Coming to theaters near you – Fortified Zone! Starring 1987 and 1988.

Fortified Zone is a top-down shoot-em-up by Jaleco about two mercenaries attempting to break into what, and I’m just guessing here, might possibly be a zone that has been fortified in some way.

The two characters you can play the game as have names like “Masato Kanzaki” and “Mizuki Makimura.” So you can totally see why they would choose two white people with feathered 80s hair as the cover art.

Female Character: Why do I get stuck with the tiny gun? How am I supposed to kill robots with this thing?

Male Character from the Internet: What are you worried about? There are no robots in the kitchen! LOLOLOL

Female Character shoots him dead with her tiny gun. Everybody stands around her in a circle, clapping, and saying “Congratulations.”

You can switch between both characters at anytime during the game, like Marvel vs Capcom except without all the flashing lights and guys in fitted Yankees hats yelling at you. Being able to hot swap your characters was actually fairly innovative for 1991, but Fortified Zone doesn’t go anywhere with it.

The differences between the two characters are that the dude can use any of the heavy speciality weapons you can pick up, while the lady can… er… jump. Which makes maybe one or two parts of the four levels in this game slightly easier. You aren’t given any real reason to switch characters over the course of the game, as even those two jumping parts can be skipped in favor of shooting the hell out of more things with a big gun.

There are a lot of mini-bosses scattered around the various rooms in each level, and most have to be defeated before you can continue through locked doors or secret areas. The maps aren’t super big, so if you actually want to get any real time out of this game you’ll have to seek and destroy all these bosses. Otherwise, if you just run through the whole thing and catch some lucky breaks, you could probably beat this in less time than it takes you to get enraged watching your local news.

“Syria is burning, the global economy is collapsing, and you are telling me about Lady fucking Gaga buying a five million dollar house somewhere?! No wonder everybody hates corporate medi- oh I just beat Fortified Zone.”

The only way to beat this boss is to eat your meat before your pudding.

As you progress through the levels, enemies attacks begin to do way more damage than should be fair for characters with 8 health bars. I always complain about stuff like that because I forget that in the early 90s games actively hated you and wanted to frustrate you until your head Scanners’d itself. Even when taking the 90s into account, Fortified Zone has some pretty cheap moments.

“This week on American Gladiators…”

The graphics are decent and look fairly good on the Game Boy, but aren’t anything to go wild over. Although this is an eerily accurate graphical recreation of the contents of my heart.

You would think this was one of the two parts in the game that the girl is good for, but I couldn’t for the life of me get her to clear that jump. Even when she landed she still fell in the hole. The hit detection in this game really is dreadful.

I don’t quite remember Frodo fighting Shelob with a flamethrower, but I guess you’ve got to keep the kids interested somehow.

Well, I’ve been to worse funerals.

Thankfully I remembered that gigantic walking machine guns ready to shred flesh into tiny pieces have only one true weakness; Nerf.

I actually took a bunch more screenshots than this, but they all just blend together in the end so I give up – I have to save some stupid and obscure pop culture references for the future or else you will stop putting your eyeballs on these things. Fortified Zone is not a particularly exciting game. It is capable at times, but entirely skippable. Too many weird hit detection quirks, repetitive levels, and length that can be measured in minutes makes it an afterthought in the immense Game Boy library. Suggested only for the most die-hard retro completionists, or video game journalists who want to avoid having to talk about Call of Duty rumors but still look like they are doing something productive.

Guess which one I am.

Fortified Zone was developed and published by Jaleco, which is a company name that you might vaguely recognize if you are in your mid-20s but can’t for the life of you think of any other games they made. It was released for the original Game Boy in 1991. If you absolutely must play this, you can buy it used for around 2 bucks from the internet. I’ll take interesting trades for mine. Like a bag of Doritos or some gum.

Do you have a game you’d like to see featured in this stupid idea creative and original work of game journalism art in the future? Have you played Fortified Zone and think I was too harsh on their mullets? If so, let me or RipTen know on Twitter, or in the comments on this very site!

Next Time on the Retrograde: Ikari no Yousai 2