Guerrilla War Review—Eternal Supply of Quarters Is the Price of Freedom

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The NES was my first console. I own a huge library of NES games. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to own or even play the NES port of Guerrilla War, and the same goes for its arcade version. This is my first time experiencing this game, ever. I thought I was going to be reviewing this game in a vacuum until…

Front Line.

Front Line is one of my favorite games of all time. Repeat, of all time. It is very similar to Guerrilla War across several characteristics. They are both run-and-gun, top-down shooters. Both of these titles allow players to use tanks to bulldoze through opponents. They both include hand grenades to be utilized on the battlefield. Both have very similar layouts in the first parts of the first level (a straightforward clear path with thick vegetation on both sides). Front Line and Guerrilla War also both let you rotate your character so that you can fire in different directions. Finally, Guerrilla War and Front Line are both based on real-life armed conflicts. Guerrilla War is based on the Cuban Revolution, and Front Line is based on the Vietnam Conflict—or so I thought. What a shame, I have been gravely misinformed about the latter. Front Line is not about the Vietnam Conflict. All this time, I assumed it was, because of the rice hat-like headgear of your character. 

Moving on, Guerrilla War is one of the better-looking and better-sounding games among the SNK arcade Minis. It’s also the most “non-weird” game in terms of gameplay and theme. This is the one to get if you are on the casual side and want a pretty straightforward game. Still, Guerrilla War has ample difficulty, and if you played this in the arcade, you would have to have lots and lots of quarters/coins/credits because you would die. And die several more times. And die again.

The controls are as follows: X for shooting, Triangle for coins (suggestion: keep pressing this to your heart’s content!), D-pad/analog nub for the usual moving, O for lobbing grenades and the shoulder buttons to rotate your character (in Manual Aim mode; in Auto Aim, you always face the direction in which you are going).  The Select button brings out a hefty amount of additional settings, including a save state (which has already been covered by our previous reviews of SNK arcade Minis).

05

At first, it is difficult to control your character, but not because the controls are wonky; no, it’s just hard to learn a control scheme when you keep dying while learning it. Enemies are plenty and mobile. They do a great job of taking cover and wading through the brush. You also can’t fire your weapon like a madman because there are hostages peppered all around in strategic places. This ain’t Metal Slug. In Guerrilla War, bullets do not pass harmlessly through hostages. You shoot in their direction, and they’re dead. Even your enemies’ rain of bullets kills them. If you are a high score-chasing gamer, a saved hostage is worth 1000 points. A dead one, even if it is not your bullets’ fault, is a crimson -500.

Guerrilla War is not a boring game. Yes, multiple deaths are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean this game is not enjoyable. The level design is absolutely gorgeous. You can ride tanks. You can pick up other weapons. Your basic weapon has infinite bullets, while other weapons have limited ammo. If you pick a weapon and then ride the tank, it compounds both effects and makes you a lean mean killing machine. Riding a tank does not make you immortal, though you are not going to die immediately if you are hit while in a tank. The tank absorbs the damage and then starts to blink. Be sure to get off before it explodes. However, you are wasting a valuable resource when you use the tank as a shield.

The boss fights vary greatly. The first and final bosses are excruciatingly difficult. The bosses in between them are cakewalks. For a week, I tried to finish the first level with just the three default lives and would not allow myself to continue if I spent all of them. It is impossible to do so; the first boss is crazy (a helicopter firing missiles and bullets all over the screen), and there’s infantry moving in and out, too. I tried my best. I can’t. I just can’t!

08

Seriously.

The screen size is one of my reasonable scapegoats for why I can’t survive the game. The screen is too zoomed-in. And if you choose to zoom out, it’s too far away! You have to zoom in and zoom out to survive the levels (in the Select button menu, you can choose between Stretched (zoomed-out, full view) or Normal (zoomed-in, game’s native resolution) screen). In fact, you can’t see the final boss if you are zoomed in!

What I really don’t like about this game, as well as the entire SNK arcade Minis line, is the price. It’s not justifiable if you are not buying the game for nostalgia’s sake. Especially if these Minis are indeed a service for their old fans, there should be lots and lots of additional content! At least put in some artwork, sound test, or maybe a trivia segment. Put in some rewards of some sort. Minis, even the not-so-good ones, have evolved by including additional content and achievement systems. This game has no freebies or exclusive content.

Back to Guerrilla War, there is no 2-player mode (where would the 2nd player play, anyway?), which is not the game’s fault but a limitation of the Minis program. I appreciated this game because I really loved Front Line (admittedly a much inferior game across the board) with all my heart. Guerrilla War is more than enough as a substitute.

7/10

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Comments

9 Responses to “Guerrilla War Review—Eternal Supply of Quarters Is the Price of Freedom”
  1. onmode-ky says:

    Yeah, I couldn’t figure out how to avoid those missile barrages from the first boss either. Couldn’t run, couldn’t hide. I think I may have had an easier time against the final boss.

    I pulled out my Taito Legends 2 just now and played some Front Line, and man, it took a good long while before I was able to make it past the first stage. Perhaps the DualShock 2’s right stick is simply an awful way of controlling your aim, because I just kept shooting in the wrong direction all the time.

    Anyway, now that the 4 SNK Minis I bought and the free-for-PS+ one I played are all reviewed, let’s get to the ones I haven’t played! :)

  2. Jasper Nikki says:

    Front Line has a somewhat broken control scheme. Add that to the way your character aims his gun and move his feet and its accompanying sound effects. FUN!!! HAHAHAHA!!

  3. JeremyR says:

    I think Front Line (also a favorite of mine) is a better game than this or Ikari Warriors (which is in the same genre).

    This and Ikari suffer from them designing the game to suck down quarters. Front Line, you had an even chance, the enemies weren’t so ridiculous

  4. Whoa this game looks amazing – I used to love these one man army games (Ikari Warriors, Commando) and I think this game looks perfectly suited to the Minis platform. I will have to check it out.

  5. G1M2 says:

    Thank you for a great review, Jasper!! I am surprised that you were able to pry this review away from Jeremy!! We hope that you will like some of our upcoming Minis releases as well!!!

  6. Jasper Nikki says:

    Hi G1M2! Thanks for passing by. Jeremy could have reviewed the entire Arcade lineup but we helped him out. :) . Anyway are your upcoming minis retro titles? Could you include Twin Bee (NES). hehe.

  7. onmode-ky says:

    Technically, TwinBee is already available for the PSP, though not as a Mini (and not in Western territories). TwinBee Portable is a UMD collection of 5 TwinBee titles, originally released in 2007 alongside Salamander Portable and Parodius Portable, the trio being spinoffs of Gradius Collection.

  8. Gryzor says:

    This one was a huge disappointment after having spent many joyful hours with the excellent NES version (one of my favorite top-down shooters ever.) I didn’t think I’d ever say this about a game called Guerilla War; but I honestly can’t stand this at all! :(

    Regardless of how badly they might’ve mucked up this conversion and as much as I don’t like to make qualitative judgments on games this far out of their own time, I can’t bring myself to muster many kind words about it at all. “Infuriating, quarter-munching piece of ****” does immediately spring to mind, however.

    Yes, I know this game’s design and insidious difficulty is simply a product of it’s time. Yes, I also know the PSP doesn’t have one of those cool rotating joysticks like the arcade did, thereby crippling the controls and the ‘arcade purity’ of the experience somewhat; but still, the game feels more like it was created to be an instrument of torment and profit (cruelly harvested from the sorrow and frustration of children) than fun entertainment.

    Then again, that was a truly strange time in video games where home ports consistently outclassed the ‘real thing’ at the local video arcade in terms of fun and longevity, so I can’t be too surprised at this letdown, crushing as it may be.

  9. onmode-ky says:

    Gryzor, I’m not entirely sure what your main complaint is. Is your point just that the Minis controls make the game much harder than it was in the arcade? Or that the original arcade version was unfairly difficult?

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