25 November 2014


Publisher/Developer:  Sega/Irem (arcade original)
Format: Cartridge
Game Size: 256K
Rarity:  2
Game Type: 2d Brawler
Region: USA
Other Ways to Play: Turbografx 16 (Version on Wii Virtual Console), PC (Arcade Emulated and a free fan remake), Amiga, Amstrad, Atari ST, Commodore 64, MSX, ZX Spectrum
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 Button Pad Capable.

Price I Paid: 8 Dollars
Price I Would Pay: 5 Dollars
Condition: Game, Case, Manual
Game Rating: BAD
My History:  Bought about a year before the project began.

  Vigilante has so much in common with the previous game I reviewed this month (Black Belt) it isn't even funny.  Like the previous review it is a 2d walk left with no real terrain to traverse and you just punch and kick dudes to reach a boss with a life bar like yours to kill to go to the next one till you rescue your lady because in the Grim Darkness of Reagan and Thatcher's 1980s Women are Merely Objects.

  Also like Black Belt the game is short as hell and throws an unfun difficulty curve at you to turn a 15 minute or so run into hours of frustration instead of fun and interesting game content.

  Where Vigilante is different is first off in the setting.  It is modern day in that oh so infamously crime ridden New York City like land before they got all the Porn off 42nd Street.  (Reagan and the Iron Lady merely gave the suits more ways to be criminal jackasses instead of poor people.)

  Also the graphics are GREAT.  I mean they are some of the prettiest 8 bit graphics I have seen in a game.  Every level looks pretty good with some being fantastic.

  Where this game is really hurt however is the CONTROL.  Oh god is the control in this game terrible.  While most of the controllers I used played decently enough (outside of the Master System Control Stick anyhow) the two button control when three are clearly needed make doing jumps difficult, and doing jump kicks or punches practically IMPOSSIBLE.

  Thankfully there is only a single boss that requires some jumping attacks though playing the game without exploiting the design probably would have been nice.

  As you walk through each of the stages you can find a weapon to pick up and you WILL NEED IT as the worst part of the game might not even be the control but the hit detection, something the weapon doesn't have to worry about.

  You see much like the NES classic Kung FU one of the most common enemies are these annoying guys who try to hug you to death like an evil version of Olaf from Frozen.

  And apparently they have Olaf's abilities to ignore physics.  You see your punches and kicks only connect with a single enemy at once.  And the Huggy Guys require nearly PERFECT placement of said kicks or punches for the attacks to register, leading you to have multiple guys glomping you like you are a hot cosplayer girl in a Chun Li outfit at a Nerd Con.

  Oh and did I mention many enemies have multiple wounds or ranged attacks?  And that they tend to get knocked back by your hits?  And that they generally won't attack you close in until you are getting hugged where they then take cheap shots?

  Yeah.  This game goes there.

  Thankfully you have unlimited stage continues and if you have extra lives you have a pre boss checkpoint.  Though in many cases you want to walk back and go grab the nearest weapon pickup and hope you don't take enough hits to lose the weapon before you can curbstomp the boss with it.  Without the weapon many of the bosses become very difficult indeed.

   If you MUST play Vigilante get DotEmu's Irem Arcade Hits collection and play the arcade original.  It sounds a lot better, the control is a LOT tighter and your hits connect to Huggy Guys much better.  However the bosses are harder and you take a lot more damage per hit than the SMS port here.  But you continue on from exactly where you lost a life which helps a lot.  Plus you can COIN IN TO VICTORY if you really want to.  I'd say go play Kung Fu on the NES, or Bad Dudes on your favorite Arcade Emulation solution or the Wii Data East collection instead.  Those are good fun for 2d Beat em Ups.

 (Next three shots are from a Genesis with Power Base Convertor.  I think.)
 I'M PUNCHING THE DARKNESS!  Might as well really.

 The first boss.

 Before I learned to stop worrying and avoid exploding motorcycles.  As you do.

I paid like 5 bucks and got a TON of DotEmu games including a ton of fairly decently emulated Irem arcade games.  The program that runs them isn't PERFECT by any means but.. it'll do.  (Buy it for Gunforce and In the Hunt.)

The arcade game has less colorful but nicer graphics.  And meaty sound.  In general it is better than the home port in every way.  Except you die in like 3 hits.  Look above.  That's a SINGLE GRUNT HIT ON YOU.  Seriously.  On the upside no checkpoints and you pop up on the spot.

Arcade cutscene.  I guess they really don't like the Material Girl's religious weirdness...

(Next three shots are from the Master System.)
 Junkyard in a jumper.

 Hmm.. this isn't supposed to take place in New York City or anything right? (This is the title screen if it wasn't completely obvious.)

This is.. unfortunate.  Also the motor bikers are annoying.

The rest are Kega Fusion shots.
 Well its MARIA now and the bad guys have gone equal opportunity.

 How to deal with annoying huggy SOBs and bad hit detection?  Just jump above them and they keep on truckin!

 Well they kept the cutscene bits pretty much.  So bonus?

 What you will understand about this game: DUDES GANGING UP ON YOU.

 How to beat all the bosses.  Crouch and use nunchaku.  This sometimes involves walking left instead of right before you fight the boss.  Don't try fighting the bosses without your wobbly black tube.  Gamecube not included.

 Good old 80s videogames.  Where women were just things to save.

 Don't have the Michaelangelo Special?  Long reach bosses own you.

Ding Gratz now you don't have to play the game.

  Master System Play:  It seems to pretty much look the same as the Genesis with Power Base as the screenshots above show.  The game is so good looking and colorful the normal SMS Bleed doesn't seem to crop up as bad as it does in other titles.

  So like Black Belt this game can only be rated as BAD.  The dodgy control and annoying hit detection make for a game that feels bad and merely ends up as frustrating and not fun.

 Next Review:  Next month is a busy one because of Holiday Hell.  Extra hours at work plus the holidays reminding me how lonely and miserable I usually am while any poor schlub who works retail gets to have their time taken away from their families even more than I did when I still had a lot of family alive.  So I am gonna review some games I have already played enough of so I can get em out quickly.

 So December will be WHY THE HELL DID YOU GET JUNIOR A MOTORBIKE FOR CHRISTMAS ITS GONNA KILL HIM Month.  Hang On and Enduro Racer will be taken out for a spin before Once Upon a Time's Ice Queen Cougar turns New England into a snowy wasteland of Masshole drivers driving so slowly as to make me go backwards on snowy hills to work.

  Instead we can just let out the throttle on 8 bit bikes!  Look forward to it or something.

12 November 2014


Publisher/Developer:  Sega
Format: Cartridge
Game Size: 128K
Rarity:  2
Game Type: 2d Brawler/Fighting game
Region: USA
Other Ways to Play: Original Japan Mk3 version as Fist of the North Star.  Wikpedia mentions it being on Nintendo Virtual Console but it is not listed for the Wii or 3DS.
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 Button Pad Capable.

Price I Paid: 6 Dollars
Price I Would Pay: 5 Dollars
Condition: Game, Case
Game Rating: BAD
My History:  Bought a couple months before the project began.

(First 5 screenshots are from the Genesis)
Title Screen

Stage 1 Grunt enemies with some life restoring sushi in the air.  Confusing no?

One of the first stage mini bosses.   All but one of these guys are generally pretty easy, with a two pack on the last scrolling stage a bit of a chore.

Stage 1 Boss.  He hates being punched in the face.

 Stage 2 Boss.  He throws wussy boomerangs at you. Here Riki is doing a Fist of the North Star multi hit finishing move on him because the game is a reskin of a license game.

(Next three images are from a Master System)

 SMS flicker in effect!

Game contents

Kega Fusion shots are the remaining images
 Bosses hit harder than you.

 Time to fight off these WWF rejects.

 The third level boss is what will let you know if you like this game or want to destroy everything you can get your hands on.

 In the future Grace Jones got cloned.  And steroids. 

 The last normal level boss.  She cheats.  All the bosses cheat.  This game doesn't like you.

Yay we saved the princess.  This is basically all the missions in mid 80s games.

  In Black Belt you play reskinned Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star Riki out to walk left and right through 5 levels of punching and kicking.

  The basic gameplay involves a button to kick, one to punch, and depending on how you press the control pad two levels of jumping. (This sort of thing will hurt a lot of games in the 80s.)  Most of the time you walk right kicking and punching one hit grunts who show up in as many numbers as they can without causing too much flicker.

  Sadly these main gameplay stages are simple looking, but a nice parallax scrolling trick helps it not be too ugly looking.  But outside of beating up baddies the only obstacle is managing a down pad/up pad combo press to jump up to grab life restoring sushi or the other floating object ( a Japanese glyph) which gives you a number of invulnerable hits.  Of course these objects are floating quickly by .  Score gives you a number of extra lives which you WILL need because there are no continues and the other gameplay section all but require as many as you can get.

  While during the scrolling part of each level have a few mini bosses that are mostly easily killed, the six end bosses (one for each level and then the final boss) are really the opposite.

  Like I am talking cheesy and unfair.   Like Mortal Kombat or King of Fighters endboss levels of complete BS buggery.  Even using some save states to give the bosses some practice wasn't helping after a point.  

  The first boss is easily figured out once you realize punching him in the face is all you need to do.  The second is a pushover.  But then the Sumo dude on the third level shows you what the game has in store for you.  You are dead in three or four hits while you have to either exploit broken game AI, or figure out just exactly what you have to do.  Bosses 3-6 really are unfair!  In fact the fifth requires you to figure out that you have to use a set of attacks in order, then repeat it.  

  This is bad game design.  No real clues, merely exploiting the AI because it doesn't even have patterns to memorize.  It just makes a 15 minute game of walking to the right and hitting things that explode into triangle parts almost unbearable as you are forced to replay things over and over and over until you figure out how to defeat each boss, have someone tell you how, or throw the cartridge out the window out of sheer frustration and repetition.

  It is just.. half a game.  I have heard that most Master System games were programmed and released in three or four months.  By 1986 this really just wasn't going to cut it on consoles.  While cheaply priced UK microcomputer games could get away with this over there this just doesn't work on games you have to pay five times or more the cost for.  

  No platforms to jump or environments to explore.  Just brutally unfair bosses after some time walking across a flat plane punching or kicking some dudes.

   What's sad is the graphics aren't bad and neither is the control outside of the jumping being a bit of a pain to do.  The sound is ok, and the game feels solid to play.  But.. the bosses and the sheer lack of anything to do or see kill this game.

Master System Play:  It plays fine on the Master System.  While the images are of course a bit color bleed happy as the MS normally is, everything is clearly visible.  The Master System Pad plays well as does the 6 Button Genesis.  The Epyx 500xj plays this well too.  The Master System Control Stick is terrible, being almost incapable of making forward jumps, which you NEED to be able to do to fight some of the bosses.   The Genesis Power Stick plays it fantastic.  

  So... I am sad to say but the game is BAD.  It just doesn't have anything to offer outside of frustration.  It isn't completely awful but it just isn't worth anyone's time now if it was even worth it then.

Next Review:  Another game much like this one.  VIGILANTE.  Will it be better?  Let's find out in two weeks eh?