Title: Legendary Wings
   Japanese title:
    The Wings of Ares (unreleased)
   Developer: Capcom
   Released by: Capcom USA
   Release Date: July 1988
   Current Price: $5
In today's Game Spotlight I'd like to lay a comment or two on the first fruitful steps of Nintendo's perky third parties. Most of the original USA licensees were either arms of Japanese companies that were already making tons of dough, or US companies like Epyx and Broderbund that had their games ported to the Famicom already and decided that making tons of dough in America is okay too.

Capcom, already well known in the US for their arcade hits Commando and Ghosts 'n Goblins, was one of the original third parties in Japan and the US. Like Nintendo and the other companies, they already had four years of ready-made product to translate and sell in the US... and like Nintendo and the other companies, their rush to get it out fast sometimes had a detrimental effect on the game. The two classic examples, Bionic Commando and Konami's Metal Gear, are great games that are so marred by the sometimes silly, mostly incomprehensible English dialogue that they became impossible to take to the end. Strider, too.

Capcom, in particular, suffered from this malady until well into the NES's history. This is especially noticeable if you have a lot of Capcom boxes and manuals. The first set of boxes, with that 3d grid design and mega art, are so silly it's a wonder anyone bought the games. And the manuals! Although an American-enough sounding name was credited with writing the manuals, they all seemed to give a new definition to the word "terse". Extremely vaguely worded, filled with spelling and grammar errors (cf. "Move flashing squares to item you want, then press A twice to start, you can cancel it"), and sometimes giving incorrect button functions, Capcom could not have rushed them any more if they had tried.

Even their later Disney titles suffered from these really bad dox, and if it weren't for the bleeding-edge visuals, cool sound and addictiveness of their games they'd be just another Mindscape. And - getting back on subject - Legendary Wings was one of many of Capcom's Japanese efforts that saved the American office's shoddy packaging time and again in the old days.

Take! These broken wings!

And learn to fly again, with the control pad! When you press! The A button! Your magic bombs will drop! And blow up stuff!

If Capcom wrote the manual that way it'd at least be entertaining, but instead they use words like they were being rationed, using 2 sentences to tell us how "Ares" (their quotes) gives two men wings of courage and love to save the world from some unexplained threat.

This game is an arcade port, which some people might have trouble believing if it wasn't for emulators (I personally just barely remember the arcade game). It must have not been a major commercial hit anywhere, especially considering Capcom didn't even bother releasing this game on Famicom. As a result, this game has become among the handful of NES carts wanted by Japanese collectors. Pac-Mania is another big one. Almost in response to this, quite a few of the currently-produced FC multicarts in Japan recently have featured one or both of these games inside.

And so our heroes fly, and fly, and fly and fly and fly. Which is great and all, but these courageous young men would be nowhere without the gun they have, which they apparantly provided themselves. "Ares" isn't so helpful after all, huh? Like most shooters, you can power up your weapon with lazy-flying P items, from single to double to a ring laser to an odd pulse jobbie... to the Firebird. The boundary between man and bird gets blurred as you become ze mythical bird, who can take three hits before being demoted to human.

But don't think this is any old overhead shooter. Nay! For the big graphic draw in the arcade, and here too, is the big earth face that shoots smoke at you midway through each level. If you're silly enough to get hit by a puff you get taken to what the manual calls the Dangerous Horizontal stage. Bits of faces line the walls of this horizontal side-view cavern, and you have to fight some tapeworms or something at the end. Those cards at Capcom punish you for admiring the graphics too much, as especially at later levels the smoke shoots out way too fast to avoid.

The smoke can work for you, though - one gun turret or ground target per level is hiding a hole which shoots out its own smoke. Hit it and you enter a bonus horizontal stage where, unmolested by enemies, you can grab Egyptian gold crap and hearts which lead to continues. After defeating the same dragon at the end of every overhead bit, you enter what looks like the Parthenon and go through one more side-scroller bit. There you face more or less the same odd bio-machine boss for each of the five levels, with a little extra treat at the very end.


I like this shooter, and I think it oughta get a little more respect. I mean, Capcom released a ton of cool-o stuff around this time, so this got a little overshadowed at the time, perhaps. When you think of NES shooters, you probably think of Life Force and Gun Nac anyway. Even so, you should give this a whirl too.

The presentation ain't bad either. This being 1987, Capcom actually got a couple of real artists for their NES games. Although there are more colors used in a cup of Trix yogurt than in this game, I like how the themes go from prehistoric to Greek to technomodern through the levels. And the music is purely awesome. Someone needs to NSF it quickly; all the rest of the Capcom library has.

The game itself is I think harder than any of Konami's NES shooters, especially near the end as levels are filled with turrets located above walls so you can't shoot them. Like Gradius, though, the game is quite possible at the end even if you lose your powerups. A good joystick is recommended for avoiding shots if you find yourself in this situation, though.

So instead of going out with your chick or bothering the large dude working at Funcoland, why not spend Saturday night enjoying Legendary Wings? If you can get by with the graphics (and your character's odd side-view pose) you'll be more than amused for awhile. Trust me.