|Source // Arcade Museum|
I didn't have a clue what Forgotten Worlds would turn out to be when I first heard the title, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be some kind of futuristic not-quite-space shoot 'em up.
To be fair, I have been slowly warming up to these kinds of shooters. It does help that each one I play is generally 'better' in some way than the last, I guess, so here's hoping Forgotten Worlds builds on the successes of the past and includes lots of fancy power-ups for my shi- where's my ship?
Ships are a thing of the past as far as Forgotten Worlds is concerned. Instead of piloting anything, you play as a flying super soldier created as a last-ditch effort by post-apocalyptic humanity to destroy Emperor Bios, an evil God who left the Earth in ruins.
Armed with infinite ammo and, I assume, a magic jetpack, you dart about the screen as the stages scroll along, shooting everything in sight. Instead of power-ups, enemies drop currency which you can use in an inexplicably well-stocked shop run by a girl who appears completely unfazed by the situation she finds herself in. "What's that? Sell guns to a super-soldier while in the middle of a war zone? Sure thing, father."
So you can mix and match your weaponry to a certain extent, and you are accompanied by a satellite module that fires along with you, often in different directions that you can't quite get to quick enough - unless you get the hang of the new control scheme.
Forgotten Worlds has given some thought to movement and aiming, making this shooter a little bit more like a twin-stick than a straight shoot em up. On the arcade, a 'roll stick' could be twisted left and right to spin your character around on the spot and shoot in whatever direction they're pointing. You could still play it straight of course, but if enemies come from behind - and they will, as well as from above - you'll be thankful for the option to aim in their general direction before they're able to shoot at you.
That is if you can get your head around it...
I was playing the Sega Mega Drive port which maps the roll stick to the A and C buttons, B being fire. You could use only one button to spin, and constantly spin around in that direction until you're where you want to be, but that may take too much time and leave you vulnerable, so using both is the better choice, so long as you remember to keep pressing the fire button too.
Thankfully, this port has the option to enable auto-fire and set the turning speed so you can at least get used to one before putting the two together. It's not like pressing two buttons with one thumb is a hassle, but any amount of help is handy and it allows beginners to actually make a bit more progress than they would otherwise.
For example, I was able to see the first mini boss above, who has taken a bit of a graphical hit but functions the same as his arcade counterpart. Naturally, I fell to a Game Over screen at this point, which reminded me of just how you don't want to see that screen too often, because it means restarting the game, essentially, intro screens and all. Minor gripe? Definitely. Get good and you won't see a game over, will you?
I made sure to watch a run on YouTube too, and I was able to see what the 1001 book was referring to with its comments about large bosses (not just as big as the screen, but bigger), and the relative ease of dispatching them compared to reaching them in the first place.
Forgotten Worlds does things in its own way, brings new mechanics to the genre and makes an impression on the player. It's well worth playing, but is it long lasting? Would you go back to it again and again?
The number of weapons you can use and the ability to play it as a co-op may increase the chances of you replaying it, especially if you're arguing over who gets to be player one or two - their default weapons in the arcade original are different, player one having a long range rifle-like weapon, and player two having more shotgun-like spread weapon - but is even that enough?
I like that Forgotten Worlds is different, but getting to grips with the controls isn't the best fun I could be having, and I don't know how long I'd persist with it should I ever get comfortable with them. But I'd recommend playing it for yourselves, easily.
Twist and shoot like you did last summer.
While the shopkeeper is named as Slyphie, the player characters are only known as 'Unknown Solider' Red and Blue. For the last two saviours of mankind, you'd at least have hoped they would have names. Even crap ones.
Forgotten Worlds, developed by Capcom, first released in 1988.
Version played: Sega Mega Drive, 1990, via emulation.
Version watched: Arcade, 1988 (World of Longplays)