Probotector II: Return of the Evil Forces
- Platform: NES
- Wii Points: 500
- In Real Money: GBP 3.75 / EUR 5.00
While Probotector is more of a run-and-gun shooter, it still seems like an odd choice to release under the shadow of Super Metroid. Superficially at least, with their 360 shooting arc, they're similar enough that Probotector can't help but look like a less appealing ancestor.
Probotector is, of course, the European title for the Contra games, the rugged chops of Lance Bean and Bill Rizer replaced with generic armoured spacemen (making comparisons to Metroid even harder to ignore), and this particular version began life as Super Contra, which Kristan already eviscerated in his review of the Xbox Live Arcade edition.
The NES version available here is marginally less frustrating than the arcade version ported for XBLA, slightly tweaked as it is for home play, but it's still painfully difficult, a standard-bearer for one-hit-kill gameplay in which the slightest contact with anything that moves snatches away one of your three lives and all the power-ups you've painstakingly amassed.
And these power-ups can't just be picked up. No, these are the sort of power-ups that must be shot down from their floating trajectory across the top of the screen while you're fending off enemies from all sides, and jumping to dodge bullets. Significant progress without these elusive little bastards is a fool's dream, so losing them all and being forced to carry on halfway through the level with the most basic weaponry puts you on an inexorable spiral to failure. Some games make you jump through hoops. Probotector makes you jump through hoops that are on fire. And covered in barbed wire. With a pit of broken glass and dog poo on the other side.
It's precisely the sort of impossibly hard chewy experience that I railed against at the start of the Metroid review, and no doubt some grizzled veterans are already furiously hammering their bleeding finger stumps against the keyboard for even mentioning such ferocious difficulty in a negative way. Which is fine. If you're one of the elite few who get off on such sadistic gameplay, you won't need any encouragement to revisit this.
But for everyone else, this is more pain than fun. With the superior and more balanced SNES sequel Super Probotector already on the VC this release isn't exactly scratching much of an itch and, when played alongside the sublimely paced Super Metroid, the gulf between brutal arcade games that were designed to require a steady flow of coins and console games that were designed purely as entertainment has never been clearer. There is fun to be had with Probotector 2, it's just a fun that most modern gamers won't enjoy all that much.