Thursday, 26 June 2014

SWIV (SNES)


Super SWIV, Sticky Weapons Invading Va... no I've no ideas there at all


SWIV, or is it Silk Worm 4? Or Super Weapon something Vehicle? Damned if I know but it did have an arcade version some years back with some home ports to machines like the NES and C64. But what do we have here on the lovely little 16bit beast of the Super Nintendo? Well it's got a jeep that jumps and a helicopter... So at least we have some level of consistency there. It's not a side-scroller however, now it's deploying that vertical shooter mechanic going from bottom to top instead of left to right and there's the issue that the bullets seem to hit you whether you're in the air or on the ground, like enemies are firing columns of lasers at you regardless of where you are.

But I'm bitching over technicalities here. What we have is a solid, edging towards quite difficult, shooter.

Sadly, very few of these projectiles are mine...
You can be either the Jeep or the Helicopter. They have their advantages and disadvantages, such as the jeep is multidirectional and lock-angle in shooting, while the helicopter just shoots forwards. The jeep can jump over items and cover, the helicopter never has to worry about these things. The Jeep can crash into tanks, the Helicopter doesn't. The jeep goes under planes and helicopters, the helicopter crashes into them. The jeep has to change into a boat (still multidirectional but with less friction) and a jet, the helicopter has to change into a jet as well but the gameplay for the helicopter remains the same. It just shoots forwards and gets hit by airborne vehicles, which the jeep now has to adapt to, quickly.

Incoming nuke!

Plot-wise, we're looking at the highly original idea of Artificial Intelligence being used to control drones that are tanks and war machines, which then get pissed off around shut-off time and decide the ultimate answer is "Humanity: Fuck them!" and go on a rampage. So the counter answer is to send in two vehicles to battle the entire army of war machines. Normally this is suicide, but in video games it's more a case of the best solution and leaves bosses with this exchange.

"An enemy approaches? It has ... no shields and a really weak weapon... I shall not survive this day"

So we're not being any more original than Terminator aside from dropping the bullshit time-travel plot device. Sarah Connor is safe once again.

It's not Limbo, I just nuked the site (not from orbit)

The game however is tough, you start with your vehicle which is a one-hit-point-wonder and as soon as anything viable hits you, you're dead. You lose a life and all your weapons are downgraded a level. Each weapon has up to 7 levels, ranging from pitiful level 1 to I AM BEYOND GOD level 7. Die enough times and your weapons can disappear except for the bullets, that's always with you at least. You can get Bullets (standard machinegun stuff), Lasers (hits all instantly in a line), Plasma (becomes spread as you level up) Flamethrower (gets bigger and longer as you level up), Ion lasers (which split when they hit and split again, quite useful actually). Accompanying this, you'll get power weapons which can be used at any point and multiples of them collected by are used in the order they're collected. H, for homing as it fires 8 homing missiles, X for... no idea, but it fires a triple rocket that steamrollers all it hits, S for Surrounds with a huge ring of multhitting fire and lastly one that is used JUST on the last boss after you blow the dome up.

Yet his badly functioning headphones are still there

The levels quickly become swarmed with enemies and finding your power ups can be a task as they're often hidden off to the sides and you need to let the level scroll across to meet you. Which means you can run into the box that has them and blow up if you're the jeep. In cases of things like mines, you can shoot them to release shields, then shoot THOSE to nuke the site (sadly not from orbit) which doesn't kill you, but does end everything else. While the shield keeps you alive a lot longer if you collect it rather than shoot it.

Killed it, eventually.
The bosses however take the cake for being ridiculously awkward. Several have instant hit weapons where you need to be out the way or get slaughtered, some use ring attacks, some use bullets and lasers, others swarm you with the minions and it generally boils down to either being a whitewash with your overpowered I-Killed-God-In-My-Sleep weapons or a long uphill slog while you hit the tank with a pea-shooter firing mushy peas. Doomed to fall out, slop over your shirt and make you look like even more of a tit.

And now the assault of the large balls aiming for my face... wait, what?

Co-operative play is a little off, since there's the struggle for who will play which vehicle (or not if you're lucky), weapons are spawned more numerously from the crates but then it becomes a free-for-all to get those lovely bonus icons and weapons and the action is too relentless to sit back and try and organise things. So you'll likely end up with someone with ALL the weapons and someone with nothing, and both getting wiped out left right and centre. Aside from that, the co-op really sells the spirit of the co-operative play... bullshit.

I'm on a boat! I'm on a boat, everybody look at me coz I'm sailing on a boat!

The audio is a bit of a mixed bag, there's lots of good solid sounding explosions and impacts, while the music is faded, wish washy and generically repetitive, though the boss music does remind me a little of a toned down Terminator theme during chases. Maybe there's more inspiration (read: shameless stealing) from Terminator than originally thought. But if you're going to steal something, steal from something good at least and this game does that.

Multi directional firepower! Helps if you can hit the target though...

It's tough to get started in this game, but if you manage to find a few hidden caches of weapons (go right straight away at the start of level 1) you can get up the firepower to run through the not-too-long levels to butcher the bosses and destroy the game in fairly quick order. You could do a lot worse.