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Auto fire is standard and you can heave grenades at your foes to add to their pain. Your supply is limited, but killing certain enemies replenishes your stock, as well as providing some much-need powerups. My favorite is the flamethrower, which has a short range but satisfies big time by mowing down soldiers without mercy. I love to hear them scream!
NAM's graphics are merely adequate, even by NEO GEO standards. To be fair, most of the original games released for the system haven't held up all that well either. I can understand the need to keep everything simple so the player maintains focus on shooting, but I expected more from a 46MEG cart in the time of the NES, TG-16, and Genesis. Minimal parallax, tiny sprites, and underwhelming explosions leave you wanting more, given the sheer power of the system.
There are some nice cut scenes in between stages that play out the story with dialogue and even a count of how many hours into the mission you are. The voice actors do a good job of conveying the despair and angst of war, although some of their lines are a bit cheesy. This adds greatly to NAM's overall feel and actually does more to show off the Neo's graphical power than the game itself.
I'm not saying that the game looks bad. It doesn't. I simply expected "bigger, badder, and better" graphics from SNK's monster system. 46 megs was quite a big deal back in 1990. Moreover, some of the earlier arcade titles by SNK actually look better than NAM and other games in the genre, like Operation Wolf, look just as good.
However, I have a pet peeve with a lot of early Neo games -- specifically when it comes to the music. The compositions themselves are decent, but it's the way they sound that irks me. The muffled, subdued tunes often made me wonder if my console was faulty. Sadly, NAM suffers from this ailment as well. It does make an effort, and while most of the music is pretty decent, a few tunes stand out and try to overcome the towel that's been stuffed in the Neo's sound chip.
There's nothing all that exciting about the in-game sounds either. They're fairly mediocre and just like everything else here, don't try to stand out. It's as if SNK were shooting (no pun intended) to make as average a game as possible on all levels. Explosions provide some decent bass but that's about it. I did like the death howl your character makes when he's hit though.
One thing SNK did make better than average was the sheer fun and replayability this title has. The first few times you play you will get nowhere, but as you go along and learn each stage, you can actually go a while on one credit; a while here meaning "almost the entire stage." It's hard, but not frustrating or cheap, and that makes all the difference. I guess you could say that NAM-1975 has a great personality to compensate for its mediocre looks.
It's also one of the games that benefits greatly from a Neo with a debug BIOS chip installed. Being able to up your lives per play to nine is a great help, as is the ability to lower the difficulty setting. Choosing the amount of lives you start out with, as well as adjusting the difficulty, will please everyone from arcade wimps (like me) to the baddest mo'fo around. A round on me to anyone who one credits this game.
Is it worth the cash? As long as you don't spend a fortune on it...yes. Shooters are always fun, and NAM delivers quite well in that department. Those of you with a Neo should have a copy in your library and those who don't need to find a way to play it. While not the best looking shooter around, it is definitely one of the best to play.