- Manufacturer: Capcom USA
- Machine: Nintendo Entertainment System
The scenario: 20,000 years from now, a computer named DARK controls all aspects of the planet, though it's somehow acquired a glitch and is making things hard for the planet's residents. Because the Earthlings have experienced a peaceful existence for so long, they can do nothing to stop the onslaught DARK has let loose. Thus starts Capcom's Legendary Wings, a multilevel shoot-'em-up filled with tough opposition.
To the rescue come two young men with the ability to fly, using artificial wings given to them by Ares, the God of War. They've taken flight with the last armaments Earth can give them, to take a shot at saving humanity. Five segments must be successfully traversed before the game is completed; but with all the fierce opposition you'll face, that's a tall order.
From start to finish, Legendary Wings keeps constant pressure on you from a variety of enemy characters. To go up against these adversaries, you have lasers and grenades on your side, but not all of these mutants are easily killed. Some require multiple hits before they are vanquished, especially the beasts that guard the end of each level.
The weapons you have can be strengthened with power-up capsules. Occasionally, one of these capsules will fly across the screen, and shooting it will release a "P". When you fly over the power-up, it will make your weaponry up to four times more powerful than normal. This is not likely to be a permanent effect: getting hit by an enemy or its missile will downgrade your weaponry. If you are at the lowest weapon strength and take a hit, you lose a life.
To make things more difficult, there's a monster called Giant Head, who slings out small whirlpools. The Giant Head can't be destroyed, and if you get caught in a whirlpool, you'll be sucked into the lower depths of the planet - termed the "minus stage" - and forced to face the worst creatures that DARK can muster.
Similarly, though, certain ground-based targets will release whirlpools that take you to a "bonus stage". This location is stocked with nothing but power-up capsules and treasures that provide large point totals. These are great places to raise your score and bring your weaponry up to peak performance for the long road ahead.
From an artistic standpoint, Legendary Wings is a beautiful piece of programming. The decorative backgrounds have the appearance of ancient Greece, and the character(s) you control are animated with flapping wings. To its credit - unlike other games of this genre - the colors are easy on the eyes.
Playing the game with two players is, sadly, not too exciting. There aren't enough power-ups to get both flyers up to snuff in firepower, something necessary to get by the really hard levels nearer the end of the game. Even in single-player mode, there is a fine line between success and failure: if you don't get all of your power-ups, you may not squeeze by some areas.
Legendary Wings is also plagued by animation slowdowns when there is a lot of activity on-screen, though it's much more of a hindrance when you are playing a two-player contest.
Just the same, I enjoyed playing Legendary Wings a lot. Aside from the discouraging effect that losing your weapons has - often it's easier to can the current effort and restart as soon as possible - it will keep urging you on to try again.