This title is exclusive to PC and was reviewed as such.
Don’t you sometimes wish that some of the games you played as a kid, on your Atari, or Commodore 64, or whatever you had your hands on, could be available to you today? Or at least, something very similar to the original so you get that dose of nostalgia? Well, Heavy Memories did that for me, at least for one particular game from my childhood; Battle City for Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
Heavy Memories is a top-down, arcade shooter where you collect power-ups, destroy things, and kill people in an 8-bit inspired art style. The game is easy to pick up and master and is very minimalist in its gameplay and mechanics. Move using the directional keys and shoot with the WQSD – unless your keyboard is AZERTY instead of QWERTY and you have to twist your fingers to play, because there is no keybinding. The retro music and sounds are exactly what you expect, and it certainly brings back memories of older classics.
The game offers a 10-mission story that follows the haunting memories of a soldier reliving events of his past military service and the horrors of war he had witnessed. Before each level, a sequence of pictures and text plays out. It always starts the same, with the patient screaming. Then, the doctors inject him with a new drug to put him back to back to sleep, but not before context is given for the next nightmare. The story is very basic and does its job to set up the next scene. It is mostly a highlight on the terror that war brings to both the victims and the perpetrators alike. There is no attempt here to cover-up the dark theme and/or grim message it’s trying to convey.
Throughout the 10 missions, you’ll be asked to fulfill an objective to succeed. Be it to destroy an enemy base or exterminate all enemies on the map. The game made sure that each task was unique enough to keep it from being repetitive. In addition, new enemies are introduced with each level, from tanks, to soldiers with rocket-launchers, to soldiers throwing hand grenades whenever you approach, knocking the difficulty up a notch as you near the end. While not particularly hard, it can still be punishing if you don’t pay attention or underestimate the average AI.
In an attempt to increase the replayability, playing through the 10 missions will unlock a new tank to play with, up to four times; which means you’re looking at 40 missions in total. Sadly however, the story doesn’t change, so you’ll be repeating the same story four times in a row if you want to be a completionist and/or want to get everything you can get out of the game. Still, each tank is faster, stronger and better than the previous, but the early stages can be sluggish to trudge through, before reaching that sweet spot of frantic arcade fun. It’s a shame that there is no option to create your own maps (like in Battle City, a game from 1985…) or play those of other players; seems like a missed opportunity.
There are five different power-ups to collect by destroying enemy tanks or finding them around the map. One can give you an invincibility shield, another faster bullets, a third to increase your movement, or one to increase the damage you deal, or my favorite; a power-up that repairs one hit point if you are damaged or adds an extra HP if you are full. The latter is very useful to stack up if possible, to be able to take more hits before being destroyed. It’s also very useful in harder difficulties where dodging is seemingly impossible. Around the map there are also repair stations that you can drive over, that offer a one-time repair to refill your health bar if you’re running low.
If you ever played Battle City on NES, you’ll probably feel at home with this one. If you’re someone who did not have the chance to play this type of game, then this is a very simple game to pick up and have fun with. It’s quick to load up and quit, making it great to play if you want a quick time-waster, while waiting on someone or something. It has a low asking price of: 3,99€ (roughly, 6 NZD or 4,5 USD). Still, it’s a small game that doesn’t offer too much and probably not for those seeking deep gameplay/story/mechanics or a lot of content.