STREET FIGHTING MAN / Sculptured Software / PC

Street Fighting Man is like an early, primitive River City Ransom in that you roam cities that have different gang territories and duke it out with the assorted punks. It's clearly drawing on the popular arcade beat-em-ups of the time like Renegade and Double Dragon, but it transports that formula to an isometric gameplay engine probably inspired by The Last Ninja.

Each new outing has you picking from one of five American cities, which escalate in difficulty based on '80s stereotype logic. Denver is the softest, you can step up from there to Atlanta, Detroit, LA and NYC. However, they all end up looking kinda like someplace in England.

No matter the city, the goal is to rescue our hero's blonde babe who has been tied up by the gangs somewhere. It's technically a non-linear game; the cities are small, but do have multiple screens and paths to explore. There is never much reason to explore other than finding a weapon laying about, however.

When you finally find the girl, you have to clear the screen of ruffians before you can untie her for an epic make-out sesh. If there are other gangs in the city that remain untamed by your mighty fists, you'll be sucker-punched and the girlie is transported to their turf to be re-rescued. Once you've rescued the girl from all the gangs, the game sort of locks up with an endless make-out scene while some bagel manlet flails at you in futility. The game doesn't appear to advance levels on its own, and in fact I couldn't even figure out how to quit out of this without completely shutting it down and starting over.

How weird am I for thinking this is actually a bit of oddball fun? Granted, it wouldn't be if it wasn't piss-easy as the clumsy control would make it a nightmare. It's a rare example of an '80s PC action-game having enemies that stun-lock when hit, bouncing back and sitting on their ass for a bit. Your character is a death machine with just his basic moves, and picking up a chain or pipe just expedites the process of mowing down the gangs. The only time there is any challenge is when a few of the guys that take multiple hits to put down manage to surround you from several different angles and attack at the same time (somewhat rare due to the game's bad pathing). But even this can often be defeated by just walking off-screen and going another way.

Definitely a crummy production but still kinda succeeds on some level in spite of itself; you gotta really lower those expectations coming in, though.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video