Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road

Who asked for this to be made and why? Wasn’t the first game torturous enough?

Review Date: March 26, 2021

Release Date: April 1, 1988

Platform: NES

Developer: SNK

Genre: Shooter

Anecdotes: In a house with three boys, two player combat games were the most popular. We could never find Ikari Warriors anywhere, but game two was readily available, so we bought it. Because we didn’t play the first game, we knew nothing about the series. Amazingly, we still knew nothing because this game is nothing like the first.

“Come on, let’s fight,” the game says as soon as it starts. That blew us away. We had never heard any kind of voice in a home video game before. We didn’t understand any other words said. We heard “bedtime” in the shops and “he be skunk” before bosses. I miss the 80s.

Yes, I thought the shopkeeper said “bedtime.” It somehow knew that I was 11, still playing the game at 10 P.M. on a ridiculously hot summer night (still 98 degrees at 10 P.M., which is very unusual for the Great Lakes region). That, of course, made me want to battle the shopkeeper. In turn, I lost all my hearts. RAAAHHH!!!

Description: One or two guys run around on a space something shooting anything that moves. Head up the screen to the top, defeat the boss, go through a tunnel, and start the next level. Rinse and repeat.

Positives: Thankfully, the developers put in a continue code, so that when players die every couple minutes, the game can go on. They’re infinite for most of the game. I also like the tunnel choice at the end of each stage. One has enemies; the other has weapons. Which one players get is random. It doesn’t matter, anyway, as any weapons will be useful for a short time, but lost on a death not long afterward.

Negatives: We’re going to be here a while. Let’s start with some comparative shots:

Start of stage 2
Start of stage 3
Start of stage 4
Start of stage 5

-All four of those are identical except for the palettes. Then I shot the head off of the one on the left every time and all four left the exact same power up. The game is five levels and none of them are very long. Why did they feel the need to recycle areas like this?

-The shops, for some reason, charge a cover just to see the items. The stores are a waste of time, but let’s take a look, anyway. There will be four items listed, with no explanation of what they do. They will either be unaffordable due to a lack of hearts or useless because they’re taken away at the next death. To add to the pain, shops can not be reentered.

What a liar. They don’t have anything I want. I do like, though, how it says “SHOP” in the corner, but it’s actually a ghost serving drinks to three whatchamacallits with a drink shelf above.

-I, by some miracle, was able to hold on to the boomerang for a bit in level one. I already knew a death would take it away, but after I defeated (and by defeated, I mean stand in one place holding down the A button as the boss walks into the grenades) the boss of level one, I entered the tunnel and the game took them away! To add insult to that, they also disabled the menu function in the tunnels. That meant that I had to turn the boomerang back on starting the next level.

I’m serious. The first two bosses are simple. Stand here, face straight up, and hold down the A button. The third is the same, but dodge the projectiles, then return to the spot.

-Ratchet Scrolling rears its ugly head again. It won’t cost lives here, but it can lead to situations where a player is permanently stuck.

-Paul and Vince take their sweet time doing just about anything. They don’t move very fast and the grenades are hard to predict.

-The game will set up traps just to be obnoxious. One leads to a miniboss that takes forever to defeat.

In a fitting salute to Ikari Warriors, if players get too close to the trap, they will circle around it like a toilet that was just flushed. I wish I could have flushed this series down the toilet.

-For players sadistic enough to try to finish, the developers made sure it wouldn’t happen with the Zang Zip battle. It’s one thing to force players to use grenades and a spinning cane by taking away everything else, but it’s another to disable the continue function halfway through the battle. It’s just plain cruel.

In Ikari Warriors, it took me 27 minutes to finish the first level. In Victory Road, it took 15 minutes to reach the final boss. I still haven’t beaten him, though.

This battle seemed to be one of the few places I saw the color blue. It seemed like 95% of the game was red, white, or green as if it were taking place inside a pizzeria. Zang Zip’s grenade in the photo above was the bluest thing in the game, other than player 2.

Final Opinion: This is quite the improvement over the first game. The levels are shorter and the life bar means deaths won’t come as fast. However, when stuff like the useless shops and the “circle the drain” traps show up, it all makes me put the game right in the middle.

Grade: C

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