Ikari Warriors

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Ikari Warriors
Ikari flyer.png
Arcade promotional poster for Ikari Warriors
Developer(s) SNK
Publisher(s) Tradewest: Leland Cook and Byron Cook
Designer(s) Keiko Iju
Platform(s) MSX2, Nintendo Entertainment System, Apple II, PC booter, Atari ST, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Amiga, Commodore 16, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum
Release date(s) March 1986
Genre(s) Run and gun
Mode(s) Up to two players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
CPU 3 x Z80-A running at 4MHz (2 co-processors, 1 sound processor)
Display Raster, Vertical orientation, standard resolution (216 x 288), 1024 Colors

Ikari Warriors is a vertically scrolling, shoot 'em up arcade game developed by SNK, and published in the North America and Europe by Tradewest in 1986.[1] Originally titled Ikari (?, "Fury") in Japan, Ikari Warriors was SNK's first major breakthrough US release and became something of a classic. The game was released at the time when there were many Commando clones on the market. What distinguished Ikari Warriors were rotary joysticks and a two-player mode.

The player characters in Ikari Warriors are Colonel Ralf and Second Lieutenant Clark of the later King of Fighters series (known outside Japan as Paul and Vince in the Ikari series) battling through hordes of enemies. According to designer Keiko Iju, the game was inspired by the popular Rambo films and takes its name from the Japanese title of Rambo: First Blood Part II (Rambo: Ikari no Dasshutsu or "The Furious Escape"). Ralf and Clark also make an appearance as playable characters in Metal Slug 6 and Metal Slug 7, as well as the King of Fighters series.


The player takes the role of commando-like warriors named Ralf and Clark, who must try to reach the village of Ikari. Enemy units attempting to kill the player include tanks, enemy soldiers and helicopters. A number of power-ups along the way help the player achieve victory.

Ikari Warriors was the first popular video game to use rotary joysticks: those which could be rotated in addition to being pushed in eight directions (TNK III, released in 1985, also from SNK, was the first to use such joysticks).[2][3][4][5] The game also featured two buttons, one for the standard gun and another for lobbing grenades. It allowed two players to play cooperatively, side-by-side — one of the few games to do so at the time — and to use vehicles. The game cabinet was a standard upright. Stan Szczepanski holds the official Guinness World Record with 1,799,000 points.[6]


The player begins as one of two commando-type warriors, garbed in red (Ralf) or blue (Clark). They must proceed from the bottom of the screen upwards, towards the village of Ikari. Trying to prevent them from reaching the village are enemy soldiers and other units. Along the way, players may commandeer enemy tanks to help fight their way through the enemy personnel. The tanks are immune to enemy bullets, but have a limited supply of fuel and will sustain damage when it runs out or the tank is caught in an explosion, taking the player with it unless he can exit the tank and get clear before it blows up.

Ikari Warriors was the first 'Commando' style game to give the player a limited amount of ammunition.[citation needed]

Turning the joystick changed the direction the character faced independent of the direction the character was moving, as controlled by pushing the joystick. This gave the player freedom to attack or walk in eight different directions. No shot is fired from directly in front of the player; the warrior uses the machine gun in his right hand, and throws grenades with his left. If a player takes too long moving up screen, the computer starts using "call for fire". A red spot appears below him. This is tracking fire to speed up the game.


Ikari Warriors printed circuit boards (PCBs) were manufactured in two different versions: SNK pinout and JAMMA pinout. Most SNK-pinout units were put into Ikari Warriors cabinets, while most JAMMA-pinout units were supplied as conversion kits. The SNK-pinout boards have a 22/44-pin edge connectors. The JAMMA-pinout PCBs have a 28/56-pin edge connectors. Both types consist of a stack of three boards, with interconnects.

Ikari used SNK's model LS-30 joysticks, which contain a 12-way rotary switch box. The joysticks are connected to the PCB via auxiliary wiring harnesses.

Regional differences[edit]

The game is known simply as Ikari in Japan and Ikari Warriors in the United States and Europe. In addition to changing the names of the main characters from Ralf and Clark to Paul and Vince, the military commander the player rescues at the end of the game is named General Kawasaki in the Japanese version (named after SNK's former president Eikichi Kawasaki) and Colonel Cook in the US/Euro version (named after Tradewest's founder Leland Cook). General Kawasaki's name was unchanged in the NES version. The enemies in the game were actually Neo-Nazis, as evident by the presence of a swastika at the middle of the final room.


Review scores
Publication Score
Computer and Video Games 37/40[10]
Crash 76%[8]
Sinclair User 7/10[9]
Your Sinclair 8/10[7]
The Games Machine 84%[11]

The PC version of the game was reviewed in 1989 in Dragon #142 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars.[12] The NES Version of the game is frequently noted for its rapid and steep learning curve.


This game spawned several similar games as well as several direct sequels. The game's sequels are:

SNK also released an Ikari Warriors clone in 1987 called Guerrilla War (known as Guevara in Japan). The game featured communist fighters Che Guevara and Fidel Castro as its heroes.


ZX Spectrum port screenshot

Ikari Warriors was ported to several home systems of the era including the Nintendo Entertainment System, PC, Apple II, Atari ST, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Amiga, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Many of these were released in 1986, the MSX port and conversions for 16-bit machines were released in 1987. The PC and Commodore 64 ports were developed by Quicksilver Software. In 1989, a second Commodore version was released in the UK by Elite Software. This port is generally considered superior to the US one. Because all these systems lacked rotary joysticks, however, some felt they were not as compelling as the arcade version. Both the Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 ports were released in 1990. The Atari ST and Amiga versions featured improved graphics and the latter also had improved sound effects. The NES version was developed by Micronics.

A lesser-known port of the game exists for the Sega Master System, distributed under the label of Time Soldiers. While theoretically a different game, the concept is identical: two time-traveling soldiers travel throughout various periods of human history and prehistoric times, rescuing their captured friends and allies. Though the game was developed by now-defunct publisher Alpha Denshi and distributed outside of Japan by Romstar (also now defunct), the game was originally published by SNK and is fundamentally an SNK title. It has been purported to be a "knock off" of Ikari Warriors, though it is considered the actual Master System port of Ikari Warriors.


  1. ^ "Ikari Warriors". The International Arcade Museum. Retrieved 6 Oct 2013. 
  2. ^ "Transfer lever as well as turret turning knob." SNK T.A.N.K flyer, 1985.
  3. ^ "This arcade game was the first SNK game to use the special rotary joystick.". Vintagearcade.net. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Escher's Mame Rotary Joystick Fix Mame Version .63 Updated from v.59 to work with v.63 by Jake Stookey". Mame.hower.us. 2003-01-23. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  6. ^ "1987 Official Video Game & Pinball World Records". Spyhunter007.com. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  7. ^ "Ikari Warriors". Ysrnry.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  8. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  9. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  10. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  11. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  12. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (February 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (142): 42–51. 

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