It has been 15 years since Metal Warriors was developed by LucasArts and published by Konami on the Super Nintendo.  How does this action-packed classic hold up?

I’m not going to lie to you, Marge…I played the hell out of Metal Warriors back in the day.  Similar to Cybernator (but better in almost every way), Metal Warriors placed you in one of six hyper advanced fighting mechs, each with their own distinct weaponry and control mechanisms.  The various suits provided a distinctly different experience depending on which one you chose.  Metal Warriors was quite an ass-kicker back in the mid-90s…but how well has it held up?

I’m happy to say that Metal Warriors is just as amazing now as it was back in the day.  The graphics are still awesome, the gameplay is still crazy fun, the sound still has a resonating deep impact, and the controls are still tight.  The “ping, ping, ping” sound of rounds hitting armor while bullet casings flew all over the place, the plodding, metallic boom of each step the mechs took, the feeling of vulnerability that came with leaving your mech to explore a confined space…it all still works brilliantly.  The animations for the different mechs also holds up very well; while there are SNES games with smoother animation out there, what is present in Metal Warriors is still exceptionally well done.

At a time when Mechwarrior 2 reigned supreme, Metal Warriors proved that a sidescrolling mech game could be just as empowering and just as much fun as a first-person mech game.  Even though Metal Warriors put a lot of emphasis on mechs fighting other mechs, a large portion of the game is rooted in traditional platformers.  Each of the different mechs have varying levels of mobility, and sometimes you have to get real creative to overcome an environmental obstacle due to how the mech you chose was controlled.  This injected a healthy dose of strategy into the mix, requiring you to understand how each of the particular mechs interacted with their surrounding environment.  After all, how do you expect to get the drop on your enemies if you find yourself stuck?

Despite the minimal animation displayed in the “cutscenes”, they were as detailed as anything you would have found in the anime world at the time.  The size of these monstrosities was depicted in-game when you jumped out of your mech, but the cutscenes really hammered home just how huge these things were.

In addition to the challenging single-player game (which I still have difficulty completing even today), there was also a 2-player splitscreen mode.  The multiplayer was about as well-balanced as Starcraft, no joke.  While each mech had an ability that was borderline broken, it also had a weakness (or was matched with an equally almost-broken ability in another mech).  It really did come down to skill, as far as multiplayer was concerned; there’s no Oddjob factor in this game.

All in all, Metal Warriors has held up exceptionally well over the years.  This was one of my favorite games when I was younger, so I’m glad to see that it can still raise adrenaline levels.  The original SNES cart currently sells for exorbitant prices on eBay, so here’s to hoping Nintendo releases it on the Virtual Console soon.