This week we review Streets of Rage, 1942: First Strike and Karate Champ
Streets of Rage
Owned a Sega MegaDrive back in the day? You might remember Streets of Rage, a side-scrolling eighties beat-em-up that managed to overcome its rather banal gameplay with a great soundtrack and a decent co-op mode. In what is surely a financially driven move (read: quick buck) Sega have decided to port their minor classic onto the iPhone.
Set in an anarchic future, Streets of Rage gives you the option to play as one of three cops (Axel Stone! Blaze Fielding! Adam Power!) who have vowed to restore order to the city streets by killing everything that moves. To counter the iPhone’s lack of buttons, Sega have provided a virtual D-pad and requisite A, B and C buttons at the bottom of the screen.
The port is a clumsy one. The D-Pad in particular proves problematic due to a curious lack of sensitivity, extremely frustrating in a game that relies on timed attacks and careful positioning. Worse is a complete lack of co-op, a gleeful highlight of the original game. In fact, it seems the only ‘charming’ aspect of the original to have survived intact is the soundtrack. Cold comfort, really.
1942: First Strike
Another disappointing re-hash of a well regarded franchise, Capcom’s 1942: First Strike is a made-for-iPhone title based on their long standing plane scrolling shoot-em-up series, putting you in control of a plane fighting its way through waves of enemy forces.
Modeled first and foremost on the 2008 PSN/LIVE title 1942: Joint Strike, First Strike aims to give you an ‘updated’ version of the classic 1942 game experience. But unlike the downloadable title, which featured impressive 3D graphics, the graphics in First Strike are fairly mundane, full of cartoonish sprites and uninspired backdrops.
The controls, too, lack personality. The tilt mechanic is clumsily implemented; a lack of sensitivity makes it difficult to line up an accurate shot. There is the option to switch to touch controls, but a delay in responsiveness make these all but redundant. If you can put up with the ridiculous amount of variables, you can fiddle around with the sensitivity of the controls in the menu.
It’s not all doom and gloom: 1942: Joint Strike has a great soundtrack, and if you can manage to adjust the controls to a playable level then it offers brief fun. It’s just a pity it takes so much persistence to get there.
For those who don’t recall this gem, Karate Champ was a 1984 arcade beat-em-up commonly touted as one of the world’s first fighting games. The concept is simple: using two joysticks, you beat up a single opponent.
Developer Revolutionary Concepts have taken on the iPhone port of Karate Champ with great success. Two virtual joysticks (one for moving, one for attacking) offer near-perfect sensitivity, and the gameplay remains deceptively nuanced, with critical emphasis placed on timing and defence.
Aside from buttonless play, nothing else has changed. The original soundtrack, graphics, even old-school computer monitor scan-lines remain intact. Revolutionary Concepts haven’t toned down the difficulty of the original either; those unfamiliar to Karate Champ will find the NPCs unrelenting. Best to get in a good couple of hours in Practice Mode first. It's old school, and it's as it should be.