By Sean Harris

Following up on the success of their 1985 side-scrolling hit GHOSTS ‘N GOBLINS, soon to-be-powerhouse Capcom corporation upped the graphics chip of their arcade hardware and bestowed a similarly themed knight-on-quest affair to the local coin-op houses. Infused with a strange sci-fi motif (giving the game a sort of cyberpunk vibe), TROJAN told the tale of a hero making his way to the stronghold of an oppressive tyrant to fight and end his reign over the good people of the enslaved future world.

Grab the flying heart to replenish lost health.

Over six stages, the player moves either left to right (or top to bottom) through various areas that comprise the post apocalyptic landscape. The opening level sets the mood as you traverse through a ruined metropolis, battling an onslaught of foot soldiers wielding maces and masked men throwing knives and magic energy orbs. To attack, you can strike back with your sword, or simply choose to defend yourself with your shield. But beware the magic orbs; they will knock your weapons from your grip, and you’ll be forced to fight with your fists and feet until you happen upon a new set.

Blocking Armadillon's roll will cost you your sword and shield. Pick them back up!

Like all platformers that would follow in its wake, TROJAN utilizes the familiar formula of fighting to the end of each phase and squaring off with a larger boss character to gain access to the next scenario. It is also one of a handful of games to first begin using the player and enemy “health bar”–namely a red segmented meter at the top of the screen that keeps track of the damage sustained to either you or your adversary. Boss encounters range from brute giants adorned with clawed iron gauntlets, a speedy goblin who jumps the length of the screen tossing throwing stars, a half armadillo man who rolls into a ball and runs you down, twin hatchet brothers, armor-clad warriors, and the king of evil himself: the overlord Achilles, who greets you at his throne for a showdown of quick and dirty swordplay.

Use the open signs to get through the closed hatches.

At the time, TROJAN was one of the best looking games on the market. Capcom’s attention to character shading and sprite movement, coupled with the detailed parallax scrolling background plates, made for impressive eye candy that helped move the medium forward from the simple and blockier bit mapping of the early 1980’s. The game also integrated a more impressive midi-synthesizer for its score than previously used for their other arcade titles, and a great deal of voice sampling for groans and character deaths. More importantly than its visual and audio execution, however, was its fun factor, and it still holds up to this day as a solid hack and slasher. You’ll be quite challenged, as well, since the game totes quite a difficulty curve on the last few stages.

Challenge your nemesis on the final stage.

While it didn’t see as much notoriety as the quarter munching GHOSTS ‘N GOBLINS before it, TROJAN is a sleeper classic that shouldn’t be missed by retro-platforming fans. Visually, it still looks pretty good, too, and holds a place in history as an advancing point in arcade computer graphics. It can be readily played today via the M.A.M.E emulator.