PLAYERS: 1-2 simultaneous
DEVELOPER: Capcom (port by Sega)
RELEASE DATE: 11/18/89 – (JP), 02/90 – (US), 1990 – (EU)
Forgotten Worlds is a hootenanny bro-down, an unconventional shoot-em-up where you don’t control a ship, but a hovering muscleman (or musclemen if you’re fighting alongside a comrade). The musclemen have no names – or shirts, for that matter. They were trained by a futuristic people for the sole purpose of destroying their evil emperor Bios and his raging god squad. Rather than revolt against their trainers and strike out alone, they complete their assigned task with your standard issue machine gun and an invincible, hovering satellite that accompanies them and shoots out a variety of deadly weapons.
Your musclebound warrior isn’t controlled like any ol’ levitating human with a spare satellite, oh no. In the arcade, an eight-way joystick controls the movement of both your character and the satellite, while a grey rotatable button controls their aim and firing. This way, you can move your character anywhere on the screen, while keeping your shots focused on one specific direction. When you rotate your character while firing, your satellite rotates with you, but when you rotate your character without firing, the satellite will rotate around the player. Sounds like a hassle, eh? I haven’t played the arcade cabinet, but the setup sounds like it works better in practice than on paper.
In the Genesis version, the ‘A’ and ‘C’ buttons rotate your position, while the ‘B’ button fires both the machine gun and the satellite simultaneously. I can’t compare the arcade and Genesis control schemes, but the Genesis setup takes some getting used to. You naturally want to control the direction and aim of your character with the D-pad, not a button. Thankfully, the game’s easy enough on Normal that you can fumble with the controls and still not do too badly, but I never got completely used to them.
As you wrap your brain around the unorthodox control scheme, you’ll also need to take care of yourself. The shooting is slow-paced compared to other shoot-em-ups, but enemies are still plentiful. Because you can position your character in any direction, enemies appear from every direction possible in clusters of three or four at a time. You start off with one life, a short life bar, and a mediocre weapon.
The enemies drop blue coins known as “zenny,” and you’ll need to collect as much as you can for when you to get to the shop. Here, you can buy a refill of life, life potion that refills your bar when you die, stronger weaponry like automatic missiles and lasers, stronger satellite, tips for boss battles, armor for additional hits – whatever you need. In the first couple of levels, you’ll get a ton of zenny and consequently feel pretty safe. As the game progresses, however, fewer and fewer enemies drop it. Staying alive eventually becomes more a matter of saving your money for the better weapons and not getting hit, rather than just the latter.
While Forgotten Worlds is pretty enjoyable while you’re playing it, outside of the screen-dominating War God boss battle and the funky controls, you’ll be hard pressed to remember much about the game once you’ve finished. The cutscenes that bookend each stage provide some silly quips for the main characters, but the characters themselves aren’t particularly endearing (hard to bond with someone when they’re not even given a name). The level design is barren and repetitive (Capcom really liked the metropolitan wasteland and Egyptian tomb motifs). While the graphics might be leagues above the recently reviewed Super Hydlide, they’re not nearly as crisp as Sega’s other Capcom port, Ghouls ‘N Ghosts. The shooting is addictive and that’s what counts, but Forgotten Worlds would be more memorable if there was more soul packed between the muscles.
DEVELOPER: Capcom (port by Sega)
RELEASE DATE: 07/91 – (EU), 08/91 – (BR)
Forgotten Worlds on the Master System was confined to Europe, and well, I’m sorry European friends. Unlike Ghouls ‘N Ghosts which actually benefited from a downgrade, Forgotten Worlds plays like it could collapse at any moment.
Naturally, Forgotten Worlds can’t compare to its 16-bit brother in scope and size, but the biggest difference between the two games is the automatic firing. Because the Master System’s controller only has two buttons compared to the Mega Drive’s three, the game automatically fires for you (the Genesis version has autofire available, but it can only be turned on in the options menu). You’d think this would make the game easier, but on the whole, I had a harder time with this version. Enemies give you less zenny (on Normal mode, anyway), so it takes longer to upgrade your gear. The frequent slowdown – normally a blessing in faster paced shoot-em-ups – seems only to affect your progress, not the enemies. As a result, their attacks reach you before you’re able to maneuver out of their way. The War God Boss still looks astounding, particularly for an 8-bit console, but if you’re a lonely soul in need of a Forgotten Worlds fix, best to stick with the Genesis or arcade versions.