Metal Storm
Box Shot
Metal Storm
Platform: NES
Publisher: Irem
Designer: Irem
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1991
Reviewed by: Bryan Cord

When one thinks of the NES, IREM's Metalstorm isn't generally one of the titles that brings a tear of nostalgia to one's eye. All overwrought language aside though, the truth of the matter is that very few people had the opportunity to play this one. A generic-sounding name slapped onto a generic-looking game by a fairly low-profile 3rd party developer, Metalstorm faded into obscurity virtually the day it was released, despite gracing the cover of Nintendo Power. Its a shame, because this seemingly-innocuous side-scrolling platformer is anything but generic.

There's some plot given, but its basically the bare-minimum kind of thing provided in video games that need some kind of pretext to blow lots of things up and is essentially irrelevant. Suffice it to say that the player controls the M-308 Gunner robot- a big Tranzor-Z looking thing bristling with weapons and other fun gadgets (I'll come to that in a minute). You stomp through some kind of futuristic building, mow down other robots with your lasers, grab powerups, a variety of standard bunch of neato firearms, fight the occasional boss...think you've seen this before? You haven't. This game's "shark factor" (in video-game-ese, a "shark factor" is a feature that vastly improves the gameplay of a given game) is your cybernetic friend's ability to gravity flip- that is, he can flip and walk along the ceiling! It's a simple gimmick, but it almost singlehandedly makes the game, adding all sorts of strategy to what would otherwise be pretty standard action (for instance, there are parts where the entire screen consists of floating platforms and the bottom of the screen "wraps" to the top and vice have to negotiate these spike-laden platforms by precision gravity-flipping while being fired at all the while...hoo mama, is it ever wacky).

Don't misunderstand though; Metalstorm would be pretty weak if the game itself played like a Color Dreams cart. The play control is razor sharp, making it easy for even novices to be bouncing off the walls (and ceilings!) in no time at all. The graphics are outstanding and colorful (featuring lots of parallax with minimal slowdown), and the music is, well, innocuous (ahhh, quit your whining...just mute it and add auditory background of your choice). The gravity flip is what sets this better-then-average side scroller apart, though. The included password feature isn't really necessary (the game really isn't too difficult, but you'll spend many a long night and utter many an expletive trying to beat the damn satellite boss, believe you me), but they're always convenient.

Although the game's flaws are minimal, Metalstorm certainly isn't perfect. I've never been a fan of "one hit and you're dead" games, and even picking up the omnipresent Armor power-up (which lets the ol' M-308 take *TWO* hits before it spontaneously combusts) doesn't quite counteract this irritating feature. As I might have mentioned earlier, the game isn't too difficult in general, but there are parts (like the aforementioned Satellite boss) that are close enough to impossible to drive more weak-minded gamers (not me though...) insane. Sadly, Metalstorm encompasses a mere 12 stages, meaning most people will rip through it in a week of constant play at the most (providing they can beat the satellite boss before they flood the house trying to flush the cart down the toilet- not that I would be familiar with a situation like that, being level-headed at all times when gaming...on an unrelated note, I'm looking for another copy of this game with someone). At close-out prices though, Metalstorm is an absolute must-own if you can find it (I had quite a bit of difficulty, actually. And I don't mean with the satellites this time, although I had quite a bit of difficulty with them too. Stupid game...).