Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road

aIkari Warriors II Victory Road USA 188x266 Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotDeveloper: Micronics
Publisher: SNK

Released: April 1988
US Cartridge ID: NES-VR-USA

Players: 2/Simulatenous
Genre: Shooter
Supported Peripherals: Controller

ROM Size: 2 megabit
Mapper: MMC1 (256k PRG)

Requires Flash10

After liberating the Colonel from enemy forces at the end of Ikari Warriors, Paul and Vince graciously accept a plane ride provided in gratitude for their heroic rescue effort.  As they are flying over the ocean, the sky turns dark and an ominous alien voice, booming from the heavens, informs the commandos of his hostile takeover of a planet.  Paul and Vince, sucked into a time warp and flung into another planet’s distant future, meet Zada, a Ikari Warriors II Victory Road USA 001 Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road NES Nintendo Review Screenshotcreature who begs the Ikari Warriors for help on behalf of his planet, Alexia Lomta. Determined to save Alexia Lomta from the clutches of the evil Zang Zip, the commandos arm themselves for battle.

Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road, like its predecessor, is an overhead run-and-gun shooter, though it does several things to differentiate itself. Being released just eleven months after Ikari Warriors, it seems that SNK was eager to capitalize on the commercial success of the original. Despite having been developed under an extremely constrained time-limit by Micronics, the company responsible for the utterly butchered port of the first adventure, this NES arcade port is a far more playable game. Paul and Vince still race toward the top of the screen in each of the five stages (this time comparable in length to the arcade version),  mowing down hordes of green and red alien creatures.

Each time an enemy combatant is killed, its pulsing heart may be collected to use as currency in any one of the shops. In these shops, items, usable at any time from the pause menu (accessible only after a terribly irritating loading period), may be purchased, or the war heroes may choose to duel one of the three alien bounty hunters sitting at the bar for a chance to win more hearts. While plodding through each stage, mirror portals will sometimes appear, bringing the player to a mini-Ikari Warriors II Victory Road USA 032 Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road NES Nintendo Review Screenshotgame or boss battle when entered. The duo now has access to a larger variety of weaponry, including a bazooka, a flamethrower, a boomerang, and a sword, though the usefulness of some of the options is dubious, indeed; each of the weapons are upgradable, and retain their levels even when the soldiers are hit by enemy fire.

Graphically, Victory Road is a fair improvement over the original. Though still ugly and unappealing, the character sprites are large and colorful. Thanks to the reduced number of enemies on the screen at once and the slower pace of the game play, flicker and breakup are have been significantly reduced, though not entirely removed. The music is similar to that of the arcade version, but it is punctuated an odd sound not entirely dissimilar to a synthesized slide-whistle is featured in the music in stages four and five, and by digital voice clips that are loud, distorted, and unintelligible . There are some horrifically drawn cinematic scenes (which, to say pass at a snail’s pace is generous – the intro is four screens of text with still-shots, and takes nearly four minutes to play) that do little to further the bare-bones plot, though the poor English translation and the shopkeeper’s use of the word “rad” do inject some much needed humor into the at-times laughably serious proceedings.

The controls, while not ideal, are functional. Paul and Vince still have to spin in circles to aim their weapons, but do so in a much faster manner than before, and strafe firing is now possible by holding down the B button. Maneuvering the player characters still feels sluggish, but not to the extent that it gives the enemies as significant of an advantage. Thankfully, the difficulty level has been greatly reduced and no longer feels insanely cheap; while Ikari Warriors II certainly demands a fair amount of skill, memorization, and luck to see the mission through, it’s completely possible to finish the game without using the continue cheat code with some Ikari Warriors II Victory Road USA 121 Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road NES Nintendo Review Screenshotpractice. The primary challenge comes from tedium – oftentimes the battle on Alexia Lomta becomes one of attrition, best combated with lots of caffeine and a genuine sense of apathy.

Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road is a corny sci-fi mishmash that, while by no means perfect, mercifully improves on the major game breaking faults of the original. Though the graphics are still unappealing, the sound is garbled, the controls are sloppy, and the game is often boring, Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road manages to attain a level of mediocrity that the original could never have dreamt of, as is one of Micronics’ most competent efforts on the NES.

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flag us Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road NES Nintendo Review ScreenshotIkari Warriors II: Victory Road
SNK, 4/1988
flag jpn Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road NES Nintendo Review Screenshot怒: 怒号層圏 (Ikari – Dogousouken)
Anger: Roaring Sentence
K Amusement Leasing, 4/1988

層圏 and 送検 are both rendered “Souken” phonetically, 送検 means to be accused and given over to authorities;  層 means “stratified” and 圏 means “area” or “zone,” in reference to both the game being situated in outer-space and to the game’s “plot twist.” Essentially the title functions as a Japanese word play.