Short but sweet hardcore shoot 'em up
Sonic Ironstorm: Fatal Attack is a Japanese top down shoot 'em up. There may be a story, but it's not clear what it is - all you know is that cursor keys move your fighter, the Z fires weapons, and X fires special weapons.
Almost before you're started a game, the screen is awash with enemies, bullets and missiles, which all need to be avoided. This is a traditional shoot 'em up, and in line with recent games in the genre, what it lacks on originality it makes up for in difficulty. There are four difficulty levels, Easy, Normal, Hard and Insane. Compared to most games, Sonic Ironstorm: Fatal Attack's Easy setting is insanely hard!
There are 6 levels, and each game features three - you choose a route through the game. Each level is short and intense, with a boss fight at the end. It's fast, requires lots of concentration and good reflexes! The screen (or window if you choose not to play full screen) gets very busy, but always moves quickly and smoothly. The difficulty comes from trying to avoid enemy bullets - and with all the explosions and arsenal being launched from your fighter they can be hard to follow.
Sound is fairly standard, and the graphics are too. The enemies, explosions and your fighter all look good in a 16-bit way, but the backgrounds are fairly dull and the menu isn't that interesting. The game area is smaller than necessary due to the info bar at the side, which is bigger than it needs to be.
Despite these criticisms, the gameplay is rock solid for this genre, and offers lots of challenge and replay value. It may not be suitable for everyone, with its punishing difficulty and lack of save games or continues, but iif you can handle that Sonic Ironstorm: Fatal Attack is great.