MUG SMASHERS / Electronic Devices / Arcade
Mug Smashers looks almost exactly like cult favorite Combatribes, and even pilfers its soundtrack, but it was made by some fly-by-night Italian company that only ever released one other game, so I assume they had no affiliation with Technos and just hacked up or copied the Combatribes engine illegaly to make this game.
Even by arcade beat-em-up standards, its a pretty weird one. In broken English, we learn that Mr. Big of San Francisco's Chinatown (who is not at all Chinese by the way) is upset that a police woman has a dossier on him ... so he kidnaps her by tying her up and carting her off on a helicopter in broad daylight, right in front of our two heroes. So off goes Nacho Man and John Shaft the II in hot pursuit, through a few levels of standard beat-em-up fare, via a strangely circuitous route from San Francisco's Marina district all the way down the Embarcadero and then back around through the FiDi into Chinatown.
I'm inclined to think that they somehow reverse-engineered the Combatribes engine (in Hong Kong pirate style) rather than build this thing from the ground up, as the gameplay is actually surprisingly decent, yet the graphics look like they were slapped together in a week or so. The game's tone is the strangest thing about it; I can't tell if the makers were going for "intentionally silly" or were just completely clueless. Bums scratch their balls in the background, slouched up against walls full of colorful grafitti that looks more like stickers for little girls (Smile!). One common enemy is a shrunk-down version of Andore Jr., while another is a knife-weilding thug that stops constantly to swig on a bottle of liquor. And the bosses are all just some guy whose name ends in "-man"; Redman, Fireman, Bigman, and so on.
It's one of those games that's good for a laugh with a friend and passable enough to play, but does absolutely nothing to alleviate the stock repetitive tedium of the beat-em-up aside from just being bizarre here and there.
* Gameplay Video