You’ve probably heard me talk about it here and there. I mentioned it in one of the CAD books, it was mentioned in the comic strip once. I know I’ve mentioned it on the front page from time to time. I couldn’t possibly pay tribute to seven of my favorite games of all time without mentioning Metal Warriors.
Developed by LucasArts and published by Konami, this game hit the SNES in 1995 promising a whopping “16 Megs of Stellar Mayhem!”. What it delivered was one of my favorite multiplayer games of all time.
My best friend and I found and rented it on a lark from our local Blockbuster. We had no clue that over ten years later it would still be one of our favorite games. We even went so fas as to concoct an elaborate story which in which we’d explain to Blockbuster how we “lost” the cartridge, because we couldn’t find the game for sale anywhere nearby, and we were too young to drive.
This game was so fun, that some nine years later I would pay well to acquire this game on eBay, and then seek out and purchase a Super Nintendo for the sole purpose of playing this game.
And it has nothing to do with the single player mode. Don’t get me
wrong, the single player mode is entertaining, what with it’s classic
side-scrolling destruction and ever-so-cheesy “animated” cutscenes. But
I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I never played past the second level
in single player. It just wasn’t the purpose for owning this game. Not
with such an incredible multiplayer experience.
Let me set this up for you, if you’ve never played the game before.
Imagine this: Two giant robot mechs, chosen from a lineup of half a dozen, each with their very own unique weapons and powers. They all have some sort of shield, they all have some sort of melee weapon, and they all have a cannon of some sort.
These mechs enter various maze-like arenas in split-screen action. Around the arenas are teleporter pods that will generate random power-ups. Advanced weaponry, missiles, mines, bombs, increased speed and health.
The mechs battle to the death, and as they take damage it becomes visible on their outer shell. And on the brink of death, all of their weapons are disabled, leaving them as a defensless flying heap.
Now you have two options when you are reduced to this point. You can take your mech and flee. Frantically try to avoid destruction while you zoom around the level praying to the mechanical gods above that one of the teleporters will generate a health pack that will restore you to full functionality.
I cannot begin to tell you how many atrocious profanities my best friend has created in moments of sheer rage, as he’s had me done and defeated, on the ropes, only to watch a health powerup happen to spawn just as I approach the teleporter. And as I, now with my mech at full health, turn back on him, my pursuer, for some sweet revenge.
Your other option, should you be having no luck obtaining a health recovery, is to eject from your mech. That’s right, you can eject your pilot from a mech. He is equipped with a little jetpack and a pea-shooter. Now the jetpack is pretty swift, and you can use it to zip around the level in the hopes that you will find a new, unspoiled mech to operate (some of the levels have additional mechs just tucked away for this very purpose).
The pilot’s gun, however, is a mockery of your current predicament. I would hope I don’t have to explain the effect (or lackthereof) a hand pistol would have on a twelve-story metallic monstrosity. This holds true for the game. No one has ever actually taken down a mech with their pilot’s little p-gun, but the option to try is there if you feel like your last moments should be spent in a defiant kamikaze blaze of glory.
Of course, a sporting opponent, seeing his enemy mechless and flying around on his little jetpack, would also eject and engage in a pea-shooter duel between the two pilots. Of course, this opens itself up to a classic backstab murphy situation in that the original pilot could then take over his enemy’s abandoned mech, taking advantage of honor and integrity to squash his benevolent opponent.
Some of the mechs are absolutely worthless. This adds to the gameplay when your mech is destroyed, and the only available option for your survival is to jump into the seat of the spider mech, which sticks to every surface it touches in a most annoying manner.
Nowadays, Metal Warriors is the only reason I own a SNES. And I imagine that in another ten years we’ll still be hooking it up every so often for some hardcore 16meg robot duels.