- Machine: Nintendo
In the year 2501, mankind looked forward to peace and prosperity. That hope was shattered, however, when disaster struck the powerful battle station Cyberg on Pluto. Originally designed to protect Earth from hostile space aliens, Cyberg malfunctioned and turned against our own solar system.
Now mankind's only hope lies with you. Somehow you must battle your way past the station's defenses to activate the self-destruct device. Fortunately, you're equipped with the M-308 Gunner, a cybernetic battle suit with enormous firepower and the ability to reverse gravity.
Although the background story is fairly ordinary, MetalStorm is anything but an ordinary game, thanks mostly to the M-308's unique gravity flip. By pressing the A button while pushing up on the directional pad, you can reverse the pull of gravity, allowing you to "fall" upward and walk on the ceiling. This might not seem like much until you run into the game's well-designed layouts of platforms, one-way barriers, and enemies that alter their patterns depending on whether you're on the floor or the ceiling.
It's obvious that a lot of thought and creativity went into Metal Storm. For what's essentially a side-scrolling shooter, the different stages are amazingly varied, both in the way they look and in the way they must be played. A number of the stage bosses are incredibly dynamic, including one that changes its fire pattern by constantly rearranging itself.
Getting through this game requires quick thinking and constant flips from floor to ceiling, combined with careful shots. What might seem like a simple gimmick leads to complicated strategies and an interesting challenge.
The graphics of MetalStorm are excellent as well - bright and sharp, with nicely detailed backgrounds and smooth animation. The only disappointment is the flickering when numerous enemies appear (which is more a limitation of the eight-bit hardware than of the game itself). There isn't as much flicker as in some other Nintendo games, but perhaps it's more noticeable in MetalStorm because so many other things are done so well.
Overall, though, MetalStorm stands out. It sticks to the standard pattern - lots of enemies and a boss in each stage - but its unique action and attention to detail put it head-and-shoulders above the average shooter.