserved for beefier 16-bit systems), this game delivered when it came to flaunting it's tech at you. As well, the (also hideously colored) characters sported some gorgeous animation framerates. This one was a conundrum.

On top of everything else, I am guessing the lack of real character in this game just sort of made it hard for people to connect, during a time when only space-shooter games (in a space ship) were usually the domain of the "no-character players." Your robot character was known as the M-308 Gunner - while he looked impressive, and even his design was striking, something about him didn't seem get the all-important player connection. I don't think I can put my finger on it. Maybe it's because the damned robot didn't have a HEAD.

Aesthetics notwithstanding, there was a good game here, perhaps a bit toughed up by it's presentation that it never felt imperative to get far into the whole ordeal. That's too bad, as it was a nifty little game with some interesting puzzles, and clearly some heart and soul was put into the whole project. Usually Irem knew what they were doing, I guess they were in the market to get a little extravagant this time.

Anyway, Metal Storm - even the name isn't captivating, haha - though I may sound like I am poo-pooing it, this is really one of the more glossed-over gems from back in the day. It's not spectacular, but it is a fun and rewarding little game which deserves some playtime from those interested in the platformer genre. I never got through much of it myself, but I could see myself happily spending an afternoon wrestling my way through it's corridors.

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