During the 80s and 90s we all looked forward to arcade ports. When you’re only 10 and money is sparse the thought of dropping spare change to play the latest and greatest for 5-10 minutes, while awesome, becomes less appealing over time. Whenever an arcade favorite was announced for home consoles it was cause for celebration. The majority of the time they were less than accurate, especially on the NES but it didn’t matter; as long as it was a close approximation it was golden. But the dark sides to this were the games that used special cabinets that suffered in the transition, such as Forgotten Worlds.
Forgotten Worlds was released in the arcade in 1988 and the following year for the Sega Genesis. The Evil God Bios has ravaged the Earth, leaving it a wasteland now known as the Dust World. Our two action heroes are created by the people to save the planet. Since Capcom were still a victim of Nintendo’s strong arm tactics as were most third parties Sega handled the conversion themselves. The Genesis had yet to suffer from a glut of shooters so this was a welcome addition to the console’s library. While it isn’t as memorable now as it was then, it is somewhat unique but suffered during the trip over to the console space.
A horizontal and vertical scrolling shooter, Forgotten Worlds is unique in a few ways. You have free reign to fire in any direction and that ability is necessary as the opposition comes from all sides. Fallen enemies as well as random parts of the environment drop Zenny used to purchase items in the shops that are in every level. The selection of weapons changes each level, with side upgrades such as extra life, armor and boss hints available all the time. The 2-player coop option was not common for the time and blasting through the levels with a friend is always a good time. Even I enjoyed quick multiplayer sessions every now and then, and I generally don’t like multiplayer. Unfortunately the play control did not make the transition intact and the game suffers for it.
In the arcade Forgotten Worlds made use of a rotary button that controlled your directional fire. Because the consoles did not have one instead you use 2 buttons to control the direction you rotate and fire. While it’s a good idea in theory in practice it doesn’t work as smoothly. Turning is slow and never as precise as you would like. It takes some getting used to but would have been even better if the rest of the game were rebalanced to make up for it. As it is the enemies swarm in large numbers consistently and that life bar drains pretty fast. By no means is this game hard, just frustrating, especially since there are no continues. It’s also not the longest game in the world, with 7 stages that are each only a few minutes long. They were a bit too faithful to the arcade experience in my opinion, arcade ports in most cases need new content to flesh out the experience. Sadly Sega/Capcom did not capitalize on this opportunity and we’re left with an all too brief voyage through the Dust World.
This wasn’t a mindblowing experience when it debuted in 1988 and today it is even more mundane. The Genesis port was enjoyable for its time but since then arcade perfect editions of the game have been released. The Capcom Classics Collection available for multiple consoles ties aiming to the second analog stick which feels more natural. If you’re interested in Forgotten Worlds those ports would be the best bang for your buck.