Kung Fu

Kung Fu - NES
Kung Fu, October 1985, Nintendo

Kung Fu

Where can you find a game loosely related to Jackie Chan, All Japan Pro Wrestling, every major Neo Geo fighting game, freaky oriental threesomes, and Tiny “Zeus” Lister? Grab your dogi, throw on your favorite slippers, and strap yourselves in because we’re in for a wild ride today Nintendo lovers! Who’s ready for some good old fashioned Kung Fu?

Kung Fu - NES
I’m a sucker for digitized dragons. Game B is just a fraction tougher than A.

Originally released in the arcades as Kung Fu Master, this was one wildly popular game. If you were alive, had a spare quarter, and were able to hold a joystick in the early 80s, you played Kung Fu. Everyone of age who experienced the thrill of kicking three baddies in a row hauling ass towards you never forgot it. The things about this game we DIDN’T know are easily just as interesting to say the least.

Kung Fu - NES
Jackie Chan didn’t hit it big here until 1995’s Rumble In The Bronx but we had unknowingly played a game for years that featured him in it and noone knew!

Launched in Japan as Spartan X, Kung Fu was actually based on the 1984 Jackie Chan film of the same name. Martial arts legend Chan played Thomas, the protagonist of the movie and game, who is attempting to save his girlfriend Sylvia from the most generically named baddie ever, Mr. X. The movie was released here in the U.S. as Wheels On Meals. No, that isn’t a typo, they actually thought that title was going to bring movie-goers out in droves. What the goatfuck you ask? Get this, the last two films the Golden Harvest studio shat out were named Megaforce and Menage A Trois. The executives got the oogy boogies about their next venture starting with the letter M, so Meals On Wheels got flipped on its ass and became Wheels On Meals instead. I couldn’t make this insipid shit up if I tried.

Kung Fu - NES
RIP Mitsuharu Misawa 6/18/62 – 6/13/09. Never forgotten.

Excuse me a moment for an out of character pause. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the main theme for Spartan X was used as the entrance music for Mitsuharu Misawa, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of any era who tragically passed away in the middle of the ring in June 2009. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word and a true ambassador to the sport. Rest in peace Emerald Warrior. I miss you.

Kung Fu - NES
Tell me this screenshot doesn’t make you just want to pop this fucker in

Beat ’em ups seemed to be released every week in the late 80s/early 90s with some legendary titles like Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Streets Of Rage, and Final Fight at the forefront. These and every game like it owe everything they are to Kung Fu. The first of it’s kind, they made it count (unlike Dk Jr Math) and it spawned more games that ate quarters than can be mentioned in one review. The lead programmer, Takashi Nishiyama, went on to Capcom where he was the head of a little game named Street Fighter. He could’ve been quite content with his legacy left at that but the guy went on to even greater heights when he was hired by SNK and designed a cutting edge contraption called the Neo-Geo System Board. This mad professor of gaming could’ve stopped THERE but what did this under-appreciated genius do as an encore? He created every major SNK fighting IP as he went along. Yes, the head programmer on Kung Fu is responsible for all-time heavyweights Fatal Fury, Art Of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, & the epic King Of Fighters franchises. Quite the fucking résumé no?

Kung Fu - NES
“What you got on my 40 homie?”

Onto the game itself, this is definitely one of the better Black Box games. By today’s standards, it would seem pedestrian but if you look at it in the same vein you’d hear a garage band’s first album before they refined their sound, there isn’t alot to complain about. You play as Thomas, going from floor to floor kicking and punching your way to the level boss. The true innovation here was that no two bosses were the same, a feat even Mario didn’t pull off. They aren’t just lazy palette swaps either as one throws a boomerang, another resembles Deebo from Friday, and Mr. X himself looks like Deadpool unmasked to reveal an 8-bit Owen Wilson. Even more awesome is the way they will laugh in your face if you grind through the level only to be defeated at the end. Oh, will it ever piss you off proper until you have the sweet joy of handing them their ass. In my opinion, alot of games today are missing that type of motivation to move ahead. Could be just me, but I’ll lose sleep to beat you if you laugh at me for failure digitized or not.

Kung Fu - NES
“Hmm, then again, I’ve been trying to dump her for a month now…”

Some may cavetch the game is too short but it’s in the vein of quite a bit of the older NES games in that when you see the ending, it’ll just throw you back onto level 1, ramping up the difficulty until you can’t handle it anymore. Sure, it’s possible to save the girl within a day of first playing but try to save her 5 times and watch controllers explode through windows. There is only one music track as you plow through the level but it is note for note faithful to the arcade version and doesn’t distract from the hectic action. Only negative I can think of is the unevenness of the challenge. Stage 2 is twice as hard as any of the other levels. If you can survive the falling snakes that take a third of your life and disco balls that explode into a 5 way spread shot the 2nd floor offers, this game is your bitch.

Kung Fu - NES
The, um, intimidating Mr. X


8/10 All beat ’em ups should look up at Kung Fu as their granddaddy and shower it with the respect it deserves. Hell of a challenge (bite me stage 2), original bosses, and a fun factor that forces you to get that much further each time you play. There was a sequel released only in Japan as Spartan X 2, but it didn’t capture very much of what made the original so special. One measure of a game to me is the ability to pick it up and play it without having to memorize a moveset, read a long-winded manual, or spend hours learning the controls a la Clu Clu Land. You moved forward and fucked shit up until the stairs, climbed up, and commenced to fucking more shit up, which sometimes, is all the good dumb fun you need. After all, it’s meant to be a game, not a college course, and this one hit the new concept it brought out of the park.

Kung Fu - NES
Only disappointment follows this here title screen.
This one was for one of the coolest cats I’ve ever had the honor of working with. Good luck in your upcoming future endeavors Chivo!

Riot Zone


Riot Zone

You might have heard of a game called Riot City, but because of Sega’s rights to the main characters and bosses, Westone and Hudson Soft had to do some creative reconfiguring and came up with Riot Zone. Riot Zone was released in 1992 for the TurboGrafx-CD and featured two characters out to stop an evil crime boss who kidnapped a girl name Candy.


Does this sound familiar or even kind of standard for side scrolling beat em up games? Well, that is because this is pretty standard. The game plays a lot like Final Fight and toss in some Double Dragon just because we can. The gameplay is simple, you walk from left to right fighting enemies that can appear from both sides of the screen. Like Final Fight, you face a boss at the end and move on until the final boss. Unlike Final Fight, there are no weapons, only items for health and points.

Check out the video review for Riot Zone.

Altered Beast


Format- Mega Drive

Genre- 2D Fighting platformer

Altered Beast

Yeah, I know. ‘Wise from your gwave,’ Elmer Fudd, etcetera etcetera.

It’s probably a small mercy for the game to be famed for it’s amusing opening voice though, otherwise it probably wouldn’t be remembered at all.


Basically a very straightforward side scrolling game where you punch and kick various nasties, the one thing the game has on its side is its almost incredible simplicity.

Altered Beast really has little in terms of depth – its just the same thing, for every level, with added difficulty the further you progress.


Move right, punch baddies, collect the orb from the special wolves, power up, find the boss, defeat the boss, end. Rinse and repeat.

The main variation comes from the bosses, but there’s little attempt to make the different settings (cave, gwaveyard (sic), etc) affect the gameplay in any way at all.


The game is still tough to grasp at first though, feeling clumsy and a little unfair. If you give it a chance however, you soon adapt to the attack patterns that are the most effective, and start making slow progress. It’s still a pain at times of course, but that’s probably to be expected.

There’s no real getting away from the clumsiness of the game in the end though, in both its controls and presentation.


The controls feel unbelievably wooden, mainly because the characters are all so stiffly animated. The whole things feel like a puppet show at times.

Graphics wise, the game looks good in stills, but in movement doesn’t appear so impressive. There are lots of things that look out of place, like the mist which bosses dissolve into when you defeat them, that just don’t fit into the aesthetic of the game. This results in giving the game a weirdly low budget veneer, even when you take into consideration its age.

All in all, the game’s a bit of a clunker that you’ll either despise or embrace for its dated look and feel. I personally have nothing against Altered Beast, but wouldn’t particularly recommend it to anyone.

Bad Dudes

“The President has been kidnapped by Ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue The President?”

Bad Dudes - Gameplay Screenshot - 1

The opening line uttered by the Secret Service agent immediately stirs the street fighter within you. Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja can be played in single player mode as Blade (in white pants); or in two player co-op mode – the second player controlling Striker (in green pants).

Bad Dudes - Gameplay Screenshot

Blade and Striker’s mission is simple: rescue President Ronnie by pummeling all kinds of evil martial artists across seven levels within the allotted time. The attack moves at your disposal are fairly basic: low, middle, and high kicks. Each fighter can also perform a mega punch by holding down the attack button.

Bad Dudes - Gameplay Screenshot

Should Blade or Striker get the better of their armed opponent, they can pick up the dropped weapon, be it a knife or nunchuks, and use it to extend their attack range. This comes in handy for the end-of-level bosses. Speaking of bosses, even Karnov makes an appearance.

Bad Dudes - Gameplay Screenshot

Once you have ploughed through evil-doers across seven levels, you reach the final boss – the one and only, Mr Dragon Ninja himself. Defeat this evil kingpin and it is happy times as President Ronnie is freed from his kidnappers.

Bad Dudes - Gameplay Screenshot


After the popularity of Double Dragon in 1987, it was inevitable that arcade developers would make 1988 a co-op beat’em up fest to cash in on the genre’s popularity.

Bad Dudes - Gameplay Screenshot
The late 80′s was truly the Golden Era of beat’em ups. Grab a mate, and hit Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja.


Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja:

Bad Dudes - Gameplay Screenshot

Manufacturer: Nihon Bussan / AV Japan
Developer: Data East
Year: 1988
Genre: Beat’em Up (side scrolling fighter)
Maximum number of players: 2
Gameplay: Joint (co-operative)
Joystick: 8-way
Buttons: 2 (Attack and Jump)
Sound: Amplified Mono (single channel)
Cabinet: Upright Standard
Levels: 7 (Street, Truck, Sewers, Forest, Train, Cave and Dragon Ninja HQ / helicopter)


Step into the Australian Retro Gamer nostalgic time machine as we go back in retro gaming history and relive the consoles, the computers, the peripherals, the games, the people, the players and the magazines that made us all feel warm and fuzzy on the inside and put a huge smile on our face. You can view his website here.

Toxic Crusaders

Toxic Crusaders

In 1992, developer Bandai published a side-scrolling license beat-’em-up cartridge for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This video game was called Toxic Crusaders, and based on the television cartoon of the same name. Loosely following the plot of the show, the adventure charges the player with cleaning up the streets of Tromaville as Toxie, the eco-friendly protagonist who has been tragically mutated into a hideous Toxic Crusader.

Toxic-Crusaders- nes - gameplay screenshot


This is a standard, basic, formulaic side-scrolling beat-’em-up: A button jumps, B button attacks, the directional pad moves. There are really only one or two pieces of flair to be found otherwise; for example, the player has a life bar, but also has a Mop Meter. The player begins with a mop to swing as a weapon, slightly stronger than fists and with a little longer reach, but loses it in one hit. If the player can somehow manage to keep the mop around, and gain a mop meter point to two, the mop shoots a projectile attack. If the player can get the mop meter to three, then the mop can be thrown like a big boomerang weapon and Toxie can punch as it flies.

Toxic-Crusaders- nes - gameplay screenshot

There are even the usual beat-’em-up elements like a skateboard level (quite essential to any 80’s or 90’s gaming experience) and even an underwater stage. The enemies are pattern-based, as repeated plays will make passing the waves of baddies much easier as the player learns their vulnerabilities, most of which amounts to “do not attack in a straightforward manner; rather, move up or down directly into an attack, or even let them move vertically to you as you are swinging.” Each of the six levels has a boss fight, and there are items hidden in destructible objects that can increase health or mop meter.


Toxic-Crusaders- nes - gameplay screenshot

This is one of the NES video games to incorporate parallax scrolling (the appearance of layers of background that move by in differing speeds), which is always a nice touch. To be honest, this is a solid-looking 8-bit game, with large, colorful characters, well-crafted backgrounds, and decent animation performance with less flickering and slowdown than you would expect. The year is 1992, and console developers have certainly learned to push the NES hardware and palette to their max, Bandai being no exception.


Toxic-Crusaders- nes - gameplay screenshot

The soundtrack is actually somewhat enjoyable, providing appropriate oomphy beat-’em-up tracks begging for some drum-and-electric-guitar remixes, even managing to range the gamut of moods from active inspiration to somewhat creepy in a minor key. The ditties do have some bizarre rapid screeching effects every once in a while, as though to purposefully throw the player off-guard. The effects are okay, but seem somehow a little off. For two examples: The pause noise seems like Bandai’s attempt at the classic effect of, say, Konami, or even Ocean’s superb pause sound in Robocop, only to not quite make it and seem a more sophomoric effort; secondly, check out the dying scream of the first boss for a true trip into weird-effect territory.


Toxic-Crusaders- nes - gameplay screenshot

This video game is not only based on a pre-existing license, but is so blatantly formulaic that even its one attempt at creativity, the Mop Meter, is just an inferior version of the scaling-weapon functions present in many other, prior existing games. The level designs are okay, but skateboarding and underwater stuff was hardly ground-breaking at the time.


Toxic Crusaders never achieves deep gameplay mechanics. The first level only has two types of enemies, as one example. This cart would have also benefited, at the very least, from having a two-player mode. Nonetheless, what players have is a watered-down version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with the environment-saving overtones of Captain Planet, driven through gameplay mechanics only a step above the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes NES game. Yet another license game that looks pretty good, sounds alright, plays okay, but never really reaches for greatness. This is a very average NES game that serves as a perfect case study of a Typical Early-1990’s NES Video Game, cleaning up a score of two and a half stars out of five. Oh, and expect repeat bosses. Also, try not to get a seizure from the intense flashing greens of the sewer water. Finally, remember: “DON’T BE A PUNK ‘” RECYCLE JUNK!”

Eric Bailey is a retro gamer on a crazy quest to write a quality review for every single American-released NES video game over at NintendoLegend.com.

Super Double Dragon

Super Double Dragon - Super Nintendo Entertainment System
During the late 80s and early 90s you couldn’t go to a video game arcade and not play a beat em up game. These games were so popular that people would spend all their quarters on them just to get past a few levels. The games were challenging but they were also about team work, or being an asshole. I’m sure many of you heard of playing cooperative mode only to have your friend pick up the power up which you needed the most. There weren’t that many good ports of arcade games to consoles due to the difference in hardware and such but there was a game that was purely made for 16-bit beat em up action, that’s where Super Double Dragon comes in.

Super Double Dragon - Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Super Double Dragon is also known as Double Dragon 4 and it’s by far the best Double Dragon game to date. The game’s soundtrack is a joy to listen to and the gameplay is incredible. You feel like you are in control of your guy more than in most other beat em up games. Billy and Jimmy come packed with amazing moves that help you create different ways to defeat the bad guys. Just like the other Double Dragon games, you don’t know how much life bar your opponent has so all that’s left to do is to beat the hell out of him (or her at some times but not in this game) and hope they will vanish after getting their ass kicked.


Super Double Dragon - Super Nintendo Entertainment System

The game doesn’t have that many levels but makes up for it with great level design. The places are very atmospheric to their surroundings and make you feel like if you are in that city looking at Billy and Jimmy beat up all these freaks. You’ll be able to use all kinds of weapons including knives, sticks, nun-chucks, and objects. They will become very helpful to defeat those assholes but you should beware of the knife because if it hits you, you are dead! There are different bosses in each level as usual but you never get the feeling they are the boss until they come out of nowhere and start to beat you up. They have no boss song or anything which makes the game look even more real, gotta love going in the streets and beating bad guys up. The police never shows up!



All in all, this game is a masterpiece and with added techniques and even the “bulk” mode technique you’ll be able to have a blast. This game is just that much funner with a pal as well. It’s for sure that two heads are better than one.

Streets of Rage 3

Streets of Rage 3 - Sega Genesis - Gameplay

This game is not my favorite but still good. It contains a lot of upgrades from the second one that will appeal to some and disgust others. it’s your choice if you want to pick this game up and play, but if you chose yes, it’ll cost ya quite a bit.

The game is part of the trend of beat em up games during the early 90s. This genre was very popular and both Sega and Nintendo wanted in on the money making beat em up master gaming goodness! In my personal opinion, the streets of rage games beat Final Fight by a long shot. By the time Final Fight 3 came out, it was just the same thing as the first one, except with different characters. Streets of Rage 3 introduced different characters as well as new aspects to make the game play different and better to some.

Streets of Rage 3 - Sega Genesis - Gameplay

Overall, I say it’s worth a pick up if you can find it for a reasonable price. The game usually goes for 30 dollars loose and at crazy prices boxed. I suggest you hit the thrift stores and keeps your eyes opened for this gem for the Genesis. If you are not into hunting, just pick up the Genesis Collection games for the new consoles which has all three Streets of Rage games. Pick it up, play all three of them, and pick your favorite, if you can that is.

J.A. P.S.

The music was pretty awesome in a drug induced way as well, check out this boss music!

[mp3player width=300 height=100 config=fmp_jw_osg_config-xml.xml playlist=streets-of-rage-3.xml]


Final Fight

[youtube id=”T7z1YpHbn9M” width=”633″ height=”356″]

There is no doubt Final Fight is a classic, from the hot pink wearing Andore to the classic car smashing bonus level it is a game everyone should play at least once. I mean a fully cooked turkey dinner right out of a garbage can! ~J.A. Laraque

Final Fight

The summer of ’89 was a great time for arcade goers thanks in part to the Capcom smash hit Final Fight. FF was one of the best side-scroller beat-em-up games of its time. If you loved plowing through tons of bad guys (and gals) then Final fight was for you.

The first thing any fan of Street Fighter would notice was the game mixed in the style and even some characters of the famed versus fighter. This was not just because it was made by the same company, but originally Final Fight was to be a sequel to the original Street Fighter. It was to be titled, Street Fighter 89’.

Final Fight screenshot

Final Fight was changed to a more Double Dragon style game. Final Fight had six stages which took you on a path through Metro City to save Mike Haggar’s daughter, Jessica from the Mad Gear gang. Before becoming Mayor Mike was a former professional wrestler and street fighter. Along with Jessica’s boyfriend Cody and Cody’s sparring partner Guy, Haggar sets out to bust some heads and get his daughter back.

The game was pretty straight forward you walked throughout the level being pressured to move on by the blinking and beeping hand as you punched, kicked and body slammed your way through tons of Mad Gear gang members. There were a wide variety of bad guys each with different looks and skills and abilities.

Final Fight Gum

Each player also had their own abilities for instance Cody could use the knife over and over where as the others would just through it back at the enemies. Guy was the fastest and deadly with the katana, but Mike was the strongest with his powerful grapples and slams.

Playing was simple as there were only two buttons, attack and jump, but like most fighting games you could pull off a special move by hitting both buttons at the same time. However, in Final Fight using your special move took some of your life. You could also hit attack and the forward direction to grab your enemies and continue your attack or toss them over your shoulder.

For me the various bad guys and bosses made the game. You had your average street punks that would just punch you and then you had knife wielding guys in camo gear named El Gato and fat guys named Cho who would charge at you with their bald heads. Final Fight arcade also had ladies you could lay the smack-down on which was weird and fun at the same time.

Final fight

Strangely enough the women characters were actually transgender, I wonder how the player was suppose to know that. The game was diverse not only in the bad guys, but in how many items you could collect. It seems in Metro city everyone stores items in garbage cans or barrels or phone booths. You would break these open and find everything from jewels to cash to even a full cooked turkey dinner.

A few of the characters from Final Fight ended up in future Street Fighter games including Sodom, Rolento and even Cody. You faced many bosses from the long haired psychopath who appeared in the opening sequence to a crooked cop that you could eat his discarded gum to replenish your health. (yuck!) The boss of all bosses was an old man in a wheelchair named Belger who shot a nasty crossbow that could take you out in a few hits.

When you kick the old man through the window Hagger get’s his daughter back and Cody and Guy walk off like they are badasses. (…and they are) When Jessica shows up I assumed Guy got jealous and decided to pull off a combo attack on Cody before leaving him to be kissed by the lovely lass.

Final Fight Double Impact screenshot

Final Fight was one of those games that after a stressful day at school you could play and release some anger on a horde of bad guys. While the graphics and animation were nothing special it did have some simple sound effects and music that kept you in the game. It also had a great “continue” screen where your character would wake up tied to a chair with a roll of dynamite ready to explode. If you put in a coin and hit start in time a knife would fall out of nowhere and cut the wick and you would magically appear back where you were knocked out.

When Final Fight came to the Super NES it was stripped down nasty style. The changed plenty like turning the girls into guys, removing Guy, which was just a sin, and cutting out any blood and alcohol in the game. I still played it but it wasn’t the same.

turkey final fight

For you XBL and PSN fans good news Capcom has announced that they will release the arcade version of Final Fight to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in a two-in-one bundle titled Final Fight: Double Impact, which will also include the arcade game Magic Sword. A release date is set to April 14 2010 for Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft points and April 15, 2010 for Playstation Network for $9.99.

There is no doubt Final Fight is a classic, from the hot pink wearing Andore to the classic car smashing bonus level it is a game everyone should play at least once. I mean a fully cooked turkey dinner right out of a garbage can!