Max Maverick has a problem. You see, his planet is about to be destroyed and everybody has left him. He can either leave and hope to find another planet, or he can stay behind and fight. He chooses the latter, opting to be the foolish hero the history books speak of. He is the Isolated Warrior, the deadly serious star in this 1991 shoot-em-up.
Isolated Warrior stands out because of its unique perspective, which offers an overhead isometric view. The game resembles an 8-bit version of SNK's Viewpoint or Sega's Zaxxon. Players take control of Max, the last remaining human, as he rushes through level after level shooting at enemies, earning power ups and battling huge bosses. Can this one man take on an entire army of aliens?
The gameplay is standard shoot-em-up fare, with Max avoiding bullets and shooting oncoming baddies. On top of moving around, Max can also jump and throw grenades and other explosive weapons. At first this is just an added extra, but as the game goes on he'll need to jump over holes, spikes and even some enemies. The game manages to successfully mix both platformer and shooter elements, making for one of the more unique action games on the NES.
Through most stages Max will be on your feet, but from time to time he'll jump on a space-age motorcycle and plow through the hordes of aliens. These vehicle missions don't radically change the gameplay; they just make everything much faster. They are a fun twist and come just in time to break up some of the monotony of the shooting.
Isolated Warrior stresses fast action over great graphics. The game's presentation is fine, but it's nothing you would brag about. The characters tends to look the same and some of the backgrounds are repeated a few too many times. It's also disappointing to see so many aliens stolen from popular sci-fi films of the era, namely the Alien franchise.
Isolated Warrior walks the thin line between being a hardcore shooter and being accessible to casual gamers. The gameplay is simple and the game isn't nearly as frustrating as R-Type and Gradius. But don't let that fool you, this is still a challenging game. And just when players have completed the game's seven stages, there's an even more challenging quest ahead of you.
I would be lying if I called Isolated Warrior innovative, but it does make for a fun action game that is just different enough from the competition to be worth your time. If you can get past the mediocre graphics, you might actually be the one person that can save this planet from alien attackers. After all, somebody has to do it.