Shuyaku Sentai Irem Fighter

-Irem (1993)

 

 

 

The Story

The Irem master has come up with a scheme to make millions. He has captured the heroes and villains of R-Type, Mr. HELI, Ninja Spirit, and Hammer Boy and is forcing them to compete in a card and mini-game battles to settle the good vs. evil score. He doesnít care who wins, he just cares about the money heíll be raking in from the ratings.

My Thoughts

Shuyaku Sentai Irem Fighter is an odd game. Just take a look at the box art and you can see that. Some super-deformed character with a mallet riding on an R-Type ship does look pretty crazy, but was more than enough incentive for this R-Type fan to pick it up. While itís not a shooter, it does feature ships and enemies from the R-Type and Mr. HELI series. What Shuyaku Sentai Irem Fighter does is combine four of Iremís franchises into a card-based fighting strategy / random luck board game.

The four franchises that Irem Fighter combines are the aforementioned R-Type and Mr. HELI along with Ninja Spirit and Hammer Boy. The game contains familiar characters from each game, or unfamiliar ones if youíve never heard of or played a couple of the games. I think the game might actually take from more than just those main four because the mech from Iremís awesome NES game Metal Storm is in Irem Fighter as well. So how does all of this work? Well, itíll take some little explaining so here is a rundown. Fortunately, there isnít a lot of text in the game, so those not fluent in Japanese will be able to fully enjoy the wackiness.

You begin by choosing six cards from a deck, including character and option cards. You then play a short round of Rock/Paper/Scissors against the computer to see who goes first. A grid/map of the first stage appears on screen and you choose three of your character cards to play on the grid. The computer then chooses three enemies that it will play against your characters and places them on the opposite end of the grid. Back to your turn, you select the character you want to move to the next spot on the grid. There are multiple paths, but they all ultimately lead to the stage boss. The goal is to get to the boss square and defeat the boss. However, this is also the goal of the computer. Should the computer characters reach your starting point on the grid, it is game over. This makes it important to fight the enemy along the way.

Once you select the next grid square, the screen shifts to a side-view perspective where you move a little R-Type ship across the screen. If you chose a human character, they wil be represented by a little dude in a space suit. The screen has a few paths with a little evil space suit guy walking along the second or third tier of the screen. You can move right across the lower tier of the screen to immediately get to the next space on the grid. However, if you fight the evil space man you can win new character cards, option cards, or full health restoration. Walk up to the evil space guy and you are put into quick mini game. The three mini games are a foot race (press the A button as fast as you can), watching what cup the rock is under, and a dice game of high or low. Although they get more difficult as you play, the race and cup games can be easily won every time. The dice game seems more like random luck than requiring any skill. If you lose the mini-game you still gain the space, but you donít earn any new cards

Sometimes little devil heads are in the side-view screen. These represent smaller foes from the four games Irem Fighter is comprised of. The enemies that are moved along the grid seem to be slightly larger foes from the games. Once you move into a little devil head or move to a space occupied by a foe, a battle ensues. The aggressor has the advantage in battles as they always get to go first, so instigate fights as often as you can or the computer will have the initiative.

The battle screen shows your ship or character, the computerís ship or character, and five fighting cards. The battle cards are one hit, two hits, three hits, power hit, special ability, and a skull that causes you to loose a turn. Before each battle begins, the cards are shuffled and turned over so you donít know where the good cards actually are. You pick a card, the computer picks a card, and the attacks that were drawn occur. This goes on until one of the combatantsí health bar reaches zero. Should the space be occupied by more than one enemy, then your character must battle the second and/or third enemies immediately after defeating the first one.

If you choose to, you can select an option card during the battle to modify your characterís appearance. The addition of an option card makes your character stronger, but it never seemed like my ships and guys were that much more powerful. At least the characters look cooler when you do give them an option card. They become ninjas or robotic swordsmen or whatever theyíre supposed to be. If your character is equipped with an option card and you draw a special ability card, then the character will perform a special ability (the attack is a power hit if an option is not equipped). These special abilities/attacks include health regeneration, shields, multiple bullets, and lightning to name a few. The enemy seems able to make regular use of these abilities.

You continue to move your characters along the grid and get into battles until you get to the boss in located in the final square of the grid. The bosses are much stronger than the regular enemies and you may go through more than a few character cards to finally destroy them. Once the boss is defeated itís on to the next of the four grids. Each grid has an increased amount of squares and the four stages are themed from each of the four games. The first stage is R-Type, the second Mr. HELI, then Ninja Spirit, and Hammer Boy in that order.

The biggest problem with the game is the lack of a save or password system. Depending on your luck, a single grid can take up an hour or so to finally complete. A little more skill-based strategy would have helped as well as the reliance of blind luck gets old after the many times you happen to draw a skull card or lose in the high/low dice game.

The graphics are fairly cartoony and I havenít played much of the other games, but the R-type ships and creatures look close to the original. Iím assuming the music all comes from the four games Irem Fighter borrows from because the R-Type tunes in the first stage are unmistakable.

Shuyaku Sentai Irem Fighter is a very different game, but is a fun diversion and worth playing if you can track down a copy. It was only ever released in Japan, but since the Game Boy games and hardware is region free, youíll be able to play it just fine. R-Type fans owe it to themselves to play it, especially with the R-Type tactics game coming out. Besides, in what other game can you have an R-Type ship fight a giant good luck cat?

Score: 7.0 

-Shawn

 

 

 

 

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