Before we get into today’s review, let’s have a quick history lesson (which is I’m sure why you’ve come to this site). After the 1983 video games crash, one of the points learned was that it was foolish to have pictures and ultra high realistic designs on game cartridges and box art of games such as those on the Atari, when the gameplay itself had less than impressive graphics. The reason I mention this? Well looking at the box art of today’s review, Trojan, is it infeasible to think the graphics that are shown on the box can match those in game? Nintendo did learn from mistakes of years yore with their black box designs and having enlarged pixellated characters from in -game onto the box, so how will Trojan fair, even with its one megabit memory, will the NES handle the awesome graphics with the fire and shining sword? Read on dear reader, read on…
Trojan is a side-scrolling action game, a genre that the library of the console has in plentiful supply. Originally it was an arcade game which was ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987 and although arcade ports of games to the console do not always convert well (controls for Marble Madness…) how can side-scrolling hack and slash games go wrong? The game is set in what seems to be a future world which isn’t described as 200x like in Megaman or some random date hundreds of years in the future, however your character looks like someone that could have come directly from the medieval era, or even worse a character from Dragon’s Lair! Armed with a sword and shield as a primary form of attack, if this fails your character does possess martial art skills so all is not lost. The idea of the game is to go through the levels from left-to right (which makes me wonder what games go from right to left? Hmm…) hacking and slashing your way past the enemies to get to the level sub-boss. There is an end of level boss as well that you will need to fight to progress through the game, and with 6 levels in total you will need all your Contra-training hack and slash experience for this and the reflexes of a snooker player thats hyped up on sour Skittles.
So turning on the game it brings you straight to the main menu, no dithering and no developers logo’s. You get the option of playing 1 player, 2 player or a versus option. The 1 player is pretty self explanatory in that you complete the levels yourself, whereas the 2 player mode is not both players on the screen at the same time like Streets of Rage or Battletoads, it’s more akin to Super Mario Bros where the player completes the level and carries on until he dies to which the second player then starts the game. Finally there is a versus mode, which was not in the arcade version. The two of you slug out mano y mano in a creepy wooded dungeon, or brown-coloured stone dungeon who knows, but its winner takes all in a 2 out of 3 victory fight. It’s good that you have the option of not always doing the main quest together if all you want to do is slug it out.
As mentioned you start off with a sword and shield to attack and defend with, which provides an effective way of defeating the enemies. At some points where magic fire balls are thrown at you, the sword and shield are out of your possession which although can be collected later, you have to rely on your bare hands and fists to attack with. Although you cannot choose to fight with bare fists, if you have a big samurai sword and a shield that would be the envy of Kokiri folk why would you want to fight bare fisted? You also can collect special power ups along the way, such as boots that make you jump high (but only if your standing still and jump, you cannot diagonal jump) or hearts that restore your health. What’s good about your character is that he has a health bar rather than hit them once or twice than die however it is easy to lose health when the enemies start beating seven bells out of you, you don’t temporarily become invincible you can easily have your health drained.
So in terms of the controls, attacking wise it’s pretty straight forward where the A button raises your shield and the B button makes you attack with your sword. You move your character with the left and right buttons and duck with the down d pad. However it is one of those games where to jump isn’t the A or B Buttons, no it is in fact the up button. This doesn’t help when on the first level you soon come across a manhole cover to which rather than jump, you fall through it. Fortunately it is another room where you obtain the jumping boots however it seems you won’t know what jump is unless you mess around the buttons. The music seems to be a mish mash of notes and noises with no clear pattern, it certainly keeps you on your toes but can cause irritation after a while so keep your music device ready on standby, because with the music and the sound effects, which are nothing exciting but does the job to a standard level, you may need your music device. In terms of the graphics, there are blues and brown colours a plenty which again do the job adequately with the buildings in the background and the enemies defined boldly and are quite colourful, so Capcom did a put a lot of effort into this port and the graphics definitely show this.
So all in all, Trojan is a nice game to add to your collection and certainly had time and attention devoted to it. The controls are nice and responsive and even now it is very satisfying to slash the enemies with your sword and defend yourself with the sword. The game itself is one where if you had an hour or two spare, it certainly is one to dedicate your attention to as it is well crafted and made. Although it is a shame that the multiplayer is not both players on the screen at the same time, this was a game released early in the console’s lifespan so it is safe to assume that having both players on screen as a co op would come later and not developed at that time. It’s a shame there isn’t a save feature or a password system so do be careful and get your gaming experience on, as your going to need it. Copies of the game aren’t that cheap however certainly not too expensive that it is out of reach for collectors. So go on, get your sword and shield out and head back to the future and show them how it’s done and do me a favour – please tell the developers to not use up for jumping in games in the future, my thumb’s gone all weak now…
Rating – 4 out of 5