So, the Black Panther movie is currently showing at several theatres around the world and to celebrate the 1st 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:
Well, this 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 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.
Anyway, you (and your panther partner) begin in the suburbs, armed with your Magnum with only 6 bullets in it and immediately you 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 enemies until you find the boss and defeat him (the levels actually end when you walk off-screen after defeating the 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 1 life and 1 health bar for you and another for your panther (that luckily replenishes at the end of each level) for such a task. With no health items along the way.
You control your character by using the directional keys (or pad if you’re using a gamepad) and only 1 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 on his own, although he can instant-kill any enemy, except for the bosses.
With just 5 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 true challenge in the game, although if you saved your bullets or obtained more, then you can simply shoot them off and be done with it.
Anyway, how’s the game technically? Not great, actually. More like awful, to tell the truth. The graphics are average at best (although the sprites are big), the sound effects are almost non-existent, the only music available in 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 just actually be the worst beat-em-up I’ve 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…
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 featuring an animal companion. But it ended up being an awful game that the only element that might get some attention is the panther itself.
But unless you can actually control the 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 exclusive beat-em-up because it’s one of my favourite genres. So, do you like beat-em-ups? If so, tell me which is your favourite one 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, 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.