These days, younger gamers have been spoiled by online shooters, massively multiplayer online role-playing games and any other game genre you can connect to the internet. This was nothing but a dream in the early 1990s, when multiplayer gaming required somebody sitting next to you on the couch. It was a time when multiplayer was all about having a great time with a buddy over Bomberman, Contra III or, if you were lucky, Metal Warriors.
This criminally underappreciated gem was developed by LucasArts, published by Konami and released at a time when few gamers were paying attention to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Who wouldn't want to destroy his friends at Metal Warriors?
The plot is about the United Government trying to excise an organization called Dark Axis from Earth. To accomplish such a mission, the player must use a variety of mechs, each with different abilities and advantages. It may not be the most original story, but it quickly gets us into an incredible game.
The sound in Metal Warriors is unforgettable. The few pieces of music are great and totally fit the robots-in-space theme. The game sounds futuristic, with a soundtrack filled with techno and rock. The sound effects are also exceptional, and do not get in the way of the soundtrack.
The graphics are really similar to Cybernator, another mech-shooter on the Super NES. In fact, a lot of people mistake the two games. It doesn't help that the two action games are published by Konami. And since the Super NES was in its final days, the LucasArts team was able to get the most out of the hardware. Metal Warriors is full of not only amazing designs for the various robots, but also the inclusion of anime-style cut scenes.
The gameplay is solid and fun. It's easy to see they put some time into the physics, which is not always the case on the Super NES. For example, if your robot activates its propulsion, it will not start to go up immediately. First it will go down a bit and then begins to fly properly.
The commands are responsive and should give no trouble at all. What's more, all six robots feel different from one another. Nitro is the balanced mech, while Prometheus is heavy and powerful. The Spider can climb onto walls or the roof, making it one of the most frustrating to handle.
In addition to the weapons available to all assault suits, the mechs also have the ability to equip power-ups to improve performance. This adds even better time bombs, rockets, grenades, speed boosting and more. The power-ups won't last forever, after fifteen second they vanish for good.
The player has the ability to exit the mech and go solo, but don't expect to get very far. His gun simply isn't very effective against most enemies, forcing the player to avoid all but the on-foot soldiers. While outside of the robot, the player will go unnoticed by most enemies. You even have the ability to enter unoccupied mechs, adding a lot of variety to the missions.
Metal Warriors has an engaging story mode, giving us missions to save the Earth. This is no easy task, as the game's difficulty is brutal. This game will require you to master its mechanics if you intend to make it to the end. Sometimes you are best to rethink your strategy, because you are attracting too much attention in your space suit. Still, while it is a difficult game, this Konami shooter is not even close to as impossible or cheap as it first appears.
The multiplayer is what puts Metal Warriors over the top. There is no greater thrill than choosing your favorite robot and going head-to-head with two fully-armed robots. The only major flaw is its lack of co-op multiplayer, something that would have been a welcome addition to an otherwise stellar shoot-em-up.
Metal Warriors is a wonderful game to play by yourself or with friends. The difficulty is a bit high, but nothing you can't handle. The music and graphics are first rate and the gameplay will not let you down. This is one of those games that often gets overlooked for flashier 16-bit action games like Contra III, but Metal Warriors is a must-own for any Super NES library.