Original Release Date: 1991
There are many obscure games for the NES, and most of them are obscure for a good reason. Between the primitive technology and the limited experience of developers at the time, most NES games are rather mediocre by modern standards, and the ones that are good tend to have been good despite the fact that they were on the NES. Having played a fair number of NES games, I can say that many of the more obscure games, while having interesting ideas, tend to have a lackluster execution of those ideas, and are usually littered with enough flaws that I can’t stomach playing them for longer than ten minutes.
There are exceptions to every rule, however, and sometimes one can find a gem while rummaging around in the doldrums of mediocrity. That gem for me was Metal Storm, an action platformer released late in the NES’s lifespan. Because it was overshadowed by both the earlier NES classics and the rising 16-bit era, it remained relatively obscure despite gathering a cult following over the years. It’s a shame, because I think it’s actually a really solid game.
Metal storm is an action platformer where you control a mech unit tasked with destroying a rogue device known as Cyberg. That’s pretty much it as far as the story goes, but the gameplay is quite good. The controls are solid, the art direction is distinct, and the levels memorable.
The main mechanic in Metal Storm is the ability to switch gravity at will, and the game integrates this ability extremely well. The whole game is built around the dual gravity, and presents the player with a series of increasingly difficult challenges. But despite its high difficulty the game never resorts to a lot of the cheap tactics implemented by other NES games. When you die, it’s because you messed up, not because the game was flawed in design, and on top of that the iterations times are incredibly reasonable. The only slightly questionable aspect is the fact that you die in one hit, which seems a bit draconic, but not a deal breaker by any means.
On the whole, Metal Storm is a solidly put together platformer with a unique mechanic that makes it a stand out title for the NES, and worthy of greater recognition alongside other NES classics.
How well it holds up 4/4
Overall quality 8/10
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