Sunday, 19 February 2017

Crows The Battle Action (Saturn)

It's an odd coincidence that there's two very rare Saturn games that are both beat em ups, both licenced from long-running non-game franchises that are associated with specific subcultures and they both have the word "crow" in their titles. Anyway, the awfulness of The Crow: City of Angels is a well-known matter of public record, but how does the other crowgame fare?

WEll, it's pretty good. You control your delinquent of choice, and beat up other delinquents, as well as yakuza members and what appear to be military-themed goons. The stages are surprisingly short, being only a couple of minutes long each, and mostly ending without bossfights, which tend to be relegated to their own seperate stages. Though the game looks nice, with well-animated sprites (even though they're super deformed, which doesn't really fit with the gritty image the game's trying to put across), the most interesting thing about Crows is how it plays, and the ways in which it's just a little bit unoriginal.

The first impression you'll get from playing is that it's a lot like River City Ransom/Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari. You have seperate buttons for punch and kick, and they don't really chain together well, and when you pick up weapons, punch swings the weapon, while kick throws it. So that's suspiciously similar to RCR, especially when you throw in the fact that it's a game about big-headed juvenile delinquents, right? The difference is that Crows uses every button on the Saturn controller (or at least, it has things assigned to all of them). There's buttons for quickly sliding across the  floor, taunting your opponents, blocking, and the shoulder buttons each have customisable combos assigned to them (which reduce your health at such a huge amount that they're rendered totally useless). Mostly, though, you can get by with just punches, kicks and weapon attacks.

It might sound like I don't like this game, but that's not true. It's a pretty good game, it's inoffensive to play, the problem is that it feels a little soulless, like it's just ticking boxes and passing time. Even most of the aforementioned controls feel like they're just there because the developers felt like they needed to use every button. I think the main reason Crows gets by is because the late 90s were an incredibly lean time for beat em ups as a genre, and as a result, there's very few of them on the Saturn, meaning that an okay beat em up gets elevated to being a pretty good one, just by virtue of its lack of competition. But obviously, in this day and age, none of that actually matters, since anyone with a computer can play pretty much any game on any system up to about ten years ago.

So yeah, Crows The Battle Action is an okay game, and it's definitely a lot better than The Crow: City of Angels. Don't pay the crazy prices it fetches online nowadays, though. Obviously.

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