Review by Exhuminator

Reviewed: 12/17/18

I guess the barrel's too heavy, that's why you can't carry it very long?

"Heavy Barrel" is an overhead shoot 'em up developed and published by Data East in 1990. "Heavy Barrel" on NES is actually a port of an earlier Data East arcade title. One or two simultaneous players take on reams of bad guys, tanks, and robots in a effort to stop terrorism. Yes, terrorists have seized an underground nuclear missile silo. Players must infiltrate the installation, and kill the leader of the terrorist army, before they can launch the nukes. To stop the terrorists, players can use the powerful weapon 'Heavy Barrel'. The problem is that 'Heavy Barrel' has been disassembled. Players can find the parts to 'Heavy Barrel" during missions, giving them unprecedented (limited by a timer) massive firepower.

+Nice clean graphics with little flicker.
+Solid two player co-op shooting action.
+No nonsense pick 'up and play controls.
+Treasure chests on the battlefield!
+The 'Heavy Barrel' gun itself would make Rambo get a chub.

-The OST is decent but very limited.
-Level designs have very little variety.
-Enemies, bosses, stage elements etc. are repeated too often.
-Beat the first mission? You've basically seen the whole game.
-The last boss is disingenuously difficult.

"Heavy Barrel" falls right in line with games like "Commando" or "Ikari Warriors" on NES. If you've ever played those, you know what's going on here. You move around, you shoot, you throw grenades, one hit kills you. The only unique aspect is that there are treasure chests on the battlefield (the game calls them lockers). Red soldiers drop keys, and players pick up the keys to open the chests. Sometimes chests have ammo, grenades, or a different gun to use. But sometimes chests have pieces of the 'Heavy Barrel" gun inside. However, "Heavy Barrel"'s core gimmick - building the 'Heavy Barrel' gun itself - doesn't go very far. The gun is fun to maraud with, but it takes a long time to build, and then it doesn't last very long at all. The gun comes across as an afterthought rather than a core gameplay mechanic.

That said, if you enjoy run of the mill overhead shooters, "Heavy Barrel" on NES could be worth playing. (It's certainly worth playing co-op.) But keep in mind the repetitiveness. This game only lasts about a half hour - and the difficulty is mostly fair - but it still seems to drag halfway through. The issue is the distinct lack of variety in enemy, boss, and stage designs. You'll be seeing palette swaps of everything far too soon and far too often. Couple that aspect with a last boss that is a bit ridiculous*, and you're not exactly looking at a stone cold classic here. Still, there are plenty of other NES overhead shooters that are far worse than "Heavy Barrel". This is a competent if unambitious arcade port. So if you're a fan of the genre and platform, give the ol' 'Heavy Barrel' a shot.

*I think the developers imagined two simultaneous players fighting the last boss while wielding two 'Heavy Barrel' guns each. That's the only thing that makes any sense.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: Heavy Barrel (US, 03/31/90)

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