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NES Obscurity Quicky!

I wanted to talk all about this game, but I was a little short on time and sleep this week. Then I found out that basically if you've played one of the five levels, you pretty much know what the rest of them will be like: they all have the same progression of level-parts, and the same miniboss and boss sprites!
So strap on your neo-ancient Robotic Wings and let's go describe 1/5th and/or 100% of...
Legendary Wings!
At first you might just think this is your standard vertically-scrolling shoot-em-up, even though you play as a dude with wings and a gun sticking out of his mouth:
You shoot bullets at flying pixelated wachamahoos that try to bump into you; additionally you drop bombs on ground installations that shoot at you.
All that's missing is some lack-luster powerups...
...and you've got yourself a space shuttle to Snore City, population: every other shoot-em-up ever made.
However, only a few screens in to the very first level, you notice there's something slightly different about Legendary Wings, and I'm not just talking about the gimmicky "birddddd maaaaaan" look of your character.
Giant Head burps Smoke at Man Wearing Mechanical Wings, Pink Speedos, Pink Legwarmers...film at 11!
With insanity like that afoot, it's hard to tell what might happen if you get hit by the giant gusts of smoke billowing forth from that big stone head.
If this was like every other shooting game, what would happen is "you would die." But Legendary Wings has a different path for you. A path that warps you into a completely different play-style.
Yes, it's a different...Zone, shall we say? And if later, someone asked you which Zone you were taken to, how might you respond? Why, I think you might say...
"I went to the DANGER ZONE! DANGER ZONE!"
But enough of this silliness! The DANGER ZONE is nothing to laugh at; because if you laugh, you might not be able to avoid the GIANT SWARM OF WASPS!
Also you might accidentally fly in front of the "Mouth Sticking Its Tongue Out" wall-art that the wasps have decorated their lair with:
Legendary Wings can lick me.
Ok, that's actually not dangerous, it's just kind of weird.
Well, anyway; one miniboss-battle later (a miniboss who kind of resembles Kid Niki's "Green Grub") and you're back to normal overhead wing-legending.
Yup, normal stuff -- blue dots that eventually turn into some weird cross between a light bulb and a trilobite and launch themselves at you, and stone "Centurian"-type statues that fling their heads high into the air to collide with you.
Truly your nemesis sees your ridiculous winged nature as something of a challenge: instead of just scattering a few anti-aircraft turrets around his level at minimal cost, he's commissioned some unfortunate sculptor to build dozens of identical statues, and jammed their hollow core with fancy target-acquisition systems plus enough high explosives to launch the statue's cranium thousands of feet in the air.
Yes, Legendary Wings stratles the realm between Awesome and the Actually Pathetic If You Stop And Think About It For 30 Seconds* -- Magic and Technology have teamed up to bring you the most Baroque and Kind of Asinine shooter out there!
*: kind of like Steam Punk, but with "Awesome".
Holy Smokes! ...I forgot to mention the Holy Smokes.
It's also worth noting that the "bad smoke" that takes you to the Danger Zone has a non-evil twin: one ground turret per level, when destroyed, releases an identical-looking waft of smoke:
WHATEVER YOU DO, find that turret and get hit by the smoke! It is quite auspicious that you do so, because it will make you...
Lucky!
And oddly enough, Legendary Wings is unsatisfied with stealing stuff from Greek mythology: not since Steve Martin's edutainment song, King Tut, has American pop culture shown this level of respect for Egyptology!
In all seriousness, Anyway, while the shiny hyroglyphics give you an obscene amount of points, it's the hearts that are the true uh....heart of the Lucky zones. Each one lets you continue from the beginning of the level when you lose all your lives, rather than starting back at the beginning of the game.
Of course, all of the stuff you've seen so far is still Level 1...
...and given that there's several more sections (and two boss-battles) remaining in Level 1 after the Lucky Zone, you'd be forgiven for thinking the Hearts aren't that great.
Yup, after leaving the Lucky Zone, you do some more normal "Legendary Scrolling Overhead Shooter," bombing ground-based installations (now in the shape of muscular bird statues wearing suspenders, which rapidly spit bullets at you AND require three bomb-strikes to the head to kill) --
Eventually you reach a castle wall and everything stops until you destroy the last 2 bird statues. And what happens then, you ask?
Dragon Miniboss Battle!
While flying wavily around at the top of the screen, he occasionally pauses to dash forwards, or to spit two bursts of firy fire. Once you get the hang of it, he's not that hard to safely kill, although it takes about a bajillion shots to do so and you'll usually get bored and lazy about avoiding fire and lose a life or two.
But if you blow him away, your Legendary Dude comes in for a landing and scrambles into the castle, and you (the player) think you can rest, having actually completed a level of this game (so you can use your Continue Hearts if you run out of lives).
But, AU CONTRARE, Mr. Wing Legend!
Yup, no rest for the winged: the Devil is totally waiting for you...or for "us"? Well, if you had Player 2 along for a simultaneous ride, I guess it'd be "us", but either way, you must Rush Courageously*
*: because if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
And you know what landing means...
More fightin' with Wasps and avoiding the auto-scrolling walls. But this time, the side-scrolling doesn't just fade away and put you back in your vertical-scrolling world. No, instead you fly out into blackness...
and run into...
OHMIGOD KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!
Nothing says "Space Shooter Boss" like "brains" and "eyes"
Yup, another heavily-armed and neigh-invulnerable space battle cruiser which is 70% made up of pink gooey cerebrum and sprinkled with eyeballs. It is only vulnerable when it briefly opens its brain-port, which is also the time it fires a spread-shoot of noggin innards at you:
While it drifts forwards and backwards across the screen, it occasionally fires a pair of heat-seeking eyeballs at you.
But if you look on the bright side, sometimes the eyes look all goofy and cross-eyed! Then at least your pink knee-high-boot-wearing space commando can have a good laugh, even though he's been smashed out of the air by an alien sensory organ the size of a dresser.
Anyway, once you've learned to master the two techniques required to avoid each kind of attack (not getting hit by them), you only need to shoot the extremely-infrequently-exposed brain about two bajillion times, and victory is yours!
Well, I guess victory is ours. The game is going to narrate your victory using the term "we", even though all it is doing is printing ugly white-and-purple letters on the screen, while you're flying around firing energy bolts at mechanical ships with ridiculous organic components for no particular reason.
...actually, this isn't a bad game.
...if you get over the fact that you need to gather your continues in hidden Lucky zones, AND you need to go a long long way on just 2 or 3 lives before those continues are of any use, that is.
If you get over those (admittedly very large) hurdles, Legendary Wings has two great things going for it as far as shoot-em-ups are concerned:
  1. Each time you power up your gun, getting hit JUST DE-POWERS YOUR GUN ONE LEVEL, instead of Instantly Killing You (like hits normally do).
    It's hard to over-emphasize how much that helps. Sure, it sucks to lose a gun power-up, but at least it kind-of-sort-of gives you an extra "life".
    Now, if power-ups were more common we'd be in a lot better shape; you generally only find 2 per level (more in the Lucky Zones) but it's a step in the right direction!
  2. Brushing against a wall DOESN'T INSTANTLY MAKE YOU EXPLODE
    Unlike almost every space shooter ever made, the walls of Legendary Wings aren't lined with thousands of sticks of invisible dynamite: in both the side-scrolling and vertically-scrolling stages, you can bump in to or lean against the walls without detonating! Hell, in the Side-Scrolling stages they even made "you're standing or crouching on the floor" sprites.
    Of course since the screen is always auto-scrolling, you CAN get crushed against the back wall of the screen if you get trapped behind a wall, but it's incredibly refreshing not to be smashed to atoms by gently drifting against a brick.
Well, anything to add -- uh, what's with your eyes, Pitfall Harry?
— carlmarksguy, 2013-04-26
1
Okay, so apparently this game had the hearts in the walls motif even before Ninja Gaiden II did.
2
The wall-heart in this game looks kinda like the boss-heart in Contra. But then they both look like "a human heart", so there's that.
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