Videogames – Wings of Wor

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Videogame, Sega Genesis, 1991
A winged man and magic make this horizontal scrolling shooter an interesting departure from the norm, but it’s the strange varieties of creatures and the threats from all sides that make this game a killer shoot ’em up.
  • Difficulty Levels: Easy, Normal, Hard, Hyper
  • # of Lives: 3, 4, 5
  • # of Button Configurations: 10
  • Hold down “normal” shot button for continuous fire
  • Use “magic” shot for offensive and defensive spells
  • 7 power ups not including magic scrolls
  • Each of the first 5 rounds has 2 bosses
  • 6 rounds total
  • “Continue” places you at the beginning of the last round
This shooter has a multitude of surprises and hairy situations so begin with the safe options: Easy, 5 Lives and use button configuration 10 (B to shoot, C to turn on special effect). The story in the manual is short, weak and doesn’t jive well with the game itself but it’s a shooter so that matters not at all.
The box for this game has a beefy Boris Vallejo cover that is a mix of pulp fantasy and tech. The creature on the cover attacking Wor, our winged protagonist, is a flying, 3 nosed, sharp toothed worm with no wings or limbs but with metal tubes and mechanical eyes instead. Wor looks fearless with his blaster firing from his right hand and his left fist outstretched towards the grotesque creature as if some powerful effect is imminent. Box covers aren’t always a good representation of the game itself but this one is. Boris portrays well the unnatural amalgam of the enemy and the angelic strength of the hero.
He also foreshadows, unintentionally I’m sure, my difficulty switching between regular attacks and both offensive and defensive magic effects. On the cover, Wor may be able to prepare for a special attack at the same time as he carves holes in the enemy forces with his blaster, but not me – not yet anyway. That may explain having 10 different button configurations with game designers thinking at least 1 will work for each player.
The problem is that the “normal” shot button is held down for continuous fire and you must release or slide your thumb in order to press another button to use a special effect. You may say… so what? Well, it’s a shooter so the continuous flow of fire allows you to focus on movement, both dodging and positioning to destroy enemies. You must change your focus to thinking about which special effect you will use in addition to when, where and how you will use it.
Am I being overly dramatic? Yes, of course, but it’s one thing to lay off your fire in order to release a destroy-all bomb (as in many games) and reset yourself for the next wave than to seamlessly toggle from blaster shots and offensive and defensive special effects. I know that you can press more than one button with one thumb on the Genesis gamepad. I don’t use that technique much but maybe this game will inspire me to. It’s not that it’s a bad thing to learn a new, more complicated battle system. It’s just that it loses something as a shooter, at least until I get a handle on it. I have fewer zen moments that allow the game to come to me. Instead I’m calculating whether using special effects will actually do more harm than good by taking me out of my creature shredding zone.
That has led me to button configuration 10, which often uses the effects wastefully but takes the least from my flow of the game. One button press will turn the special effect on and then use it continuously until it’s gone rather than using the effects at will with a “magic” select button and separate “magic” shot button. It’s not as complicated as it sounds but complicated enough. So I suggest using configuration 10 until you get a feel for the game and then testing out other button assignments.
The creature art and environments in Wings of Wor are quite creative. A big part of the fun is seeing what’s around the next corner. As a result, sometimes the transitions are a little jarring like when a giant steampunk engine drops in front of you after fighting nothing remotely similar to that point. However, there are other moments in which the transitions are smooth and make almost perfect sense, in a weird way, like when you descend into the underwater world to fight creatures with wonderful methods of locomotion. The better you are at the game, the more creatures you get to experience and, of course, annihilate. That’s pretty good motivation.