Ikari Warriors series

Ikari Warriors series

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Back in the mid-80’s, democracy wasn’t preserved by diplomacy, financial aid, or even the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. No sir, back then all it took was one well-armed soldier with a chip on his shoulder, a headband, and preferably, no shirt. Ikari Warriors gave us two—conveniently color-coded in red and blue.

One of the most popular action games of its time, Ikari Warriors was a vertically-scrolling mission deep into hostile territory. Initially packing machine guns, the Red and Blue warriors slogged through wave after wave of enemy soldiers. Too macho for a stealth mission, these gung-ho guerrillas wanted the enemy to know they were coming (more guts, more glory). One button fired bullets, another launched grenades, but both had to be resupplied every once in a while. Power-up weapons were also available, including even a controllable tank (a la 1982’s FrontLine).

Enemies came in all types—soldiers, tanks, pillboxes, etc.—but they also came from every direction. To keep cool in the crossfire, Ikari Warriors gave players a rotary control on each joystick. With a twist on the joystick’s top, your warrior’s torso spun around, ready to fire behind him while still running forward (kids, don't try this at home).

Heavy on the action, Ikari Warriors became a favorite both in the arcades and on home consoles. To fuel that frenzy, SNK and Tradewest teamed up again for a sequel, Victory Road, released later that same year. This time, the Ikari Warriors took on more cosmic foes, battling rock-headed beasts, one-eyed green men and other odd creatures. Gameplay remained exactly the same, but the power-ups had changed along with the enemies.

In the time between Ikari Warriors’ second and third installments, the Double Dragon phenomenon had taken over the arcade. Always willing to adapt to the times, our musclebound warriors changed their fighting style for 1989’s Ikari III: The Rescue. Redesigned as a scrolling fighter, players now took out the enemy with punches, kicks, and any weapons they happened to wrench from the hands of a fallen foe (knives, grenades, machine guns, etc.)

A jump button was added as another nod to the Double Dragon craze, but Ikari III was no simple clone. The view was still from overhead, and the rotary joystick control was retained. Red and Blue could punch, kick, stab and fire in any direction, regardless of which way they were walking, giving them an edge on little Billy and Jimmy Lee from the Double Dragon series.

The look and the style may have changed, but two things remained the same from Ikari Warriors to Ikari III: our heroes, Red and Blue, still taking on entire platoons single-handedly, still shirtless after all these years…

Arcade Machine Release History

1986 - Ikari Warriors
1986 - Victory Road
1989 - Ikari III: The Rescue

Arcade Game Sub Categories


Machine Manufacturer

SNK, Tradewest

Other Arcade Game Links