Storm’s a comin’; it’s this week’s Retro Game of the Week!
There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that the Japanese were put on this Earth for two things: 1) Make awesome food. 2) Design awesome giant robots.
MetalStorm was released for Nintendo Entertainment System for North American gamers in February of 1991 by Irem America Corp. Developed by Tamtex, this side-scrolling-platforming-shooter tasked players with guiding their M-308 Gunner (good luck figuring out what that is as the US version has no opening cutscene explaining any plot) through sci-fi backgrounds while blasting enemy robots. The graphics and sound look great, and the explosion effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen on any NES title. The game truly benefited from being released late in the NES life cycle development wise, sales however may have suffered from this.
At first glance, this game may appear to be just your typical Contra-esque shooter but with giant robots. The main feature of the M-308 Gunner however, is that it can flip gravity at will. Players can turn the gravity on or off at will, flinging yourself and all on-screen enemies to the floor, or ceiling, accordingly. This turns the gameplay, ahem literally, on it’s head. All stages are designed with traps and pitfalls with this in mind, forcing the player to be conscious of what is above and below them at all times. Enemies come from both top and bottom, and the on-screen action gets pretty intense at times. Each stage ends with a cool “red alert” flashing screen and some pretty challenging boss fights. Luckily, a password system is in place so “Game Over” doesn’t mean starting back at stage one each time.
In February of 1991, North American gamers were just six months away from getting their Cheetos stained hands on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The fervor for Nintendo’s next big thing was building, and many a young lad were saving their allowance for a chance to play on the new generation of hardware. Sadly, this is the main reason MetalStorm gets lots in the aether of gamer’s memories. It had the misfortune of being released when attention spans were focused somewhere else. As such, many gamers missed out on a very unique, and one of the best looking, NES platformers in existence.
In recent years, especially with resurgence of retro game collecting as a hobby, MetalStorm has come to the forefront as a forgotten gem in the NES library. Though sales were marginally weak when released in 1991, copies can be sourced today fairly easily. Expect to spend just a little bit more due to the game’s low circulation numbers and recent popularity. If your fan of old school platforming shooters, you owe it to yourself to check out one of the last great NES titles to hit North American shores.
Plus, it’s got a giant japanese robot on the cover. SOLD!