Let’s keep moving forward with Fantasy Shooter Month! This on-going celebration is brought to you by shooters that think outside the spaceship! Today, I play Legendary Wings by Capcom, a game as underwhelming as it is deceitful!
Game: Legendary Wings
Console: Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Year: 1988
The box art to Legendary Wings is pretty fun. You got a dude with wings reaching for something and a big head screaming in the background, which is never not creepy. The head’s design always reminded me of something Jim Henson would have made back in the day. It also kind of reminded me of the rock guy from The Neverending Story.
But I don’t know why. I was dumb as a kid.
He obviously looks more like Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple:
That nervous twitch is from watching kids constantly fail at putting together the Shrine of the Silver Monkey.
Hooked by the art, I popped the cart in, ready to be immersed in a world where angels fight dragons and giant heads on mountainsides heckle you, probably. This is going to be a great fantasy shooter!
I had a laser gun like that once. Then my dad got a job!
Except it’s not really a fantasy game; it’s sci-fi. I probably could have figured that out had I only looked more closely at the box art. There’s circuitry below the hero’s thigh and on the giant head. Oh, also, the hero has a huge freaking laser gun! I guess that could have been a dead giveaway, but I figured “Buh. Video games!” and didn’t give it a second thought. The main dude does carry a suspiciously close resemblance to Flash Gordon, though.
He’s totally rocking that red shirt, ladies.
It being a sci-fi game didn’t take anything away from the experience. It was just weird. The plot was a mix of both fantasy and sci-fi. Usually that’s awesome if done well; however, the plot is only briefly mentioned in the manual and never told in the actually game. But it’s a shooter so I didn’t care. All the exposition I need is SHOOT SHIT!
The game is about a supercomputer from outer space going rogue (like always), but Ares, the god of War, gives the protagonist wings to go kill it. So, we live in a world where at least one god (the bad ass one, at that) and aliens exists. Not only that, but you get to slay dragons… with a laser gun! This game had the potential to be so amazing! Unfortunately, it’s mediocre at best.
If I had a laser, you’d be so fucking slain right now!
It’s not a terrible game. It’s just okay. The difficulty is there, but not until level 4, and there are only 5 levels. You can shoot enemies in the sky or drop bombs on ground enemies like in Xevious, and you can collect power ups to make you stronger and faster. Basically, the game is a shooter by numbers. It stays faithful to the genre but doesn’t add anything to stand out amongst its contemporaries.
However, that’s not to say that Legendary Wings doesn’t have some cool things up its sleeves. For example, I love the Phoenix form you can get in the game. It’s super powerful, and it lets you take a few more hits before your weapon powers down.
Plus, it looks totally bad ass compared to your “Guy in Speedos” form.
I also like the levels in this game. In honesty, they’re pretty generic, but the progression of the levels is unique. The landscapes change from organic to synthetic as opposed to the other way around, which is a more typical progression found in shooters such as Gradius and R-Type. In Legendary Wings, you start out flying over mountains and rivers, but later levels become less and less organic, showing a significant shift in the final level where you’re flying over completely metallic and alien structures.
He should take a liquid-hot Phoenix shit on that dude’s UFO.
Legendary Wings also shifts from a vertical shooter to a horizontal shooter courtesy of the aforementioned giant head sucking you into his mouth.
This sucks. DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE, INTERNET!?
The side-scrolling levels are lame and kind of creepy. It looks like you’re inside a digestive system, and there are random hearts and fang-filled mouths smiling at you everywhere. You can skip them all together by not getting sucked in by the giant head. I definitely recommend doing that.
This is just awful, Capcom. I am not enjoying myself.
But all these unique features don’t add up to much when the game is just bland. As uninspired and boring as it is, Legendary Wings‘s worse offense is that it’s lazy. All the enemies are boring and just kind of there. I couldn’t even tell you what most of the enemies were.
Some enemies just looked like flying car parts or something:
I obviously don’t know anything about cars.
But the laziest efforts were reserved for the bosses. Typically bosses are the best part about shooters, but Legendary Wings and the folks over at Capcom thought the idea of fighting a dragon with a laser gun was so good that they wanted you to experience it on every-
Video Game Rule #12: Palette Swaps are for RPGs and Beat-Em-Ups only!
After defeating a dragon, your guy flies down into the building below, and then you’re shown this screen, which is grammatically and syntactically correct yet awkward enough to be hilarious:
Devil? This is sci-fi! Since when does science believe in the Devil?
You then enter a side-scrolling stage and continue to go right until you meet the devil, which is in fact a big, brain-filled, eye-flinging machine. And it has four other palette swaps you must fight throughout the game. It’s great.
How very phallic, Capcom. Thank you.
But defeating these bosses rewards you with another text screen! This one counts down how many more awful levels are left AND comes with a typo and a wonderfully awkward catchphrase:
I will never stop holding out!
The final boss can only be reached by shooting through the pulsating pink innards of the fifth machine boss, and he turns out to be a relatively small satellite with ninja stars attached to it or something. It’s really dumb.
You’re really dumb.
Once you beat this thing, you win the game forever and save humanity. Good for you.
Whoever made this screen was so excited you won! Articles be damned!
And that’s Legendary Wings. It was a poor arcade port lazily brought to the NES. It’s not a bad game, but it’s not a game worth putting in your “To Play” list either. It’s fun and challenging enough to complete, but it isn’t really a game I’d want to replay any time soon. Everything is just so forgettable, especially the enemies and the music. I can only recommend this game if you really like shmups and have exhausted all other options.
Thanks for you Playing! Next week, I’ll shoot more fantasy-based things to death! All in the name of Fantasy Shooter Month!