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Video Game / Project: Horned Owl

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Project: Horned Owl is a Light Gun Game made for the Play Station. Released in 1995, the game notably features characters and mechas designed by Masamune Shirow, and is available for two players.

In the future, Metro City is guarded by its Police Unit, the Horned Owl division, with the Horned Owl Armored Mechanized Unit officers, Hiro Utsumi and Nash Stolar being their best soldiers. When a terrorist organization known only as Metalica launches an invasion with their seemingly endless horde of robot mooks, players will assume control of Hiro or Nash to take on enemy mechas in levels spanning across the city, airport, industrial zone and climaxing in a space station.

Contain examples of:

  • Airborne Mook: Several robots can fly around with jetpacks or rocket-propulsors.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Level three begins with an infiltration attempt in a massive sewer line that robotic mooks can fly around inside.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In two-player mode, Hiro and Nash can take down armies together.
  • BFS: Used by the Final Boss to whack the players into chunks. Be warned, each successful hit can deal massive damage.
  • Big Bad: Blaire, the leader of Metalica.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: There are numerous Metalica robots with blades attached to their arms which suddenly pop up in front of players before attempting a close-up slash. Many rookie players tend to get caught by surprise and get damaged, and somehow blade attacks from robots can deal larger damage than machine guns.
  • Dual Boss:
    • The second level has a subversion; two scorpion-like robots will attack Hiro and Nash on the runway of an airport, one at a time. The second one however doesn't appear until the first is destroyed. Who knew Mook Chivalry applies even for robots?
    • Halfway through the final level, Hiro and Nash will confront two copies of the first boss, now a Degraded Boss duo that attacks together.
  • Evil Laugh: Blaire does this whenever he appears.
  • Excuse Plot: What plot? Something about a conspiracy or... nevermind, get back to shooting those damn robots!
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Most robotic mooks falls apart, breaks into large chunks or gets snapped from the waist after being hit, depending on the timing and accuracy of players.
  • Hospital Epilogue: The game ends with one of these: an animated clip of Hiro and Nash escaping the Metalica's Space Base just as it explodes, and crashing their escape shuttle back on Earth. They are depicted recovering in a Metro City hospital (Hiro apparently suffered an Eye Scream given the bandage around one eye) before being greeted by their lieutenant. Roll credits.
  • Life Meter: For both sides. Hiro and Nash's life are represented by percentages, while bosses' are represented by a single bar that shortens with each successful hit.
  • Lured into a Trap: The fourth mission ends with the entire Horned Owl team being lured into an ambush by Metalica's forces, with Hiro and Nash separated from their allies and fighting their way through a seemingly endless wave of robotic soldiers before confronting what is appropriately enough the game's first Wake-Up Call Boss. Even after defeating the boss, the following cutscene reveals that mission's success to be a Pyrrhic Victory with most of the Horned Owl operatives dead or heavily injured.
  • Mechanical Monster: Most of the bosses are gigantic robots that can fill up half the screen.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Metalica's forces consists entirely of robots. Naturally players get a kill-tally up to hundreds by the time they finish the game, without any guilt because all their kills are machines.
  • Mission Control: Your lieutenant fulfills this purpose, relaying information on directions and warning of imminent attacks.
  • One-Man Army: In single-player mode. Players can amass a huge kill-tally, what with each level having dozens upon dozens of robotic mooks that goes down in one or two shots. In double-player mode they're a two-men army.
  • Reduced to Dust: The game's final boss, Blaire, confronting the players one last time, will gradually dissolve into dust particles while making a We Will Meet Again taunt.
    Blaire: I hate human beings... I... AM... ETERNAL! Ha ha ha ha ha ha...
  • Robot Dog: Several red robotic canines are reoccurring enemies in the second stage, and will pounce at the players to chew their health away.
  • Robotic Undead: In the game's final stage, Hiro and Nash can enter a hangar filled with half-constructed enemy robots whose bodies consist of an endoskeleton with some wiring and can only stagger towards the two heroes in a manner similar to that of a zombie. They don't really pose a threat due to being activated prematurely without any weapons installed, with Nash addressing how easy it is to blast them apart those.
  • Scratch Damage: Most of the Metalica forces can inflict a tiny fraction of damage to Hiro and Nash's health, chipping away three to five points from their 100-point armour.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: The game's cover shows Hiro and Nash about to shoot the players.
  • Shoot the Bullet: While machine-gun attacks can't be dodged (the best hope for players is to gun down enemy robots before they can fire), missiles and grenades lobbed towards the players can be shot before hitting. All bosses in fact attacks with projectiles, that players have to shoot to prevent being damaged.
  • Smart Bomb: Hiro and Nash each begins the level with three of these, which can clear away most attacking enemies. Against bosses these can take down between 15 - 40 percent of their Life Meter, depending on proximity.
  • Space Base: The final level is set in Metalica's last hideout, their heavily-guarded space base which Hiro and Nash infiltrates by hijacking one of their ships and crashing into the area. One notable scenario had the hero(es) fighting legions and legions of robots in a massive hangar with large windows that provides an impressive view of outer space in the background.
  • Spider Tank: Several robots, including a Giant Mook which takes around five shots to destroy. These are typically the slower types of enemies.
  • Spiritual Successor: Elemental Gearbolt is this to this game, but is Darker and Edgier.
  • Storming the Castle: The last two levels, infiltrating Metalica's fortress, fighting through a factory full of robots before confronting the Metalica leader in their space station base.
  • Unique Enemy: The final stage has a few (half a dozen at most) praying mantis-like robots which can teleport in front of the players and takes slightly more damage than the average mook, but they go down without too much trouble.
  • Use Your Head: Some smaller robots with jet propulsions' attached to their bottoms will attempt to headbutt players while on their jets. These enemies are surprisingly fast, and given the spikes on their heads can deal pretty big damage.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Boss No. 4, a mechanized turret on legs, whose Macross Missile Massacre bombards the players with a seemingly endless waves of rockets, and it's armoured front can absorb a lot more damage than either previous bosses.
  • Warmup Boss: The first level ends with it's first boss battle, a mecha which shoots slow-moving, easily destroyed projectiles, while strafing across the screen to assault players. It tends to stand still while using it's projectile launcher, allowing players to land several hits, and with it's health bar being average at most it goes down really easily.
  • Zerg Rush: The preferred attack methods from the Metalica robots. Late in the game Hiro and Nash will confront maybe ten enemies onscreen at the same time, while dozens more are lurking in the background waiting for their turn to get blown apart. Get those trigger fingers busy!