Image Fight (NES) - 2-ALL Clear with Penalty Area (No Deaths)
Full Run through 2 loops of Irem's Image Fight (イメージファイト) for the NES/Famicom without dying! This was played on a real NES with real cart.
00:19 - Level 1
02:59 - Level 2
05:31 - Level 3
08:22 - Level 4
11:01 - Level 5
13:55 - Penalty Area
16:32 - Area 1
19:13 - Area 2
21:58 - Final Area
24:25 - Final Boss + Loop 1 Ending
26:02 - Special Game Start - Loop 2 Level 1
28:57 - Level 2
31:29 - Level 3
34:19 - Level 4
36:59 - Level 5
40:05 - Penalty Area Loop 2
42:42 - Area 1
45:22 - Area 2
48:12 - Final Area
50:33 - Final Boss + Final Ending
Image Fight was original created for the arcades back in the 80's, and was developed by Irem, the same company behind the much more famous and successful R-Type. Image Fight might be seen as the vertical scrolling version of R-Type in that it is a more methodical and slower paced shmup that requires some memorization in order to complete it. This mostly applies to the arcade version, the NES version is much easier.
So this game is a classic case of lost in translation, in that the porting involved in bringing Image Fight to the NES has definitely had negative consequences. Right off the bat you will see that this game just looks ugly, there's no other way to say it. Everything is done in a light blue or pink color which to me just looks awful. Where's the arcade version had nice colorful graphics and scrolling backgrounds, the NES version is just dull and lifeless.
The music and sound effects also take a massive dive in this port, and most of them are just grating to say the least. While the penalty area theme starts off strong, it turns into a mess of high pitched noise. The one stand out tune from the game comes in the final stage, and I must admit that it is thankfully a good one.
So what about the gameplay? So besides the game being slow and methodical, the main gimmick behind it is that you are scored in the first 5 stages, which are considered training stages. If you pass, you go on to your true mission. If you fail, you must go through the penalty area first before continuing on your mission.
In this run I intentionally did very poorly on the first stage of each loop in order to guarantee entry into the penalty area. I did this mainly to show off that stage, as every run I've seen of this online skips that level. While the arcade version of the Penalty area is one of the legendary challenges in shmup history, the NES version is a total joke and barely worth talking about.
You power up your ship by picking up options and ship enhancements. The options come in 2 types, red = aiming, blue=fixed forward. I recommend using the red options for most of the game, the only time I recommend switching them to blue is for the final boss. You also get an enhancement that attached to the front of your ship and provides additional offensive capabilities. There are a bunch of different types, but I like the homing missiles the most. If you take a hit to the front of your ship (or bump the environment/enemy) you will lose your enhancement.
The challenge level in this game is fairly low as long as you stay powered up. If you die, you continue from certain checkpoints. Extra lives flow freely so the game is quite forgiving (I had over 20 lives stocked up at the end of the game). The only way to see your score or lives is to hit the start button and pause the game (I did this briefly at the end of each loop). The second loop seems a bit harder than the first but not significantly so. You need to beat the second loop to get the "true ending".