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Operation Secret Storm (NES) artwork

Operation Secret Storm (NES) review

"As if dodging throwing stars from several Jackie Chans isn't enough, realizing that about half of your punches aren't landing only boils your blood further. It might be a welcome boil if the payoff were worth the while. Unfortunately, once you remember that Operation Secret Storm is a Color Dreams title, you lose any hope that the payoff is of worth."

Remember Rush 'N Attack? What better use of 8-bit era illogic than to concoct a premise involving a lone solidier on a mission to knife every Soviet warrior in his path to death? There was little complexity; you just stabbed everything wearing a uniform and tried to stay alive. Color Dreams wanted to take the premise further by sending an unarmed man into Iraq to punch a wide array of enemies to death. Your ultimate goal: find and punch Saddam Hussein until his only remains are bone fragments on your knuckles. Are you a bad enough dude to punch Arab ninjas and sorcerers in the face for freedom?

This face-punching odyssey begins on the Kuwait-Iraq border where your fist meets the face of white-robed enemies and naked bald men with batons. You'll find these devious dudes hanging out in a heap of pointless constructs, mostly built of oil barrels and pipes. Your only means of offense comes from your fists, but to deliver a fatal knuckle sandwich you must get within hugging range of your opponents. Close range combat and the lack sprite-to-sprite collision doesn't always mix. Jarring your enemy's jaw can be quite tricky when said enemy is running back and forth through your sprite, inadvertently dodging your shots.

It also turns out Saddam's army has a secret weapon, one against the Geneva Convention. They call it 'faulty hit detection'. Some fist-to-face events result in no damage. The only answer to this problem is to punch like you're swatting a swarm flies. This phenomenon can also play in your favor later when enemies throw projectiles through you without a lick of damage.

Combat in a nutshell: running erratically while flailing your firsts about, hoping to drop baddies faster than they can stab, shoot or punch back. The occasional gun power up can provide a brief break from hand-to-hand battle, but bullets kiss skin as effectively as a fist. One set of bullets may not be capable of putting away even one enemy, and the only advantage the gun provides is increased range. The idea of a bullet causing as much damage as a fist goes beyond ordinary NES-era illogic; it's downright ludicrous.

Your awkward arsenal, however, seems right at home when you take a look at the rogues gallery. Naked bald men are nothing compared to going fist-to-wing with the US national bird at the climax of the first stage. Other levels introduce more stereotypical Arabs teamed up with Jackie Chan look-alikes, Cat Stevens toting a gun, skinny snowmen wearing green gloves and boots, a turban-donning magician boss, and mighty clawed djinns. One would have to wonder if the inspiration for this title was really Desert Storm or Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. At least the enemies in Operation Secret Storm don't go to the level of ridiculousness that Silent Assault did--including a carnival and a mammoth clown head as a boss.

This lineup would make for an impressive, if ridiculous, experience if not for the aforementioned issues and random leaps in challenge. Operation Secret Storm's repetition and faulty combat render it unworthy of your time or effort in struggling against several difficult stages--especially when said difficulty stems from the faulty combat. As if dodging throwing stars from several Jackie Chans isn't enough, realizing that about half of your punches aren't landing only boils your blood further. It might be a welcome boil if the payoff were worth the while. Unfortunately, once you remember that Operation Secret Storm is a Color Dreams title, you lose any hope that the payoff is of worth.

This seems to be the bent of Color Dreams. Many of their games feel thrown together and utilize heavily borrowed concepts. Many of their games lack any sense of planning, and levels have no rhyme or reason. The finished product doesn't feel polished, as if there was minimal playtesting involved in a title's creation. Operation Secret Storm is like any of their other entries: devoid of any structure or fine-tuning


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (September 16, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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SamildanachEmrys posted September 16, 2011:

Interesting, though I find the 'US national bird' passage a bit...baffling. It's not like the US has a monopoly on eagles. There was that eagle boss in Link's Awakening; does the US-birdness of that also represent a problem?

Puzzling remarks aside, I appreciate the review not being too long. It gets the point across without filler.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted September 16, 2011:

Thanks, Sam.

The main thing with fighting the bald eagle is it makes as much sense as fighting Uncle Sam or Abraham Lincoln as a boss, being an American symbol and all. I think this game was trying to garner sales through patriotism, and having a patriotic symbol as an enemy or a boss is counterintuitive to what they were going for.
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SamildanachEmrys posted September 17, 2011:

Ah, I see. Fair enough.

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