By Sean Harris

As a company who appeared on the arcade scene with a primitive shooter (1984’s VULGUS), you have to give Capcom credit for ongoing persistence. Releasing a string of similar entries with graphical updates and game mechanic tweaks for the next decade, they continued to refine their formula and build the modern template for action packed side-scrolling blast ’em ups. FORGOTTEN WORLDS was an attempt to combine the everything-coming-at-you chaos that was present in their 1942 dog fighting series, with the lone hero character with extraordinary weaponary of SIDEARMS and SECTION-Z. Doubling this was 2 player cooperative play, a feature that was gaining massive popularity with the public since the onset and meteoric rise of DOUBLE DRAGON.

Early on, you have only your issued rifle.

Set in an unknown distant year, you take the role of either a blond haired Dolph Lungdren-looking mercernary, or a mohawked and sunglassed Mr-T clone, both equipped with main assault weapons and, after your first shop visit, a secondary rotating “satellite” (more on this in a bit). Against the backdrop of a war devastated and ruined Earth, you gracefully float your way in zero G through nine stages, both vertically and horizontally, taking out legions of aliens that swarm out of the atmosphere to ensure your quick demise. You must ultimately penetrate a great capital tower, where a ruling creature named BIOS controls his empire of hostile world invaders, and destroy him for peace to return to your home planet.

Collect "zenny's" (blue coins) that fall from vanquished foes, and use them to buy upgrades.

The game follows the standard blueprint of long sprawling stages that scroll right towards an enemy boss encounter. Destroying the many basic reptilian adversaries and their futuristic tech along the way will scatter coins (called Zenny’s) throughout the screen, which you can collect to use for upgrading your weapons at select stores that appear in each level. Your primary gun is able to be boosted two additional times, and your satellite, a detached module that can spin around you in unison or independently, can switch between more and more powerful super weapons (it gets costly, of course, so try to find many hidden “large” coins or little surprise icons for giant lumps of cash). You’ll also be able to purchase additional segments to your life meter, healing kits, resurrection potions, speed-increase flying stones, and a few other things like protective armor, which can absorb a few shells before being blown off your torso.

Each stage has a shop that you can pit stop in for weapons and supplies.

In a cooperative game, the players can generate an energy field by closing in together, which will temporarily increase their respective damage ratios (so long as you stay connected). This proves a challenge, since FORGOTTEN WORLDS throws everything and the kitchen sink at you from all directions. Designed as a finger blistering quarter muncher, you’ll be hard pressed to make it through the endless waves of projectiles, mech, and cold blooded xenomorphs without taking more than just a few scratches. As stated above, you can buy resurrection potions in the bazaar, which exponentially increase in price each purchase, or just throw another twenty-five cents into the coin slot and press the START button to add another one automatically to your inventory.

Train your arsenal on the eyeball segment just behind the worm's head.

With that said, good luck getting to the conclusion without dropping a few dollars. That’s really my only complaint: FORGOTTEN WORLDS is insanely difficult, and unless you’re some kind of prodigy, no amount of skill is going to carry you through unscathed. This is a fault with all of these types of games, however, and a trend that would increase to almost every single arcade machine on the floor in ensuing years. The days of complete mastery and hours of remaining alive on a single quarter or until a THE END screen disappeared as programmers came up with full proof ways to keep the tokens coming in abundance.

Presentation wise, though, it’s a knock-out. Since it was the same year that their stunning GHOULS ‘N GHOSTS would also hit, the graphics were on the high quality end of the spectrum (this also marked the first time Capcom tried out the hardware for their enhanced CPS-1 board). The artists put some real detail into the post nuclear scenics, right down to minute background details. Collapsed cities, flooded harbors, rebuilt alien architecture (the Egyptian sequences are particularly impressive, with painted hieroglyphics and burning urns adorning the massive walls) all scrolling in parallax and concluding with a tense (and often large) evil beast. The soundtrack is also of special note–a catchy, otherworldly techno mixed with accents of european instrumentation. Impressive audio effects of explosions, gunfire, lasers, and other byproducts of warfare compete for dominating the speaker channels.

Don’t pass up a chance to enjoy this hidden gem. By yourself or with a friend, FORGOTTEN WORLDS is the video game equivalent of a blockbuster sci-fi movie, with plenty of visual wizardry and engaging trigger-happy bang for the bucks.