Let’s be honest: when we all played Ikari Warriors back in the day, we were really pretending to be Rambo, weren’t we? (and, in fairness, the original game was inspired by the films). Rambo himself might have faded following his disappointing fourth film, but Ikari Warriors has stood the test of time somewhat better. And now you can download it to your PS3 via the Playstation Network.
Stranded in the jungle after your plane crashes, you must make your way through enemy territory, killing (or avoiding) enemies whilst collecting pick-ups, such as spare ammo or extra health. In a break from similar games, you can also take control of certain vehicles, giving you more powerful weapons and added protection from enemy bullets.
Unlike most 80s arcade games, Ikari Warriors is not an out and out shooter. If you charge up the screen blasting away, death will come very quickly, if only because your ammunition is limited. As such, you need to make use of the scenery which can provide a certain level of cover, giving you the chance to pick enemies off from a position of relative safety. Of course, enemies can also use the terrain in the same way, so you have to work out the best way to outflank them.
Level design is really cunning and challenging. Enemies and obstructions are carefully placed so that the unwary player will find themselves outnumbered and surrounded. Some enemies also require pixel-perfect positioning to kill, further adding to the challenge and depth of the title
It does have a punishing difficulty level, harking back to the heyday of the arcades when you were a Gaming God if you could beat a game. This can be off-putting at first as you will find yourself dying repeatedly – a steep learning curve that may prove too frustrating for some.
Perseverance is the key to Ikari Warriors. Success relies on learning the attack patterns, which never vary from game to game. Once you have played a level a few times, you anticipate where the next attack will come from and position yourself accordingly. There’s no finer feeling than sending an enemy soldier to sprite hell before he’s even had chance to draw his gun! This trial and error approach can be frustrating, but it also adds to the game’s addictiveness – every time you play, you get just a tiny bit further which keeps you coming back for more.
Recognising that the punishing difficulty may be a deterrent to modern gamers (who are, after all, used to getting a Trophy just for managing to turn their console on), this PSN version of the game has been made more user-friendly through the inclusion of unlimited Continue Plays. When you die, you can simply hit Continue and pick up from the same point. Even with this in place, Ikari Warriors is still a tough challenge.
It’s a real shame that the original arcade game’s two player mode has been disabled on the PSN. Playing Ikari Warriors with a friend was always more fun, as you could co-operate to defeat enemies and then squabble over the power-ups, giving the game both a strong co-operative and competitive element. It’s a real pity this has been lost from the PS Mini version.
On the plus side, Ikari Warriors is still fun to play and only costs £1.99 to download from PSN, so even with the lack of a two player option, it’s still a fun blast from the past (in every sense of the phrase).