NOTE: ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON COMICBOOKMOVIE.COM 05/13/2013
I am by no means a professional reviewer, it is merely something I do in my own free time. One principle I’ve always tried to uphold when reviewing something is that I try to see it to the end. In the case of video games, story or mechanic problems may not show up until the very end and affect ones experience with the final product. Iron Man/X-O Manowar in Heavy Metal is the first game I’ve come across that has made me break that streak. This game is just flat out bad, and I couldn’t even finish it on easy.
Heavy Metal (abbreviated now because the title is too long)was one of the very early titles for Sony’s then new PlayStation console, but nothing about says it couldn’t have been done on the SNES as its graphics are worse than Donkey Kong Country. The game is a 2.5-D side scroller where the only interaction with the “Z” plain is shooting enemies or objects in the background. It doesn’t even accept the PS1 memory card as a way to save progress, instead relying on passwords that are 28 characters long. You read that correctly folks, 28 characters long.
The game was published by Acclaim, who lets face it has not had the best track record when it comes to their licensed offerings. On the other hand, they did make some decent games in the 16-bit era like Spawn and Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage so I can’t condemn them completely. Had the game been designed to be a sprite based game and not a 2-D movement in 3-D space affair, it maybe could’ve turned out differently as the game comes across as wanting to feel like MegaMan X.
Playing as Iron Man you can shoot your repulsor, boost and fly, but the controls feel very stiff and movement feels less than fluid for when you’re trying to dodge enemies or make jumps. It also suffers from a lot of cheap one hit deaths and leap of faith jumps that often than not lead to you losing a life, making the game unfairly challenging. A lot of traversal requires using your flight boosters which run out of fuel quickly but replenish. It’s not uncommon to start a vertical ascent only to find your hero knocked down by an unseen foe of screen. Did I mention I played this on easy?
Heavy Metal also made an appearance on the original Game Boy and despite that systems lack of horsepower and inputs, it’s actually better than the PS1 game. For one passwords are only around 6 characters long and Iron Man can do a lot for only having access to two buttons. Much like its older sibling though, the game suffers from stiff controls, an unfair difficulty and levels that are a bit too long. With the Game Boy’s limited color palette it would be hard to determine you’re playing as Iron Man if you didn’t know so already.