LGR – Iron Blood – DOS PC Game Review
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LGR – Iron Blood – DOS PC Game Review

September 15, 2019


[typing] Why had I never heard of this until recently? This is “Iron Blood,” published in 1996 by Microforum and developed by Family Production, Inc. Hmm. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t heard of it. As far as company names go, it’s hard to think of one more drab than Family Production. But while it may sound like
a group of stay-at-home moms, Fam Pro was a fascinating game developer. They were based in South Korea, for one thing, were quite prolific in DOS PC game creation, and during the ’90s a few of their properties actually made it overseas. Through a deal with the Canada-based Microforum, three of Family Pro’s games got English localizations: “Shakii the Wolf,” “Rebel Runner” and “Iron Blood.” I’d heard murmurs of those first two, yet I’d never once heard of “Iron Blood” until I ran across this boxed copy from Expert Software. As soon as I saw the box art and took
a look at the screenshots on the back, I was psyched! It just screams mid-90s arcade goodness. This Expert version of the game
simply comes with a CD in a jewel case, relying on a readme file instead of a proper manual. So, that sucks, but at least it’s got a nice shiny box. “Ferrum Plasma” starts up with
this manga-looking chick alongside a few setup options, and in a somewhat unusual move, there’s only support for Sound Blaster sound. It’s either that or nuthin’!
So suck it, Media Vision fanboys! After some logo animations, “Iron Blood” unironically fades in
its name on top of the main menu. Now this is the North American version, of course, but the original from Korea was titled “Interrupt.” And I have no idea what the name change was for. Seems kinda silly. Anyway, from the menu it looks an
awful lot like a classic 16-bit console game, right down to the music and
sound tests in the Options menu. Selecting “Game Start” will provide
you with two beefy robots: the RG-104 Cyber-Troll and the SG-43 Ripple. These mecha have their own pilots and there’s a pretty involved
backstory in the manual, but all you need to know is that
the red one is slow and stronger, while the blue one is fast and weaker. The game itself plays in drastically different ways depending on your robotic
preferences, but either way, you’ll be battling through six levels
divided up into several stages each. Initially, these levels play like a
side-scrolling action arcade game, and a particularly weak one at that. Your weapons feel underpowered and
the enemies’ attacks seem really cheap. But lemme tell ya, “Iron Blood” is a game where first impressions mean basically nothing because the good stuff is
drip-fed to you slowly as you play. Your mecha is totally crap at first
because you have to find power-ups and these will drop from
certain enemies as you kill them. So while you can just breeze
through a level dodging everything, you’ll be severely underpowered if you do this by the time you get around to the next stage. Like any good arcade game, it’s imperative that you memorize how each enemy moves, and which enemies will drop
power-ups and health packs. It’s not always intuitive, either, especially on the shoot ’em up stages. Oh, yeah. Sometimes the game
will change styles completely, switching over to a spaceship shooter. It’s a pretty tough one, too, with the sprites being so large that
it feels cumbersome at first. But once you figure out that many of
ships won’t hurt you if you touch them, and doing this and killing them
up-close is key to collecting power-ups and health before they fall off the screen, it’s pretty awesome. It’s also got this thing where you have
separate keys for firing left and firing right, which I’m glad for because having a key
to toggle directions is bothersome to me. The other big thing that gives “Iron Blood” its personality is that the two playable robots
change the pacing of the game completely, depending on which one you choose. The red one is all about power
and doing damage from a distance, being equipped with a jetpack, guns,
bombs, and a crazy powerful punch. But everything with this guy
is slower and more methodical from aiming your guns to using the jetpack. The blue bot is all about twitchy
speed and melee attacks, making use of a double jump and a lightsaber of sorts to
rapidly strike down foes up-close. Not only are these differences
just a matter of preference, but each mecha is better suited to
different stages and boss battles. The red one is more well-rounded
when it comes to fighting on the ground, but the blue one is more nimble at dodging attacks, especially in the shoot ’em up sections. Seeing as the game is about half-and-half
between these two types of gameplay, it’s really fun to play around and see
which one works better for you overall. There are also some elements
that help balance the two styles, like the power-up which temporarily
gives you a powerful autonomous drone, and a few levels that differ depending on your robot. But for the most part, it’s up to you to learn the two
completely different strategies for each protagonist. And, man, I think this is just awesome. It’s one of those games where each time I play I get *just* a bit further than last time,
if I’m really paying attention, and I love when an arcade game
rewards you for skill like that. It’s not always fair with the hit detection and sometimes it’s downright infuriating
to die in the same spot over and over, but it only fills me with resolve to do better next time. “Iron Blood” is a pretty excellent
little action game in my book, and I’m sure that if it was in
an arcade when I was a kid, then I would have lost hundreds of quarters gladly to it. Come to think of it, the graphics and sound seem like
something straight off of a CP System arcade board and I love that! [16-bit rock music] [Duke Nukem voice]
Mmm. Yeah, that’s one sexy FM soundtrack. Now while the music is good, the main thing that
I wish was improved are the sound effects because half the stuff sounds really tinny and the other half is just, uh… not… there? [machine gun sounds, muffled explosions] Oh, yeah, and the fact that you only have
a few continues before getting a game over, that just annoys me in a home computer
game where you can’t insert more credits. Well, anyway, that’s “Iron Blood.” It’s neat! And I like it. And it makes me want to dive deeper into the world of Korean PC stuff. Maybe there are way better DOS
games from Korea in this vein, but, dude! This one impressed me. And it’s still worth playing. So track it down and give it a shot,
if you ever have the chance. [16-bit rock music] And if you enjoyed this video and
would like to see some more stuff, then you can click on these or subscribe to be notified when more go up every Monday and Friday. And, yeah, leave some comments
if there’s some other Korean stuff from Family Production or whoever else that you might want to have me
check out or keep an eye out for. I’m looking for this stuff more actively now that I’ve run across “Iron Blood”
and some of the other things that I have while researching this. This is exciting, man! It’s like running into a treasure chest
of games I didn’t know existed. You can also do Twitter and Facebook
and Patreon for social things and supporting the show and
getting videos early. Things like that. And as always, thank you very much for watching.

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  1. For any console gamers, Cybernator and Metal Warriors are similar games in style (along with many others, I'm sure!) It's something I meant to mention but it slipped through the editing cracks. Either way, Iron Blood still has enough unique aspects to remain its own game, especially for DOS.

  2. Holy crap! I remember having that one on a PC Gamer demo disc in the old days. I've been groping for the name of this game for years. Until now, I had mistakenly believed the game was Assault Suit Valken, but as soon as I saw those mecha, I knew it was this one.

  3. I'm trying to watch all your Hw reviews but I just had to see this review as its one of my old time favorites, thanks a lot for this master piece keep up the good work buddy.

  4. This game.. I'd played it at one of my cousins' house when I was a very young lad; waaay before the year 2000. I had completely forgotten about it until you reviewed it. 😀

  5. Anyone ever play a first person game where you view the world from inside a helmet and i'm pretty sure you have a jetpack and have a laser weapon? Early to mid 90's? That's all i can remember lol.

  6. Man, this looks really cool. Playing with the big mech seems to be really reminiscent of the Assault Suits series of games.

  7. Well, I dont know any Korean dos games, but I sure as hell know another Korean PC Game. Kingdom Under Fire, which was a game in the style of Warcraft and Warlords: Battlecry.

  8. I love the style of the game but the gameplay is horrible in it! I wish I know some more game with the style like that. It's lovely.
    P.S.
    I could not beat the game. I reached the last stage after many tries but the game annoyed me too much so I used save states just to see. It was Interrupt version BTW and it has intro and ending scenes. Seems like Iron Blood doesn't have those.

  9. +Lazy Game Reviews Will you start looking at more Korean DOS games pretty soon? I can hook you up with a bunch if you can't find any! 🙂

  10. Holy CRAP! The graphics and animation in this game are excellent! Especially the little (in anime oversized kind of way) details like smoke from starting the boosters and turning, and even the detailedidle animation. And I love mecha, so the game is right up my alley.
    I must play this.

  11. I had this game in 1999, I played the hell out of it. I thought it was really good. I remember having a lot of fun with this one! Excellent flashback.

  12. I wonder if LGR will ever review Star Control 2. Star Control 3 would make a good video too… but I'd recommend playing it after Star Control 2.

  13. A friend of mine is selling some games away for 1€ each, and I saw one I didn't know called "Iron Blood". Googled it. this video came up. "LGR reviewed it? I'm gonna buy it!"

  14. Next to Quake, this is my all time favorite Dos/486 game ever! I was never able to beat it with the red robot, but beat it with the slick blue ninja bot the same week I got it. This game is so awesome with it, Quake, Strife, Sam and Max HTR, and Alien Rampage rounding out my top 5 DOS/486-era favorites. I found this game jewel case, CD, and install guide/cover art only at a close out store for $6 or so back in 1997 I would guess, and it was the only physical copy I have ever seen in my life. Awesome video!

  15. Fun Fact: the game actually runs via separate EXEs. Each level is seperated into different files, and you can even skip levels by running them separately.

  16. It's not a DOS game, but Pangya is a cute little golf game that was released on the PC. There is also an English PSP port and two Wii versions titled "Super Swing Golf"

  17. The only action platformer that comes to mind, loosely similar to this that I can remember is Zyclunt. I remember playing the demo but I never got around to finding the full version. All the abandonware sites that I've found the game had something cut out. Might be worth looking into it.

  18. I knew about Ironblood from a PC Gamer demo disc but never heard of it since then (and I looked), and it was never reviewed by PCG either.

  19. rebel runners worth trying to contrast to iron blood. the cd I used to have had a folder in the disc with trailers and demos of other microforum games, like shakii, iron blood, and soultrap. weird stuff.

  20. THANK YOU CLINT!!!! <3
    I remember playing this one fucking years ago because somehow it had ended up on a freeware site, gamehippo.com if i'm not mistaken. Could never remember the bloody name of it.

    Time to hunt it down again and die a million times to a blue robotic ostrich that clearly thinks it's better than me, ahahaaaa!!

  21. have you heard about fallen haven and fallen haven 2 – Liberation day? A isometric "panzer general" like strategy game made by I-Magic. It is quite hard to find a copy – seems like it wasnt comercially successfull, but I could provide you with a legal copy.

  22. In case anyone is curious, the Korean logo for Family Production literally just says "Family Production" written phonetically in Korean.

  23. 1:40 – Maybe they had to rename the game to "Interrupt" because Korean censorship wouldn't allow a game having "Blood" in it's title to be published there?

  24. I wished there was more of the games' captured audio mixed with your voice when you talk. It feels a bit empty and detached without that.

  25. I always wondered if you ever reviewed this game. It was one of the very first computer games I ever owned/played and I LOVED it. It was hard for me at the time but once I got the hang of it, it was awesome. GREAT soundtrack too. The first level song is still burned into my brain permanently. XD I got this and a bunch of other great games on the cheap from a store here in Canada called "Liquidation World". Well, they must have liquidated someone good because I got Iron Blood, Xtreme G, Shogo, FX Fighter (A really fucky, impossible to get running right fighting game made specifically for 3DFX cards) and a few other for under $10. That was a good haul. Thanks for the great memories!

  26. If you're interested in more South Korean goodness, you should try and get your hands on a nifty little gem called Zyclunt (aka Blade Warrior) made by Phantagram in 1991. You liked Iron Blood? Well, Zyclunt plays almost the same AND also has mechas. You, however, play as a cyber samurai of sorts (I guess?) with a LASER BLADE. The demo was very popular from what I remember. Good luck finding a big box release, tho'. Never seen one, and google images brings no results whatsoever.

  27. I have a question about the game, are the power ups that you need to improve your mech temporary or do they stay after you collect them like level ups?

  28. The first thing that popped into my head when seeing this was Cybernator. I played that game so much as a kid and it took me ages to get good enough to complete it. I'd have loved to see how young me would have dealt with this game too!

  29. played this game as a kid around '97 or '98… got the game from a bootleg CD after my brothers went to Hongkong and brought back with them NES/GENESIS/SNES emulators as well as Sango FIghters 1&2, X-MEN CotA, and tons of other bootleg PC games, and this was before the time internet boomed in our country.

    I've been searching for the title of this game since I wasn't allowed to play much when I was a kid and never got past the 3rd stage. I always found the red mech easier to deal with the 1st stage but gets creamed easily on the 2nd stage. But the blue mech has a hard time on the 1st stage but easily takes care of the 2nd stage and I always die on the 3rd. Glad I finally found the title again so I can check it out.

  30. I bought this at a costco when it was new. Yep, I also took a look at the back of the box and immediately bought it. One of my faves.

  31. would love an indie studio to make a game like this today and if any do please dont make it all pixelated you can clearly see the sprites in this game theres no need to make it look like party hard or nuclear throne.

  32. I just discovered a 3D Voodoo-powered arcade/pc fighting game called "Heartbreakers Advanced" that I never heard of before as I type this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAFnioemDpU). ALL of that strikes me as odd; afaik, only Atari + Midway used a Voodoo Powered Arcade board (for Mace, Gauntlet Legends, NFL Blitz, etc. that era), and also, why would an Eastern 3D fighting game be made for PC instead of consoles? That's when I noted the developer on the title screen – South Korea's own Family Production. And I immediately thought back to this video, "Oh hey! Isn't that the developer of that one obscure mech sidescroller LGR covered?" 😀

    Love being able to make that obscure gaming connection, all thanks to watching LGR! Actually feel just a bit smarter now, and it gave me a good enough excuse to check out this vid again. Win-win!

  33. I remember having this on one of those really cheap 300 game compilations from walmart. One of the few games i could get to work

  34. I played this one on a magazine demo cd back in the mid nineties, i wished it was easier to purchase than import it and internet wasn't easyli accessible in france before 1998.

  35. Played this on a Pentium 2 pc . I was a kid back then and the installation process was killing me . I couldn't wait to get into the game .. great game indeed..

  36. I had this on a pirate CD back in the day on my 486, but it gave me the Junkie virus. Serves me right, I guess.

  37. Ahhh… memories. I’m from Poland. In 90’s we don’t have chance to buy original this game. Only pirate floppy disks.

  38. I purchased this game at a dollar store in 1998. But strangely enough it was on a 3.5 floppy. Unfortunately I got what I payed for and it didn't work… But I do remember that cover

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