It’s coding time at the home office (specifically Chris’ at the moment), which means it’s time to figure out things like how many bullets is too many and how far into the game we want you to get before seeing for yourself. Things are going well enough that I decided to take a break, consisting of equal parts fighting with the dog and playing one of my favorite games from the good old days – Image Fight for the NES.
The cheese was as strong as one would expect from a game from the late 80s, right down to the armored dudes with laser pistols on the cover that never appear in the game. The story, such as it was, was that aliens from the Boondoggle Galaxy blew up the Moon, except for its main computer, which was covered in plants. They came to take over little old Earth, and only you could stop them.
There were eight stages, the first five of which happen in a computer simulator as you train for battle against the Boondoggles. If you did well enough, they send you (alone, of course) into the heart of the enemy fleet to the core of the Moon, complete with any virtual power-ups the OF-1 Daedalus had from the sim. The game scrolled vertically at a fixed rate, and enemies came from all directions.
The ship’s basic capabilities were a twin laser mount on the front and a 4-speed transmission. Switching gears did more than change your speed; the burst of flame from the thrusters when you did so was your strongest attack. Of course, it could only damage things immediately behind you. Your other armaments were an assortment of attachments for the front of your ship which could absorb a hit as well as changing your main weapon. You could also collect up to three pods which would fire either forward or opposite the direction you’re moving, and could be hurled at the enemy like a boomerang.
I still remember the stage select cheat, because it’s one of the easiest in gaming history. Hold A and B when you press start, and then you can use the select button to change stages. I always went for level 6 when I decided not to start from the beginning, because that was the last one with a reasonable number of power-ups.
I’ve never played the arcade version or any of the other variants, but I have it on good authority that I have the weakest version of the game. I don’t expect NES games to play as smoothly as modern titles, but Image Fight’s controls are stiff even compared to its contemporaries on my shelf. I choose to blame the fact that I never beat the game from the start on this fake difficulty. The graphics on the 8-bit version were as good as you could expect from the system; you could see everything, but nothing spectacular. The music was suitably , but the effects were odd, unless you consider chirping birds the right sound for an exploding spaceship.
Despite the amount of time I spent on this game in middle school, I figured it was just another obscure title that no one but me played; I found it in the bargain bin at a toy store back in the day. It turns out, according to my Internet research, that Image Fight is an ancestor to Point of Descent in a more direct way than “it’s a shooter”. The producer of Radiant Silvergun cited this title as his primary inspiration, and Radiant Silvergun is one of the major inspirations for our game.
(As a side note, if you happen to live in Japan or have a Wii that thinks you do, you can download Image Fight on the Virtual Console.)