Saturday, 1 November 2014

GROW: Armored Warriors

Review by ThoRn @RetroGameRevive
Armored Warriors

Composer(s)Takayuki Iwai
Release date(s)October 24, 1994
Genre(s)Beat 'em up
Mode(s)Up to 3 players simultaneously
Arcade systemCP System II
DisplayRaster 384 x 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors
(Source for above information: Wikipedia)

When you think mid 90's arcade, you will probably think of a few things but chances are two of those things you think about is the word 'Capcom' and the phrase 'Beat em Ups'.  Capcom and Konami were the Kings of 90's 'Beat em Ups' but in my own opinion I will have to give Capcom the larger of the two crowns as they just kept them coming every year, and never released a sub-par game.  Now, the majority of Capcom Beat em Ups were released on the CPS 1 board but for the few that were released on the CPS 2 board these games were just epic!  The hand drawn animation, the music, the fluid gameplay mechanics.  The CPS 2 was the peak of 2D in the arcades (CPS3 was great but limited to only a few fighters).  So with all the great things this Capcom board could do, Let's go get in some Mechs and play 'Armored Warriors'...

It's the year 2281 and former Raian captain Azrael has converted himself in to a cyborg to try and become the perfect warrior. He and several thousand cyborgs have declared war against the Raian Kingdom.  He has stolen mobile weapons from the army and invaded Merkid, the captial of Raian.  Not only that, he has also taken the Raian civilians as captives.  The United World Government has started to organise a response to the attacks and has dispatched its elite corps squadron called 'Bloody Armor' to go to planet Raia to take out Azrael and his enemy forces as well as rescuing the captured civilians.

'Team-Up' mode
If you have played any other Capcom Beat em Ups then you will be right at home with 'Armored Warriors'.  There are 7 levels in total, each consisting of a different mission and ends in a Boss fight.  What sets this game apart from others is the ability to augment your mech through each stage.  As you progress through the level your mech can take on upgrades in areas such as the arms, legs and hand held weaponry.  But you can lose them if you take on too much damage.  The best part of this augmentation feature is that you can engage 'Team-Up Change' which essentially combines all the players mechs together to form a 'Voltron' type mech which can deal massive amounts of damage.

Oh, did I mention this was a 3 player cabinet :)

You are given the option to choose from 4 different characters each having their own strengths and unique abilities.

1st Lieutenant Jeff Perkins, Call Sign: RASH (AEX-10M BLODIA) - The 'All-Rounder'.  His Mech is suited to most combat situations.  He lacks the firepower of some of the others but makes up for this with his long range attack abilities

Captain Ray Turner, Call Sign: JUSTICE (SVA-6L REPTOS) - A melee master. His light and mobile mech is designed for close range combat as well as being very proficient in high speed situations

Major Glenn Reed, Call Sign GRAY (AEX-10H GULDIN) - The Heavy Hitter.  This mech can dish out the damage and also has the ability to absorb it as well whilst charging through the enemy.  The down fall to his strength and power, low speeds.

2nd Lieutenant Sarah White, Call Sign: SIREN (AEX-12J FORDY) - Built for speed.  This mech is the fastest of the group, it has high mobility and uses 'rush' attacks for primary offense.  Unfortunately this mech lacks the defensive armor but when used well, she can use her speed to avoid most incoming attacks.

This is actually one of the earlier games to be released on the CPS 2 board but you wouldn't know it when taking in the visuals.  It might not be as visually striking as 'Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara' but it suits the gritty mech and war look perfectly.  Your characters hand drawn sprites are fantastic to look at and the detail in your mechs is outstanding with the hydraulics and pistons all moving fluently as you lay a 'beat down' on your enemy.

Hand drawn Goodness
You also get a great sense of size when you see the cyborgs come out and attack you.  They do very little damage and I don't think they are there for any other reason than to give you that feeling of being a giant machine towering over these human sized Borgs.  Take note of when you pick your character and you watch the animation of your pilot getting inside for a great size perspective.

I wouldn't really call it a gripe, but I guess my only negative about the visuals is that the color palette of the levels doesn't really change a great deal from stage to stage.  The location and environment changes on a regular basis but I just felt they didn't push the brightness and the depth of the CPS 2 color palette to it's full potential.  But I can easily look past the backgrounds as there is always so much action going on you don't really have time to take in the scenery not to mention the stunning animation and amount of frames of your mech is where the true beauty in this game really is.

The final battle

I think it's quite obvious I am a Capcom fan but the one thing I could never fully appreciate was Capcom's QSound.  I understand the technology behind it and think the idea was great but I always felt QSound had this slight muffle when listening the effects.  Maybe it's just my ears as the music was always clear but the sound effects just felt a little low on the bit-rate.  Maybe it was just the way it was compressed.  With that said I still feel the audio in this game is top notch, especially the music.  There is guitar and synth keyboard and it's all ROCK BABY!  It's hard to go past the music as it was composed by the brilliant Takayuki 'Anarchy Takapon' Iwai who is responsible for such great games like the Darkstalkers series, Marvel Super Heroes, Red Earth and Street Fighter Alpha 3.  It's the perfect accompaniment to the hard hitting sounds of the mechs bashing together and the destruction of metal from your enemy.

Simple yet effective arcade controls.  Melee attack, Jump and Fire!  Three buttons is all you need to save the day.  You can also engage other attacks depending on what weapon you pick up.  For example if you pick of the grappling arm, you can grab your enemy, pick them up and bash them into the ground a few times before letting them go.  You can also do multiple hit moves by using joystick combos, such as double tap forward then melee can initiate a slide attack which can take out multiple targets at once.  The best advice I can give is play around with the controls and I have no doubt you will discover new moves that are not only effective against the enemies, but also look awesome!

It's a Capcom Beat em Up.  It has everything you need for a great co-op experience.  So if you ever get the chance to play this great game, don't let it pass you by.

Until next time, Stay Retro.


  1. Excellent review Clint! I love Capcom's fighters, but I've never seen this one before. I'll have to give it a go sometime.

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