Thursday, September 13, 2012

Game of the Day - Iron Horse

Not to be confused with baseball's Iron Horse (Lou Gehrig), Iron Horse is an early platform-scrolling-fighter game with a western theme.  You can channel your inner Jesse James while fighting bad guys on a train with some simple but fun play mechanics.

Along with the joystick you have three buttons.  They are attack, use special power, and crouch.  The special power comes into play upon collection of a power-up (the first one looks like a glowing lantern).  And sure enough, when you use it, it throws down some cascading fire at the feet of your enemies (dance!).  There are other special powers you can collect and you will always know when you are imbued with a power because you will flash continuously.

When you start Iron Horse, you choose your weapon (fists, whip, gun) and they are all used effectively in slightly different ways.  I like the punch (it's just more satisfying).  Anyway, once you choose your weapon, you are off to the fight - and it's on a train.  The whole game takes place on a moving train.  You can run back and forth and move up and down into the nooks and crannies of the sections of the train.  In fact, when you move "up", you can hide behind walls and other obstacles and you are facing "out" - that is, facing the screen.  Then, when unsuspecting guys run by, you can clock them easily from your hidden spot.  This added dimension gives the game more depth than just being able to attack left or right.

There are timers for each stage, and the end of each stage has you facing a tougher battle.  But really, the whole time there are enemies coming from left, right, up and down constantly.  "Up" in this particular case is both the sky as well as the top level of the train - and yes, you can use ladders to climb and bring the fight to the roof of the train. All this adds up to the fact that most of the time playing IH, you will be moving constantly and fighting for your life breathlessly.

The graphics are fun, cartoony and simple, but work very well with the western theme.

If you get to the end, you get to rescue the damsel and jump onto your white horse - who wouldn't want to do that?

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