Sunday, 14 February 2016

New York Warriors (Amiga)

So, European-developed shooting games, especially ones on the Amiga historically have had a repuatation for being terribly designed, boring and just generally not very good. New York Warriors, though it's not a patch on the likes of Mercs or Gun.Smoke, at least tries to redress that balance by being actually pretty good.

It's been said before that one of the main signifiers of quality for a home game in the 1980s and early 90s was how much like an arcade game it was, and New York Warriors (as it's called in adverts and on the game's box, though the title screen says N.Y. Warriors) is a lot like an arcade game, in more ways than just mechanically. It takes the grand old Japanese arcade tradition of "taking inspiration" and "paying homage" to other media in its setting and character design and makes it its own, with the setting itself being a mish-mash of The Warriors and Escape From New York, with one of the enemy gangs also being called "The Ramboids" and described as being "very sly".

Aesthetically, it gets the whole 80s VHS apocalyptic dystopian action movie look down pretty well, and all the stages look excellent. There's nice little details, too, like rats scurrying across the streets occasionally, and people sleeping on park benches. There's some problematic elements too, though, like the enemy gang of Chinatown being ninjas, and the one black gang being called "The Ganjas" and looking like lazy caricatures. And the fact that you get points for killing the aforementioned sleeping homeless people.

How does it play, though? It plays pretty well, actually. It's fast-paced, and though it's very difficult, rarely feels unfair. In fact, at first glance, it'll look a lot harder than it is. In some ways, it's actually ahead of its time too. For example, there's pretty much always massive clouds of enemy bullets coming from every direction, and though they don't have the elaborate patterns of later danmaku-style STGs, and the emphasis is on destroying the enemies quickly to stop the flow of bullets rather than being able to weave a path through them, it's still a striking sight to see in such an old game. There's also a nice touch regarding the power-ups: if you collect one power-up while you still have remaining ammo on a previous one, the game'll remember the earlier power-up and switch back to it when the newer one runs dry. It even does this for multiple power-ups, so long as you manage to stay alive that long. Another nice idea it has is that along with easy, normal and hard difficulty settings, there's also one named "flame", which is harder than the hard setting, but tilts the scales in your favour somewhat by giving you an unending supply of the best weapon in the game, the exploding fire laser.

If you can get past the few unpleasant elements, which are presumably more the result of the game being made by a bunch of late 80s European teenage boys just trying to make a videogame version of the movies they'd seen on video than the result of actual malice, New York Warriors is definitely worth a look. Especially since, as I mentioned, good Amiga shooting games are few and far between.

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