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Ikari Warriors





Genre: Action/Arcade

Publisher: SNK

Total time played: 5 Hours

Short review: An early port of a quarter munching arcade game where you play as a soldier who must infiltrate the most heavily guarded base of all time. It is one of the hardest games on the NES.

Interesting links related to Ikari Warriors

Oh Boy

After playing through 40+ hours of Bases Loaded I was so thankful the next game, Section Z,  was fun and not too difficult. However, the the random number generator gods were not in my favor after I beat Section Z in late December. I made the decision to take a week off and go into 2020 with a fresh palette and start knocking some games off my list. Another reason for the short break is that I got a Nintendo Switch for Christmas and wanted to play through some of the games I’ve heard such great things about.

My heart sank when the next game I would be playing was Ikari Warriors. I had always heard such bad things about this game, it moves really slow, is full of flickering enemies that are too numerous for the NES’s processor to handle and it was supposed to be really difficult.

I Cheated

One of the most impressive feats on the NES is to beat Ikari Warriors the legit way, without every continuing. In the gaming world this is known as 1CC (1 Credit Clear), the phrase was coined (pun intended) back in the heyday of arcades when skilled gamers could beat a game on a single quarter. When Ikari Warriors was in the arcade the point was to kill the player as quickly as possible to make them put in quarter after quarter trying to finish the game. When the game got ported to the NES this became less necessary as no matter how many tries the player needed to beat the game they only had to buy the game once.

The instruction manual does not mention anything about being able to continue, you get 3 lives and when you lose them it is game over, unless you score enough points to earn an extra life. However, the developers had a secret weapon up their sleeve. Whether this was left in the final game on purpose or was a mistake that was never removed is a mystery to me. Either way, it is one of the best known secrets on the NES that when you die in Ikari Warrios you can quickly tap ABBA on the controller to get another continue. Entering that code is the equivalent of putting another quarter in the arcade.

If you want to watch someone beat the game without “putting in another quarter” watch the video by The Mexican Runner. It took him 37 hours to finally do it. If you want to read a detailed description of what it takes to master the game, read Arnpoly’s review, it took him just over 100 hours. If you want to hear someone make excuses and complain about Ikari Warriors keep reading, you are in the right place.


As hinted above, I used the ABBA continue code and I used it a lot. The first few nights I played the game I played it legit, when I got a game over I started over. I felt like I was doing pretty well, I would kill some guys, eventually getting to a tank which made the game much more manageable. I eventually got to some water where the tank had to be abandoned. I figured I was close to the end of level 1.

On a whim, about 4 nights into my journey I decided to use the ABBA code just to see the entire game and try to pick up some tips and tricks for when I would play through it without using the code. I eventually got to the end of level 1, it took 30 minutes and I continued over 30 times. The water I got to the night before was about 5% of the way through the first level.

At this point I got very discouraged and decided that life was too short for me to spend the entire year of 2020 struggling through a broken game I hated. I made the decision that I would probably never wear the badge of a real hardcore gamer who could 1CC Ikari Warriors. I have come to terms with my decision and even using the code to gain unlimited continues the game is still a nightmare.


The beginning of a very long journey

Let the Complaining Begin

The first thing you will notice while playing through Ikari Warriors is how slow everything moves. It is almost as if they game is in slow motion. I originally thought it was because the programmers were over zealous and the NES couldn’t handle the game. But, that isn’t the case. As you kill enemies some of them drop power ups, an “S” increases your speed and an “SS” gives you super speed. The “SS” powerup makes you move at the speed you should have been moving all along. This makes me madder than it should. Why make the game unbearable until you get a powerup and then take the powerup away when you die?

On top of the slow movement the game is full of enemy soldiers who want nothing more than to kill you. I don’t know how many guys I had to kill while playing through the 4 levels, but I bet it was well over 1,000. This wouldn’t be horrible if there weren’t so many cheap enemies who pop up at the last minute to kill you. Seriously, you would have to play through this game hundreds of times and memorize where the enemies are in order to avoid some stuff.

The Tanks and Helicopters

Sprinkled throughout each level you will find abandoned tanks and helicopters which you can enter, these make the game much more fun and easy. Both vehicles are immune to enemy soldiers and regular bullets so if you can commandeer one you may actually make some progress without dying. But, the farther you are into the game the more annoyed I got by these vehicles. More times than not I would get into a tank and within 5 seconds would hit a mine or get blown up by a grenade. You can exit the vehicle but I found that most of the time I couldn’t get out quick enough or the buttons didn’t work to exit and I ended up dying when the vehicle blew up.

Power Ups

If you want to survive you need powerups, the most useful being “L” which gives your gun a lot more range. I found with this powerup I could stand a good distance from enemies and shoot them. However, when you die you lose your powerups and I died so much I never kept a powerup long enough to do me much good.

Slow and Steady

Normally slow and steady wins the race. But, not in Ikari Warriors. If you try to go slow and inch forward killing enemies from a distance the game starts firing missiles at you from the top of the screen. Seriously, if you take your time the game makes it harder to advance. Eventually I just went balls to the wall and didn’t care how much I died. I just wanted to progress forward, and since I was using the ABBA code I wasn’t too worried about continues. There were several stretches in the later levels where I would die 10-20 times in a row before I would advance a single screen. Keep in mind, without the ABBA code you get 3 lives to finish the entire game.

Cheap Deaths

I found my fair share of glitches throughout the game. I got so mad that on several attempts I would die and re-spawn in a place where I was trapped and couldn’t advance. There were walls on all sides of me and the screen doesn’t scroll backwards. I was forced to reset the game when this happened and it was probably the maddest I got while playing through the game.

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 10.46.37 PM.png

Probably the coolest screen in the game.

The image above is the end of stage 3 and it took me several tries to get past it. First, there are 3 guys on either side of the desk (they were already dead and gone in the picture) firing unlimited bullets at you. If you can see the skull behind the desk that means the ABBA code is disabled for some reason. So, I would attempt to walk forward enough to see the enemies but not far enough to see the skull. That way I could continue if I died. After a few attempts I was able to successfully do this. I then threw grenades at the zombie guy until he died. After this I didn’t know what to do, I thought the game messed up. I waited too long and the “you are going to slow” missiles started firing at me.

I ended up getting hit by the missiles and getting a game over and since I could see the skull on the wall I couldn’t continue. I ended up looking up what to do online and would have never figured it out on my own. You have to throw a grenade in the exact right spot in front of the desk to make a staircase appear. If you do that and go down the stairs you have beaten stage 3.

Good Riddance (Final Thoughts)

I really didn’t like this game. Some games are fun casually but hard to beat. Some games are easy to beat and not very good. This game is just plain not fun. It is way too hard and the frequency at which a new player dies makes it almost unplayable. This gets my vote for one of the worst games on the NES simply because of its difficulty and slow buggy gameplay.

I had been dreading playing this game for as long as I could remember due to its reputation as unforgiving and not fun so I definitely had a negative bias going in that I just couldn’t shake. I’m glad I’ve now played through it, and I am also glad I didn’t spend the 100+ hours it would take to master the game. But, I am also sad that I’ll never be able to wear the “Beat Ikari Warriors 1CC” badge of honor.

Ikari Warriors.jpeg

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