I get the impression they were reeeeeeally trying to be Superman-ish...
I was never that good at the shoot'em up genre of games. While I love the likes of Gradius, Life Force, and others; I never quite got the hang of them or as into them as my friends. More often than not, when it came to Shoot'em Ups, I would rent them on a Friday and be feel like I was done with them that same night. Not because any good at them, but because I would reach a frustration point with the game so quickly that I'd wished I had rented Castlevania 2 again. So, when I rented Capcom's Legendary Wings, was my experience the same as with other shooters? Well, before I get too far down memory lane lets get something clear:
Shoot'em Up, got it? Not shmup!
Excellent! Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk some Legendary Wings.
You fly around and blow up bad guys with weapons trying to defeat the evil boss of something or other in a noble quest too blah, blah, blah. Okay, okay, so I'm not massively familiar with the supposed plot of the game other than you're some winged super-hero guy trying to beat the evil bosses at the end of various stages. I don't think shoot'em ups are exactly known for having in depth plots and heavy characterization. I will say though that the game still stands out to me this day as being on of the few times in a shoot'em up where you played as something other than a plane or ship of some kind.
Flying the pink-booted angel mutant is both easy and enjoyable with the tight controls and quick response to button pushes. Some shoot'em ups give you a hit box that seems to fill half the screen while the other half fills with bullets. Legendary Wings doesn't overload you with bullets, so maneuvering around the sky and around enemy fire doesn't get overwhelming.
Another feature I liked from the game when I was a kid, and like even now, was how the game offered a mix or shooter styles such a side-scrolling, overhead scrolling, and my personal favorite, slow-as-molasses scrolling. Yes, "Wings" suffers from slow down from time to time, as do many such games on the NES. Even back then I had a sense that the NES was doing its best to make the game happen, but even so the flickering a slow-down could really hinder gameplay at times. If you're the type who can't get enough slow down try playing the awesome two player co-op version. That's right! Up to two people could love and enjoy the lovely, near bullet-hell, that was continually unfolding.
As was the case with many games put out by the bigger companies of the time, Capcom tended to recycle many of their sound effects. If you're like me, you'll probably get a kick out of hearing the same gun noises and hit effects as you would in almost any given Mega Man game no draw backs here. I will say however that the music was a bit of a let down. I thought me not remembering the tunes in Legendary Wings was my own fault and something easily chalk-up-able to the fact I only rented the game once. Whelp, I was wrong, it wasn't me this time, it was just Capcom putting out some truly spectacularly average music. Here's the only track I ever got to hear as a kid, and it's apparently the only I'll get to hear as an adult too:
Not that it was a bad, atonal mess, just that it lacked the same punch of the Mega Man series. Do you think I'm asking a bit much by constantly referencing how well they did the music for Mega Man? Well, you're wrong. Clearly they had it in them to produce fantastic, original and memorable soundtracks. How many of us have heard jazzed up or full heavy metal versions of the Elec-Man stage or the intro to Mega Man 2? C'mon Capcom! Surely you can hop in a nearby time travel machine and give us great set of tunes from Legendary Wings! You even have a few touches in this first soundtrack that make it sound like the song wants to reach an epic conclusion but can never quite get there.
Remember how a few sentences ago I mentioned the familiarity with the Mega Man sounds? Well, I thought I'd point out how many of the backgrounds and textures seem to be re-used Mega Man fare. Again, not that this constitutes a problem, just that companies like Capcom had no compunction about reusing assets on hand, and oh boy do they seem to be on hand. From rocky textures that seem like imports from Gutsman's stage to color choices seemingly influenced from other games; Capcom was smart to use things on hand and not shell out more moolah for development.
Remembering After the Rental
When I was a kid, I had no idea that this game was actually a port of an arcade original, so I guess in hindsight it's partially nice to know that some of the difficultly was due to it having lived as a quarter muncher in a previous life. But oh, how I wish I could drop in a couple of quarters to the NES port. The game should have been called "Legendary Difficulty" as you have no continues and the only way to get said continues was to hunt down certain hidden objects throughout the level. I never found the continues when I was a kid, and when I played the game for the blog, I didn't find them either. I guess if I wanted to make up for having wasted a rental back in the day, I should look and see if I can finally, finally find a way to continue the game and possibly see and hear stuff past level 2. Or, I could try to speed run Contra again....