The Combatribes seems to be Technos' weird take on the classic 70's cheese movie The Warriors. The gameplay is like a knockoff of Super Double Dragon, but with most of the advanced moves taken out - no blocking, no countering, hell, no jumping or picking up weapons.

You play as either three giants, or three typical muscly dudes facing armies of midgets, I'm not really sure which. Either way, the size advantage turns out to mean very little given that the midget armies tend to be a lot faster than you, at least equally as powerful if not better, and swarm you in waves that don't follow the polite Double Dragon protocol of not hitting you in the back whilst you pound on one of them. These gangs all have themes similar to those of the Warriors like a clown gang, a rollerskating gang, etc.

In return, you have only a beefy short-range punch and kick. You can also grab dudes when you are close to them for a little extra power in slammin', and you can also violate their carcasses when they are down by either jumping on their back to slam their face into the pavement, or jumping on their chest. From a practical perspective none of these "grab" moves is really all that great, because there's very few points in the game where you will be up against only one enemy, and while you engage in grappling with one the others will simply kick you in the back of the head. The one useful move here is the Giant Swing, allowing you to pick up a downed foe and swing him by the feet. This clears hordes of foes out nicely, though seemingly doesn't do much damage, and you have a hell of a time knocking enemies down and getting over to grab them in the first place.

There are six levels, each capped with the expected boss battle, which pretty much always follows the same pattern. What happens is that the boss will come in equipped with some long-range weapon, and he'll send out some scrub (who infinitely respawns) to hem you up while he hides behind the scrub and spams the weapon at you.

The combination of the stiff movement and play control, your very limited suite of abilities, the power and aggressiveness of the enemies and the sometimes random-seeming hit prioritization and collision detection combine to make a game that is basically an ongoing cheap hit fest, and gets frustrating very fast.

The included V.S. mode almost makes it worthwhile - the game proper gives you passwords as you go that let you play as defeated bosses. V.S. mode is basically just the same stiff, clunky fighting of the regular mode though, just on a flat plane, and with the ability to do Street Fighter 2 style special moves that I can't seem to replicate in the regular game. So it's just like playing some crappier knockoff of SF2, basically. Amazingly, however, the game allows you to block by holding L or R in this mode - but not in the actual game! Jesus, how much that would have improved things. Implementing the special moves, too. Another bizarre design decision for the annals of history.

The game seems to have some sort of a small cult following, for the life of me I don't know what the appeal is except that you can grind faces into the pavement and Giant Swing a dood when he is down (possibly the first game to feature this move, I think.) The gameplay is pretty horrid, though, and the Wand of Gamelon-esque graphics and cruddy synth-rock soundtrack don't do anything to help it out. The appeal of Combatribes is still a mystery to me.

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* Gameplay Video