Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Black Touch 96 (Arcade)

The title Black Touch 96 might sound like some creepy Qix-clone with lewd pictures in the background, but it's actually something totally different and equally as bad: an unfinished Korean beat em up (with lewd pictures between stages)! Though it's unfinished and therefore a bit rough around the edges, it still has all the typical hallmarks of terrible Korean arcade games we've come to know and hate over the years: low quality sampled music, power up items that don't seem to do anything, sound effects stolen from other games (in this case, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs) and generally unbalanced difficulty are all present and correct. However, it also has some quirks of its own, mainly aesthetic, to stand out from the awful pack.

For example, the enemies. There's only a few of them you'll fight throughout the game, but they are at least unique. There's a mutant man-baby thing that hits you with a wrench, a bald woman who takes off her wig to hit you with, and a fat guy on a skateboard wearing shorts, a vest and a horned helmet, among less interesting ones like the biker-without-a-bike, and recoloured versions of bosses you've already beaten. Of course, all of the above reappear again and again with different colour palettes, though their difficulty and how much health they have seems to be completely unrelated, as one enemy will go down in two hits, while the next one of the exact same type will take twenty seconds of solid pummelling. Solid pummelling is also the strategy for beating every boss: get them to the edge of the screen and hammer the punch button until they die or your arm drops off.

There's no choice of characters, you're stuck with a generic muscular guy, and your attack options are limited. You've got buttons for punches and kicks, a jump button that's completely pointless (you do a tiny little jump in place, and if you press kick while doing it, you do an unimpressivle spin-kick that removes a third of your own health bar), and you also have a once-per-life bomb attack. The bomb attack is at least hilarious, though, as rather than killing all the enemies onscreen, it just makes them run away. On that note, I should, in the interest of fairness, commend the game on its sprite-pushing ability: the character sprites are all pretty big, and the screen does get crowded at times, with up to six enemies at a time. There's no weapons to pick up, though, and very few power ups (lots of point items, very rare health packs that restore a miserly amount of HP, and even rarer invincibility potions and extra bombs), and really no variety at all in the stages other than the backgrounds (though they're not bad-looking, unlike the blotchy characters): just walking left to right fighting crowds of the same few enemies over and over.

There's not much to recommend about Black Touch 96. To be fair, that might be why the developers didn't finish it, they just saw that it was a dead end. Some arcade prototypes are glimpses at concepts that were just too out there to be marketable, or at cool games that just came about at the wrong time. This isn't one of those ones, though, and it's not really worth your time.

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