Shatterhand

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Natsume for NES, originally released in 1991.

Title
Console
Publisher
Developer
Players
Year
Shatterhand
NES
Jaleco USA, Inc.
Natsume Co. Ltd.
1P
1991


CONTEXT
In the NES era, before they started extracting ore from the seemingly bottomless Harvest Moon and River King mines, Natsume was a somewhat more adventurous company. They released games in several genres, including a number of noteworthy action games: Abadox, Shadow of the Ninja, S.C.A.T., and Shatterhand. None of them really took the world by storm, but they were each interesting in their own way.

Shatterhand was developed by much of the same team as Shadow of the Ninja. The game was originally released on the Famicom in Japan as Solbrain. It was a licensed title based on a TV show called Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain, and it featured a storyline and main character from that show.



Since the show was unknown in the US and Europe, Natsume did what many developers and publishers did back in the day… they changed the premise and released it as a new game. Away went the armored main character, who was replaced with a sleeveless action hero with cybernetic fists, who was prominently featured on some of the most atrocious box art ever to grace the NES… and that’s saying something.



But they didn’t just swap out the intro/ending and drop in a new character, they also made some changes to the levels. Most notably, the carnival level from Solbrain was replaced with a submarine level in Shatterhand, complete with its own unique boss fight against a pair of acrobatic circus performers. There were a few minor changes to the NES version throughout, such as the redesigned sprites for the satellite robots and gold coins rather than "P" chips, but it is largely the same game.


PREMISE
From the instruction manual:

In the year 2030, medical technology develops to a point where missing limbs can be replaced with “cybernetic” devices that replicate human movement and perform with great precision. Working on a top secret military project, a large group of scientists create military uses for these new cybernetic limbs. Within that group of scientists, a handful of subversives unite. With world domination as their goal, these subversives collaborate covertly to create an army of cyborg soldiers. General Gus Grover emerges as the leader of the group, and after plans are carefully made and an awesome assembly of cyborgs stands at the ready, the group begins open revolt. They become known as the Metal Command.

To combat the revolutionary movement, the Law and Order Regulatory Division is formed (L.O.R.D.). They put another group of scientists together to come up with something to combat the cyborgs of the Metal Command. What comes of this group’s research and development is a very special pair of hands.

These cybernetic attachments give their recipient the strength of a piledriver. They are capable of shattering metal on impact. There’s only one problem. Without a willing recipient, these powerful hands cannot be used against the Metal Command.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx, a young and highly decorated police officer named Steve Hermann chases after one of the Metal Command’s cyborgs. The cyborg slows down, allowing Hermann to catch up. Hermann is puzzled b the apparent cooperation of the cyborg, until he hears the crunch of metal on concrete behind him. He turns just in time to see a huge cyborg close in. Hermann becomes a human sandwich between the two mighty cyborgs. They pull apart to determine if Hermann is still alive, and despite crushed hands and ribs, Hermann manages to run to freedom.

Several days later, after both of his completely crushed and mutilated hands have been amputated, a L.O.R.D. official approaches Hermann’s hospital bed with a package under his arm. He identifies himself and opens the package. He picks up the contents and displays them to Hermann: a pair of cybernetic hands – the strongest hands in the world.

Now more motivated against the Metal Command than ever, Steve Hermann accepts the cybernetic hands and the responsibility that goes with them. The cybernetic hands are attached, and Hermann spends the next two months recovering from his injuries. When he emerges from the hospital, he will be known only as “Shatterhand” to protect his true identity. His mission: crush the rebellion with his bare hands.





CONTROLS
Punch / Fire satellite robot weapon

Jump

Press DOWN and A to make a robot lift Shatterhand straight up.



MECHANICS
The game begins with Shatterhand teleporting to an area just outside of a factory. This is how he begins each level.





There is a short span at the beginning of the level where there are no enemies, giving you a chance to test out your abilities. You have a standard 1.5x jump height, which is about 1.5x the height of the main character. The height is variable depending on how long you hold the button, and you can adjust your trajectory slowly in mid-air. You can also duck, and punch while ducking.



On his own, Shatterhand has no projectile weapons, but rather must face off against his foes with nothing but his bare fists. Tapping the punch button repeatedly will start up a combo, with 3 standard jabs, followed by a more powerful hook. The hook punch is slower but has a slightly longer range and packs twice the damage-dealing ability. You’ll keep throwing hooks until you let off the PUNCH button for a second, at which point you’ll go back to throwing jabs again. You can also punch while jumping, and unlike most games of this type, you can throw multiple punches while in midair.



Oh, and in most melee-based games, you have to avoid gunfire. Not here. In an interesting design choice – and a point in favor of Shatterhand’s badassery – you can punch bullets right out of the air. Not a lot of action heroes have that going for them.

There are a few bits of the environment that you can interact with as well, including large barriers that impede your progress. These can be punched repeatedly, at which point they will explode, and you may pass.



There are also chain link fences in the backgrounds of some areas. If you press UP while jumping, you’ll grab onto the fence and hang by one arm. From here, you may turn left and right, punch, jump up to a higher point, or drop back down. Grabbing fences is required in many instances to reach higher areas and progress through the levels.



Throughout much of the game, you’ll be using your mechanical mitts to lay the smack upon your enemies. When you encounter your first enemy, you’ll give him a good punch, and he’ll be sent flying backwards with incredible force… and explode. While many of the enemies are humanoid in appearance, most of them are actually robots.




However, unlike a traditional beat-‘em-up, enemies are not stunned when you attack them. Rather than doubling over in pain and allowing you to finish your combo, they simply flash to indicate that they’ve been hit, and they can continue to attack you. Some larger/stronger enemies will retaliate with punches of their own if you remain close to them for too long.



Destroyed enemies occasionally drop golden spinning coins. The weaker ones are prone to dropping small coins, and more powerful enemies will sometimes drop large coins. These coins bounce when they hit the ground, and will disappear very quickly if uncollected.



You can also find coins and other items locked away in large metal crates spread through the environments. Some crates always contain a certain item, where others cycle randomly between a monetary reward and an explosive trap. Breaking crates open with your fists will reveal one of the following:

A small gold coin worth 50 gold


A large gold coin worth 200 gold



A bag of gold, which can be punched repeatedly, dropping small gold coins on the first few punches and large gold coins thereafter. It disappears soon after being revealed, so if you don’t start punching quickly, you’ll lose the greater reward, similarly to the multi-coin blocks in Super Mario Bros. However, if you charge straight in, you run the risk of encountering a grenade instead.


A grenade will flash and explode very quickly after a crate has been smashed, causing damage to Shatterhand.


A chip marked with an alpha or beta symbol can be collected and stored, allowing you access to one of the game’s satellite robots (much more on this shortly). If you punch an alpha chip, it will turn into a beta, and vice versa. If you punch it repeatedly, it will eventually become a gold coin. Alpha and beta pickups do not disappear, even if you leave the screen and return.



So, let’s take a look at the gold first, and see how you can spend it… Spread throughout the environments are platforms, each of which has a symbol and a number. To activate the platform, you simply stand on it and press DOWN. If you have enough gold, the listed amount will be deducted from your total. Platforms are single-use, so once you’ve activated them, they’ll power down and turn gray. There are 3 types of platforms:



The first and most common platform is a power increase, indicated by a rotating “P” symbol. By activating this platform, your vest will change colors from green to red (it actually flashes between 2 shades of red), and the strength of your punches will be doubled. The effect lasts until you take 3 hits, and the game tracks this stat from level to level. You can compound the length of the effect by purchasing multiple powerups. The cost to activate this platform is 100 gold.



The second type of platform is for health restoration, and is represented by a flashing red cross. The cost for this is 300 gold, and it restores your health to its maximum.



And finally, the most elusive and expensive of all of the platforms gives you a 1UP. It is represented by a flashing red “EX” symbol, and it’s often tucked away in a hidden corner of the environment. This one will run you 2,000 gold.



While the game provides you with infinite continues, you only start out with 3 lives. The checkpoints are spread very far apart, and the levels are large. Basically, losing a life gives you the opportunity to restart from the halfway point, if you’ve managed to make it that far. However, you’ll be powered back down and you’ll lose your robot.



Unfortunately, the game also places a checkpoint at the start of each boss fight. This may seem like a sound design decision, but this also means that if you die during the battle, you’ll be forced to face the boss again with no powerups. Most of the boss battles – and even some standard enemy encounters – can be extremely difficult if you’re using only your firsts, as the battles don’t tend to be balanced in favor of melee-based combat. For a guy who has been sent out to “crush the rebellion with his bare hands”, his bare hands often aren’t enough to see him through.



Your ability to obtain and retain a robot will most likely determine how far you’ll make it through this game. As mentioned above, you can break open crates and collect chips marked with either an alpha or a beta symbol. You may collect these symbols in any order you wish, but the order in which you collect them will determine the type of robot you receive. There are 2 types of chips and 3 slots, allowing for 8 possible combinations.



While you don’t control the robots’ movements directly, each of their unique offensive abilities is triggered by using the PUNCH button. Shatterhand retains all of his standard jumping and punching abilities during this time.

Yobobot
The Yobobot sends a ball spinning around its body which moves down and at an angle, and wraps around behind, allowing for short-range damage. The spinning ball effect lasts for a couple of seconds, and it has a very short recovery time, allowing you to deliver near-continuous damage.



Laserbot
The Laserbot fires a laser diagonally down, and you can press DOWN on the D-pad to lower the angle somewhat. This powerful beam lasts a couple of seconds and causes continuous damage and shoots through walls, but it also requires a couple of seconds to recharge, leaving you with a lot of downtime.



Swordbot
The Swordbot has a sword attack which can be swung in rapid succession with no recovery time. While the range is extremely short, the attack is quite powerful.




You may also press DOWN on the D-pad to have the robot perform an underhand swing to hit lower enemies.



Ricobot
The Ricobot throws bladed rings that ricochet around the room. This is a very long range weapon, and it is great for use in tight spaces. You can have 2 rings onscreen at a time, but you have to wait until they bounce offscreen before you can fire another. Pressing DOWN on the D-pad will lower the robot’s firing trajectory somewhat.



Grenadebot
The Grenadebot chucks powerful grenades that explode against any solid surface or enemy. You can only have 1 grenade onscreen at a time, but you can toss another immediately after the first one explodes. Pressing DOWN on the D-pad will lower the robot’s grenade-chucking trajectory somewhat.



Pyrobot
This is one of the more complicated robot forms, especially when trying to use it in conjunction with Shatterhand’s standard punching ability. When you press and hold the PUNCH button, the robot will begin emitting a stream of flame, which automatically waves up and down, causing continuous damage to enemies in a wide range. You can turn Shatterhand to the left or right to swing the flame around or press DOWN to send the flame downward somewhat. The trouble with using it that it takes a second for the flame to extend fully – although it has a pretty long range once it does – and after a couple of seconds, the length of the flame will slowly decrease and then stop.



In addition, there is a long recharge time between blasts, so the weapon has a lot of downtime. Since you have to hold the PUNCH button to use the weapon, this means that Shatterhand cannot punch any enemies while using the robot’s flamethrower. And, punching repeatedly will cause the flamethrower to kick on and immediately turn off, requiring you to wait a couple of seconds before using it again. So while it’s an effective weapon, it does take some work to master its use.



Yoyobot
The Yoyobot is very similar to the Yobobot, but instead of firing balls that wrap around itself, it shoots rings of fireballs. You can have up to 3 rings onscreen at a time and the projectiles will pass through walls. If you hold the PUNCH button after tossing a ring, it will spin around the robot several times before disappearing.



Bouncebot
The Bouncebot is only useful in certain situations, due to the odd way in which it attacks. It fires projectiles down at an angle, and they almost immediately fly up and start crawling across the ceiling. Since there aren’t many enemies that move near the top of the screen, it may seem like this robot’s ability is fairly useless, especially given that the shot itself is pretty weak. However, it has the ability to fire a rapid succession of projectiles at a close-range enemy if you simply hold down the PUNCH button.



You can have up to 4 onscreen at a time. The only thing that will slow you down is when a projectile misses, because you’ll have to wait until it crawls off the screen or disappears on its own. But otherwise you’ll have a fast stream of projectiles that you can keep firing and a high rate of speed. The weapon is also quite useful against the many bosses who move across the top of the screen or cling to walls.



If you collect a new series of chips while you already have an active robot, that robot will disappear and be replaced with the new one. However, if you manage to collect the same series of chips as your active robot, your robot will disappear and you will be treated to a very nice (though short-lived) reward.



When this occurs, you will transform into an armored fighter, and a 15 second timer will appear on the screen. When you punch, a huge short-range energy blast will be emitted from your fists. You are entirely invincible during this 15 second period, but every hit you take will drop 1 second from the timer, so you’ll still want to do your face-wrecking in a responsible manner.



As you can imagine, your armored form can make quick work of bosses. Attempting to time your third chip-grab just prior to a boss encounter is often difficult, but it’s pretty exciting when it works out. You can, of course, grab these 3 chips at any point during the course of a level, giving yourself 15 seconds of destructive freedom. During this time, any crates you smash that would have normally contained chips will instead contain a large coin. Once the timer runs down, your old robot will rejoin you.



There’s one more ability that you gain by having any of these robots onscreen. If you press DOWN and JUMP, your robot will fly over and grab you. Let off the D-pad and you’ll be slowly rocket-lifted straight up. Due to the slow nature of this move, it’s not often useful in battle, but it can help you to backtrack to a previous area or reach an out-of-the-way platform or crate.




Also, if you punch while you’re being lifted, the robot will fly forward quickly, ramming enemies and causing some damage to them. If you miss an enemy, the robot will fly offscreen for a few seconds. Due to the amount of time it takes to initiate this sort of attack, it can be difficult to use, but the robot's range extends all the way across the screen, so it can be useful in certain situations.



It's worth noting that in the regular course of play, robots damage enemies that they come in contact with, but they take damage as well. You’ll need to be mindful of this since your robot trails behind you while you run, but swings in front of you when you stop, potentially placing it in direct contact with an enemy. If this occurs, both the robot and the enemy will take continuous damage until one of them is destroyed. Given the value of your robots and the short amount of time it takes them to be destroyed in this fashion, this is not an advisable tactic for dealing with enemies. Your robot will start to flash yellow when it is near the end of its life.



Another interesting thing about this game is that it allows you to play through the levels in any order, with the exception of the first and the last. So, once you make it through Area A, you are free to select from any of the next 5 areas and play them in any order you wish. Each time you use a continue (they are infinite), you’ll be placed back at the stage select screen. So, if you’re having trouble making it through a given area, you can come back and try another. Once each of these levels has been completed, you will automatically enter the 7th and final level



Most of the areas are pretty straightforward, but some mix things up a bit with chain link fences, conveyor belts, pools of lava, or blasts of steam.




Area C has a bit of a strange flavor since you’ll be wading through pools of slime and fighting mutated organic creatures (as opposed to robots). The slime pools merely slow you down, but the large humanoid creatures take a lot of hits to kill, and they keep walking straight toward you, so it can be difficult to use a hit-and-run strategy.




Area D is pretty interesting because you spend the beginning of the level hopping between large sheets of ice, and this is some of the slipperiest ice in all of gamedom. Just give the D-pad a little tap and you’ll slide a long way. Plus, whenever you punch a baddie, you’ll slide backward.



Later, you’ll encounter fans that push you across the ice, sometimes toward a spiked wall. These take a lot of hits to destroy, and you’ll be pushed back each time you punch one. You’ll need to jump repeatedly to gain ground and get into punching range if you don’t have a suitable robot.



Later in the level, you’ll enter an underwater section. It’s never explained how Shatterhand can breathe underwater, but it’s doubtful that his bionic hands give him this ability. Fortunately, this also means that you don’t have to go constantly searching for air like you did in Sonic 2. During this section, your movement is slowed considerably, but your jump height is much higher. There are lots of tough enemies in this area, and the place is covered in spinning blades that will cause both frustration and injury if you’re not careful. There are also a number of hidden crates in this area, most of them being near the surface of the water.





The opening of Area E is a cave that has several sections with falling rocks, which can make it extremely difficult to hold onto your robot buddy. This area also has a number of timid soldiers that will only follow you when your back is turned.



At the end of the cave is the Anti-Gravity Research Center, and if you’re a fan of 2D platformers, then you already know what’s coming. In certain sections of the level, gravity is reversed, sending you up to the ceiling where you’ll walk and fight as usual, only upside-down. In later sections, gravity pulls in both directions. So, if you’re standing on the floor and perform a high jump, you’ll go all the way up to the ceiling, and vice-versa. This gets even trickier when you encounter areas where you have to perform a low jump to get over something, but you can’t jump too high or you’ll get sucked into a wall of fire.



What makes this even more difficult is that there are huge spiked balls that slowly move toward you when you get close to them. Due to their size and the fact that they track your position, you really can’t just run past them, so you’ll have to fight. However, when you destroy them, they explode, sending projectiles in 8 directions. The only way to avoid this 8-way detonation is to deal the death blow with your fists rather than with a robot.



Area F is the ravaged city, and you will find that much of the place is on fire. You’ll be jumping over walls of fire, navigating through tight spaces, and attempting to avoid fire droplets that fall down on you from above. This area is made more difficult by a guy piloting a hovering craft that can fire missiles, swoop around rapidly, dive bomb you, and even drop below the level of the screen to avoid your attacks. You’ll fight several of these during the course of the standard level, and in the elevator shaft.




The cargo elevator sequence is one of the more difficult in the game. For one, there is a rocket launcher that slowly moves across the elevator floor to the left and right, sending pairs of rockets up the shaft. In what is probably one of the world’s least-safe elevator designs, the travel path of the elevator passes numerous spinning blades. These blades will limit your movement as you attempt to avoid rockets fired from the bottom of the screen, bombs falling from above, walls of fire, and hovering pilots swooping at you from all directions.



When the lift finally stops, you’ll be standing below a huge set of spinning blades that block your path entirely. And then the elevator will start to rise again, pressing you up toward them. There’s just enough room for you to squeeze between a pair of them, and then the elevator stops and lowers you back down again, allowing you to proceed to the next screen. You may think you’re ready for the end-level boss at this point, but you still have a little way to go. After passing through another fiery area, you’ll find a teleporter that takes you to your fight with the boss… in another elevator shaft.



At the end of each level, you’ll be shown your score, and you’ll get a bonus for any unspent gold and remaining bars of health. On the next level, you’ll start back with no gold and no robot. However, you will keep any alpha and beta chips you have collected, your health will be fully restored, and you’ll carry over your strength powerup (red vest).



You are free to backtrack as much as you like, at least until you transition from one screen to the next. In many areas, it will not be possible for you to jump high enough to retrace your steps, but if you have a robot, you can use its rocket-lift technique to carry you up. Also, enemies do not respawn, so you will not have to worry about re-fighting enemies if you’re going back to look for a crate or powerup platform.



BASTARD CLASS ENEMIES (What's this?)

Mech Suit Man There’s a recurring enemy who is a guy piloting a huge mech suit, except that his head is exposed. He tosses grenades in high arcs, making it difficult to predict where they’ll land, and they have a good-sized splash effect when they explode. If you have a robot, you risk getting it hit by the Mech Suit Man’s grenades, and if you don’t, then you’ll be fighting him with just your fists.



He takes a lot of hits to destroy, especially if you’re in your normal power mode (green vest). And if you think you’re going to run in and start a huge punch combo… you’re out of luck. If you stay in close for too long, the guy will punch you right in the face. No, you’ll need to run in and punch, then get away, avoid his grenades, and go back for more, whittling him down a little at a time.




BOSSES
The boss at the end of each level is accessed via a teleporter pad. This gives you a bit of opportunity to employ some strategy as to when you pick up the last of your 3 chips to summon a robot, or to transform into your armored self. Once you are ready, hop on the teleporter and get ready to fight!




Area A - Factory: Balzire
Balzire can fire his gun toward the top of the screen, which will drop 4 energy balls down toward the ground. If you get in close with your fists, he has a melee attack where he'll crack you in the face with the butt of his gun.



He can cling to the wall and send 2 energy balls moving around the room, hugging the walls, ceiling, and floor. These are easy to dodge, but you may find that Balzire is out of reach of your melee attacks. If you have a robot, however, this is a good time to get in a few shots.




Area B - Refinery: Pogoborgs
The Pogoborgs are a pair of robots that hop around the room and fire lasers out of their mouths periodically, aimed diagonally down. There is a pair of chain link fences in the room which you can use to get a bit of height and dodge their attacks.



These guys don’t seem to go out of their way to ensure that they are facing you, so you will often be given opportunities to attack them from behind while they fire their lasers uselessly into the wall. As with many twin boss enemies, these 2 share a life bar, so you only need to destroy one of them to make them both explode. But you’re not done yet…



After killing the Pogoborgs, you are attacked by a huge worm! This thing is a pain as it is free to move to any location in the room, and its length can put you in danger wherever you stand. It will constantly chase you around and spin in circles, meaning that you’ll need to stay on the move.



You’re free to punch its individual segments – which change color when hit – but it’s the head you need to aim for. Due to its large movement range, you’ll be performing a delicate balance of aggressive punching and mad dodging. Oh, and be careful, because it can still hurt you while it explodes.




Area C - Submarine: Cyborgape
Once again, you have a pair of chain link fences in the room, as you face off against the Cyborgape. The environment is somewhat problematic, as the floor is lined with the same purple slime from the preceding level, which significantly slows your movement.



The creature attacks you from the walls, climbing up and down and tossing sets of 3 energy balls in a high arc. He will occasionally start flashing, and will dash from one side of the room to the other very quickly, at which point you’ll want to be out of his way.



Area D - Filtration Plant: Harptune
(note: this area is mislabeled in the instruction manual as Area E)
This battle takes place entirely underwater, and the sides of the room are lined with spiked wheels. The boss, Harptune, can move freely through the water. He will swim across the top of the screen, shooting his rifle down at you while he moves back and forth several times.



He can also drop a series of 3 mines instead of shooting.



Finally, he will sometimes move down to the bottom of the screen and stand on the floor, sword at the ready. This is your cue to get away, because he will charge quickly across the screen, angling slightly upward as he goes. At close range, you can jump over him, but at a distance, you can stand or duck and he’ll fly over you.




Harptune reacts violently when hit, and backs up quite a bit. This can help you get in several attacks, as he slowly moves toward you, takes a punch, and then comes toward you again. And, since you can jump the full height of the screen, this boss fight isn’t too bad with just your bare fists.



Be warned, however, that this occasionally backfires, and he will sometimes react toward you after being punched. And, he starts to speed up after taking enough damage, making him more difficult to nail down.




Area E - Anti-Gravity Research Center: Gravitus
At the end of the Anti-Gravity Research Center is – as you might expect – a gravity-themed boss. He doesn’t have much in the way of attacks, but he has the ability to switch gravity at will. He will occasionally hold out his hand and drop an energy ball, which will change the direction of gravity.



The background of the level will change colors as well, with a different color indicating the type of gravity. Green means normal gravity, blue is reverse, and red means that you will be attracted to both the floor and the ceiling, allowing you to transfer back and forth if you jump high enough. There are a couple of spots on the bottom of the screen that will harm you if you fall into them, but otherwise, you’re free to move about the room and attack.



Gravitus moves pretty slowly, but his free flight and gravity switching can make him a bit difficult to hit. The only actual attack he has is the ability to summon a ring of projectiles. He has to stop to charge up this attack, at which point a ring of projectiles will fly away from him in an expanding circle. These are easier to dodge the further away from him you are. He will perform this attack more often as he gets closer to death.




Area F - Ravaged City: Infernon
After you just fought your way through a spike-filled, enemy-congested, missile-packed elevator shaft, you’ll get to fight a boss in yet another ascending elevator. While there are no other enemies present, there are still spinning spiked balls to contend with, and the boss is pretty mobile, so you’ll need to be mindful of dodging his attacks and the spikes simultaneously.



The boss will start out with a slash attack that sends a curved energy wave across the ground. He’ll actually perform a few of these as he’s rising up the elevator shaft and onto the screen, and you’ll need to be jumping starting with the second wave.



Infernon can jump high, giving you the chance to run under him He can also raise his fist and smash it into the ground, summoning a series of fire spouts on either side of him.



Once you take him out of commission, you’ll be teleported back to your base, and all of the screens will automatically change to images of a rocket sitting in a launch tube. And then you’re off to Area G.



The final level offers a smattering of gameplay from the previous ones, with chain link fences, pits of fire, conveyor belts, anti-gravity areas, etc., but their arrangements make traversing the environment somewhat more difficult. For instance, you’ll be dealing with conveyor belts over fire pits while simultaneously fighting enemies. And you’ll have more than a few complex fence-to-platform jumps that require good placement and timing… and they’re over pits of fire.




Early on, you’ll fight the Area A boss again, and you may groan and wonder if the game is going to pit you against all 6 previous bosses before you can make it to the end. Well, it’s not quite as bad as all that. You don’t have to fight all 6, but you do have to fight 3 of them.





You’ll face off against the Balzire, Infernon, and Gravitus, in that order. Once they have all been defeated, you’ll begin your ascent toward the final boss, climbing up a missile silo, on and around a U.S. Army rocket that is presumably about to be launched toward something really nice.





Area G - Missile Command: General Grover
Finally, you’ll face off against General Grover, who is considerably less friendly and blue as you might have been hoping. Grover has a robot of his own, and in a cutscene just prior to the battle, his robot will disappear and transform into an armored suit, not unlike your own… except that yours is silver, and his is… well, it’s a bit on the pink side.




At any rate, he’ll toss a wave of energy rings toward you, with one set heading straight for you, and the other 2 angling upward and downward somewhat. You can jump or duck, but the wide spread makes it difficult to protect both yourself and your robot. Your best chance is to back up and duck, so that the mid-range blast goes over your head, and the high blast goes up over the top of your robot.



He will occasionally drop down onto his knees and charge across the screen very quickly, leaving you to jump over him.



And finally, he can jump straight into the air and strike down at an angle, not only causing damage if he hits you, but also breaking the floor open and leaving a fiery spot on the ground, which you’ll need to avoid for the duration of the fight. Obviously, it’s best to kill him as quickly as you can, before he gets a chance to do this too many times.



Once you defeat the boss, the see the ending cinematic and credits will play, after which you can enter your initials on the high score table. Of course, since the cartridge does not have a battery backup, your score is cleared as soon as you reset the game.




HERITAGE

Why this game should be part of your 2D heritage:
  • 8 different robots available, each with their own unique offensive skills, plus a new armored player form if you collect the chips for the same robot twice
  • Unique gameplay that mixes elements of brawlers and shooters
  • Ability to play 5 of the 7 levels in any order
  • Bullet punching

The downside:
  • Many areas of the game, particularly bosses, are not well-balanced for melee combat, making progression difficult if you do not have a robot
  • Death during a boss fight will respawn you back at the boss with no robot and no strength powerups, and no way to get them back

7 comments

  1. Great review, as always. Good work!

    The graphics are very impressive for a NES game. I've never heard of this title before. The bot feature makes it outstanding so I'm going to give it a try.

    Thanks for this one.

    hermitC
    www.blackgolem.com

    Posted on September 16, 2010 at 1:49 PM

     
  2. The robots were definitely what brought Shatterhand into consideration for an 8bh article. Lots of variety and player choice, and some interesting mechanics.

    Just remember that the game is a bit unbalanced in the sense that many areas and bosses are quite difficult if you're going alone. So hold onto your robot for as long as you can (...and that's not some kind of a euphemism).

    Posted on September 16, 2010 at 6:45 PM

     
  3. Havik Said,

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted on July 30, 2014 at 2:52 PM

     
  4. Havik Said,

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    Posted on July 30, 2014 at 2:54 PM

     
  5. Havik Said,

    I'd rather the Japanese and original version Tokyuu Shirei Solbrain. It has more changes that weren't said
    The intro is different.
    The enemies of the submarine level only appear in that version.
    The pogoborgs don't exist, and the boss of this stage is cyborgape. Gravitus has a female design .
    The satellite, the armor and the protagonist are totally different too .

    Posted on July 30, 2014 at 3:04 PM

     
  6. Thank you for the insight, Havik! Looks like there's plenty of reason to check out the Japanese version as well.

    Posted on July 30, 2014 at 6:44 PM

     
  7. Great work.

    But... You forget write about hidden walls in this game.

    This walls may be destroyed by fists or weapon.
    Behind it usually hidden coin.


    Sorry, my english bro.

    Posted on September 14, 2015 at 1:27 PM