Wild Streets review

So, the Black Panther movie is currently showing at several theatres around the world and to celebrate the first Marvel movie starring an African superhero, I decided to review a retro title with a black panther in it and the only one that came to my mind was Wild Streets.

Wild Streets is an action/beat-em-up game made by Titus and originally released in 1989 for the Amstrad CPC and Atari ST. It was ported the next year for Commodore Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS and ZX Spectrum.

But as always, before tackling this beast, let’s look at the cover:

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Well, it looks like an 80s martial arts B-movie poster and maybe that’s the vibe they were going for. And Titus really wanted the black panther to be the focus of the game, but it really isn’t that important in the actual gameplay itself as you’ll see next. Not a great cover, but I’ve seen worse.

It’s time to boot this beast:

As you can see, the intro isn’t all that much, as it consists of an empty title screen then a recreation of the box cover. It really isn’t that great of an intro, to tell the truth. But the backstory is unnecessarily long and complicated (at least in the manual it is): in the distant year of 1998, New York is controlled by several streets gangs and somehow they end up kidnapping the director of the CIA, simply called “The Boss” (no relation to Metal Gear Solid 3‘s The Boss, I think), so you’re dropped in New York along with your Magnum gun and your trusty black panther to face the gangs and save “The Boss”. The manual even has profiles of all the characters, including the gangs and the bosses themselves. But I find it unnecessarily complex for a simple beat-em-up game.

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Anyway, you (and your panther partner) begin in the suburbs, armed with your Magnum with only six bullets in it and immediately have to face off endless waves of mooks. The objective in each level is to simply walk from left to right, defeating or avoiding all the mooks until you find the boss and defeat him (the levels actually end when you walk off screen after defeating said boss, which means you can still die even after defeating him). And to defeat the enemies, you kick their asses or simply shoot them with your gun. Luckily you can pick up extra ammo along the way. And you only have one life and one health bar (that replenishes at the end of each level) for such task.

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You control your character by using the directional keys (or pad if you’re using a gamepad) and only one button, which must be combined with one of the directions to attack. However, you can’t control your panther as he simply strolls along until he decides to attack someone, although he can instant-kill any mook, except for the bosses.

With just five levels, this game is extremely small and almost all enemies are very easy to defeat or avoid, even in the later levels. The bosses are the only enemies that can give you a proper challenge, although if you save your bullets or obtained more, then you can simply shoot them and be done with it.

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Anyway, how’s the game technically? Not great, actually. More like awful, to tell the truth. The graphics are average at best, the sound effects are almost non-existent, the only music available is the title theme and it’s equally average. The controls are garbage, whether you’re playing with the keyboard or a gamepad and the animation is also garbage. Wild Streets might actually be the worst beat-em-up I ever played! Yes, even worse than Ninja Rabbits! Hard to believe that the company behind good platformers like Fire & Ice, Prehistorik and Titus the Fox developed this atrocity. But then again, they also developed Superman 64

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So, as you can imagine, this is one game that I have to tell you to avoid. I think Titus wanted to capitalise after the success of Sega’s Shadow Dancer and made a beat-em-up with an animal companion in it. But it ended up being an awful game that the only element that might get some attention is the black panther itself. But unless you can actually control said panther (which would probably make a better game if it was the protagonist, or at least, a better premise), you can’t simply make a game around it. In case you want to try it though, then you can find it here and play it in your own browser.

Well, at least the Black Panther movie promises to be a good one, right? And I promise to try and find the best PC beat-em-up game, because it’s one of my favourite genres. So, do you like beat-em-ups? If so, tell me which is your favourite by commenting below, on our Facebook page, on our Twitter feed or on our Steam group.

Well, if you’ve been paying attention to the blog or our Twitter feed, I made a pool for the upcoming developer month and you all chose Bullfrog, so unfortunately, there won’t be any more reviews or posts this month, in order to prepare the retrospective for next month. So be sure to catch it at the beginning of March. Till then, let’s make our streets more civilised and continue on playing. See you around!

Duke Nukem review

I think reviewing the first titles of popular gaming franchises that still continue to nowadays, has become sort of a running theme around here, hasn’t it? Then again, a lot of popular gaming characters have humble beginnings, like probably the manliest character in video-game history having started in a shareware title. And believe it or not, I’m talking about Duke Nukem.

Duke Nukem is a platform/action game made by Access Software and originally released in 1990 for DOS. It was re-released digitally in 2013 for Macintosh and Windows.

And in proper shareware tradition, Duke Nukem is divided in three episodes, the first of which was distributed freely through computer software magazines in order to garner attention for the public to order the other two episodes by mail.

And like always, let’s first look at the covers:

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Because Duke Nukem is a shareware game, it was originally distributed on sleeves with just a screen capture image. However…

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box_dukenukemNow these are more proper cover art and are perfect for any action title. Our titular hero on the foreground surrounded by monsters is as classic action iconography as it gets. Although the first cover is very reminiscent of sequels’ cover art and the second cover is the most faithful one to the game itself.

Well, it’s time to boot this sucker:

The story is pretty simple but very Sci-Fi B-movish: an evil mad scientist called Dr. Proton creates an army of robots to conquer the world and only one man can stop him: Megam… sorry, Duke Nukem! And don’t be fooled by the title screen. You see, when Apogee created this game, they failed to notice that was already another character called Duke Nukem (one of Captain Planet’s villains), so they change the title to Duke Nukum to avoid legal problems. However, Apogee later found out that the name “Duke Nukem” was never registered, so they change it back in the sequel. However, it’s still possible to find earlier versions of this game with the original Duke Nukem title.

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Yes, believe it or not, this IS the original Duke Nukem!

The gameplay is actually pretty simple: you take control of Duke throughout ten levels per episode and face Dr. Proton at the end of the last level of each episode. You need to reach the end of each level and go through a door that takes you to the next level (except obviously, the last level), destroying several enemies and avoiding traps, initially with just your futuristic weapon. You can collect all sorts of items along the way, like extra guns to upgrade your weapon (only to increase the fire rate), helpful items like grappling claws or jumping boots (which some can be carried from level to level, but you’ll lose them all at the beginning of each episode), items just to gain points and healing items.

Some of these items can only be found inside boxes that are opened by shooting them. However, some of them might contain exploding dynamite that’ll hurt you. And there are special items that are essential to finish some levels, like keys and others. The enemies are varied and some require more than a simple shot to destroy. However, there are no bosses (except for Dr. Proton himself at the end of each episode).

The first episode is extremely easy and great for beginners, however the second episode might the hardest and longest of them all and the third episode might be a bit easier than the second one, but it has the toughest boss fight of all three. But you can play the episodes in whatever order you prefer. The first one, called Shrapnel City is your first battle against Dr. Proton as he attacks with his Techbot army. In the second episode (Mission: Moonbase), after defeating Dr. Proton in the previous episode, he flees to his hidden base on the moon and Duke gives chase after him and in the third episode (Trapped in the Future), Dr. Proton uses a time machine to escape to the future, but again Duke follows him for their final confrontation.

Like I said before, each episode has ten levels and I have to say that each level feels unique in their own design, with some labyrinths here and there and lots of hidden areas where you can find all types of bonuses. And since there isn’t any time limit, feel free to explore them to your heart’s content. You also have close to infinite lives, since every time you die, the game automatically loads the latest save state. And the game can only be saved between levels, so make sure to ALWAYS save after finishing a level. The worst part is dying near the end of a level and be forced to repeat the entire level.

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Because it’s a shareware title, Duke Nukem doesn’t have the best graphics for the time and the sprites are a bit small, but at least I like the colours and there are some nice graphical effects like reflective surfaces. The animation is equally simple but still quite fluid. But unfortunately, there’s no music (apart from some short tunes here and there) and the sound effects on the PC speaker are as primitive as they come. However, just like most shareware platformers, the best feature are the controls, which couldn’t be better. Using whether a gamepad or the keyboard, the controls are perfectly sensitive and responsive.

Of course, in this game, Duke hasn’t quite gained his “ultra macho” personality (nor his iconic sunglasses) which he became famous for, but you can still see some initial elements of it during his interactions with Dr. Proton.

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Although being a simple action platformer, Duke Nukem had the necessary success to warrant two sequels, the second of which became the smashing hit we all know and love, but that’s a review for another day. Still, for any Duke Nukem fan, I say to give it a shot (even if you don’t really appreciate platformers).

You can go here to download the first episode free of charge, along with a level editor (or here to play it on you own browser), but unfortunately, the other two episodes are no longer available digitally, so good luck finding any physical copies of them.

So, are you fans of Duke Nukem? Which are your favourite games? Tell me below in the comments, on our Facebook page, on our Twitter feed or on our Steam group. Next time, we’re back to the streets! Until then, keep on playing and chewing bubblegum (as long as you don’t run out of it).

Pool for the upcoming developer month

For the upcoming month of March, I’m going to do another retrospective month. But this time it’ll be a retro studio that was bought and consequently closed by EA. And you’re going to choose between FOUR candidates in this pool:

So to vote, click in the link above and choose which studio will receive a retrospective in this blog next March. Until then, keep on playing.