Ikari Warriors

To survive a war, you gotta become war.

Source // Arcade Museum

With the run I'm on recently I genuinely thought Ikari Warriors was another space shooter, but then I remembered that, no, what I'm thinking of was Ikaruga.

Ikari Warriors is a vertical shooter set in a jungle full of bad guys hell bent on killing us before we fulfil our objective. If it looks like Commando with a Rambo skin, it's because it largely is Commando with a Rambo skin. Even the name Ikari comes from the Japanese title for Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Take one popular film, apply it to one popular game, what do you get?


If you're me, playing the NES port, you get reminded of how bad you were at Commando. The games start off damn near identically, to the point where I had to wonder why Ikari Warriors made the list if it was just a clone.

Movement is as you'd expect on the port, but the arcade version differs in ways the NES can't replicate. The joystick allowed for movement, as you'd expect, but could also be twisted to alter your aim, allowing you finer control over where you moved and what you shot at. It's not a full 360 degrees of freedom, but still, we're making progress towards it.

You move, you shoot, you wonder who employed or enlisted these apparently braindead first line of enemy troops, you lob a grenade at a pillbox - it's all same game, different textures.

Source // Arcade Museum

Fun Times

And then the tanks appear. Doors open. Facing the enemy.

Oh yes, that's right. Ikari Warriors let's you play with tanks, and you'll need to play with them when you'll be facing enemy tanks and troops armed with RPGs sooner than you think. The shoot everything you see gameplay continues, it's just that there are more explosions when you're shooting everything with tanks.

You can't go absolutely mental with them however, or your standard weaponry either, as Ikari Warriors includes what Commando did not - an ammo counter. Not only is ammunition a problem, but your tank has a fuel gauge to worry about too, and it'll grind to a halt without anything to burn. Handily, there's enough to be found to keep you in the running and the gunning.

Not pictured: My last life running out

Final Word

Not that I got too far through what is a short game. Slow moving bullets are fine, but wrestling with my stupidity is another challenge entirely. Still, it's nothing to be put off by, even if you think of it as just Commando with tanks. It can be hard not to think of it as such, and the heavily Rambo inspired character designs may also put a bit of a negative lean on how you look at it, but for a quick little fix of being a one-man killing machine, there's no reason to not give Ikari Warriors a try at least.

Try for the arcade version though. I know the NES has saved me many a time, but it can't work miracles.

Fun Facts

The enemies you face in Ikari Warriors are Neo-Nazis, if that makes you feel any better about dispatching them.

Ikari Warriors, developed by SNK, first released in 1986.
Version played: NES, 1987, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1986 (World of Longplays)