Have You Played… Ikari Warriors?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I never played games in arcades. I think that was partly because I lived in a town where there weren’t any, and partly because the intensely middle class upbringing I received informed me that such places were off piste. (Making them so damned attractive.) But as I look back on the games that most entertained me as a kid, I think I’d have had so much fun if I did. The idea of playing Ikari Warriors not on a small TV in the kitchen, but on a big cabinet surrounded by bleeps and bloops and occasional cascading coins, sounds brilliant.

However, it was on a small TV in the kitchen. And much fun was had.

I hadn’t even seen Commando or Rambo, or any of the 80s movies on which it was based. Despite the middle class attitude with which I was raised, we didn’t match it financially, and couldn’t afford a VHS player back then. So I wasn’t even able to sneak views of films I was too young to watch. I didn’t have the frames of reference. But flipping heck, I enjoyed the top-down, shooty-bangs.

I would love to see a twin-stick remake of this. Someone get Keiko Iju out of retirement and have him do that for me.


  1. ikehaiku says:

    Oh yeah we did – “co-oping” it with my brother on the family CPC 6128…good times.

    • gunrodent says:

      The Amstrad version was the better looking one for the home gaming stuff I had access to back then. Not an inch of music. C64 version sounded better but wasn’t that fantastic looking. So we played it at my friends place. That game and Target Renegade game him some respite from the C64 bullying :)

      • gou says:

        i had the c64 version and always found it to be bastard hard. Years later when i found the arcade version at a swimming pool complex i was able to finish it which opened up two revelations: that it only has 1 level and that the important tank pick up was left out of the c64 version (or was horribly gimped it is all a bit hazey now)

        • Alexander Chatziioannou says:

          Tank pick-ups were there, including the awesome explosion-enhancing one, but, yes, that was a painfully hard game.

      • Alexander Chatziioannou says:

        I believe the proper scientific term for it is “platform allegiance improvement”

  2. Premium User Badge

    subdog says:

    Were arcades really not a middle class thing in the UK?

    In the states, they went hand in hand with shopping malls and pizza as cornerstones of middle class consumer culture.

    • Artiforg says:

      In the UK you’d find the odd arcade machine in sports centres, sweet shops/newsagents or local taxi company but they’d be horribly out of date. Having a dedicated arcade premises was the preserve of larger towns/cities where there was a demand for it. They’d be most commonly found in the seaside towns.

      • RuySan says:

        Here in Portugal, for some reason, most arcades attracted chavs, so there was usually a radius around the places where the chances of being mugged raised exponentially.

        Malls usually had the big/cabinet type of arcades, not the stuff that I was most interested into.

        • gunrodent says:

          Think arcades all over the world attracted chavs or what ever you called the tough looking, cigarette smoking kids back then.

  3. Halk says:

    But one question still remains. Where did their hair go?

  4. chuckieegg says:

    I didn’t know this got a PC (IBM compatible clone if you must) release. I never thought that I would say this on RPS, but :

    I preferred the Spectrum version.

    • polantom says:

      The Speccy version was great. No twisty joystick but great nonetheless. I first encountered it in the arcade and played it for a day before I realised you could shoot in different directions. I actually thought it was broken or bugged when my guy started shooting diagonally. Then I realised you could twist the joystick and my head exploded.

    • Kefren says:

      I liked the megabombs on the Speccy. Quite enjoyed the C64 version too, but I think the powerups were harder to interpret (just colours). Getting in a tank was always fun.

    • Artiforg says:

      It was, indeed, fantastic on the speccy. I got an Amiga not long after and got hold of Ikari Warriors thinking it’d be just as good but with better graphics, but it was awful. Enemies came at you in waves more akin to Galaxians.

  5. Fnord73 says:

    Whut, were arcades a classthing in the UK? Oh man, you missed out on so much.

    And yes I played it, but prefered Commando.

  6. PostieDoc says:

    One of the first games I played on my Amiga. Loved it at the time but later games showed the Amiga to be capable of a lot more.

  7. Turkey says:

    We only had the pistachio puke on beige diarrhea looking C64 version.

    • gunrodent says:

      Yes, went to my friends place and we played on his Amstrad.

  8. CidL says:

    Oh my sweet baby Jesus and Joan I used to love this game. Absolutely magnificent on an arcade machine. Quality memories, thanks for that.

    • ucfalumknight says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Our little town had this in the local Ice Cream shop. I remember me and a friend pouring our lawn mowing money into this machine. Oh, the memories!

  9. Sin Vega says:

    Oh gosh you missed out. Not even the games so much as the culture. You know how playing online today means making sincere, joyful but entirely temporary friendships with total strangers, just for a few hours, never to see each other again but to share a great time that you’ll sometimes remember for the rest of your life? Arcades in the 80s and early 90s were like that, but in person, and without the awful shit that happens today courtesy of 25 years of ‘gamer culture’.

    The best thing was those rare and inexplicable kids who’d wander up to a four player machine you were on, stick an impossibly huge banknote in (probably £20 in hindsight, or maybe even ten, given that this was an era when you’d get the bollocking of a lifetime for putting a pound into a machine because it was ‘a lot of money’), and casually plough through the whole damn thing with three complete strangers, with no care for how many continues anyone used. Or being wordlessly promoted to the front of the crowd for Knowing Your Shit when someone was struggling. Or paying 10-20p instead of the ridiculous £1 a go thing that helped kill the whole thing off years later.

    • Kefren says:

      RPS, please can we have a “like” button for comments.

      • Ghostwise says:

        Personally, I’m more comfortable with not having every single aspect of my online activities reduced to a clickbaity popularity context.

        • Kefren says:

          Just because infrastructure is in place, you don’t have to use it or pay much attention to it.

          That said, I do understand your point, and wasn’t thinking of it in terms of popularity. I think of it more as a smile in someone’s direction. A nod, a tip of the hat, but without needing to do more. Small acknowledgements can still be pleasant.

    • MonkeyJug says:

      In the arcades I frequented, the ‘coin-flip’ technique was much more popular than the £20 note technique!

  10. neems says:

    Great game, although I was playing it on a Commodore 16 so really not a looker (later on I had a +4 but most games ran in c16 mode on it).

  11. horrorgasm says:

    Fun game in general, but the arcade version was one of those shit ones that silently cut off your ability to continue once you reached the last level.

  12. Thulsa Hex says:

    I had this on Amstrad and looooved it. That was, until my younger sister unwound the tape ribbon “for fun”. It never loaded again after that :'(

  13. Thirdrail says:

    You’d really need to play the arcade version to get the true Ikari Warriors experience. It had an eight direction rotary joystick. Sort of like you can play Warlords with a regular joystick, but it will never really be Warlords unless you’re using the original analog knob. Or trying to play Lunar Lander without the lever throttle and the tiny red buttons on the tips of black cones.

  14. CartonofMilk says:

    First time i played NES in 1988 we (me and brother) rented a bunch of games and Ikari Warriors 2 was one of them. The sequel is fucked up because it’s in space against aliens… Anyway we soon figured out the infinite lives code which was A B B A and that would make it the first cheat i ever was made aware of in gaming. i believe it also worked in the first which we rented not long after.

    Some years later, maybe less than a year before we got a Snes (so about 1991) someone at school lent me a japanese copy of Ikari Warriors 3 on NES. I probably only played that game for a week of my life but it was dope. It was like a top down P.O.W (which i owned) more than an Ikari warriors game. It was a beat em up in which you could sometimes get guns with very limited ammo. Pretty strange (because top down).

    SNK also had another pretty good top down shooter on nes (also adapted from arcade) in the same vein of Ikari Warriors, Guerrilla War. Which apaprently was known as Guevara in japan….

    • deadlybydsgn says:

      Yes–Guerrilla War! Never having come across Ikari Warriors at the time, GW is the version I played in both the arcade and later on emulators.

  15. Bombuzal says:

    Was a great game on the Atari ST.
    On the Amiga I loved Fire Power. (Top-down tank ’em-up!)