Will’s week-in gaming: Return of the brawler

September 12, 2006 at 1:52 am ($20 GOTW, Lost Classics, Video Games)

final_fight.pngThis week’s $20 GOTY and lost classics segments focus on the eventual re-emergence of the brawler.  Ever since the golden age of titles such as Final Fight and Double Dragon, arcade and console gamers have enjoyed bashing thier way to the other side of the screen using an assortment of moves.  However, after the 16-bit generation, the popularity of true brawlers has waned, due in fact to developer’s instance of making games in 3-d, including our belover beat-em-ups.  In recent years however, there has been a resurgance of intrest in the brawler, mostly due to the fact that developers have managed to do it the right way.  Lets take a look at two such games, one you may have missed, and the other being more recent.  BTW, starting this week, or whenever I stop being lazy, I’m moving this back to the weekend.  (Will’s week-in gaming.  Get it?)

$20 GOTY:  The Warriors (Xbox, PS2)

warriors-front.jpg Earlier this year, I did this as part of a double feature on Rockstar, but since it dropped down to $20, now is a good time to revisit it.  Not only does this game turn out to be a good look for brawlers, but also for licenced games.  It manages to address how to keep the story intresting for people who have already seen the movie by adding lots of new content.
“The warriors is based upon the cult classic 1979 film.  This is probably one of the most refrenced films in hip hop next to Scarface.  Anyone who has seen the film can tell that that could make a game in and of itself, but Rockstar manages to add in new content to flesh out the backstory.  You’ll learn how the warriors spent the summer leading up to the big meeting, get up close and personal with the gangs seen only briefly in the film, and even learned how the gang got together.  The game starts at the fateful night where gang leader and visionary Cyrus is gunned down, but in a Quentin Taratino-esque twist, we flashback to 3 months before the meeting, which comprimises 2/3rds of the game.  Rockstar attempts to reinvent the brawler for a new generation (an act barely achieved successfully by fighting force and Gekkido on the PS1) by combining elements of thier other titles such as GTA and Manhunt, and they succeed.   The environments are large and open with hidden objectives to discover, and some stealth elements and minigames help move this game away from the same ol same ol brawler territory.  Also to note is the team dynamic, in which you can use the right analog stick to issue commands to your AI controlled teammates.  Although it takes some time to get used to, this isn’t complicated at all, and you can do anything from having them wreck the place to watching your back.  The game also does a fine job of capturing the look and feel of the movie throughout the game, as much of the last third of the game is directly out of the movie.  Several unlockables (including a double dragon-esque arcade game) help round this out and keep players comming back for more.”

Lost Classic:  Gekido (PS1)

gekido.jpg This was released in 2000.  An excellent attempt at a 3-d brawler, this game didn’t change up the formula much, simply adding fluid polygonial graphics and some nice detailed backgrounds.  You play as 1 of 4 warriors (or 2 in a 2 player game, and even more are unlockable) out to solve the mystery of a kidnapped girl.  The cast contains the usual archetypes seen in brawlers (weak but fast girl, average guy, martial arts expert, bit strong guy), but it’s still a blast to play through.  There are also several versus modes for up to 4 players which serve as cool diversions from the main game.  Also of note is the character designs which were done by comic book artist Joe Madueria (X-men, Battle Chasers).  A sequel was released for the Game Boy Advance 3 years ago, and another sequel for PSP is currently in development, which is sadly turning out to look like a “Devil May Cry” rip-off.



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