game Cover
game HuCard
©1990 Irem Corp.
Release : 1990-07-27 (¥7000)
HuCard (4 Mbits) IC02003
Shooter / Vertical
Image Fight is an intense vertical shooter by Irem and is the conversion of their own arcade game released back in 1988. The player takes control of the OF-1, a powerful Orbit Fighter ship codenamed Daidalos on a mission to annihilate the Moon defense system which suddenly went out of control. The rather unique feature of Image Fight is the "simulation mode" (called 'Image Fight') that precedes the "real battle" (called 'Real Fight'). The game counts a grand total of eight zones - the first five are Combat Training Stages and happen in a virtual space where the player must at least achieve a whooping 90% destruction ratio. If successful, the Real Combat reveals itself and the player gets launched in outer space and fly through three more stages. Just like with any traditional shooter, the ship can be upgraded by collecting flying capsules. They come in two flavors - the first are colored pods (blue and red) which hang around the ship and either fire straight ahead or in the opposite direction the fighter is facing. Those pods can also be thrown at the enemies to inflict more damage. The other kind are various devices that attach at the front of the ship and greatly improve its fire power - they include Bubble lasers, Homing Lasers, V Lasers or the powerful Drill Laser. Sadly, only one can be collected at the same time and the only way to dispose of them is to get hit. Finally, the speed of the ship can be adjusted anytime during the game and the resulting blast of energy can even be used to damage enemy ships.
Image Fight (Fc) Image Fight 2 (Pce-SCDRom²)
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Image Fight - arcade game The original arcade game was released by Irem in 1988 (picture on the left). A version was also release for Nintendo's Famicom system in 1989 and for the FM Towns and Sharp X68000 Japanese computers in 1990. It was also part of a multi pack released in 1998 for the Sega's Saturn and Sony's Playstation by XinG Entertainment, which also included the stunning X-Multiply. Finally a sequel called Image Fight 2 Operation Deepstriker was exclusively released in 1991 for the PC Engine SuperCDROM².

Image Fight shares some similarities with R-Type and was released only a year after Irem's popular shooter. Interestingly, R-Type final released for the Playstation 2 in 2003 features the OF-1 (and other variations of the OF fighter) as an unlockable and playable ship.


Image Fight manual
Click on picture to enlarge

Me Heli Play as Mr Heli:
At the title screen, press select to go to the sound test screen. There scroll all the way down and highlight "Song C". Press and hold (all together) down, select and II + I. A new song called "Mr Heli" should appear. Highlight it, press I and then Run. You can now play the game as Mr Heli! (picture on the right).

Image Fight is an excellent vertical shooter and one of the best early port of the arcade game. Stages are well structured and filled with nicely designed enemy ships and bosses such as the large ship and its rotating laser beams awaiting at the end of the first stage. Despite how the game looks and sounds, there's something that really bothers me about Image Fight - its difficulty level. It quickly becomes nightmarishly hard and extremely frustrating. Even the 'easy' mode is incredibly hard! The weapon system is rather interesting but there's not much you can do when the game continuously kicks your butt for the umpteenth time... Image Fight is a sweet game but you will need patience and determination to master it. All in all I think this conversion is excellent (one of the best) and about as tough as the arcade. As a side note about Irem, I sometimes wonder what kind of super-humans they employed, back in the R-Type days, to test their games...

The PC-Engine is a system rightly known for its library of great shooters, and among all the HuCard vertical shooters for the system, Image Fight is in a class all by itself. Other vertical shooters often hold themselves back by forcing the player to shoot within a very limited field of fire. That is, in other games, you shoot in a set direction or not at all. Image Fight opens up a whole new way to play with a dynamic power-up: the red pod. The red pod attaches itself to one of three pre-determined locations around the player’s ship, and what makes it so special is that it will rotate to face the opposite direction of the player’s movement. This immerses the player into the game in a way that few other shooters can hope to match. To go along with the unmatched level of play-control, is a very high difficulty level. Because Image Fight gives the player so much control, though, you won’t feel cheated when this game chews you up and spits you out. If you’re willing to spend some time with a game that’s probably going to force you to actually get better in order to survive, Image Fight is a game that is definitely worth owning and completing.

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