GANG WARS / Alpha Denshi / Arcade

Gang Wars is an absolutely shameless clone of Double Dragon; the standing, punching, jumping and kicking sprites all look like they were swiped directly from that game's engine, as well as the way in which the enemies move.

That said, it actually does some things better. Your characters are customizable to some degree - they have ratings in Strength, Speed and Defense, and you start out by choosing different archetypes that have different mixes of those three stats. After each level ends, you'll get two or three points you can pump into the stats as you see fit. The graphics are also much more colorful and detailed than those of Double Dragon, particularly the backgrounds. There's also a bit more in the way of frames of animation than you'd expect from a late '80s game. And, while not great, the gameplay actually manages to be a bit faster and a bit more fluid than that of the original Double Dragon.

THAT said, the game still basically sucks. It takes you through five levels of easy, repetitive button-mashing punctuated only by boss fights that only become difficult when the bosses start getting extremely cheap. The game has about the most thread-bare plot imaginable; some dood who looks like a cross between Freddy Krueger and Choi Bounge has kidnapped The Girl, so The Fighters have to tear through city levels full of The Punks in order to recover her. This leads to the usual nonsensical mish-mash of mohawked ruffians, heavily armed stormtroopers, Shaolin monks and even tigers at one point to oppose you.

About the only thing really worth seeing are some of the laughable Engrish quotes when the gang leaders appear to taunt you between levels; these are accompanied by digitized voices that sound like they are computer-generated, and apparently digitized portraits of random hobos whose wax-like features and stiff gazes will probably disturb you to at least some degree. The one other lulzy point of the game is that, when the common enemies laugh to taunt you when you fall, the designers apparently just used some cheap canned laugh track sound, so it sounds like a studio audience is chuckling at your every failure.

Fans of unintentionally silly games and late-80s beat-em-ups set in Japan's paranoid, Hollywood-filtered take on American cities may enjoy a run through this one, but it doesn't last for more than half an hour or so.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video