Legendary Wings
Box Shot
Legendary Wings
Platform: NES
Publisher: Capcom
Designer: Capcom
Genre: Shoot-em-up
Players: 2 (Simultaneous)
Published Date 1988
Reviewed by: Rob Strangman

During the Golden Age of the NES, there were many good shooters (a group which has been sorely neglected since the 16-bit era). There were normally two types of shooter: side scrolling (Gradius, Section Z) and overhead (1942, 1943, Star Soldier). Most of these games revolved around the future and saving the galaxy from some evil armada (with the exception of 1942 and 1943, which take place in World War II). Capcom's Legendary Wings is an overhead shooter that did take place in the future, but instead of piloting a spaceship, you played a soldier with wings - a rather novel approach.

I don't recall too much of the story, but it takes place in the year 10,000, and a supercomputer, DARK, is in control of the world. Two soldiers don experimental wings and fly out to destroy DARK and restore peace to the world. It's similiar to the story of a Capcom arcade game from about the same time: Forgotten Worlds.

Graphically, the game looks excellent - it has an almost mytholgical feel to it. From the two soldiers to the enemies and backgrounds, the game screams "Capcom quality!". Each level has it's own distinctive look to it. The controls are very smooth - about what you'd expect from Capcom. The music is also very well done - the first level theme is very memorable, and the "Danger!" room's theme is very eerie.

Just what is the "Danger!" room, you ask? In every level, there is a giant head on the ground. This head, upon spotting you, will open it's mouth and start shooting whirlwinds at you (in the first level, they start off very slow, but by level 5, they're almost impossible to avoid!) If one of these whirlwinds touches you, you are pulled down into the statue's mouth and forced to enter the "Danger!" room, where the game switches to a side scrolling level as you attempt to fight your way past some tough enemies and get back out. I would recommend a turbo controller for the game; it makes the "Danger!" room a lot easier (even with your low-powered gun).

Also in each level there is a "Lucky!" room. When you destroy a certain gun emplacement on the ground, a whirlwind flies out (similiar to the ones the giant head spits out). Only one comes out, and by all means, fly into it. You will enter the "Lucky!" room (the game actually prints out "Danger!" and "Lucky!" when you enter these rooms). Inside are no enemies, just plenty of bonuses (represented by ancient Egyptian artifacts), powerups, and Continues (represented by hearts). These rooms are great places to power your soldier up (when he reaches full power, he looks like a flaming phoenix (in the overhead boards). In the side scrolling boards he looks like a man on fire!)

The game takes place from an overhead perspective. You can pick up items to charge up your weapon by various levels. When you get hit, you your gun drops down one level. If you get hit with your wimpiest gun, you're toast.

When you reach the end of each board, you must fight a guardian dragon before going to a side scrolling board where you fight the boss of each level. Unfortunately (one of the game's only flaws) it's the same boss at the end of every level, much like Gradius. Of course, the final battle with DARK makes up for this. . .

Legendary Wings is an excellent shooter, worthy of a place in any shooter fan's library of games. The only other game to have this mythological feel to it would be Namco's Phelios for the Sega Genesis (also highly recommended) - actually, Phelios drew quite a few comparisons to Legendary Wings when it first came out. Of course, if you don't like shooters, stay clear of both of these games. But as it is, Legendary Wings is one of the best.