Metal Fighter

Classy title screen, fun spacey font.

“Tragically, this was the only North American release that Joy Van ever had, which is unfortunate, given that not only is it a decent outing on its own objective merits, but also given some impressive technical achievements within, most notably parallax scrolling backgrounds on multiple layers. Who knows what wonders Joy Van could have given the world, had they managed to put in work for a more legitimate publisher?”
– from the full review, which you can read here.

This might be my favorite Color Dreams game!

Yes, I did just review a Color Dreams game with Robodemons, and its putrid memory is still fresh upon my delicate gray matter. To be kind to Metal Fighter: It is visually fantastic, with not only some great technical achievements, but also high-quality pixel art, and eye-poppingly diverse settings — even if they are “only” seven of them.

The challenge level is solid, too: The control is precise and tight, without the latency issues or fire-one-shot-at-a-time problems that other shooters can suffer from. Metal Fighter gets downright hectic at parts; and, seriously, during some the item mini bosses and end-of-stage bosses, the slow-motion multi-projectile attacks from the enemies make this game feel like training wheels for anyone looking to get into the “bullet hell” segment of the shmup population.

So, ultimately: This game is made well, and this game is fun.

… the first time or two you play it. Yes, this is one of those “fun for five minutes” titles. Even once you get good at it, master the boss patterns, etc., once you have beaten it a couple times I have to admit the replay value decreases. You could say that about every game, sure, but we all know that some games hold their appeal longer than others. Metal Fighter is one of those nice cities in Florida that makes for a great visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Maybe stay for a week’s vacation, but even by Thursday you are longing for the cozy comforts of home.

That being said, this is far from the worst shooter on the NES library, even if it never approaches Gradius-like quality. It should be noted that Color Dreams published this cartridge, but development was done by the mysterious Joy Van. I count it as a gaming tragedy that we did not get to see more of their work, honestly.

Dare I say it? Metal Fighter is slightly above-average, in my opinion. But if you say “Saying a game is the best Color Dreams game is like saying one piece of poop is shinier than the others,” that is perfectly fair.

A decent horizontally oriented shooter with crazy-far-out visuals? Think of it as Fantasy Zone Lite.

NES Gameplay Tips For Metal Fighter: Okay, listen up, I have some intel. During the scrolling portions, enemy types always spawn from the same place on the side of the screen. In other words: For each level, there is usually one noticeable “most annoying” enemy (the nimble types that flit and flutter around unpredictably, yet at higher speeds). I suggest aiming your cannon at that spot and wiping them out every time they pop out. However, remember: Enemies spawn from both the left and right edge, so never stray too close, lest you suddenly explode. Little tip: Many projectiles can be shot, which is especially nice when you have the full-circle multi-shot power-up, acting as a shield. For the item mini boss, use the hold-B charge shot, alternating your up-and-down movements against theirs. Once you find the power up you favor, remember, you do not have to grab every power-up, just keep the one you like in this game, since the mini boss might be the deadliest danger in Metal Fighter. And, finally, for some bosses, you can take advantage of your right-or-left facing movement freedom by hanging out behind them and drilling them from the rear. Have fun.

Read The Full Review For: A further look into the actual mechanics of this shooter, some stuff that makes Metal Fighter unique, several other-NES-game comparisons for points, more context for its place in the Color Dreams pantheon.

I have lots of screenshots for this game, because I really want people to appreciate the visuals. Check out the amazing use of color and the splendid variety of level themes!

Every life begins walking until an "F" is gained for flight.

Mini bosses guard the items -- fellow Metal Fighters!

Full-circle, multi-directional power-up cannon.


Charge shot.


Adding the Double Shot power-up for triple-shot power. My favorite.

Boss! Look at all the projectiles this game handles on screen at once!

Beating the boss.

Next level. Great use of color. Looks great scrolling.

The item mini bosses vary in appearance, weaponry.

Boss battle!

Great cityscape background here. Sky has parallax (layered) scrolling.

Cityscape changes color scheme for boss battle! Like nightfall!

Cityscape changes once again when boss defeated -- like it's in flames!

Love the field-of-depth visuals in this level.

You're going down, ugly.

Weird: When this boss is defeated, he drops until halves appear separate wrapped at top and bottom of screen, then explodes. Huh?

An undersea-themed level, oddly enough...


Admittedly, just a palette swap from the previous stage screenshot.

I even made a video for this game, if you care to see the final boss (plus a trick at the beginning, just messin’ around with him) and the ending for Metal Fighter:



2 Responses to “ Metal Fighter ”

  1. […] know how I said Metal Fighter was my favorite Color Dreams game? My one top pick on top of a slew of poor unlicensed NES […]

  2. […] Honestly? I’d rather play Metal Fighter. […]

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