Friday, January 21, 2011

Titan Warriors - a Killer Unreleased Shooter Lost in Space

When you look at the games that Capcom released for the NES in 1988, your eyes may enlarge at some of the titles: 1943; Bionic Commando; Mickey Mousecapade; Legendary Wings; Gun.Smoke; Mega Man 2.  But, that list is missing a game, Titan Warriors - a damn good overhead shooter.

A sequel to the freaking hard arcade game Vulgus, Titan Warriors conceptually has the 1942/43 feel but set in space with more cliché space-like enemies (think Xevious).  Vulgus should be noted for being the first game developed by Capcom in 1984 (arcade only but did port in the Capcom Generation 3 for PSI and Saturn and Capcom Classic Collection for PS2, XBox, and PSP). 

The reasoning for Titan Warriors being thrown in the scrapheap of unwanted NES titles is unclear. 1UP's Frank Cifaldi hypothesized it is because of Nintendo's strict, "no more than five titles a year" policy and Capcom was set to go with their five (while I can easily make a claim for Titan Warriors over Mickey Mousecapade and Gun.Smoke).  Perhaps they also felt they had too many overhead shooters (with Legendary Wings and 1943) and didn't want to become typecast as shooter-only company.

For whatever reason, it is a damn shame it wasn't released.  The following year saw a push back from shooters as RPGs, JRPGs, and adventure genres became prevalent - Dragon Warrior, Destiny of an Emperor, Willow, Shadowgate, etc.  And, as a side note, 1989 saw a whole lot of really shit games and accessories - PowerGlove, Jaws, Uncanny X-Men, Operation Wolf, Ghostbusters II (the last one didn't come out for the NES that year but it did come out in theaters and deserves a mention since that movie sucked so bad I was surprised I wasn't in it).

Perhaps I should prologue my love for classic shooters.  There were out of this world shooters on the NES (and don't even get me started on the Genesis and Super Nintendo).  Playing through this I found it to be graphically equal, if not ahead, of its time, the soundtrack is phenomenal, the bosses are a little cliché (how many skulls were used as a boss in the 1980's/early 90's?)  But, overall, a great game. 

Also - it is a tough game to boot.  I actually have only gotten to level 5 of 6 in it so I plan to finish it today or tomorrow but had time to do my review today and know I will be booked all weekend (did I mention that the Bears have to beat the hell out of the Packers on Sunday and that requires a minimum of two day's prep time for me).  If, by chance, the last level sucks horribly, I will come back and recant everything I said - but don't see that happening.  Give it a try via VirtualNES - you won't be disappointed.  Also, you can take a look at my post on playing VirtualNES with joystick support - if you like using your controller over the keyboard.

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