How do you follow up a classic game like R-Type? In the case of Irem the answer was Image Fight. Image Fight appeared in the arcades a year after the seminal shoot ‘em up and seems to be largely forgotten. Where R-Type was converted to a myriad of computers and consoles, Image Fight was only converted to four. And three of them never saw a release outside of
All four renditions of Image Fight were released in 1990. The NES conversion was the only one that appeared outside
and is easily the weakest of
the quartet. Obviously it can't match the graphics or sound of the more powerful machines and the sprites are way too small. The PC Engine went the other way, and though the graphics are better, the sprites feel too big. From what I can tell Image Fight on the Fujitsu FM Towns and Sharp X68000 version look and sound more or less the same. I won’t be
featuring the Fujitsu FM Towns on my blog so it's the X68000 iteration that gets the nod. Japan
Once again, Earth is under threat from an evil alien race and once again only a lone spaceship can save it. This time it’s aliens from the Boondoggle Galaxy who are next in line to invade. Opposing them is an unnamed pilot in an OF-1 Starfighter.
The game is played over 8 vertically scrolling stages each ending with a boss fight. According to the NES manual the first five stages take place in a simulator and the final three are “real combat stages”.
Your main weapon is rather weedy laser (accompanied by an equally weedy sound effect).
Occasional power-ups are dropped by the enemy. The first ones to be seen are the pods. Up to three pods can be collected – two hover alongside your ship and one behind. Before they are picked up the pods alternate in colour between blue and red. The blue pod fires forward and supplements your standard weaponry. The red pod can be aimed by moving your ship in the opposite direction you want it to fire – move left and it fires right, move back and it fires forward etc. The side pods themselves can also be launched forward to damage the enemy (much like the Force in R-Type) before returning to their original position. If you have three already installed, picking up any subsequent pods of either colour changes them all to that colour.
The second type of power-up fixes to the front of your ship to replace the standard laser. There a number of different attachments each providing a different weapon type. These power-ups also act as a weak shield and are lost after one hit. These attachments can't be dropped so occasionally it is necessary to take a hit to pick up weapons more suited to the current stage. Lose a life and all power-ups are lost.
The OF-1 also has a choice of four speed levels. Changing speed causes a large blue flame to appear behind your ship which can alternatively be used to damage or destroy enemies directly behind you.
One has to wonder why Image Fight did not get the acclaim it deserved. It may not be as innovative as its predecessor but it is certainly a lot better than many of its contemporaries. Although the sound and music are nothing special, the graphics are good. There is a wide variety of enemies and it offers up a tough challenge. This is yet another game I have never played before but one to which I will certainly return.
|The obligatory (for this period) sprite snakes.|