Take on the NES Library

An 8-bit Extravaganza!



#101 – F-117A Stealth Fighter

Not exactly a stealth mission, but whatever.

So dark and stealthy

To Beat: Reach the ending
To Complete: Get the highest rank and win all medals
What I Did: Completed the game
Played: 9/22/18 – 10/8/18
Difficulty: 7/10
My Difficulty: 8/10
My Video: F-117A Stealth Fighter Final Mission

Flight games are way out of my interest level and not really in my wheelhouse. So far, I have dealt with two such games with mixed results. Top Gun had fast action but was difficult. Laser Invasion had several different modes and was a surprise fun game on my list. Those two games had the benefit of being developed by Konami, one of the most prolific and successful developers on the system. How do other developers fare in this genre? F-117A Stealth Fighter is an ambitious game featuring open-ended missions and a lot to keep track of throughout. Let’s take a closer look.

F-117A Stealth Fighter has quite a convoluted past. Let’s start with the PC game F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter from 1991. That game was a remake of F-19 Stealth Fighter from 1988, which was itself a remake of Project Stealth Fighter from 1987. Those games were all computer games developed and published by Microprose. The NES game appears to be a trimmed down version of those games. F-117A Stealth Fighter on NES was released in December 1992, both developed and published by Microprose. It turns out that I unintentionally broke my rule of playing games out of order, sort of. F-117A Stealth Fighter is not a sequel, but more of a spiritual successor to the game F-15 Strike Eagle, which debuted on computers in 1984. That game had a couple of sequels released in 1989 and 1992 before the original F-15 Strike Eagle was ported to the NES in early 1992.

F-117A Stealth Fighter is a flight combat game. You are simply the pilot of the F-117A who carries out several missions. These missions are comprised of flying your fighter through enemy territory to destroy a primary target and a few secondary targets. There are six main missions in the game. Do well enough in those missions to unlock some secret missions. Complete the secret missions to reach the ending and beat the game.

Travel the globe!

Before you get started, use the main menu to set up your game. There are four options here. You press Select to make decisions on this screen, and then press Start when you are ready to fly. The Options selection lets you choose what kind of game you want to play. You can play the game single player, with a friend as a team, or against a friend in competition. Team play is interesting in that the first player controls the F-117 fighter’s movement while the second player controls the weapons. I have no idea how the competitive mode works; the manual doesn’t even mention it. The other three options on that screen are for starting up a saved game with a password. The Theater screen lets you pick which mission you want to try. You can only do the Libya mission at first. The Enemy level can be chosen from Green, Average, Veteran, or Ace. You can also decide which missiles you want to bring along using the Weapons screen. There are different loadouts of air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles to choose from.

The controls are complex for an NES game. The view is in first person from inside the cockpit. Use the D-pad to steer your F-117A fighter. Up and Down are inverted in this game, while Left and Right steer your aircraft in the appropriate direction. The A button fires your Vulcan Cannon while the B button launches missiles. You have to be locked on to a target before firing missiles, while the Vulcan Cannon can be shot at any time. Press Start to launch decoys, either chaff or flares depending on the situation. The Select button is used for many different things. Simply press Select during a mission to bring up the map screen. Hold Select and press either Up or Down to adjust the throttle, which speeds up or slows down your fighter. There are two screens in the center of your cockpit display. The left one is toggled by holding Select and pressing B. This side displays either a minimap or your radar. Hold Select and press A to toggle the right screen between your missile ammo and current damage display. Press Start and Select together to toggle autopilot. Then your fighter jet will automatically steer toward whichever main target you chose on the map screen.

See the lay of the land and choose your target.

There is a ton of information on screen that is useful during play. The main action takes place on the top half of the screen. The square in the center is the focus of the action and you have to have an enemy within that square to target it with missiles. There will be a lock indicator that appears around the target when you have successfully locked on. The red arrow around the perimeter is your navigation arrow. This points to either the primary target, secondary target, or home base, whichever you selected. On the map screen, you press Left or Right to adjust which target you want the arrow to point. (You can also eject from your fighter jet from this screen.) On the right side of the center window is an altitude indicator. When you are flying too low, this indicator will blink red.

The bottom half of the screen shows all the bells and whistles from inside your cockpit. On the far left, you see your digital altitude display, the speed display, and your compass display. The compass displays from 0 to 360 degrees depending on your flight direction. 0 is due north, 90 is due east, 180 is south, and 270 is west. Above those displays on the top is your autopilot indicator. Just to the right of that is your throttle gauge and your fuel gauge. In the middle are the map/radar displays and the weapons/damage display. Above the weapons/damage display are four indicators. Lock displays when enemy radar has locked on to you. The I or R display lights up when either an enemy infrared missile or enemy radar-locked missile is headed your way. The Fire indicator lights up when you are locked on to a target and can fire a missile. To the right of that is your stealth gauge. On the far right is your decoy ammo and Vulcan cannon ammo. The long box at the bottom is a text display for various events, and next to that is your score.

The idea in each mission is to destroy a primary target on the ground. You can set the navigation arrow to point toward it and go straight there if you want. That might not be the best course of action. Piloting a stealth fighter means you can opt to sneak in as quietly as possible. The stealth meter has two bars on it. The left one shows how effective the enemy radar is, while the right bar is how visible you are. I’m not really sure I understand it, but from experience you want the left bar to be higher than the right bar. By avoiding enemy bases on the map, you keep the enemy’s radar less effective and the left bar higher on the display. The way you fly influences the right bar. Flying slower, lower, and away from radar stations keep your visibility low. When the bars cross, the right one will turn red and that means you are being tracked by radar. Since you have to get close to enemies to take out the targets, this is inevitable. Soon an enemy will lock on to you with a missile.

Enemy fighters are ruthless in this game.

When you get tracked and locked by an enemy, there’s really no maneuver you can do to avoid missiles. You want to pull up your radar to see the missile approaching and press Start to launch a decoy. If done at a good time, this should steer the missile away from you and you can proceed. The radar is also helpful for seeing nearby enemy fighters and ground targets. While you can steer away from ground targets, enemy fighters are relentless and will follow you around if you let them. With the help of radar, get the enemy fighters in front of you and blow them up so that they will stop bothering you. Take the time needed to blow them up so that you can continue with your mission.

There are two ways you take damage. Enemies will fire with cannons if you get too close to them. Eventually this will knock you out of commission, though the damage is slow to build up. Most of your damage will come from enemy missiles that you couldn’t decoy or were targeted from too close. These have the added detriment of sometimes disabling some functionality of your stealth fighter. Any damage that affects your fighter’s capabilities will cause the right-hand display to switch over to a top-down view of your fighter highlighting where the damage took place. The status bar will tell you what part got hit. Often the missiles will disable something you can live without, like your digital altimeter, speedometer, compass, or autopilot system. If the fuel line gets hit, you will start to lose fuel much faster, affecting the amount of time you can maintain flight. You can’t fire missiles or decoys if those systems are hit, and if your Vulcan cannon is damaged you will fire sporadically. Losing your radar display puts you at a significant disadvantage. The worst is if you take a direct hit to the engine because then you are done for. I think it’s best to be generous in deploying your decoys so that you can maintain top performance as long as possible.

It hurts to lose your radar.

Changing your weapon loadout can be helpful for clearing some missions. You set this up in the Weapons option before each mission. You can hold two types of missiles at once and there are several predefined loadouts set up for you to pick from. To use missiles in combat, simply press B when you lock on to an enemy by getting it in front of you. For ground targets, you must be at 20,000 feet or below to be able to lock on. I found that it didn’t really matter what type of air missiles you use as the basic ones were incredibly accurate and deadly. The air-to-ground missiles however have varying results. The basic ones are not very effective, but you can opt for fewer, more powerful missiles that don’t often miss their mark. The longer you play the game, the more weapon packs you can choose from. Later, you can get missiles designed for taking down boats, as well as some highly accurate air-to-ground missiles in higher quantities. There’s even a weapon set that gives you extra fuel and another that gives you extra ammo for your Vulcan Cannon. Be sure to check the weapons screen between missions to see what’s changed.

The enemy ground targets in a mission have various icons to represent them. You can see these icons on the map or on your minimap during flight. It took me a while to realize that you can derive some benefit from taking down specific units. Little satellites are radar stations, and destroying them reduces the effectiveness of enemy radar targeting. Destroying runways helps keep enemy fighters out of the air. Two important ones replenish some of your supplies on the fly. An icon shaped like a capital A is an ammo dump that restores all of your Vulcan Cannon ammo when destroyed. Blow up the oil well over the water to restore all your fuel. I’m not sure what effect some of the other ones have. It’s not a bad idea to plan your route around specific targets.

Once you have completed your mission, land back at the home air strip. You have to be flying lower than 10,000 feet while over the runway to engage the landing sequence. This view changes to behind the stealth fighter. Simply use the D-pad to steer in all directions, and remember, use Up to go lower here. I think you can crash if you descend too quickly but I never had that happen, just be careful.

Easiest landing sequence thus far.

After the mission, you go through debriefing where your score is totaled. Destroying the primary target gives you 10,000 points, each secondary target is worth 5,000 points, other ground targets are worth 3,000 points each, and enemy fighters are worth 1,000 points each. Then, optionally, you may earn bonus points. I’m not sure how the scoring works for these. You can get points for saving missiles, flying stealthily, or landing well. Your mission score is then added to your total score over all missions to date. These are just the base points for the Green difficulty level. These point values are doubled for Average, tripled for Veteran, and quadrupled for Ace difficulty.

You earn medals and ribbons for meeting certain criteria. Each of the six main missions award you a medal if you score enough points. Unfortunately, the digital manual I found for the game was almost too blurry to read, but I can tell you the point thresholds are 50,000, 125,000, 175,000, 200,000, 300,000, and 325,000 for each respective mission. There are four additional medals that can be earned in any mission. One you get by completing any mission, and another you receive by clearing multiple missions. The Air Force Achievement Medal is awarded by destroying at least 15 enemy airplanes in a single mission. The Superior Service Medal is earned by destroying at least 75% of all ground targets in a mission. You can only get each medal once, but you can earn more than one at a time. You also receive ribbons and get promoted for meeting certain total score thresholds. To achieve the highest rank of General, you must score 4,000,000 points cumulative over all mission attempts. Just keep playing long enough and you will get there!

While the ribbons and associated promotions are merely cosmetic, the medals have a greater significance. Earn all ten medals to open up some secret missions. The only way to beat the game and see the ending is to complete these secret missions. Furthermore, completing the final secret mission and scoring at least 325,000 points earns you the Congressional Medal of Honor, the game’s highest award. If you’ve gone this far, you might as well go all the way.

The explosion animation is pretty neat.

This is a lengthy game, so good thing there are passwords. These are displayed after completing a mission or if you eject from your stealth fighter. The game calls them save codes. These passwords are eight characters long, consisting of most of the alphabet, digits, and a couple of symbols. Your total score and all medals are maintained within the passwords, Also, your difficulty level and last mission completed will be pre-selected on the Options screen. There is a weird quirk around these passwords. If you crash your fighter, then your career is over and you get no password. You can choose to eject from your plane if you start to spin out or whatever. In that case, sometimes you get rescued and sometimes you get captured. You get a password either way. If you get captured, sometimes your password doesn’t work right away! It’s a coin flip whether or not you get free or remain captured, but if you don’t get free, you have to enter your password from scratch and try again. You don’t get any points or medals for failing a mission, so there’s little benefit in keeping your new password at all unless you succeed in a mission.

This was my first time playing F-117A Stealth Fighter. Nearly all flight simulator games of this ilk were relegated to my deferred list, including this one. This is an affordable game, but not too common. I think I picked my copy up at a used game store near me for under $10, which is the going rate for a loose cart right now.

The reason for the discrepancy in my difficulty ratings for this game was that I learned something most helpful about this game just prior to the final secret mission. I looked online but didn’t see this fact documented anywhere. So, here’s a red-hot tip for this game. If you have not yet destroyed the primary target in a mission, you can land back home and refresh your stealth fighter as many times you want while remaining in the mission. Before that, I was planning a single route around the level map that netted me the most points while also managing my initial ammo and fuel. The final mission would have been a real pain without learning this trick. It’s kind of a miracle that I managed to get as far as I did. I was all set to rate this game a 9/10, but I think I’ve had enough of them this year! It is a difficult game to get into and any kind of loss or missing a medal costs you a lot of time. That to me justifies 7/10.

Be decorated with medals and accolades.

I played through most of the game on Veteran difficulty. While a harder difficulty, I didn’t find it that much more challenging than the easier difficulty levels, at least once I learned the ins and outs of gameplay. Getting triple points was quite lucrative for only a modest increase in difficulty. Ace difficulty on the other hand is ridiculous. My technique for decoying missiles is to wait until it appears on the radar before deploying a decoy. Unless you are flying directly at the missile, that should be enough to keep it from hitting you. On Ace difficulty, I needed two or even three decoys per missile to keep from getting hit. Enemies are more aggressive and appear more frequently, and it takes fewer hits to knock you out of the sky. While I’m sure these things all increase with the difficulty, it became far too overwhelming for me to stick with Ace difficulty. I completed one mission on Ace just to see if I could do it, and it was not worth it at all. I could only knock out one or two ground targets of any kind before needing to return to base. I repeated that several times just to clear one mission. Even with that strategy, it still took a few attempts to get it right. In my video, I played only the final mission on Veteran difficulty. I returned to base a few times just to ensure I could earn enough points safely. I set it up so that I would get both the final medal and final promotion at the same time, thereby meeting every possible goal of the game to cap it off.

F-117A is an alright game, but not one I’m planning on returning to. The graphics are serviceable, as in not too exciting but not bad. There’s very little music to speak of and what’s there isn’t very good. I found the controls to be stiff. This game suffers from some moderate to severe frame rate issues. I get that there is a lot to cover all at once, and I imagine the game performs many calculations to handle the flight angles and missile trajectories and all that. When the frame rate drops, the controls become less responsive. As a result, there’s a lot of wiggling back and forth to stabilize your fighter so that you can move in a precise direction when you need it. My other issues are just minor gripes. The Select button is an odd choice as a confirmation button instead of using A like many games do. The password system has some annoying quirks to it and it’s annoying when passwords don’t work right away. While rough around the edges, I could see this providing some fun with the freedom to play the way you want to among all the missions. I just hoped for more polish out of an NES game from 1992.

#101 – F-117A Stealth Fighter

#101 – F-117A Stealth Fighter


#75 – Laser Invasion

Ward off the invasion in several different ways!

It’s not every day you see a white title screen on NES.

To Beat: Reach the ending
Played: 2/24/18 – 2/28/18
Difficulty: 8/10
My Difficulty: 8/10
My Video: Laser Invasion Longplay

I been plugging away at Take On The NES Library for over two years now, and I only have a little over 10% of the library completed. That is still a significant number of games with a wide variety of titles since I insist of having the bulk of these games chosen randomly. Laser Invasion at its core is a multi-genre game, but it just so happens that I’ve already beaten and written about enough games to make some comparisons and approximate what you get out of this game. Laser Invasion is part Top Gun, part Operation Wolf, and part Golgo 13. It’s even one of the few titles to support the Zapper. Let’s jump in and see what this game is all about.

The Famicom game Gun Sight was released in Japan in March 1991. The NES version was localized to Laser Invasion and was released in June 1991 in North America. It was developed and published by Konami in both regions. Laser Invasion was not released in PAL territories and is an exclusive game to the NES and Famicom. The name change for the NES version was likely done to tie this game to Konami’s Laserscope peripheral that launched at the same time.

I had no idea before starting this game that Laser Invasion is the only NES game to fully support the Laserscope peripheral. The Laserscope is a headset controller that functions like the NES Zapper. You start by plugging the Laserscope into the second controller port, and then you plug the attached audio cable into the audio port on the NES itself. The headset has speakers so that you can hear the game audio while wearing it, and the audio cable also powers the Laserscope so you don’t need batteries. It also comes equipped with a microphone. While playing a game, you use the attached sight to line up a target and then yell “Fire!” into the microphone to shoot. Basically, this is a set of headphones with a built-in voice-activated Zapper. It sounds neat, but in practice it doesn’t work too well. The Laserscope fires whenever the microphone picks up any sound so it can misfire often. I bet it has the speaker built in so that the game audio through the TV doesn’t accidentally trigger a misfire. This is just hearsay; I don’t own a Laserscope. Thankfully it is not required to play this game.

See the mission you are forced to accept.

Laser Invasion is a multiple-genre shooter game. The Sheik Toxic Moron (yes, that’s that bad guy’s name taken straight from the manual) is set on world domination with his all-powerful weapon the TechnoScorch Missile. It is up to you, of course, to infiltrate the Sand Storm Command Center and stop these events from happening. To do this, you must take to the skies in air combat as well as engage in gun fights on the ground and search enemy bases to advance your mission. Complete all four missions to beat Laser Invasion.

On the title screen, you can start the game right away or set some options. Press Select to choose and then press Start. Within the option menu, you can turn the music off and on. You can either enable or disable reverse controls for your aircraft. You can also choose the input method. Control Pad is for using the controller only, LaserScope is for using both the LaserScope and controller, and Zapper is for the Zapper and controller. You can also choose if you want to have three, four, or five lives. There is also an option for LaserScope practice. I never tried this, but I think it is a calibration screen for positioning your LaserScope properly. Use the D-pad to toggle all these options to your liking, then press Start to go back to the title screen.

Laser Invasion has three different genres of gameplay, and since all of them are included in the first mission alone, I’ll step you through what that first mission is like. All missions begin with a cutscene providing you with the mission briefing. Then you will go flying in your helijet aircraft, but first you need to choose which missiles you want and which secondary item you want. For missiles, you can choose from either 40 weaker missiles, 20 medium missiles, or 10 strong missiles. The stronger missiles have wider targeting ranges than the weaker ones. For secondary weapons, you can choose one tank of extra fuel, five ground bombs for destroying ground targets, or ten chaff dispenses to temporarily protect you from enemy homing missiles. After everything is set, it’s time for takeoff.

The Top Gun vibe is strong here.

Aerial combat in the helijet is just like it is in Top Gun. This mode is always controller only. Use the D-pad to steer the helijet. Up or Down may be reversed if you chose that option. The B button fires your weapons. Your default is a vulcan cannon with unlimited, although weak, firepower. Hold down B to fire. If you get an enemy in your sights, there will be an arrow pointing at it. Then you can double tap the B button to launch one of your guided missiles at the enemy. You may press Select to toggle between your missiles and your secondary item, and you use your secondary item by also double tapping B. The A button reduces your speed. The default is automatic full speed ahead and the A button acts like your brakes.

The top half of this screen contains all the action and the lower half is your control panel with lots of useful information. On the left is your fuel meter. In the middle there are two kinds of radar. The left one is wide radar that covers the entire playfield and shows points of interest as well as the position and orientation of your helijet. The right radar is local radar which shows where enemies are around you, including from behind and the sides. Below the radar is a long bar that indicates the health of your helijet. The right side shows your missiles, secondary items, ammo for each, and your current flying speed.

As you fly, you are approached by enemy aircraft that you can take out with your weapons. Many enemies fire guided missiles that you need to either dodge or blow up with your own shots. There are also stationary objects that you just dodge. You can also steer left or right and fly in any direction. Each flying area is its own contained open world and you can fly anywhere within the radar screen. On the wide radar, you will see a white circle in the upper left of the first mission. These mark enemy bases and you want to visit them to complete your mission. There is a plus mark around the middle of the map and this is your allied heliport, where you can refill your fuel and weapons if you want.

Hope you like missiles in your boss fights!

In the first mission, when you approach the enemy base you are greeted with an enemy helicopter. This is one of several challenging boss battles. The parts you can shoot are highlighted by the targeting arrow, so you can either use missiles or your cannon on those spots while also avoiding or shooting the enemy’s missiles. Destroy the enemy helicopter to move on to the next part. In this case, you go right back to flying. You want to center yourself over the enemy base and land there. If you fly over a place where you can land, and all enemies are out of the way, you will approach the heliport. Here you want to slam on the brakes and stop above the heliport to switch to the landing sequence. The view switches to looking down over the helipad. Use the D-pad to center yourself and press and hold A to ascend if you need it. You want to land close to the large plus in the center of the helipad, but cross winds don’t always make that easy. Just take your time. It doesn’t matter how fast you are falling because you can’t crash. If you make a poor landing, you get sent back to the skies and you have to try docking with the heliport again. When you land properly, you exit the helijet and move on to the next phase.

Now that you’ve landed, you hop out of the cockpit and get your gun ready. This next playstyle puts you in first person view and you shoot your way on foot to the enemy base. This part of the game is very similar to Operation Wolf. The playfield scrolls slowly to the right and as enemies pop up you shoot them with the controller you chose on the options screen. If you are playing with a controller only, you control a crosshair and can fire with the B button. With either the LaserScope or the Zapper, just aim and shoot. You will see your health meter, ammo count, and any items from the bases on the lower part of the screen. Aside from the different kinds of enemies, there are a few items to help. Crates appear periodically and you can shoot them to reveal either a heart or more ammo. Then shoot the icon to collect it. Hearts refill your entire health meter, and the ammo puts you back at the max of 99 shots. I found out that ammo drops always appear when you have 15 bullets or fewer. You are never in danger of running out of bullets unless you somehow skip the refill. There are also red barrels that destroy all enemies when shot. At the end of this section, you reach the enemy base. The door opens and you automatically enter.

Just blast away!

The enemy base is where the third gameplay style takes place. This is what the manual refers to as the 3-D Confusion Maze. If you remember the mazes from Golgo 13, this is what I’d consider an improved version of them. Press Up on the D-pad to take a step forward, or press Left or Right to turn in that direction. Press A to open doors right in front of you. The top half of the screen shows the corridors in the base from a first-person perspective. The lower left of the screen contains a mini map of the entire base. Each base segment is uncovered on the map as you step from screen to screen. That’s an incredibly helpful feature. The lower right of the screen displays your health, ammo count, items collected, and any messages you might come across.

Occasionally the music changes when you reach certain rooms, which is the trigger for an enemy encounter. Battles are gunfights also using the LaserScope, Zapper, or standard controller, just like in the Operation Wolf style segments. The Zapper is quite cumbersome to use since you have to drop the controller and pick up the gun quickly to transition from exploration to gunfight. Like in the other sections, there are items found in the maze to help you. Some rooms have a crate in them and all you have to do it move next to it to grab the item. You can find more ammo for your gun or rations to restore your health. There are also special quest items such as keys. One difference with maze combat is that you can get in situations where you run out of ammo. If that happens, mash the A button to retreat to the room you came from. Enemy encounters always appear in the same places and the enemies are gone when you clear them out. There is enough ammo within the base to get you through. I never got stuck in a spot where I couldn’t locate extra ammo to proceed.

At one juncture of the maze in the first mission, a time bomb is set and you have to hurry out of the maze. You can’t go back the way you came in, so you have to find a new way. Once you do, you go back into the helijet and take off as the base explodes beneath you. This marks the end of the first mission. But in other missions, sometimes this puts you back in the sky because there are other mission objectives to finish. This means the pacing of the game is a bit inconsistent. The first mission seems lengthy enough, but it is short compared to some of the later missions.

The minimap makes these sections much more enjoyable.

Depending on your option setting, you have either three, four, or five lives to work with in Laser Invasion. If you run out of lives, you can continue up to five times. Where you restart largely depends on where you last died. Continuing within a base is the worst from what I recall since it sends you all the way back to the helijet before even approaching the base. Then it takes several minutes to get back to where you were. You can gain extra lives to help a bit, but these are tough to earn. Laser Invasion has a scoring system and points appear on screen before each mission or after you take a death. Every 100,000 points earns you an extra life, but it takes so long to score that high that you may never get one. I think the highest I scored was 150,000 points.

This was my first time playing Laser Invasion. This is a game I originally took off my main list and pulled back in here. I don’t like flight games and my first impression was that was all Laser Invasion had to offer. I did decide to leave Top Gun in my main list for some reason, and I figured if I could beat that then I could figure out Laser Invasion. I didn’t realize it was also a Zapper game plus had all these other play modes, so consider me pleasantly surprised. It’s not a common game, but it’s not super expensive, selling for around $10 to $15 for a loose cart.

I beat Laser Invasion in only five days. That surprised me. I decided early on that I would play this with the Zapper since I don’t own a LaserScope. There are only 16 licensed NES games that are compatible with the Zapper and it feels wrong to not use it. I did a few attempts with the controller just for practice. I think the controller by itself is the easiest way to play Laser Invasion. Zapper play was a bit more challenging, and I bet the LaserScope works well since you don’t have to keep switching between controller and Zapper on the fly. However, the parts with the Zapper were much easier for me than the flying. The same homing missiles that bogged me down in Top Gun are here again, but they are not as bad this time because they are larger in size and thus easier to shoot down. The boss battles and areas leading up to them ate up the most lives during the learning phase of the game.

I’m happy that landing isn’t that stressful.

Once I got some practice near the end of the game, I fully switched over to Zapper control and the three default lives. I was very close to beating the game on my penultimate attempt, reaching the final boss for the first time on my last life and then immediately dying. In my longplay video, I used two continues to beat the game. I was used to using up all five, so this was a good run. This was my first time recording footage of a Zapper game off my CRT and I think it turned out well.

I have a few tips to share for Laser Invasion. There are three options for the secondary item and the one you want is the extra fuel. The ground bombs were completely useless to me. The chaff can be helpful since it takes homing missiles out of play when you use it, but for the rest of the game you learn to deal with them anyway. The extra fuel is the most important because a couple sections in the game are so long they require the extra fuel to make it all the way through without dying. This is an awful design decision that you normally have to learn the hard way. Outside of those sections, the extra fuel is a good safeguard if you are having trouble lining up on the map to land at a base and need some extra time. I liked using the twenty medium missiles. They are powerful enough to be useful against bosses and there are enough of them that you can get away with wasting a few. To stop above the heliport, all you have to do is hold down A as soon as you begin making the approach. This should stop you early enough so that you can do a release and hold pattern with the A button to inch your way into position. Those tips should get you started with the flying, and the rest of the game falls into place from there.

Laser Invasion is a game that surprised me and I’m glad I played it. It’s a Konami game and they almost always make quality games, including this one. The graphics are excellent and so is the music. The game controls well with the controller, and performs well enough with the Zapper. I found the shooting hitboxes pretty generous to help keep up with the action. It’s a tough task to cover multiple play styles. I think the quality is there, but the pacing and difficulty are unbalanced. The Zapper stages are easy compared to the rest, and yet they drag on much longer than I would like. You can traverse mazes quickly until you get blocked by a lengthy shooting match. The flying is so much more difficult than the rest of the game with things like one-hit kills and boss fights. Trying to trigger a heliport can also be frustrating when enemies just don’t get out of the way. These are valid complaints that hamper the overall experience, but Laser Invasion is still a pretty neat game.

#75 – Laser Invasion