Retro Rated – Metal Clash

Factfile
Developed by: Akira Sakuma
Published by: Data East Corp
Released: 1985
Format played: Arcade

Ruminations

It’s a day that starts like any other, but one that will end like none before. The sunlight fades, but this is no natural occurrence, the moon yet to make its nocturnal journey. A frisson charges the air as the first of the mechanical leviathons comes into view, the cause of the unnatural eclipse now evident to all. Slowly the skies fill with clanging machines of death as panic fills the streets. Only one man can save them. It is a burden you accept without hesitation, without fear, as you run towards your own avatar of destruction. Taking to the air, you swoop across the city as one by one the citizens look up, not quite believing their eyes, a lone voice capturing the zeitgeist as he calls out…

‘…what the hell is that piece of crap?’

Metal Clash. The name evokes images of something out of Pacific Rim, Matrix Revolutions Zion battle or perhaps even Transformers. Sadly the closest this thing gets to evoking Transformers would be if instead of investing millions in CGI, Michael Bay used a camcorder to film a couple of kids playing with their toys.

Data East were one of the most prolific of the early arcade publishers. The Japanese firm were behind the names of some of our own favourites from this site, including DragonNinja and Robocop, as well as dozens of other titles. Sadly through this fails to hit the lofty heights of some of their other output.

Things don’t get off to the best of starts and thereafter it’s a steady stream of mediocrity. With sirens blaring our hero sprints across a landing pad to take residence in his mighty beast, his dinky little stature once again a callback to Transformers but this time reminiscent of the Headmasters range, your man playing the part of the little guy who sits in the head, controlling the bigger machine. And that’s certainly the impression you are given but when the ‘action’ starts, it is rather more underwhelming. Far from a hulking beast, out robot is more akin to a Buzz Lightyear toy, only with far more flexibility. In a moveset that would make Roman Reigns envious, your robot can fly about a bit, perform a weird looking kick or a superman punch. Yep, that’s it. And so you buzz around a looping screen area, bashing up random bad guys. There is no progression through the level, no overall target to reach. Instead enemies just keep spawning until an end of level boss character arrives on the scene to be bested.

Rank and file enemies take just a single hit whilst other variants are able to cover themselves like mechanical snails or are otherwise able to withstand a couple of blows from your devastating arsenal. Boss characters of course take a whole lot more effort and come equipped with additional weaponry. At least though a well timed whack can loose these weapons from their grasp, allowing you to take control and give them what for, at least until you take a hit and, for some inexplicable reason, instantly drop whatever projectile you were holding.

Random ships flying past allow you to collect energy boosts whilst rescuing little guys out for a stroll who have been caught up in the violence awards extra points. Otherwise, this is a relentless slog of the same thing over and over, saved only by the sheer ludicrousness of the whole concept. I’ve no idea how many levels there are but I managed 3 before losing all my lives and with no continue option was mercifully spared from playing any more of it.

Metal Clash? Metal Trash more like, which is exactly where you should stick this if you ever stumble across a copy.

2/10

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