Review by Galactic_Turtle

"One of the greatest Virtual Console games."

Ironclad is possibly the greatest shooter I've ever played. The graphics are amazing, the game play is unique, and the difficulty's just right. Unfortunately, the game was only released in Japan. Even worse, the game was extremely rare and cost a fortune, so many people didn't get to experience the insane awesomeness that was Ironclad. Fortunately, Nintendo remembered the insane awesomeness that was Ironclad, and they released it on the Wii's Virtual Console! Now anyone can experience the insane awesomeness that is Ironclad, and just for the measly price of 1000 Wii Points ($10.00)! So just how awesome is Ironclad? Read on, and you shall see!

Gameplay: 9/10

Ironclad plays like most shooters. You fly around in a spaceship, everything in sight. Some of the enemies will drop power-ups and extra weapons, which you can use to upgrade your ship, thus being able to kill the rest of the bad guys more easily. Speaking of enemies, you fight a nice variety of creatures in this game. The bad guys range from just your typical enemy spaceships, to massive robotic dodo birds, to a trio of ly crustaceans. There's lots of enemies in this game.

The game also lets you customize many things. For example, there are four difficulty levels to choose from. So if you're a shoot em' up noob like me, you'll be glad to hear that you might have a chance at beating this game! Also, did I mention that you have three ships to choose from? One ship has massive attack power, but moves really slowly. Another moves very fast, but isn't too great at attacking. The last ship is the most balanced, having a relatively good speed and attack power.

Every once in a while you'll fight a boss. This is where the game gets intense. The bosses are always at least ten times bigger than you. Some of them even take up the whole screen! Anyway, most bosses always unleash a massive spray of lasers that are almost unavoidable. Also, each boss has a lot of health. Because of this, the boss fights are the hardest parts of the game.

Now let me talk about the things that Ironclad does not have in common with other shooters. First of all, there's this metal orb that floats in front of you throughout the entire game. The orb acts as a second ship; it attacks enemies. Unfortunately, its AI is definitely not the best ever. Anyway, by pressing the A Button, you can attach the orb, which the game refers to as “the robot,” to your ship. When the robot's attached to your ship, your attacks do more damage. By holding and releasing the attack button, you can launch the robot at the bad guys, which will almost always kill them in one hit. (Well, except bosses, of course.) Also, when the robot is not attached to your ship, you can press the C Button to have it detonate Hyper , which blow up everything on-screen. (Except bosses.) Unfortunately, you have a limited number of Hyper , so use them wisely!

The second thing that differentiates Ironclad from other shooters is the branching paths. I know, some other shooters have these, but most don't. Anyway, after you beat a level, you have to choose between two levels. Whichever level you pick is the level you head to next. Because of the branching paths, the game's replay value is significantly increased, as it's impossible to go through every level in one playthrough.

Lastly, let's talk about the reason I gave this game's gameplay a 9/10 instead of a perfect score. Like I said earlier, most bosses fire dozens of projectiles at you at a time. Unfortunately, this makes the game pretty laggy during boss fights. However, the lag actually helps you during tough situations, making it easier to maneuver through large waves of lasers. But nevertheless, lag is lag, and lag is bad.

Story: 9/10

I'll give this a 9/10 just because it's not the typical “The aliens are invading! Stop them or we'll all die!” story that most shooters have. Here it is:

In the year 1920, the Kingdom of Chop was conquered by the greedy Iron Mask Republic. The Republic turned the once beautiful lands of Chop into a toxic wasteland, and then enslaved all of Chop's inhabitants. The people of Chop waited for someone to come rescue them. Years went by, and nothing happened. Then, when all hope was lost, a metal figure appeared out of the sky: Ironclad.

This isn't really story-related, but there's no better place for it so I'll put it here. Anyway, Ironclad, despite being a Japan-only game, was translated into English for the Virtual Console release. It wasn't really necessary, as the only time words are ever spoken is when a boss is taunting you, but it was a nice touch anyway. They actually did a pretty good job translating, too. Granted, there is some Engrish, but for the most part it's readable.

Graphics: 11/10

This games' graphics are utterly astounding. The Neo Geo is a sixteen-bit console, but the graphics of Ironclad look like something from an early PlayStation 2 game. Sure beats blast processing. Anyway, Ironclad's graphics are definitely its best feature. I can't really explain them too well, just look at some screenshots, or, better yet, buy the game and see for yourself!

Music: 10/10

Before I bought the game, I heard that the music of the Virtual Console version of Ironclad was much worse than the music of the original version. Well, the original version's music must be worthy of a 15/10, because the VC version has astounding music! Most of the songs are catchy techno tunes, but you do get your fair share of creepy organ music during some boss fights.

Replay Value: 10/10

Like I said earlier, Ironclad has branching paths, making it impossible to play through each level on your first playthrough. In order to play all the levels, you'll probably have to go through the game at least four or five times. That's a pretty good reason to replay the game, if you ask me. And of course, the crazy speedrunning people will be constantly playing through the game over and over, competing for the best time. So if you like speedrunning, you'll probably still be playing Ironclad ten years from now.

TL;DR Version of Review:

Good Things:
-Solid shoot em' up gameplay.
-Unique gameplay involving a spherical robot, works pretty well.
-Four difficulty levels, three different ships to pilot.
-Massive bosses.
-A story that's very different from most shooters' stories.
-Has a pretty good translation.
-Graphics are utterly amazing.
-Music is great.
-Has branching paths.

Bad Things:
-Can get pretty laggy in certain areas.

Scores:
Gameplay: 9/10
Story: 9/10
Graphics: 11/10
Music: 10/10
Replay Value: 10/10

Final Score: 10/10
Ironclad is an amazing game, and I'm glad that Nintendo was kind enough to give the game to us folks who never got to experience it. I'd say Ironclad is up there with shooters like Axelay, Gradius, and Starfox 64. In fact, I might even say that Ironclad is better than those three games. I definitely recommend that you buy Ironclad. Bye!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 04/09/10

Game Release: Ironclad (US, 04/05/10)


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