Ikari Warriors

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Ikari Warriors
Ikari flyer.png
Arcade promotional poster for Ikari Warriors
Developer(s) SNK
Micronics (NES)
Publisher(s) Tradewest
Designer(s) Keiko Iju
Platform(s) Arcade (original)
Apple II, Amiga, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari ST, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, C64, NES, MSX2, PC booter, ZX Spectrum
Release Arcade
  • JP: February 1986[1]
  • WW: March 1986
NES Acorn, BBC, C64, CPC, ZX MSX
Genre(s) Run & gun shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
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, run & gun shoot 'em up arcade game developed by SNK, published in North America and Europe by Tradewest, and released in 1986. Originally titled Ikari (, "Fury") in Japan, Ikari Warriors was SNK's first major breakthrough US release. 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.[6]

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").[citation needed] 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).[7][8][9][10] 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.[11]


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 changes 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 character 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.


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. 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. The NES version was developed by Micronics. 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. All these systems lacked rotary joysticks.



In 1996, Next Generation listed the arcade version of Ikari Warriors as number 61 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time", lauding the innovative joysticks, play balance, and power-ups which offer an invigorating boost to the player character's capabilities without taking away the game's challenge.[6]


Review scores
Publication Score
CVG Amstrad: 37/40[4]
Spectrum: 84%
C64: 89%[13]
Crash Spectrum: 76%[12]
Dragon PC: 4/5 stars[14]
Famitsu NES: 24/40[3]
Sinclair User Spectrum: 7/10[15]
Your Sinclair Spectrum: 8/10[16]
Atari ST User Atari ST: 9/10[17]
Computer Entertainer NES: 4/4 stars[2]
The Games Machine Spectrum: 84%[18]

The PC version of the game received 4 out of 5 stars in Dragon.[14] The NES version of the game is frequently noted[by whom?] 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.


  1. ^ "怒(いかり) まとめ [アーケード] / ファミ通.com". Famitsu.com. 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  2. ^ a b Computer Entertainer, June 1987, page 13
  3. ^ a b "怒 IKARI まとめ [ファミコン] / ファミ通.com". Famitsu.com. 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  4. ^ a b c "Ikari Warriors". Computer and Video Games. January 1987. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  5. ^ "怒(いかり) まとめ [MSX] / ファミ通.com". Famitsu.com. 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  6. ^ a b "Top 100 Games of All Time". Next Generation. No. 21. Imagine Media. September 1996. p. 48. 
  7. ^ "Transfer lever as well as turret turning knob." SNK T.A.N.K flyer, 1985.
  8. ^ "This arcade game was the first SNK game to use the special rotary joystick.". Vintagearcade.net. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  9. ^ [1] Archived October 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "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. 
  11. ^ "1987 Official Video Game & Pinball World Records". Spyhunter007.com. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  12. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  13. ^ "Computer and Video Games Magazine Issue 101". Archive.org. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  14. ^ a b Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (February 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (142): 42–51. 
  15. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  16. ^ "Ikari Warriors". Ysrnry.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 
  17. ^ Atari ST User, Vol. 3, No. 4 (June 1988), pages 44-45
  18. ^ "Archive - Magazine viewer". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2013-03-06. 

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