Game Corner: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Arcade)

Released: 31 October 1991
Developer: Midway
Also Available For: Commodore Amiga, Game Boy, Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive, PC, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

The Background:
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron, 1991) was a blockbuster critical and commercial success; the film made over $520 million at the box office against a $94 to 102 million budget and is widely regarded as one of the greatest science-fiction movies ever made, and one of the greatest movie sequels of all time. As is the case with most of the Terminator movies (Various, 1984 to 2019), the film was accompanied by a number of videogame adaptations. The most prominent of these, for me, was T2: The Arcade Game (Probe Software, 1991), which was one of the first games I ever owned for the SEGA Mega Drive back in the day. The game was the home console port of a light gun arcade cabinet developed by Midway, which I did play as a kid but more recently got the chance to play all the way through at an arcade near where I live. While I have fond memories of the Mega Drive game, the home console ports received mostly average reviews and it’s gratifying to see how successful the arcade cabinet was at the time.

The Plot:
In the nuclear wasteland of 2029, the human race has been driven to near extinction by Skynet, a malevolent artificial intelligence that relentlessly hunts humankind using cybernetic killers, the most prominent of which is their T-880 Terminator infiltrator. In an effort to preserve their victory, Skynet sends an advanced prototype T-1000 composed of liquid metal (or “mimetic polyalloy”) to kill young John Connor before he can grow up to lead the human resistance to victory and only a reprogrammed T-800 (or two, if you have a friend to play with) can protect him…and the future.

Gameplay:
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a first-person light gun game in which you take on the role of a reprogrammed T-800, just like in the film it is based on, and work to safeguard the future of humanity by blasting everything you see onscreen before it can hit you. In the arcades, you do this by manipulating a big light gun that has two very simple functions: a trigger to shoot and a red button to launch either missiles or blast enemies with shotgun shells depending on the stage (or “Mission”) you’re playing. With your onscreen presence limited to a blue or red crosshair, you’ll have to keep a keen eye on the game’s heads-up display (HUD). Your character’s health is measured in the form of an energy bar running down the left (or right) side of the screen, your supply of missiles or shells is at the top alongside your current score and remaining credits, but the main bar to watch out for is the “Gunpower” meter.

Keep an eye on your Gunpower meter as it’ll drain pretty quick if you’re too trigger happy.

Unlike other light gun games, which have you shooting outside of the screen or pressing a pedal to reload your gun, there is no reload function in Terminator 2 and, instead, you can blast enemies for as long as your Gunpower meter stays full. Thus, if you’re too trigger happy and drain the meter, you’ll fire less and less shots at a far slower and less powerful rate until you give the meter a chance to refill or grab a power-up. Enemies are in high abundance in Terminator 2, way more than I remember from the Mega Drive version; the screen automatically scrolls to the right to pan across the stage but will lock into place quite often and force you to fend off waves of Terminators, Hunter-Killers (HKs), and other enemies, all of whom constantly fire missiles, plasma shots, and bullets at you. Sometimes, they’ll pop up in the foreground and try to fill you full of holes; others, they’ll toss pipe bombs or other such items at you which must be shot out of the air. In a lot of areas, you’ll find members of the human Resistance exchanging fire with Skynet’s forces, usually behind a destructible barricade. Take care when spraying the area with you fire, though, as this can cost you points and destroying barricades will only mean more shots come your way.

Gameplay gets very repetitive, and frustrating, very quickly.

Gameplay is extremely simple and full of intense, arcade shooting action but quickly becomes very monotonous as wave upon wave of enemies fills the screen. Things are shaken up a bit in certain missions, though; two missions see you having to protect John Connor while he’s in a vehicle. These vehicles take up a large portion of the screen and can be damaged by your fire, meaning it’s extremely easy to destroy the vehicle completely by accident and, if this happens, you’ll lose a massive chunk of health and have to restart from the very beginning, which is extremely annoying. When in the Cyberdyne Systems office building, you’ll be tasked with destroying everything you see to erase all evidence of their research into Skynet; thankfully, you can complete the mission without literally destroying very single piece of the environment but it pays to shoot at anything and everything you see to snag a hefty bonus score and beat out your partner.

Graphics and Sound:
Terminator 2: Judgment Day recreates the look and feel of the movie’s biggest action scenes through the use of digitised environments, graphics, and sprites. While they do appear quite pixelated and blurry at times, when playing the actual arcade cabinet you never need to worry about the graphical fidelity as there’s way too much happening onscreen at any one time to really nitpick. While the game’s use of still images and text for cutscenes isn’t really all that much to write home about, the game makes great use of the iconic Terminator theme and sound effects and is full of voice clips from the film (mainly from Arnold Schwarzenegger) and features digitised versions of the film’s key characters, all of whom lend their likenesses to the game with the exception of Linda Hamilton (though you’d never be able to tell).

The game faithfully recreates enemies and locations from the film and creates fitting new ones, too.

Despite being quite a short and repetitive title, Terminator 2 artificially extends its length by having you battle seemingly endless waves of enemies at any one time. Nowhere is this more apparent and monotonous than in the very first stage, which is set during the Future War seen in the opening of the film. The game faithfully recreates the desolate, bleak, post-apocalyptic future and even pulls from the flashbacks seen in the first film for its rendition of the Resistance base and the third mission, which sees your protecting John Connor from an aerial HK. The dark, desolate future soon gives way to the sleek, mechanical construct of Skynet’s main base and the glass-and-steel office building of Cyberdyne Systems as the game veers towards recreating notable action sequences from the film. This all culminates in a lovingly recreated version of the steel mill for the finale and every stage in the game is punctuated by destructible objects (which generally yield various power-ups) and big digitised renditions of enemies as they pop up in the foreground to attack you.

Enemies and Bosses:
Each mission of the game features a variety of enemies; in the first few missions, you’ll exclusively battle against Skynet’s forces, most commonly represented by the T-800 endoskeletons that wander around the war-torn future and blast at you with plasma rifles. T-800 infiltrator units (who are, oddly, dressed exactly like Arnold’s character in the film) can be found in the Resistance base and will take a few more hits to put down as you blast away their living tissue exteriors, and tougher gold variants of the endoskeletons will also appear near the end of this mission.

Enemies will be relentlessly filling the screen and bombarding you with shots to take your money.

You’ll also have to blow aerial HKs out of the sky and contend with snake-like Terminators and little floating orbs that crack open from egg-like shells and buzz around the screen. When you time travel to the past, though, you’ll mainly be met with armed SWAT teams and human scientists in haz-mat suits. These guys are all weaker than the Terminators you’ve fought but no less dangerous; they’ll hang on the outside of buildings firing at you, toss caustic acid in your face, and pop up in the foreground to try and end your mission as good as any machine and there’s a constant, inexhaustible supply of them at all times.

Skynet busts out their biggest and most powerful defences to sap your pocket money.

Each Mission of Terminator 2 culminates in some kind of big finale, generally against a boss but often having you protect John while he’s in a vehicle. At the end of the first Mission, you’ll have to battle a HK Tank which rolls along firing heavy weapons at you from its turret-like arms, “eyes”, and a little opening in its treadmill. Take note of these areas as this is where you should concentrate your fire to keep incoming attacks to a minimum and then put it down quickly; even after you blast off each appendage, though, the battle rages on as a slew of gold endoskeletons pours out so don’t let your guard down for a second. If you manage to defend John Connor from aerial HKs, you’ll battle another HK Tank before storming Skynet’s defence grid, which is a massive wall-like super computer that spits missiles and snake-Terminators from numerous different openings that you’ll need to destroy one by one to access the time displacement chamber.

The T-1000 is a gruelling battle that’ll physically wear you out with its longevity.

Surprisingly, there is no boss battle at the end of the Cyberdyne mission; instead, you simply dispatch wave upon wave of scientists and SWAT police while John steals the CPU and severed arm of the first Terminator. However, the game makes up for it with its most gruelling stages yet; first, you have to fend off the T-1000’s helicopter as it tries to ram into the van John and Sarah are escaping in. This is very tricky without another player as it’s far easier to have one person cover the left-side of the screen and another to cover the top but you only have a few seconds to blast the helicopter and the van is extremely fragile. Once you’re in the steel mill, the difficulty and frustration really ramp up as simply shooting the T-1000 isn’t enough; instead, you have to blast the liquid nitrogen tuck behind it in order to lower its temperature. This is much harder than I remember it being on the Mega Drive as the T-100 is super quick, rolling and “teleporting” around the screen with its liquid metal ability, and its temperate bar refills so fast that I can see kids wasting loads of their pocket money on this boss alone. When you finally get through this bit, you must fend the T-1000 off before it gets close enough to kill John; land enough shots and it’ll back up towards the molten steel, where you must grab a grenade launcher and bombard it with shots to eventually finish it off for good. Fail, and you have to restart all the way from the liquid nitrogen truck, which is more frustrating than you can possibly imagine.

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
As you strafe fire across the game’s various locations, you’ll notice a few little boxes appearing at the bottom of the screen. Be sure to shoot these as they contain all sorts of power-ups that will grant you a temporary shield, full power-up your Gunpower meter or your health (or both), a screen-clearing smart bomb, or even you additional missiles and shots to deal greater damage. When enemies pop up in front of you, try to aim for their heads as Terminators will sometimes spit out their CPU upon defeat, which will grant one of these random power-ups, and try to avoid hitting John and Sarah as they’ll often drop mini guns that will let you blast away at your enemies without fear of losing power.

Additional Features:
As an arcade title, there really isn’t much more on offer here than beating your high score and playing alongside a friend. I highly recommend having another player with you as this game is a long old slog and, if you’re playing with money or on home consoles, you can except to burn through a lot of credits very quickly as just beating the first Mission takes quite a bit of time and energy.

The Summary:
I remember having a blast with Terminator 2’s Mega Drive port. It was clunky to play with the Mega Drive’s controller (I had a Menacer, once, but it was pretty uncomfortable and unwieldy) but I remember being able to play through it without any real issues. When I saw it in my local arcade, it was a must-play title as I had fond memories of playing it as a kid but, while the original arcade cabinet does deliver (especially since the one I played was set to free play), it is a very monotonous and draining game to play. Even with a friend, this is no walk in the park as stages drag on and on and enemies are absolutely relentless; bosses are fine, they’re nice and big and should be a bullet-hell experience, but even regular stages can drag on for a long time thanks to the waves of enemies. The sections where you have to protect John’s vehicles are easily the worst and forcing you to repeat the entire final boss if you die is needlessly frustrating but, at the same time, Terminator 2 is an incredibly enjoyable experience and a faithful recreation of the film’s more action-packed moments. Just be sure to bring some water and settle in for a long-old haul with this one!

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

Have you every played the arcade version of Terminator 2: Judgment Day? How did you find it and where would you rate it against other, similar light gun games? How does it compare to other Terminator videogames? Did you ever own one of the many home consoles ports? If so, which was your favourite? How are you panning on celebrating Judgment Day this year? Whatever your thoughts, drop a comment below and check back in next Monday for more Terminator content!

Game Corner [Spidey Month]: Spider-Man: The Video Game (Arcade)


Easily Marvel Comics’ most recognisable and popular superhero, unsuspecting teenage nerd Peter Parker was first bitten by a radioactive spider and learned the true meaning of power and responsibility in Amazing Fantasy #15, which was first published in August 1962. Since then, the Amazing Spider-Man has featured in numerous cartoons, live-action movies, videogames, action figures, and countless comic book titles and, in celebration of his debut and his very own day of celebration, I’ve been dedicating every Wednesday to talk about everyone’s favourite web-head!


Released: 1991
Developer: SEGA

The Background:
Having achieved success with the creation of the Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics editor and head writer, the immortal Stan Lee, was searching for another title to match the success of Marvel’s first family. Inspired by a spider climbing up a wall, influenced by pulp vigilante the Spider, eager to capitalise on the surge in teenage demand for comic books, and working alongside artist Steve Ditko, Lee conceived of Spider-Man and was granted permission to feature the teenage superhero in the final issue of Amazing Fantasy. Marvel publisher Martin Goodman was shocked to find that Amazing Fantasy #15 was one of the publication’s highest-selling comics and a solo Spider-Man series soon followed, with Spidey quickly becoming Marvel’s most popular comic book character.

Spidey has been Marvel’s flagship character and has crossed over into numerous other media.

Since then, Spider-Man has seen success in numerous other media; in 1967, he featured in a self-titled animated series, he famously appeared as a guest character on The Electric Company (1971 to 1977) and starred in his own live-action series in 1978, and heavily influenced my childhood through the fantastic Spider-Man cartoon (1994 to 1998) before eventually featuring in a number of live-action films. Furthermore, Spider-Man has also featured in numerous videogames, the first of which was the aggravating Spider-Man (Parker Brothers, 1982) for the Atari 2600. Before debuting in arcades, the majority of Spidey’s videogame efforts were sidescrolling action/platformers but this was the early nineties and button-mashing beat-‘em-ups were all the rage thanks to titles like Double Dragon (Technōs Japan, 1987), Final Fight (Capcom, 1989), and The Simpsons (Konami, 1991) so Spidey’s arcade debut naturally came in the form of a sidescrolling beat-‘em-up.

The Plot:
Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime in New York City, has sent his minions out into the city to retrieve a mystical artefact and only Spider-Man and his allies (Prince Namor McKenzie/The Sub-Mariner, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and Felicia Hardy/Black Cat) can hope to defeat some of Spidey’s most powerful and iconic villains and oppose the Kingpin’s plans for domination.

Gameplay:
Spider-Man: The Video Game is a fairly standard sidescrolling beat-‘em-up in which players can pick from one of four characters (Spider-Man (obviously), Sub-Mariner, Hawkeye, and Black Cat) and make their way from the left side of the screen to the right beating up wave-upon-wave of nameless thugs. The game allows any player to select any character and allows for up to four players to play simultaneously, which is always an appreciated feature of such titles.

Each character is quite sluggish to control, and gameplay is shaken up by some ugly platforming sections.

Upon selecting your character, you’re dropped into the streets of New York and quickly learn that the game is quite limited in terms of the moves available to you. Each character controls in exactly the same way, with a few subtle differences: Spidey and Black Cat can swing from webs/lines to attack enemies (if you can pull off the attack, which kind of requires a very specific combination of jumping and attacking) and each has a slightly different jumping attack (Namor dives fist-first down into enemies, for example) and melee attacks (Black Cat is much more about the fancy kicks than Hawkeye). While you can perform a signature special attack (shooting webs or arrows, for example) at the cost of some health points, each character is just as sluggish and apathetic as the next thanks to a lack of a dash function. However, after beating up a few thugs and taking out a sub-boss, the game suddenly shifts to an entirely different perspective; the camera zooms out and the game becomes more of an action/platformer as your character must scale a vertical and horizontal map taking out more goons as they go. In this zoomed out mode, your characters are no longer able to perform melee attacks and must rely on their projectile attacks: Spidey shoots webs, Hawkeye shoots arrows, Black Cat attacks with a grapple hook, and Namor….shoots lightning…? Spidey and Black Cat can also scale and climb walls to navigate these areas faster and Hawkeye and Namor can hang on to overhead platforms to shoot at enemies but it’s a bit weird that you’re not given full access to each character’s abilities in this mode.

Your health is constantly ticking down an player’s are rated after each stage in place of a traditional scoring system.

Unlike many videogames and beat-‘em-ups, inserting coins not only allows you to continue from death but also boosts your health, which is represented by a series of numbers under your character’s name. Your health numbers also double as a time limit as they’re constantly ticking down and this is quite a unique and clever way to get kids to waste their hard-earned pocket money as, while you can find health (in the form of hearts) strewn around the game’s stages at various points, you’ll quickly be pummelled into submission by the game’s enemies and forced to drop more coins to pump up your health and continue on a little further. Sadly, in a marketplace crowded by fantastic beat-‘em-ups, Spider-Man: The Video game fails to stand out in a lot of ways; you can attack and destroy parts of the environment but there’s not much motivation to do this as there are no weapons to find and use and no items to pick up to increase your score. Your score isn’t even displayed onscreen as you play, for God’s sake, which is really unusual, despite the fact that your progress is rated at the end of each stage. Instead, the game’s primary selling point appears to be exclusively the Spider-Man brand and the odd inclusion of action/platforming sections.

Graphics and Sound:
For the most part, Spider-Man: The Video Game looks serviceable enough; sprites are large and colourful but, like the backgrounds, are a little lacking in variety and detail. None of the playable characters have an idle animation, which lets the game down somewhat, and Spider-Man, especially, just looks bored and depressed as he plods around at a sluggish speed. When the game zooms out for its platforming sections, sprites take on a largely pixelated appearance but the backgrounds become much bigger and more detailed. Stages initially seem quite short as you come up against your first sub-boss in almost no time at all and, after defeating them, you’re tasked with climbing up to the rooftops of New York’s skyscrapers and the stages really open up.

Sound effects are limited but decent, and platforming sections expand the game, with “Latvelia” being the most visually interesting.

As you attack enemies, and are attacked, big comic book-style sound effects appear onscreen (as is pretty standard for comic book beat-‘em-ups) but I found sprites go a bit transparent when they pass over other sprites and graphics (though this could be due to emulation issues rather than a flaw of the title itself). The game does feature some limited voice acting but, despite featuring a female voice (who just loves to cry out “Spider-Man!” every time you insert a coin), no female voice work accompanies Black Cat. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the male voice acting is the same for every character and hardly of a high standard and when you realise that Namor and Black Cat’s attacks are accompanied by some really weird sound effects that make them sound like they’re drowning or a robot, respectively. As you might expect, comic book-style cutscenes tell the game’s story; these take the form of still images with some accompanying text (though these don’t change depending on your character and mostly just feature Spidey by himself) and in-game cutscenes with some fitting word balloons. Finally, while the game’s stages are fairly standard (the streets, the rooftops, flying through the skies, construction sites and the like), they don’t really stand out much until you crash-land into the hellscape of “Latvelia” and the game suddenly busts out some decent fire effects. Finally, the game’s music, while interesting and serviceable enough, doesn’t really feel very unique to the Spider-Man brand or compared to other beat-‘em-ups.

Enemies and Bosses:
The majority of the enemies you’ll encounter throughout your journey are literally nameless, faceless goons; weird kabuki-mask-wearing, purple-spandex-clad thugs are the order of the day here but they are soon joined by such cliché beat-‘em-up enemies as martial artists (who can duck your attacks), rotund enemies (who can belly flop you), and robots (which shoot projectiles). Spider-Man: The Video Game honestly doesn’t have much going for it in terms of enemy variety; you’ll fight the same enemies over and over and only encounter some weird and memorable foes with you reach “Latvelia” and encounter some weird ape-like monstrosities.

Most of the game’s bosses are fought multiple times and in different forms.

However, Spider-Man: The Video Game is absolutely loaded with some of Spidey’s most iconic villains; after only a couple of minutes into the first stage, you’ll encounter Mac Gargan/Scorpion and, just as you’re getting into that fight, a massive containment unit opens up and Eddie Brock/Venom emerges. Although Scorpion soon runs off after a few hits, you’ll have to endure a handicap situation for a while as enemies spawn in, Venom teleports around the arena and chokes you with their goo, and Scorpion attacks you relentlessly. Once you whittle down Venom’s health, they use a mysterious artefact to grow to monstrous size and you’ll have to chase them to the rooftops for another encounter. This becomes the basic set-up for the majority of the game’s sub-bosses and bosses; you’ll fight them at one point and then have to give chase and battle them again in a slightly different situation after navigating the game’s zoomed out sections.

You’ll face Spidey’s most iconic foes while swarms of enemies pile in on the action!

You’ll battle Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard (who has a nasty tendency to chomp down on your crotch), Flint Marko/Sandman, and Venom in a pretty standard beat-‘em-up format where you’ll be confined to an arena and have to fend off waves of additional enemies. Each boss reappears for a rematch later in the game but the strategy remains largely the same; keep your distance and land attacks while dispatching their support and things only really get hairy when Venom spawns a bunch of symbiote clones to fight alongside them!

The Goblins pose a significant challenge thanks to the game’s odd perspective.

Boss battles are mixed up a bit when you take on Norman Osborn/Green Goblin and Jason Macendale/Hobgoblin; while you’ll battle the Green Goblin on the ground, dodging his weird glowing hand attack, these two bosses stand out by taking to their iconic gliders and rushing at you from the air while tossing pumpkin bombs at you. These can be troublesome encounters as it’s difficult to judge where the Goblins are positioned to land your attacks or to successfully hit them with your jump attacks. Plus, when you battle Hobgoblin, you’re limited to your zoom-out attacks and will have to blast him with your projectiles and destroy large cannons to make things easier.

While Kingpin is a marginal threat, Electro and Doc Ock really get the shaft!

You’ll also do battle with the Kingpin in a standard beat-‘em-up encounter; Kingpin’s attacks are limited to headbutts, swipes, and a shoulder barge, making him little more than an inconvenience than a formidable boss fight even in his second phase. Still, at least he actually gets a proper boss fight; Max Dillon/Electro and perhaps Spidey’s most famous foe, Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus are relegated to mere semi-sub-bosses who randomly appear as you’re navigating the game’s later platform stages and they’re little more than a joke as you can easily damage boost through their attacks and pummel them into submission.

Doctor Doom is the game’s final boss and takes numerous forms.

After defeating the Kingpin, though, Dr. Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom randomly appears to claim the mysterious artefact and reveal himself to be the game’s true big bad. When you reach Doom’s Castle, you’ll have to dodge mines and battle through the game’s previous sub-bosses and bosses to confront Doctor Doom…only to find you’ve battled a Doombot all along! However, when you finally do get your hands on the real Doctor Doom, the fight is still little more than a standard affair once you take out Doom’s nifty floating battle craft: Doom is fast and slippery but doesn’t attack with magical bolts until the final confrontation and even then he’s not much more of a threat than the likes of the Sandman or the Lizard.

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
As mentioned, there’s pretty much nothing on offer to spice up your gameplay in Spider-Man: The Video Game. You can’t pick up and use weapons or power-ups and the only thing for you to pick up is hearts to increase your health, making gameplay decidedly more repetitive and monotonous compared to other beat-‘em-ups.

Additional Features:
Again, there’s basically nothing here (as is pretty much the standard for most arcade games). However, the fact that you can select any character to play as and play with up to four players, each who accumulate their own separate score at the end of each stage, does add some replay value (if you have friends to play with, of course…)

The Summary:
Spider-Man: The Video Game is a decent enough beat-‘em-up; it’s bright and colourful and includes all of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains but it doesn’t really offer a whole hell of a lot when it comes to gameplay or variety. Beat-‘em-ups are generally quite monotonous as a rule but they usually compensate for this with kick-ass music, detailed sprites, and some cool weapons and super moves; Spider-Man: The Video Game has none of these attributes, meaning it’s a step behind other arcade titles released at the same time and even ones released years prior. The game’s unique selling point of having action/platforming sections incorporated into the usual beat-‘em-up formula is interesting but its execution is flawed thanks to the graphics taking a hit. Throw in an odd assortment of playable characters (I get why Black Cat is there but why are Namor and Hawkeye here?), some repetitive boss battles, and disappointing use of some of Spidey’s more visually striking foes and you have a gameplay experience that is fun enough (and probably better alongside friends) but hardly worth choosing over the likes of Final Fight or even Double Dragon. Put it this way: X-Men (Konami, 1992) released the very next year and is everything Spider-Man: The Video Game wishes it could be; hell, even Captain America and the Avengers (Data East, 1991) offers more in terms of gameplay variety and character abilities despite being graphically less impressive and that’s really saying something.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better

Did you ever play Spider-Man: The Video Game out in the wild? Which character did you pick, or get lumbered with, and which did you think was the best or the worst? What did you think of the game’s unique incorporation of platforming elements and the way it handled Spidey’s villains? Which characters do you think would have been more suitable to play in place of Namor and Hawkeye? Which Spider-Man videogame, or arcade beat-’em-up, is your favourite? Whatever you think, feel free to drop a comment below and be sure to pop back for more Spider-Man content next Wednesday.

Game Corner: Captain America and the Avengers (Arcade)

Released: 1991
Developer: Data East
Also Available For: Game Boy, Game Gear, Mega Drive, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

The Background:
First created in 1940 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Steve Rogers/Captain America was an icon of the Second World War, embodying America’s obsession with patriotism and pride by taking the fight directly to the Axis Forces. Superhero comics went on a bit of a decline after the war and Captain America wouldn’t return to prominence until 1964, when he was famously revived to join Marvel Comics’ all-star team, the Avengers. Since then, the character has been largely synonymous with Earth’s Mightiest Mortals, often acting as the team’s moral compass and leader. In 1991, both comics and arcades were undergoing something of a renaissance; Marvel published the influential Infinity Gauntlet (Starlin, et al, 1991) during this time and sidescrolling beat-‘em-ups like Final Fight (Capcom, 1989) and The Simpsons (Konami, 1991) were proving popular coin munchers. It is perhaps these factors that led to Data East developing a four-player beat-‘em-up game centred around Marvel’s popular super team, a game that is often forgotten because of genre-defining titles like X-Men (Konami, 1992) and a title I first played on the SEGA Mega Drive in all its inauspicious glory.

The Plot:
Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull has assembled an army of the world’s most dangerous supervillains in order to take over the world using a gigantic, Moon-based laser! Answering the call to action and adventure are Captain America, Tony Stark/Iron Man, Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and the Vision, collectively known as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Avengers, are the only ones capable of putting a stop to the Red Skull’s nefarious plans for world domination! Avengers Assemble!!

Gameplay:
Captain America and the Avengers is a 2D, sidescrolling beat-‘em-up in which you, and another player if you have a friend, control one of the four Avengers and mindlessly pummel a bunch of robots, cyborgs, and iconic Marvel bad guys across five different stages (referred to as “Scenes”). No matter which character you choose to play as, the game pretty much plays exactly the same with only some minor aesthetic differences separating the characters.

Each Avenger has their own special attack but, otherwise, controls exactly the same.

Despite this, though, I found Cap the most enjoyable character to play as, with Iron Man a close second. The controls are as simple as you could want: you can beat down your enemies with some simple punches and kicks, charge through them with a dash attack, block by holding down the punch button, and perform two different jumping attacks depending on how high you’re jumping. You can also grab and throw enemies (and objects) and unleash a unique ranged attack by pressing down the attack and jump button simultaneously: Captain America hurls his mighty shield, Iron Man fires his repulsor rays, Hawkeye fires arrows, and Vision fires laser blasts from his forehead. I found there to be a bit of a delay in activating these special attacks, however, which can leave you vulnerable but at least they don’t drain your health. Speaking of which, your health is measured in hundreds; you begin each Scene/life with 100 health but can increase it by grabbed the rarely-seen small blue orbs or the power-ups dropped by other Avengers like Prince Namor McKenzie/The Sub-Mariner and Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver.

Autoscrolling shooting sections help to add some variety to the gameplay.

You can also increase your health, all the way up to “Max”, by entering coins to keep you alive and kicking, effectively sacrificing your pocket money and extra lives for more health. Thankfully, emulation means you don’t need to worry about wasting your hard-earned pocket money so you never have to worry about running out of lives or health. Unlike a lot of arcade games, Captain America and the Avengers doesn’t feature a time limit; however, if you stand around idle for too long, an explosion randomly drains your health until you either die or get moving, which is a cruel but unique inclusion. It’s not all mindless right-to-left fighting, either; Scene 2, Scene 3, and Scene 5 feature autoscrolling shooting sections that take place in the skies of a wrecked city, deep underwater, and in the cold vastness of outer space. If you’re playing as Cap or Hawkeye, you’ll get to pilot a Sky-Cycle in the first of these stages, but for the others you’ll throw on some scuba gear and a rudimentary space suit. Either way, you must blast enemies with your ranged attack (which is now just a simple button press), avoiding their projectiles and holding down punch to block. These sections are only short but they held to mix things up a bit and, when it comes to sidescrolling beat-‘em-ups, variety is hard to find so it’s appreciated.

Graphics and Sound:
I remember Captain America and the Avengers looking very unimpressive on the Mega Drive, with small sprites in large areas and lacking a lot of the detail and quality of other games of the time. In that regard, the arcade game is better since the sprites are much bigger and more distinct and detailed but you’ll notice that they’re not as large, colourful, or intricate as those seen in games like X-Men, for example.

The game is colourful and varied but not as impressive as others in its genre.

Still, it does a decent enough job; the camera is zoomed out quite far compared to other beat-‘em-ups, though, giving you a much larger battlefield which would be a positive but, while areas can get swamped with enemies and do feature interactive elements (mainly barrels and other objects to throw or explode), they are quite empty and there’s little benefit to exploring or attacking your surroundings. You will find some interesting elements, though, such as enemies bursting out of windows and the background, an Avengers mural, burning cars, wrecked buildings, and both a sprawling city in the background and water rushing beneath you as you fly, with comic book sound effects punctuating the onscreen violence.

Comic book panels and hilariously mistranslated dialogue tell the game’s story.

As you might expect, comic book-like panels and text are used to convey the bulk of the story; each character is given a brief demonstration of their in-game abilities and a biography, which is a nice touch, and the game is peppered with some in-game cutscenes that feature dialogue between the Avengers and their enemies. These are some of the most ludicrous examples of mistranslation ever, which hilarious exchanges such as “Seeeeee my powerrr!”, “Where is the laser?”/“Ask the police!”, “You can’t escape!”/“You will be the one escaping!”, and “Why should it goes well!?” It’s cheesy and ridiculous in a “Welcome to die!!” kind of way that adds some unintentional entertainment value to the game, which also features a suitably heroic soundtrack; you’ll hear the main theme quite a bit, since it kicks in once bosses are close to defeat, and while it’s nothing special it’s very catchy and rousing and gives the game a stirring, stimulating gallant feel.

Enemies and Bosses:
For the most part, you’ll battle seemingly endless wave upon wave of robots or cybernetic enemies; the most common of these incessantly shoot at you with lasers, sometimes while jumping, while others carry shields or can grab and hold you with retractable arms. You’ll also battle enemies that hover in jetpacks, bigger, more muscle-bound variants that squeeze the life out of you with a bear hug, and hopping bug-like robots. Underwater, enemies will fire harpoons at you while you try to dodge mines and, in the air, they’ll circle around firing lasers in a simple formation. Most of these are destroyed in just a few hits, and both increase in number and become tougher to defeat as you progress, exploding upon defeat, making me believe them to be cyborgs and mechanical rather than flesh and blood.

In Scene 1, you’ll battle some minor Marvel foes after they rob a bank.

One thing Captain America and the Avengers does really well, though, is its expansive use of Marvel’s rouges gallery; in each Scene, you’ll have to contend with a main boss and a series of sub-bosses, many of whom will be recognisable to fans of the source material (and even the movies, to a degree). In Scene 1, you’ll have to contend with the duo of Arthur Parks/The Living Laser and Ulysses Klaw/Klaw mid-way through the stage as they cover David Cannon/Whirlwind’s escape following a bank robbery. Laser and Klaw are best faced with a partner since they hop around the screen, blasting lasers and projectiles at you, but, like all of the game’s sub-bosses and bosses, can be easily pummelled solo as well. When you do go toe-to-toe with Whirlwind, it’s dead easy to just wail away on him, with his only threat being his ability to transform into a literal whirlwind to dash about the screen and whip up nearby objects to rain them down on you.

After disposing of a Sentinel, you’ll fight the Grim Reaper, though the Wizard or the Mech. Taco are a threat.

Scene 2 sees you having to relentlessly blast away at a Hydra aircraft on your way to the wrecked city and a confrontation with the gigantic, screen-filling “Giant Robot” (clearly a Sentinel). The Sentinel is a slow, plodding sub-boss who tries to smack you out of the sky, fires lasers, and grabs you in its near-endless supply of robot hands. After blowing it to pieces, you’ll battle through the ruins of the city and into a confrontation with Eric Williams/The Grim Reaper, one of the game’s tougher bosses. Grim Reaper can block your projectile attack with his spinning scythe, rush across the screen with lightning speed to slash and strike you, hover in the air, and fires explosive projectiles as the fight progresses. In Scene 3, you’ll battle Bentley Wittman/The Wizard on the deck of a wrecked battleship; the Wizard favours diving punches, throwing discs, and quick-firing laser bolts but is, otherwise, a minor inconvenience at best. After exploring the depths of the ocean, you’ll encounter a giant mechanical octopus referred to as “Mech. Taco”; this is functionally the same fight as against the Sentinel, requiring you to avoid the Taco’s tentacles, swim beneath its lasers, and simply fire at it relentlessly until it explodes.

Even some of Marvel’s most recognisable villains end up being a bit of a pushover.

After emerging victorious, you’ll battle through a submarine and into a confrontation with the Mandarin; the Mandarin is a bit of a trickster, floating around the arena, rocketing into the air, firing at you with lasers, encasing you in ice, and even duplicating himself for double the threat. The Mandarin can command his duplicate to charge at you, send you flying with his floaty movements, and loves to bash you senseless when he gets up close. Like all the other bosses, though, he might have a lot of flair but he’s got a glass jaw and it’s easy to land a few combos and whittle his health down in seconds. Scene 4 sees you infiltrating the Red Skull’s Moon base, where you’ll have to contend with Cain Marko/Juggernaut (who is, ironically, actually smaller than the game’s bruiser enemies…). Juggy likes to roll around the arena in a ball, land big uppercuts, charge at you with a shoulder barge, and trying to cave your skull in with a big double axehandle smash. Oddly, the most difficult thing about fighting him isn’t his much-vaulted strength but actually his speed, since he cannot be damaged in his ball form and likes to speed around the arena like a whippet. After defeating Juggernaut, you’ll eventually battle Ultron, who fires electrical beams from his face, dashes across the screen in a fireball-like form, fires lasers blasts from his hands, pummels you with punches, and causes lasers to rain down across the arena once his health gets low. It’s not an especially difficult fight but, thanks to Ultron’s array of abilities and speedy, damage-dealing moves, it’s comparable to the ones against the Grim Reaper and the Mandarin in that it can be frustrating navigating through Ultron’s attacks but, once you get some hits in, he goes down as easily as any other boss.

Surprisingly, Crossbones is pretty tough, but the final confrontation with the Red Skull couldn’t be simpler.

Having destroyed the Red Skull’s giant laser in Scene 5, you’ll again battle two sub-bosses at once; in this case, “Control” (who is possibly supposed to be Basil Sandhurst/The Controller). This fight is made more troublesome by the buzzsaws that travel across the grid on the ground but is still easier than the first fight against the Living Laser and Klaw since Control just tries to grab you and land flying kicks. Once they’re dealt with, your penultimate boss is against Brock Rumlow/Crossbones, of all people. Not gonna lie but Crossbones is a bit disappointing as a penultimate boss in terms of his character and stature but he’s no pushover; Crossbones leaps, bounds, and tumbles across the arena leaving a shadow in his wake and raining explosive mines (which home in on you) down around you. He also pulls out a pistol to fire at you from a distance and isn’t afraid to either rush at you with his trusty knife or toss the blade your way in rapid succession. Because of his speed and relentless attacks, Crossbones is no pushover but you can tip the tide in your favour by throwing his explosives back at him. Once you corner the Red Skull (who is seen smoking a cigarette in his introduction idle animation!), you’ll go head-to-head with the Nazi superman in a good, old-fashioned slugfest. If you’re wondering where the cliché elevator stage is, it’s right here in this simple fight that turns out to be a trap! Once you drain the Red Skull’s health, he grows into a massive mechanical form and it’s revealed you’ve been fighting a decoy all along. The real Red Skull watches, safely protected within a glass tube, as you battle the formidable “Mech. Skull”, which boasts such devastating attacks as twin gatling guns, energy bolts, massive melee attacks, rockets, a big slam attack, and can summon whirlwinds to mess you up. Still, it’s a big, largely stationary target so it’s pretty simple to get close to it to avoid the majority of its attacks and just pummel away until it explodes, seemingly taking out the Red Skull with it and destroying the Red Skull’s entire Moon base in the process.

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
Unlike most sidescrolling beat-‘em-ups, there aren’t many power-ups to be found in Captain America and the Avengers. Very rarely, in the autoscrolling stages, you’ll find small blue orbs to restore your health and there are a variety of objects to pick up and throw but there are none of the traditional health power-ups, invincibilities, or melee weapons to be found. At certain, predefined points in a lot of Scenes, another Avenger will make a brief cameo and toss out a big health-restoring power-up, which is a fun inclusion. In the autoscrolling sections, you can also pick up a “W” icon and gain the help of Janet van Dyne/Wasp, who encircles your character and can be shot forwards to deal additional damage for a limited time. It’s a shame that more of the other non-playable Avengers don’t aid you in the same way (though Namor does provide some brief assistance in Scene 3).

Additional Features:
It’s an old arcade beat-‘em-up so, of course, there’s really nothing else on offer here except for obtaining or beating the high score or playing alongside a friend. Apparently, some versions of the arcade cabinet supported four-player co-op, which seems like a missed opportunity, but I do know that the consoles versions included different difficulty settings and a “Training” mode that allows you to pit each playable character against each other in a pale imitation of games like Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (Capcom, 1991).

The Summary:
If you’re looking for a classic, sidescrolling arcade beat-‘em-up, you can do a lot better than Captain America and the Avengers. It’s a decent way to waste about half an hour or so and is big, colourful, mindless fun but there are far better arcade beat-‘em-ups out there, whether carrying the Marvel license or not. The game is fun with a second player and for the completely off-the-wall voice acting and dialogue but it’s very empty and basic, even for an early-nineties beat-‘em-up title. I will say, though, having previously owned the Mega Drive version, that the arcade version of the game is the superior of the two so I would recommend playing this version over any of the others…and then jump back into X-Men right after.

My Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Could Be Better

Have you ever played Captain America and the Avengers? If so, which version did you play and which do you feel was the superior iteration? Which of the four Avengers was your go-to character and which of the unplayable Avengers would you have liked to see made playable characters? What did you think to the game’s many sub-bosses and bosses and cheesy, terribly translated dialogue? Have you got a favourite arcade beat-‘em-up or Marvel videogame; if so, what is it? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts so drop a comment below.

Game Corner: The Punisher (Arcade)

Released: 1993
Developer: Capcom
Also Available For: Mega Drive

The Background:
Frank Castle, Marvel’s resident one-man army, first debuted in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #129. Though originally depicted as an assassin with a specific code of honour, the character went on to become one of Marvel’s most popular anti-heroes; thanks to his tragic backstory and unwavering commitment to the permanent eradication of crime, a mission that he fully admits is a never-ending battle that will (and has) result in his death, the Punisher has subsequently seen some success outside of his comic book origins. Although far from the first videogame to feature the character in a starring role, the arcade version of The Punisher stands a cut above its predecessors thanks to being developed by Capcom and heavily borrowing from classic arcade beat-‘em-ups like Final Fight (Capcom, 1989) and Captain Commando (ibid, 1991). Directed by Noritaka Funamizu, who would go on to be heavily involved in the Street Fighter series (ibid/Various, 1987 to present) The Punisher is notable not only for its classic arcade-style action but also for being the first title in a long and successful partnership between Marvel Comics and Capcom.

The Plot:
After his family is gunned down by mobsters in Central Park, Frank Castle swears revenge and begins a one-man war on crime as the Punisher. Joining forces with Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate (S.H.I.E.L.D.) agent Nick Fury, Frank enacts bloody vengeance on New York’s criminal element, leading to an inevitable clash with the Kingpin of Crime himself, Wilson Fisk!

Gameplay:
If you’ve played Final Fight or any one of a slew of sidescrolling, 2D beat-‘em-ups, then you know exactly what The Punisher is all about. If you’re player one, you control the titular Punisher while player two controls Fury but, in either case, you’re tasked with making your way from the left side of the screen to the right through six action-packed stages filled with a variety of mobsters and other scumbags for you to beat the shit out of. The differences between the two characters are aesthetic, at best; both are capable of punching, jumping, and jump-kicking enemies, grabbing and throwing them when they’re up close, and utilising a slew of weapons to cut down their foes. Pressing punch and jump at the same time will see the two unleash a super move to deal massive damage at the cost of some health and the two are also capable of performing an impressive roll to cover large distances quickly and dash into enemies. The only real difference I noticed between the two is that Fury feels a little faster to control but, whichever character you pick, you’ll be more than capable of taking out anyone that stands in your way.

There’s not much to distinguish the Punisher and Nick Fury beyond cosmetic differences.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Punisher if you didn’t get to shoot some fools and, whenever armed enemies pop up on screen, your character will pull out their pistol and the mayhem will begin. A targeting reticule appears and automatically targets the enemy closest to you and, as you have unlimited ammo, all you have to do is press attack to riddle your victim full of bullets. This comes in handy during encounters with the game’s tougher enemies and in boss battles but can be a little unreliable as a dependable ranged attack as you can’t safely camp out of range and take shots at your enemies since your bullets only travel so far. Luckily, there are other weapons available to make up for that. Being an arcade game, one of the many objectives you’ll also have is wrecking the game’s large and detailed environments to find bags of cash, gold bars, weapons, and items to not only increase your score, increase your chances at dishing out punishment, but also to restore your health. All the standard goodies are on offer here, from roasted meat dinners to pizza to pudding, and I recommend grabbing them as soon as possible to keep your health bar topped up. As if the swarms of enemies and large, formidable bosses weren’t enough, you’re also battling against a time limit so it pays to make quick work of your enemies wherever possible.

Grab as many points as you can and rosted meat dinners for health.

Naturally, you can pick up and throw a variety of objects at your enemies (from arcade machines to barrels), toss them off moving stages, and set up explosive traps to clear them away. Some enemy and boss attacks also seem to damage other enemies, which is helpful if you can set things up in the right way to take advantage of this feature. Every now and then you’ll also be taken to a bonus stage to mix things up a bit and earn yourself some extra points; here, the Punisher and Fury are pitted against each other to see who can shoot the most barrels under a time limit. At the end of every stage, you’ll also receive a detailed score tally that awards bonus points for how many items you used and your remaining vitality and grenades. Of course, it’s an inevitability that you’ll probably lose all of your lives and be taken to a continue screen where Microchip and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents attempt to revive your character; input another coin, though, and you’ll helpfully be dropped right back into the action where you fell to continue on.

Graphics and Sound:
The Punisher is a gorgeous example of classic arcade, beat-‘em-up action. Sprites are large and detailed and, while the Punisher and Fury don’t have idle animations, they do breathe heavily when you leave them standing and Fury is constantly smoking on a cigar, which is a nice touch. Additionally, some enemies will stop and mock you with laughter and there is an incredible amount of detail applied to the game’s sprites to emulate the look of the comic books as closely as possible.

Cutscenes move the game’s simple plot along at a brisk pace.

While the game’s music is nothing to shout about (and there are some laughably distorted and grainy voice samples to be heard throughout the game), the sound effects carry a decent amount of kick to them. You’ll also be treated to a few pretty decent cutscenes; still images and text relate the game’s story in the opening, in-game graphics and dialogue (which changes depending on which character you’re playing as) feature as transitions between stages, and large, comic book sound effects pop up onscreen as you attack enemies for extra emphasis.

Stages are full of destructible elements and little quirks to bring them to life.

Stages are pretty standard fare (you’ll fight out in the streets, in a sewer, and, of course, on a moving elevator) but quite large and detailed and full of interesting little touches; there are numerous destructible elements to every stage and all sorts of little things to see in the background to bring some life to the stages, like harmless rats running around in the sewers and a dog tied up on the streets. The game also features a decent amount of blood effects, too (fitting considering the carnage onscreen and the violent nature of the Punisher) but this is taken to the next level when you find you can attack and destroy mobster’s cars, leaving a chargrilled skeleton behind!

Enemies and Bosses:
For the most part, you’ll be punching or gunning down a slew of generic street thugs and mobsters; these guys will attack with punches, grab and hold you, or carry melee weapons which you can retrieve after defeating them. While many enemies can swarm the screen at any one time, you’ll generally not have much of a problem against the usual cannon fodder as you’re more than capable of grabbing them or hurling them into one another. Very quickly, though, you’ll come up against armed mobsters who can attack from a distance. You’ll also encounter sword-wielding ninjas who teleport all over the place, fly into a whirlwind of blades, send you crashing down to the ground from the top of the screen, and can even deflect your bullets back at you!

Do battle with some of the Punisher’s most recognisable enemies.

Faster martial artists can also pose a greater threat but perhaps the game’s most troublesome enemies are the Pretty Boys, cyborgs who can take a licking and keep on ticking, attacking with extendable arms, explosive heads, and continue to be a threat even with their torsos blown off. Bosses feature a few names that will be familiar to fans of the Punisher; you’ll encounter Bonebreaker (little more than a cannon-wielding, Mohawked punk fused with a tank), Bushwaker (who can transform his limbs into devastating armaments), and even Jigsaw (though, sadly, he’s more of a mini boss and isn’t too indistinguishable from other machine gun-toting enemies).

Bosses are accompanied by swarms of enemies to keep the action fast-paced and frantic!

You’ll also encounter the Kingpin’s laser-spewing Guardroid on a couple of occasions and have to deal with large, but low level, mooks in the game’s early stages. Each boss battle comes with wave-upon-wave of the game’s regular enemies to help whittle down your health and drag the battle out, though you can often find weapons and health-restoring items in the boss arenas and invariably also have access to your gun to help tip the odds in your favour.

Dodge the Kingpin’s dangerous attacks to topple to rotund mastermind!

Once you reach the Kingpin’s hotel, though, you’ll come face to face with the Kingpin himself. Rendered as a humongous sprite, the Kingpin takes up a good chunk of the screen with his sheer mass and deals devastating damage with just a swipe of his hand to say nothing of his laser-firing cane and…fire breath (…?)….all of which take away a massive chunk of your health. Kingpin is also swarmed with constantly-respawning enemies to distract you and he can hurl you clear across the screen if you get too close but, luckily, he takes damage just like any other boss or enemy and doesn’t appear to have any cheap invincibility frames so you’ll soon be leaving him to crumble alongside his hotel with enough patience and pocket change.

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
There are no invincibility or speed/power-ups to be found in The Punisher; instead, you’ll find a variety of different foods to eat to restore your health or gain access to a slew of additional weaponry to exact justice on New York’s criminal scum. You’ll be wielding the standard beat-‘em-up fare like knives, baseball bats, axes, hammers and pipes but you’ll also get to use throwing stars, boomerangs, M-16 assault rifles, Uzis, fire extinguishers, and even a flamethrower.

Wipe out enemies with a super move or your grenades.

Every time you pick up a weapon, the amount of uses it has is displayed next to it on the lower left of the screen so you always know how much “ammo” you have left; if you’re running low, you can toss the weapon in a diagonal arc by jumping and pressing attack, leaving you free to switch to a fresh weapon. The Punisher and Fury can also pick up grenades as they progress through the game’s stages; these are also tallied in the bottom left and are best saved for bosses or to clear the screen of enemies. By jumping and pressing jump and attack, you’ll toss a grenade downwards, which explodes to deal massive damage and help to thin out the herd.

Additional Features:
Being a coin-operated, arcade beat-‘em-up, the sole thing to play for is that coveted high score. Aside from that, the game allows for two player simultaneous play, which slightly alters the game’s cutscenes and dialogue and gives you another good reason to play through it.

The Summary:
As far as arcade beat-‘em-ups go, The Punisher is just as iconic and enjoyable as the likes of Final Fight. It doesn’t necessarily add anything new to the genre, or anything you haven’t seen before if you’ve played any of the many beat-‘em-ups released by the likes of Capcom and Konami back in the day, but it shines a little bit thanks to its unique licensing of the Punisher character. With large, detailed, comic book-like sprites, environments that are full of destructible elements and fun little inclusions, and by fully embracing the larger than life aesthetic and hyper violence of its source material and title character, The Punisher is a great way to spend an hour or so. Fast-paced and action-packed, the game is a joy to play through; the music isn’t very memorable and, while the game is quite short at only six stages, it’s well-paced and well-balanced enough that it never begins as tedious and monotonous as some beat-‘em-ups.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Did you ever play The Punisher out in the wild? Perhaps you are lucky enough to own the Mega Drive port of the game; if so, how do you think it holds up compared to the arcade original? Which character did you prefer to play as? Can you think of a better character to partner up with the Punisher or do you think Nick Fury fit the role nicely enough? What is your favourite beat-‘em-up game? Whatever your thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

Game Corner: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles / TMNT II: The Arcade Game (Xbox Series X)

GameCorner

Released: 30 August 2022
Originally Released: 11 October 1989 (Arcade) / 7 December 1990 (NES)
Developer: Digital Eclipse
Original Developer: Konami
Also Available For: Amiga, Amstrad, Arcade, Atari, Commodore 64, GameCube, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and ZX Spectrum

The Background:
If you were a kid in the eighties or nineties, you were probably really into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). If, like me, you lived in the United Kingdom, you were probably just as enthusiastic as the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles but, either way, before Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993 to 1996) and Pokémon (1997 to present) dominated playgrounds, Christmases, and birthdays alike, kids were transfixed by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 to 1996) animated series. A toned down version of the original Mirage Comics characters, Ninja Turtles was incredibly popular, spawning not just three live-action movies (of varying quality), comic books, and a fantastic line of action figures but also a whole host of videogames, without perhaps none being more popular than the original Ninja Turtles arcade game.

TMNTAMerch
The turtles were a merchandising machine and even thrived in arcades at the time.

Developed by Konami at a time when arcades were full of amazing side-scrolling beat-‘em-ups, Ninja Turtles may not have been the first videogame based on the franchise but it definitely defined the genre that would prove most popular for subsequent videogame releases, particularly in the arcade. After Konami helped to define what it meant to be “NES Hard” with their original NES TMNT title, which proved to be a huge success at the time, they turned to the incredibly successful arcade game for the sequel, which proved equally popular thanks to its presentation and ambitious recreation of its technically superior arcade brother. In later years, the arcade version of the game was further ported and emulated to numerous consoles over the years but was de-listed from digital stores for the better part of eleven years until both versions were included in this Cowabunga Collection for modern consoles alongside a host of other games and quality of life features.

The Plot:
The Turtles’ arch-nemesis, Oroku Saki/The Shredder, has kidnapped their friend April O’Neil and their mentor and father figure, Splinter, and swamped the streets with his Foot Soldiers and other minions. Understandably unimpressed, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo waste no time in grabbing their weapons and giving chase in a rescue mission.

Gameplay:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a sidescrolling beat-‘em-up that supports up to four players; some arcade cabinets were apparently set up to accommodate just two, and to allow any player to select any character but, generally, cabinets were set up specifically for four players to play simultaneously. Each of the four Ninja Turtles is selectable and has specific strengths and weaknesses: Leonardo is the most well-rounded, Donatello is slower but has a longer reach, and both Raphael and Michelangelo have fast attacks but are limited in their range. Each character can perform a flying kick and a super attack by pressing the jump and attack buttons at the same time which, unlike other sidescrolling beat-‘em-ups of the time, doesn’t appear to drain your health. In addition, they can hurl their enemies around for extra damage but there’s no forward dash and very little in the way of intricate combos on offer here; it’s a simple, pure “go right and mash the attack button” beat-‘em-up, with the exception of one level, where the TMNT race around the streets on rocket-powered skateboards.

Fight with the TMNT’s signature weapons, and the environment, but watch out for hazards!

While levels and environments are noticeably sparse, there are a few intractable elements that both benefit and hinder your gameplay; traffic cones and street signs can be hit to damage enemies, you can smash fire hydrants to push enemies away, or blow up groups of them by attacking explosive barrels. At the same time, though, enemies can drop on you from behind signs or pop up from sewer holes and throw manhole covers at you; there’s also some spiked walls, laser turrets, freezing blasts, and electrical hazards that can be difficult to dodge without a dash or roll manoeuvre. The search for their friends and family takes the TMNT from the streets and sewers of New York City to the Technodrome itself; along the way, they battle various versions of Shredder’s Foot Clan and some other familiar faces, such as Bebop and Rocksteady. If you’re really, really lucky, you can pick up a pizza box to restore your turtle’s health, but these are few and far between, so you’ll either need a lot of money to replay after losing a life or, better yet, make use of the infinite credits made available in this version of the game.

The NES version is surprisingly faithful and even includes new additions!

For the NES version of the game, much of the gameplay and combat remains intact and surprisingly faithful, especially considering the NES’s limited hardware. Naturally, you’re limited to two players at any one time, but you can still attack with X and jump with A, pulling of flying kicks and smacking the odd fire hydrant, parking meter, traffic cone, and explosive barrel to help thin out the enemies coming at you. The Foot Clan will still burst out from window sand jump out from the sewer, and you can still fall down the holes they leave behind, but the amount of onscreen enemies is severely limited compared to the arcade game; on the plus side, this makes crowd control a little easier and you’re rarely swamped with too many enemies at any one time. While a bit sluggish compared to the arcade title, the NES version performs far better than other similar 8-bit ports, like Double Dragon (Technōs Japan, 1988), though it helps that the Cowabunga Collection gives you the option to disable slowdown and sprite flickering. You’re still able to go diagonally down or fight on higher panes, too, as well as blast along on your rocket-powered skateboard; the NES version even includes two new stages, a snow-swept New York City and a Japanese dojo, each including new enemies, hazards (falling ice blocks and bamboo spikes), and bosses alongside additional cutscenes, which was a nice and unexpected touch.

Graphics and Sound:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is presented in the finest 2D graphics of the time; the four turtles and their enemies are large, bright, and well-animated; though they have limited idle animations, each wields their signature weapons and looks ripped right out of the animated series. Environments aren’t incredibly inspiring, however; the streets of New York are surprisingly bland and there’s not much going on in most of the levels. Rats will run by in the sewers, enemies will jump out from behind buildings or burst out from walls, and there are some layers to some levels that allow you to fight on higher ground but, mostly, the environments are lacking much of the character and interaction of later TMNT games (with the exception of April’s apartment, which features some impressive fire effects, and the final Technodrome level).

TMNTAFeatures
Speech bubbles, and funky soundtrack, and cartoony effects add to the game’s charm.

There are some fun elements to be found here, though; the TMNT can fall down open manholes and hide from enemy attacks while peeping at the player; when electrocuted you can see their skeleton, and when caught in Granitor’s flame burst, they’ll appear charred and damaged. When grabbed by enemies or battling certain bosses, little speech bubbles will also pop up, which is quite a fun inclusion, as they implore you to mash buttons to escape. Accompanying these are sound bites, with the TMNT exchanging quips and taunts with certain bosses or rallying each other with a cry of “Cowabunga!” You’ll always know when you’ve picked up health thanks to their triumphant shout of “Pizza time!” and, alongside these, levels are generally filled with some up-beat, catchy tunes that work well with the constant combat and the game also includes an impressive rendition of the cartoon’s iconic theme song.

Although its obviously much more basic, the NES version recreates much of its arcade counterpart.

Of course, the NES version has taken a hit (well, more of a pummelling!) in terms of graphics and audio; the sprites are incredibly basic, featuring little in the way of animation and detailed, and the backgrounds and environments are incredibly empty. However, it’s still a decent conversion of the arcade title; flames still flicker in April’s apartment, the Foot still drives cars and motorcycles at you and burst out from behind billboards, and the game does a pretty good job of translating the arcade’s cutscenes into NES-capable sprite art, even using the in-game sprites at various points to progress the story. The music is equally ambitious; while there are no sound bites included in this version, there’s a nice chip tune version of the TMNT theme and everything sounds very appropriate for the hardware. Although there’s a greater emphasis on text in this version, there is no boss dialogue and bosses don’t sport life bars; the heads-up display is also changed to one that’s far more simplistic and certain graphics, like the pizza, have been redesigned to fit the engine. Yet you can still splash in and out of water in the sewer, still race along on your skateboard, and the developers even included new stages and enemies. Although you can disable sprite flickering and slowdown, however, the game is still quite sluggish, which isn’t helped by the way the characters just shuffle or hop along, and I noticed some odd screen tearing as I was playing. Also, the screen scrolls a little out of synch to your movement, meaning you’re often right at the edge of the screen, which causes it to lag a bit and forces you to hop back more to the middle to keep things moving smoothly.

Enemies and Bosses:
For the most part, the TMNT will be butting heads with various members of the Foot Clan; these come in all different colours and variants, with the regular, easily dispatched foes wearing the common purple and the tougher, weapon-wielding goons coming in red, silver, or yellow colourings. These foes will toss shuriken at the turtles, stab at them with spears, or try to flatten them with comically large mallets, among other weapons. They can also throw manhole covers, dynamite, or massive tyres at the turtles and, later in the game, zap them with laser blasters, charge at them in sports cars and on motorbikes, and chase after them on skateboards and in annoying helicopter-like crafts. You’ll also battle robotic enemies, such as the Mousers (who will clamp onto your arm and drain your health) and Roadkill Rodneys, which race around the screen, whipping at you, and trapping you in an electrically charged tentacle.

TMNTABosses
You’ll battle some of the TMNT’s most recognisable foes.

As for bosses, the TMNT will contend with classic enemies such as Bebop, Rocksteady, and Baxter Stockman. You’ll first battle Bebop and Rocksteady individually, but they later come together to try and crush the turtles; each wields a projectile weapon (Bebop a machine gun, Rocksteady a laser pistol) and can attack with powerful physical attacks, like charging or punching. Baxter, however, will attack from the air, dropping Mousers on you from his craft, while Granitor and General Traag are much tougher thanks to their rock-like hides and roasting you with their flamethrower and rocket launcher, respectively. These two are not only notorious spam-artists, repeating the same attacks over and over again, but at also immune to “God Mode” available in this version of the game. While this normally allows you to defeat enemies and bosses in one hit, Granitor and General Traag will need to be whittled down like in the original arcade release so it’s helpful to be a bit quicker on your toes and use a character with longer reach, like Donatello.

The Technodrome boasts the game’s toughest bosses, even with God Mode activated!

After fighting through the Technodrome, you’ll be attacked by Krang inside his robot body; Krang’s also a bit of a classic arcade spam-artist as he’ll kick you, and zap you with lasers while you’re down to drain your health in no time. Although Krang is also immune to the benefits of God Mode, he is quite the showboat and will pause to gloat about being invincible long enough for you to land a few decent hits. After defeating Krang, you’ll immediately battle the Shredder. Oddly, Shredder attacks alongside shadow duplicates, effectively increasing his attack power and his threat; Shredder swipes at you with his katana but also unleashes a powerful energy blast that regresses your hero back to a regular turtle and is, essentially, a one-hit kill move. As you battle Shredder, he’ll lose his helmet, which is a nice touch, but there’s not a lot of real strategy to any of the boss battles beyond simply avoiding attacks and striking as fast and as often as possible. Amusingly, the Shredder can be defeated in one hit using the game’s God Mode, which significantly downplays his threat compared to the game’s later bosses. One downside to this game is that the bosses don’t have an energy meter, so the only way you know you’re doing any damage or getting anywhere is by noticing when the boss sprites start flashing.

Three new bosses have been included in the NES version of the game.

Many of the enemies and hazards featured in the arcade version reappear in the NES version, with some alterations and limitations; the Foot can still grab you from behind and Mousers will still bite your hand, but shaking them off is clunkier than before and Roadkill Rodneys now simply fire lasers. There is a new variant of the Foot that tosses dynamite at you, however, and the portraits of tigers randomly spring to life in the dojo stage; you’ll also encounter antagonistic snowmen that fire homing missiles at you in the snow-themed stage. All of the arcade game bosses return as well, but again with less dialogue and being far simpler; Rocksteady and Bebop simply blast at you and kick or punch you up close, for example, but you’ll still get (partially) roasted and blasted by Grindor and General Traag’s heavy ordinance. Two new stages means two new bosses, but there’s actually three new bosses in total as Baxter’s fly form replaces the duo of Bebop and Rocksteady at the end of the parking lot stage, hovering about and firing duel lasers from his antennae (or his wings, it’s hard to tell…) Anyway, Tora the polar bear awaits in the frozen New York City, though I never saw him do anything but wander around and punch at me, and the robotic bounty hunter/samurai, Shogun, battles you at the end of the dojo, swiping with his katana while his disembodied head flies about the place. The fight with Krang and the Shredder remain largely unchanged, except Krang’s sprite isn’t very intimidating and the Shredder can’t seem to one-hit kill you this time around; all enemies and bosses can also be defeated in one hit with God Mode activated as well.

Power-Ups and Bonuses:
Oddly, for a sidescrolling beat-‘em-up, there’s very few power-ups on offer here. The only item you can pick up is the health-restoring pizza and you can’t grab other weapons or gain any temporary buffs or bonuses, though it does seem as though this was originally planned for the game before the option was removed during development. The NES version stays true to the arcade in terms of power-ups and such, however I did notice an annoying lack of pizza, which no doubt would make the game more difficult for anyone not playing with the Cowabunga Collection’s enhancements activated.

Additional Features:
In terms of in-game extra features, you’re obviously somewhat limited here as this was a simple arcade release; you can play through again with a different character and try to beat your high score, or play alongside up to four players, but there’s no additional gameplay modes to be found in the game. The Cowabunga Collection adds a whole slew of additional features, however; first, you’ll gain a sweet 70G Achievement for finishing each game, you can use the Left Bumper to rewind the game if you mess up, and press the Right Bumper to bring up a new options menu that allows save states and display options. Even better, you can opt to activate a number of enhancements, such as the aforementioned God Mode that makes you invincible and allows one-hit kills on most enemies and bosses, alongside a level select, the removal of penalty bombs (which instantly kill you if you linger too long), and the ability to play in “Nightmare Mode”, which vastly increases the number of enemies. For the NES version, you can also remove slowdown and sprite flickering, give yourself extra lives, enable “Easy Menu Navigation” (which I found no use for…), and “Fancy Jump Kicks” for increasing aerial attack effectiveness. The best part is that you’ll still get your Achievements even with these activated; you can also play online, make use of a strategy guide, switch between the American and Japanese versions (though there appears to be little difference between the two), view the game’s box art and manuals, and even choose to watch the game play itself if you wish.

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The Summary:
Compared to other games of its era and genre, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is surprisingly light on features and content; there’s the most basic levels of combat and content on offer here, which probably puts it below other games of this type, which offer additional power-ups or combat mechanics. Yet, it’s the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game! Other TMNT games may have perfected the formula but there’s a charming appeal to the original. The classic 2D graphics, the simple beat-‘em-up gameplay, and the catchy, iconic music all make it feel as though you’re playing an episode of the animated series and really evoke the spirit of the influential cartoon. It might be a case of nostalgia goggles forgiving some of the game’s shortcomings but, for a straightforward TMNT adventure, it’s hard to deny that the arcade game is simple, evocative fun through and through. The NES title was legitimately impressive in its ambition; though obviously hampered by the limitations of the NES hardware, this version carries over all of the features of the arcade title (albeit far simpler in their presentation) as well as including new stages and bosses. For those who didn’t have access to Nintendo’s 16-bit console, the NES version of the arcade title is a decent substitute and a surprisingly faithful conversion considering the graphical downgrade, despite the lack of in-game options generally associated with similar sidescrolling brawlers. The additional features offered by the Cowabunga Collection only sweeten the deal; after years of being denied access to these classic titles outside of ROMS or unlockable bonuses, it’s great to be able to jump into them again at my convenience; both are short, snappy, fun-filled adventures that never outstays their welcome and the arcade title is especially important since it laid the foundation for future TMNT arcade titles so it’s a fun way to waste about half an hour of your life (or less if you plough through on God Mode!)

Arcade Rating:

NES Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Pretty Good

Did you ever get to play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles out in the wild or own it on the NES? How do you think it compares to other TMNT videogames and similar arcade fighters? What did you think to the NES version of the game, the new stages it added, and the allowances that had to be made? Which of the characters was your go-to and which of the game’s bosses was your favourite? What did you think to the additional features added to the Cowabunga Collection? Which of the four Turtles is your favourite (and why is it Raphael?) Whatever your thoughts on the Ninja Turtles, be sure to share them down below or leave a comment on my social media.

Game Corner [Bite-Size]: SEGASonic the Hedgehog (Arcade)

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SEGASonicLogo

Released: 1993
Developer: SEGA AM3

A Brief Background:
I may have mentioned this before but, back in the early-nineties, SEGA’s super-speedy blue hedgehog of a mascot was on something of a roll; Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic Team, 1991) had finally swayed videogame fans away from the Nintendo Entertainment System then, after the unforgettable and highly marketed release of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (SEGA Technical Institute, 1992), Sonic’s status as a cultural icon was cemented.

SEGASonicWorld
I briefly played SEGASonic at SEGA World.

It was amidst the wave of Sonic’s incredible popularity that SEGA decided to develop a Sonic title for the arcades, most likely as the arcade scene was still a popular way of enjoying videogames even with the Console War right on the horizon. Although it wasn’t the first time SEGA tried to get a Sonic arcade game off the ground, SEGASonic the Hedgehog is, perhaps, the most infamous. Featuring the debut of Mighty the Armadillo and Ray the Flying Squirrel (two characters that were long-forgotten by SEGA until very recently) and forgoing Sonic’s trademark speed, SEGASonic used a trackball to control its three playable characters and was pretty much exclusively released in Japan. I actually got to play the game at SEGA World in London years and years ago, back when that was a thing, but the game has never been officially released or ported to other consoles since quietly disappearing from the arcade scene.

First Impressions:
SEGASonic makes an immediate impression simply through its bright, colourful graphics; the game features a charming cartoon-like aesthetic, featuring some extremely expressive and amusing animations and facial expressions from Sonic and his two friends.

SEGASonicChase
Sonic, Mighty, and Ray must escape Eggman’s island.

Captured by Doctor Eggman and forced to escape from his hazardous island, players are tasked with battling the game’s awkward trackball controls and navigating seven isometric levels. Generally, players are chased by some kind of hazard (a wall of fire or a drilling machine, for example), must dodge past some kind of blockage (a cage, crumbling paths, or spiked walls and the like), and clamber across monkey bars to escape danger.

SEGASonicVariety
There’s not much difference between Sonic, Mighty, or Ray.

Sonic, Mighty, and Ray all pretty much control exactly the same; no one character is faster than the other, they all have a Spin Attack, and the only real difference between them is the way they animate when performing certain actions (Ray uses his prehensile tail to climb, for example). Each character has a health bar, in a change for the series, which can be refilled by collecting the familiar Golden Rings generously scattered across the game’s maps, all while being chased by Doctor Eggman.

My Progression:
Unfortunately, as SEGASonic hasn’t been re-released or ported to home consoles, the only way to play the game now is using a ROM and an emulator. Equally unfortunate is the fact that the ROM I have for this game is very finicky and prone to crashing; as a result, I didn’t manage to get too far in the game before the emulator crashed and kicked me out of the game.

SEGASonicBoss
My ROM crashed shortly after this boss.

I’m pretty certain that I managed to clear at least one level when I played the game at SEGA World but, on this playthrough, my ROM conked out on me shortly after clearing Trap Tower. I probably will reload my save state and go back to the game at some point to try and get a bit more playtime out of it but, as much as I love the obscurity and visual presentation of the game, the controls make it quite difficult to play (or, at least, play well).

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I love SEGASonic the Hedgehog; I would be so happy is SEGA got off their asses and made a real effort to put together a real, HD-quality port of the title that integrates modern analogue controls in place of the trackball. It, like Knuckles’ Chaotix (SEGA, 1995), is criminally under-rated, under-looked, and under-valued for its appeal and, considering SEGA loves to port and re-release their classic titles, it literally boggles my mind that we haven’t seen anything from this game in decades. The only thing holding it back from a full-blown replay is the dodgy controls (well, that and that unreliability of the ROM I have…); even when using a trackball, the game is difficult to control but, with analogue controls better and more sensitive than ever, I could see this game being a nice distracting for an hour or so if SEGA were to spruce it up and re-release it.

What do you think of SEGASonic the Hedgehog? What was your favourite of Sonic’s short-lived arcade games? Did you ever go to SEGA World in London? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Game Corner: Alien vs. Predator (Arcade)

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As always, I am opening this review by asking you to cast your minds back to the 1990s. This time, we’re specifically winding the clock back to 1994, a time when Xenomorphs had been off cinema screens since Alien3 (Fincher, 1992) and we hadn’t seen a Predator onscreen since Predator 2 (Hopkins, 1990). Both franchises were in a state of flux not entirely unlike where they are now; these latter sequels had resulted in divisive audience reactions, to say the least, and 20th Century Fox had made the genius decision to allow Dark Horse Comics to mash their two science-fiction/action/horror franchise together into a series of comic books, action figures, novels, and other media. Basically every type of media that wasn’t onscreen. This was also a time when the arcade was still going strong; sidescrolling 2D beat-‘em-ups were staples in arcades everywhere thanks to titles like Final Fight (Capcom, 1989), The Punisher (Capcom, 1993), The Simpsons (Konami, 1991), and X-Men (ibid, 1992) and violent videogames were suddenly massively popular thanks to the controversy surrounding Mortal Kombat (Midway, 1992). This was also around the time when adult films like Aliens (Cameron, 1986) and RoboCop (Verhoeven, 1987) were being turned into comic books, action figures, cartoons, and videogames. Mash all of these factors together and you get the topic of today’s discussion: Alien vs. Predator (Capcom, 1994).

The story is simple but effective.

Far from the disappointingly neutered down mess we got in AVP: Alien vs. Predator (Anderson, 2004), the arcade game of the same (well…similar) name is a straight-up combination of the balls-to-the-wall action embodied by the Colonial Marines and the Xenomorphs in Aliens and the brutal efficiency of the Predators. Rather than lumbering the story in the present day, Alien vs. Predator takes place in a far more futuristic setting more befitting the Alien (Various, 1979 to present) franchise, immediately making it look and feel like an actual entry in the franchise rather than a toned down cash grab. It is in this setting that the game shows a whole horde of Xenomorphs descending onto Earth and ravage the city of San Drad; although the cybernetic soldiers Major Dutch Schaefer (fittingly with the likeness of Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa try to fight them off, they are quickly overwhelmed but, surprisingly, saved by a group of Predators. The Predators, seeking to curb the infestation of their prey, ally themselves with the humans and the four set out to eradicate the Xenomorph swarm. If you think the idea of the Predators conversing (in English) with the humans is madness, it might also blow your mind to know that this plot was, apparently, based on an early draft for a potential Alien vs. Predator movie…let that settle in for a second.

AVPGameplay
Just keep killing aliens until the stage ends!

If you’ve played any sidescrolling 2D beat-‘em-up, you’ve played Alien vs. Predator; you select a character and battle from the left of the screen to the right, bashing enemies with simple combos, grapples, and a variety of weapons until you defeat a massive boss and clear the game’s seven stages. Up to four players can play simultaneously and each character has certain strengths and weaknesses over the others; the Predator Warrior is quite well-balanced, for example, while Dutch is a slow powerhouse. As you traverse each stage, you can pick up a variety of items and power ups; some, like gems and jewels, exist only to add to your high score while others, like pizza, soda, and chicken, replenish your health. You can grab pipes to bash in Xenomorph heads, grenades to blast them apart, and even the iconic Smart and Pulse Guns from Aliens to mow their numbers down.

AVPWeapons
This image will never get old

Each character also has their own weaponry and special attacks; the two Predators start with unique alien bladed weapons to increase their range while the two humans boast better range through their firepower. You can even use the Predator’s plasma cannon; while it is prone to overheating through repeated use, the “Super” power-up allows repeated use to decimate entire screens of enemies. At the cost of some health, you can also perform powerful special attacks, as is the norm for sidescrolling 2D beat-‘em-ups. Each stage is swarming with enemies, to the point where it’s genuinely tough to find your character much less plough through your opponents. Luckily, if you’re playing this on Mame or other arcade emulators, you can continue with as many lives and chances as you like until you clear each stage. To break up the monotony of the button-mashing and fighting, you’ll mount an M577 vehicle and blast away endless hordes of Xenomorphs and be tasked with destroying various objects under a time limit.

AVPEnemies
You’ll encounter some new Xenomorph forms as you progress.

Taking its cue from Aliens, most of the enemies you’ll encounter are various Xenomorph types, most of which were made famous as action figures and never seen in the movies. You’ll be blasting away at recognisable Xenomorphs such as Warriors (who resemble the Xenomorphs from Aliens), Stalkers (who are more like the Xenomorph seen in Alien), and Chestbursters but also encounter Alien Arachnoids, Smashers, and the Queen’s Royal Guard. Oddly, you’ll also come across zombie-like humans and cut your way through the Weyland-Yutani Corporation’s personal army as they seek to use the Xenomorphs as biological weapons.

AVPBosses
The game’s fidelity to the source material is impressive.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a 2D sidescroller without some big boss battles; you’ll battle the hulking Alien Chrysalis, the deadly Raor Claws, a couple of infected Predators, some Power Loaders, and, of course, the gigantic Xenomorph Queen…twice. Most of these bosses will also spawn a bunch of lesser enemies to distract you can whittle you down, meaning that it’s best to partner up with at least one other player to take on these big guys. While the gameplay and premise of Alien vs. Predator is nothing new or exciting, what sets it apart is its aesthetic fidelity to the look and feel of both franchise but, in particular, Aliens; the sprites and backgrounds are big, colourful, and full of energy, making you feel as though the iconic Predator has been dropped right into the middle of Cameron’s action/horror sci-fi classic, which is exactly what Alien vs. Predator should be.

AVPMulti
Team up with a friend to cut through the alien hordes.

It is extremely satisfying to punch and skewer your way through the seemingly-endless swarms of Xenomorphs and seeing a Predator wield the classic Aliens weaponry, as well as their own iconic weapons, never gets old. It’s repetitive at times, of course (it is a sidescrolling beat-‘em-up, after all) but it’s a fantastic way to waste an hour or so with a friend (or alone). While a similar title was also released for the SNES a year before, this classic arcade title has been lost to the mists of time and complicated rights and legal issues. Thankfully, thanks to the release of the Capcom Home Arcade, you can relive this timeless classic in the (relative) comfort of your own home (as long as you have the cash). Of you can just emulate the game on a Raspberry Pi or similar console and get to slaughtering those Xenomorph scum right away, and I highly recommend that you do.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Did you ever play Alien vs. Predator in an arcade? If so, what did you think? If not, why not go give a play? Either way, leave your memories and impressions below and let me know what you think.