“While it may sound like a bold statement, one could say that Heavy Barrel is well-balanced.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
I would put Heavy Barrel on a list of overlooked, underrated NES games. This is probably more like a 3.25-star game, if rating is your thing, but it also probably holds a warmer, softer place in my heart than it would for most gamers, and I recognize that.
That being said, though, this is a solid old-school overhead run-‘n’-gun. I really enjoy the way it incorporate inventory management: Although the more powerful guns have limited ammo, they still give you like 50+ rounds to enjoy, offering plenty of destructive potential before switching to the next one.
Yet, even then, the player is free to explore different strategies. Are you going to destroy everything in your path, blasting the crap out of everything that moves? Are you going to conserve ammo, deftly dodge incoming rounds, and avoid as much as possible? Or will you utilize some sublime combination of these two schools of thought? The good news is: Heavy Barrel allows each and every possibility.
Even if, yes, that “middle ground” balance is going to be the best choice, ultimately.
But look at those visuals! You will never hear Heavy Barrel mentioned in any list of the best-looking NES games, but seriously, check out the pixel placement. Those backgrounds are lovingly crafted, especially for a game on which the developer could have been super lazy in the conversion process. The bolts on the metal plates have rust of them. Three or four colors will be used just to draw a metal pipe extending across the screen. The flamethrower fire expands like a good-feeling flame should, not like some impotent, stale ball-shape that flits toward enemy forces. Grenades pop open then blast into multiple directions. Some of the bosses are enormous.
Really, take a second look at Heavy Barrel. It’s not for everyone, but it is probably a more solid game than you remember, especially when you get a feel for dodging bullets and taking advantage of the dumb AI.
And it has a two-player mode. I mean, seriously.
Data East has a better reputation for its arcade games than for its NES line-up (largely composed of ports of those arcade cabinets), but Heavy Barrel is a great example of a conversion that could have been much worse than what we ended up.
Granted, it is still quite hard.
NES Gameplay Tips For Heavy Barrel: Don’t feel like you have to kill utterly everything, but make an effort to do so. If something is taking more than two rounds to kill, though, then just move on. Aside from the points you’re missing, the game has no penalty for simply skipping enemies. Especially for stationary guns, this often makes sense. And when you reach that third-level boss, the big tank on rails? Stand on the right side of the screen, about three-fourths of the way up, and just fire to the left. Jam that A button hard. The opposing grenades will never touch you.
Read The Full Review For: More specific examples of the graphic splendor, commentary on the soundtrack, some retro game comparisons, and basic overview of the gameplay, among other words.
Now let’s see some screenshots!