Tag Archives: belt scrolling

Spartan X

Reviews
Spartan X Arcade - Title Screen
Arcade
12/1984 (Japan), 1984 (US)
スパルタンX
Kung-Fu Master
Spartan X was an Irem developed arcade game in 1984, released overseas by Data East as "Kung-Fu Master". It served as one of the earliest example of a side-scrolling "beat-em-up" game (or "belt scrolling action" in Japan), a genre that would absolutely blow up in popularity in both arcades and on consoles over the next several years. It's safe to say that none of the many titles in the genre to follow couldn't have existed without this one. Continue Reading

Double Dragon

Reviews
Double Dragon Arcade - Title Screen
Arcade
06/1987 (Japan), 1987 (US), 1987 (PAL)
双截龍 (ダブルドラゴン)
Yoshihisa Kishimoto and his team significantly evolved the beat-em-genre with Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun/Renegade in 1986. Technos Japan naturally wanted them to make more of these games, so they were tasked with just that. June 1987 would be the arcade birth of not only an even bigger success for Technos Japan than Kunio kun, but also the birth of another beat-em-up franchise and further evolution of the genre: Double Dragon. Originally envisioned as a direct sequel to Kunio kun, Kishimoto was given two mandates: This game should allow for 2 players simultaneously and have a bigger international appeal. Given that Kunio kun had to be visually gutted in order to sell it overseas as Renegade, a direct sequel was pretty much out of the question. So instead of taking inspiration from the Tsuppari genre and his own high school fighting experiences, Kishimoto pulled from another source that was dear to him: Bruce Lee. He particularly loved "Enter the Dragon", and so he came up with not only the title of the game but also the names of the protagonists (Billy and Jimmy Lee) from these sources. Continue Reading

Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun

Reviews
Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun Arcade - Title Screen
Arcade
05/1986 (Japan), 12/1986 (US)
熱血硬派くにおくん
Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio
Renegade
Delinquent high school students talking tough and beating each other up in school uniforms while sporting distinct hair styles is probably not unfamiliar to those who enjoy Japanese media. This genre, called "tsuppari" (or "yankii"/"yankee" as we got into the 90s), was very prevalent in from the 1970s through the 1990s. Technos Japan's Nekketsu Kouha Kunio kun ("Hot Blooded Tough Guy Kunio") was the video game front runner for this genre, proceeding even one of the most well known representations of tsuppari, a manga series called "Crows". It's unclear how much inspiration was actually taken from other media, but in a 2013 interview director Yoshihisa Kishimoto said that the game reflected his own high school experience. Continue Reading

Double Dragon

Reviews
Double Dragon (Famicom) - Title Screen
Famicom/NES
04/08/1988 (Japan), 06/1988 (US), 1990 (PAL)
双截龍 (ダブルドラゴン)
Almost a year after the original arcade hit, Double Dragon was brought home to the Famicom. This is the first of the handful of home ports that Japan would see of this game, and the NES version is probably among the first to be seen throughout the rest of the world (the microcomputer versions don't have exact dates associated with them, other than just 1988). The Famicom port probably didn't deliver the experience that big fans of the arcade version wanted, but it succeeded on its own merits. Continue Reading

The Kung Fu

Reviews
PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16
11/21/1987 (Japan), 1989 (US)
THE 功夫
China Warrior
Most of the beat-em-up games we've seen so far has been arcade ports (with the exception of the first three Hokuto no Ken games). The Kung Fu was obviously meant to be an arcade game in spirit, with Spartan X's DNA flowing strongly through it. The PC Engine was marketed as the next evolution of current consoles after all, so it needed something to set a fairly standard game like this apart from its contemporaries on the Famicom/NES and Mark III/Master System. That something would be giant character sprites, standing nearly the entire height of the screen. The story is about as standard as it gets: An assassin by the name of Wang (who looks remarkably like Bruce Lee) sets out to defeat the Dark Emperor and save the country that he has overtaken. To do this he must of course use his own kung fu to defeat other martial artists, and eventually the Dark Emperor himself (who turns out to be nothing more than a stereotypical practitioner of drunken kung fu). There are four stages (along with a bonus stage in which you stop a cursor on a power gauge in order to break a large pot), each divided into 3 separate parts that contain a boss at the end. You get three lives and up to two health meters to make your way through these stages, though it is possible to earn more through score and oolong tea power-ups (in the case of health). Continue Reading
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