NIGHT SLASHERS / Data East / Arcade

I'm surprised I never encountered Night Slashers during its arcade heyday, or ever even heard of it until now. It's yet another beat-em-up from a time period when literally five arcade beat-em-ups came out per week, but this one actually has great graphics for its time, solid gameplay and a compellingly goofy-yet-bloody theme.

So - it's the near future, and a portal opened up to the Demon World or whatever. Now Earth is overrun by a cadre of monsters straight out of Hollywood/Resident Evil/Castlevania. The remaining survivors are shut up in military bases, rapidly running out of food and supplies. The world's last hope? Three superhumanly endowed martial artists who head out to take down the leaders of the monsters and seal off their portals.

So, you've got some kind of cyborg football player, a well-dressed English vampire hunter and a female Chinese martial artist. All are equipped with a punch/kick combo, jumping kicks, a dashing attack, and the requisite attack-jump move that wipes out everyone near you but also takes a hunk of your life. Night Slashers has one unique quality I've never seen in any other beat-em-up, however; your moves randomly do "critical hits" that take more damage off the enemy than usual.

The staple enemies are hordes of zombies, but you'll fight most of the Castlevania regulars at one point or another - werewolves, Frankenstein's Monster, a giant mummy, vampires and Death. The mummy has apparently learned kung fu, however, but otherwise the enemies are somewhat copypasta'd. While not original, there is a certain satisfaction in punching Death in the face and then judo-flipping him, particularly when he used to kill you all the time in the original Castlevania. No floating and stupid little sickles here, Death, it's you and me fist-to-fist, real man style!

As with all beat-em-ups, the game tends to get a bit repetitive in the later levels, as you face waves of the same enemies over and over. The monotony is broken up by a couple of cute mini-games, though - one is a variant on Whack-A-Mole where you have to stomp on zombie heads as they pop out of the ground, and the other is basically a zombie shot put.

It's a typical Final Fight clone, but Night Slashers is cute and playable enough to be worth a look for old-school arcade fans. A good choice for a drunkard night with a couple of friends over MAME and Kaillera.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video