Genre: Shmup Developer: NCS Publisher: Dreamworks Players: 1 Released: 1991
Almost completely shadowed by all the other titles hitting the shelves in the latter half of the 16-bit era came this little treasure. Some folks are fairly familiar with NCS corp. making some cool titles like Target Earth and some other PC Engine games too. Dreamworks had been quiet for quite a while, not releasing any other titles since Trampoline Terror, Target Earth, or even the horrid puzzler, Shove it!: The Warehouse Game. So many people did not look towards Dreamworks for hot games, especially given their past reputation with some of those previous (and crappy) titles. But low and behold, after laying low for a couple of years, they came back and brought us Wings of Wor. Thankfully, it’s actually fairly good
Welcome to Iccus, planet of the flying men. You are Wor, a winged battle master with the power to hurl bolts of energy and control the magical forces of nature. Your planet has been taken over by an evil virus that has mutated into a collection of the grossest creatures ever to slime a tunnel. They are the Mutants of Iccus, led by the terrible Destroyer. Many have taken on the mutants before you… and failed. Now it’s your turn. From the deepest caverns of Iccus to the belly of the beast itself, you must fly and fight for the life of your planet! It won’t be easy… but then the best battles never are! Destroy the Destroyer and Iccus will be saved, its skies free once again. But fail and your wings will be clipped… forever!
Once again, we get another rushed story plot put together by an exec at a desk. “Simple and direct, that’s all we need Bob.” “You’re right Joe. Let’s hurry and ship this puppy!” Nonetheless, the game speaks for itself without the help of reading the horribly slapped together “plot” in the beginning of the manual. So, let’s just focus on the game and keep the story in mind in a “general” sense for the setting.
Wings of Wor is a side-scrolling shoot-e’m-up with six different levels. You play as the winged dude Wor and it’s your job to make sure everything dies in your path and nobody lives. Sounds easy enough… right?
The power-up system is cool, comprised of you raising levels to increase how you fire and how strong too. Along the way, blue crystals will show up and they must be shot to reveal the power-ups inside. The blue orb is the “Orb of Pattern”, allowing you to increase the range of your attack (and the number of bullets you can fire). This also basically increases the spread of the shot. The red orb is the “Orb of Power” which increases the size of your bullets and how strong they are. Both blue and red orb strength is shown at the top by an orb level meter, with one orb being the weakest level and all five lit up to show you are at the highest powered level. To get to the next level on the power meter, more orbs must be collect for each additional level to raise, kind of like experience. And yes, there is the good ‘ol “speed up” feather that will allow better movement around the screen. The more you get, the faster your guy moves. The last and kind of a rare orb is an amber gem that lets your divide your firepower so to attack both towards the front and back.
The additional firepower offered to your little flying guy is much different. Included with the power-ups that frequent this game are a number of magic scrolls, each labeled with a different letter, that of course, symbolizes what type of power it is. There is a magic scroll meter shown at the top as well, which shows how many scrolls you are currently carrying. Only three scrolls can be held at once, and by pushing the magic button, the first scroll in order is used. Probably the coolest feature of the scrolls is trying to obtain more than one type of scroll at a time, so they are next to each other on the meter. If you have two or more of the same type of magic, once you activated it, the magic will be more powerful, have more ammo, and/or last much longer. Two Lighting scrolls with 15 bolts is obviously more advantageous than one scroll of only five. So, it’s obviously wise to try and get more of one type of magic together for more blasting of baddies.
Whenever you die, you will lose one level of both blue and red orbs and lose whatever magic scroll power you had currently engaged. You will not lose the other scrolls in your meter and they can still be used later. Don’t become too distressed yet, as one-ups are given both by score occasionally and by finding the hidden one-up icons (that look like small, winged men) in certain areas (You know, those sometimes “hard to reach” areas and whatnot). You must shoot in certain areas to reveal those hidden one-ups or even spot that have hidden scrolls too.
Continuing on with the magic scrolls, there are quite a few to choose from. Throughout the entire game are loads of different magics and they are offered on different levels. Some magic is not available until later in the game. Even the scroll the gives you the temporary “options” is not discovered until level four . Anyways, most of the magic scroll are considered offensive magic, while only two are defensive. The offensive magics are as follows: E is Energy ball, L is Lightning Bolt, T is the Thunder Bolt, G is for the Ground Attack, H is the Magic Arrow, and W is Wild Fire. The Defensive magics are O for Elemental, which are the temporary options (They have a time limit and fade faster if receiving hits) and S for the Aura shield which is your standard shield that also based on a time limit and not a number of hits.
The enemies in Wings of Wor are quite different. They are comprised of mostly ghouls, stone like creatures and objects, and some original looking bosses. I say different also because some of the bosses are a little strange, like combining a sunken ship with a huge face (which of course looks like a sea captain) and seems to wear the entire boat on his head. Other bosses seem to be ugly dudes combined with machinery, but the catch is that the machine looks very mechanical, like out of the 19th century, showing lots of moving parts. The game also seems to have a lot of enemies with faces, so you get attacked by many huge headed creatures and flying heads. Bosses and mini-bosses are usually not too difficult to beat, but it is recommended that the difficulty on this game is increased at least a notch to compensate for the more experienced gamer, otherwise those folks will breeze through most of the game.
Not too bad for NCS. Although to me, NCS Corp. seems to have always done better graphics with an “animation” look, the detail seen in Wings of Wor is quite noticeable. The boss naturally are the most detail but they are done well and have quite a dark and nasty look to them. The machinery aspect of some of the bosses is cool and the movements of others (like the first mini-boss) is smooth and nice. The standard enemies are nothing to write home about, but they are nothing to complain about either. The regular pests do tend to become much larger (and much harder) as progress is made from level to level, so no complaints are noted here. I did wish there was a better intro since it is a later game (hardly any intro really) but given that it’s a cartridge game, I don’t mind too much.
The color scheme for the game is rather dark. This is not a bad denotion since it does work well for this game, especially since the entire world you are in is supposed to be taken over by the bad guys and in darkness. But each level’s color arrangement is different and helps bring out the uniqueness to each level. Some color and graphics are well put together like the first mini-boss who is made out of rock and stone. Also worth mentioning are little things like bullets as they are not hard to see and are not camouflaged by the scenery either, so those one-hit wonders we all hate are not around too often. Small notations aside, the graphics for this title are a good portrayal of the game’s environments.
Another attribute worth talking about is the special effects. On several occasions, the backgrounds will perform a different type of effect given the terrain of the level. On the first stage, at different times the background and stage itself will shake and rumble, giving an earthquake like effect, making you almost think as if a rotation chip was embedded in the system. The water level, once you go underwater, has a small but smooth wave effect in the top portion of the background, accompanied by lots of water bubbles rising quickly to the surface. The best is probably the organic level on stage five, where the entire level constantly sways in a wavey like effect as you pass through nasty looking blood cells, tissues, and membranes. While not all levels are as good as this, what is displayed is done well given the Genesis system’s limitations.
This game certainly has a motif all its own. That’s no exception for the music. Themes are pretty decent and probably the best part about the music for the levels is that there are two tracks per level. Once the first half of a level is completed and the mini-boss is destroyed, the music changes to another track for the second half of the stage, up to the End Boss. The music could probably be best described as having a “Greekish” sound to it, which is consistent to the type of game this is (flying men, Greek pillars, demon guys, lots of rocks, etc…) The music is good enough for the game but not really worth sitting and listening too in the sound test under the options menu.
Sound for the game is nothing fantastic, but it does get the job done. Still, it could have used some improvement. Probably the most recognized and remembered sound effect from the game is the kill. It’s a loud deep sound that just kind of attracts attention to itself. So if you’re in the middle of a swarm of baddies trying to wedge through them with your shots, this sound gets a little obnoxious. This is probably what will drive a player to turn down the volume so he doesn’t get driven mad in five minutes. Besides this little note, the other sound effects are quite nice and fit the game. Nothing great. Nothing outstanding. Nothing really worth mentioning. It just helps to hear a few sounds and that’s what it accomplishes. However the same sound effect for almost every kill in the game should have been randomized and given to other sounds.
The challenge factor of Wings of Wor is on a standard, mediocre level of play. Once again, we have another shooter that has its level of difficulty defaulted on Easy! Yuck! Luckily, this can be changed in the options menu. If the difficulty is raised at least a notch or two, the game will become a solid ride, mainly by enemies and bosses firing more bullets. Enemies aren’t terribly troublesome but for a few of them here and there. That goes for some of the bosses too, as they don’t take too many hits to kill unless the difficulty is bumped up. So, unless you’re a newbie, immediately raise the challenge factor upon receipt of the game. Otherwise, you will defeat this game in probably a day.
The options menu is standard but is appreciated, nonetheless. First of all, as I have already mentioned, the difficulty can be toggled from Easy (default), Normal, Hard, or Hyper. Also a toggle option is the number of players available to begin the game from three (default), four, or five. Included in the options menu are ten different preset controller configurations to adjust the game pad to. So, if you don’t like the default setting (which is simple enough really), you have nine other choices! (Geez…) Next is the feature I love the most for games to have and that is the music test that allows for all music to be listened to. The last and forgettable feature is the top current hi-score listing. I say this because, naturally, there is no battery back-up or internal RAM in the system so it won’t save a score. The only thing score is good for and worth mentioning is extra lives so be sure to kill everything. To sum it up, the options are standard but in good shape.
Wings of Wor is a different and unique game all its own. It only bestows six levels, but they are rather long, each having a mini boss and end boss. The graphics say the setting nicely and provide solid detail, along with some cool effects. The music is decent… probably nothing that anyone will remember after a day or two, but it’s not bad either. However, the sound effects could have used a little bit more spice. I am glad that a difficulty selection is available. It is recommended to immediately raise the level to at least normal as not to breeze through it quickly. Veteran gamers should at least select hard or hyper. This is probably the best part of playing Wings of Wor, as the challenge of the game is the best feature, making it fun. Still, within some of its borderline game elements, Wings of Wor is still a shooter that should not be completely forgotten. It’s just cool enough by itself that it’s a good game not to forget about as the years go by.
Originally printed at Starbase299.
SCORE: 7 out of 10