Forgotten Worlds is one of Capcom’s “forgotten” arcade classics
Forgotten Worlds is one of the many twin-stick shooters that flooded the arcades in the 80s. Instead of being an elite commando fighting a vaguely evil army, players were an unnamed mercenary with a jetpack fighting gruesome aliens after they conquered Earth. Forgotten Worlds also manages to throw in some minor-RPG elements, making it more unique than other shooters at the time.
The game was released in arcades in 1989 and is the third and final in Capcom’s unofficial “Jet-Pack Hero trilogy.” Capcom released a few scrolling shooters starring jetpack-and-gun wielding characters in space. Section Z and Side Arms are two other games in this pseudo-series.
Forgotten Worlds is one of the earliest Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games. The colors, animation and sound were something that certainly aligned with the infamous “Genesis Does What Nintendon’t” ads.
Despite cameos from the characters in crossover games such as Project X Zone and the first Marvel vs Capcom, Forgotten Worlds is very much a forgotten game. It’s not like the game wasn’t a hit, but it just wasn’t a massive one. It’s been re-released a few times on collections, but it’s not brought up when talking about the best shmups of the 80s and 90s.
Forgotten Worlds takes place in a post-apocalyptic alien world with plenty of things to shoot
In the 29th century, the evil alien dictator, Emperor Bios, has unleased total destruction on Earth. It is up to two mirror-shade wearing, armor-clad Unknown Soldiers (which is their official names according to Marvel vs Capcom) to eliminate the Emperor and bring peace back to the planet. It’s not the most original of stories, but it works. Although, it is one of the few arcade games from the 80s to have cut scenes in-between stages.
Utilizing two joysticks, players will use one to take aim against the aliens and the other to dodge their attacks. Forgotten Worlds throws more than a few enemies at the players, so taking aim and dodging requires a lot of precise movements. Thankfully, the controls are tight and responsive. It’s a great system that is not only a blast to play, but actually rewards players for playing strategically. As opposed to the typical “mash the shoot button and see what happens” in most shooters.
The stages themselves are usually straightforward, but have a personality to them. The Unknown Soldiers will be traversing through ruined cities, massive sandy, wastelands that bring Fist of the North Star to mind and technological nightmares. Capcom’s CP2 hardware is incredibly powerful and produces some nice-looking graphics. Arcade goers can wow at the vivid images being shot at on-screen and the overall use of colors creates the atmosphere of Forgotten Worlds.
Where the somewhat-RPG elements come in are with the money, or “Zenny,” enemies drop after being defeated. Zenny can be used at shops. The shops, quite literally, pop out of the ground. From there, the adorable shopkeeper Sylphie will greet our heroes. Players can purchase, armor, health and weapon upgrades, lives and much more. The enemy-seeking missiles are definitely one of the most helpful power-ups in the game.
One of Gaming’s Undervalued Treasures
Forgotten Worlds does not deserve to be, well, forgotten. The game truly is one of the great, if not one of the greatest, shmups to be released in the arcades. It stands toe-to-toe with classic like Gradius and R-Type. It even holds its own against arguably the kind of twin-stick shooters, Smash TV. The polished gameplay, great level design and aesthetics and creative gameplay elements make Forgotten Worlds absolutely worth playing once.
While emulating the game on MAME is ideal for an arcade-rich experience, the Sega Genesis version is a tad expensive and is available on the Wii Virtual Console.