Friday, 20 September 2013

Retro Review - Crime City (Arcade)

Do you feel lucky? Punk!

As a huge fan of Taito's arcade games of the 80's and 90's, not to mention the platform run & gun genre in general, I was delighted, yet also surprised, to discover Crime City only recently. Released at the end of the 1980's, Crime City puts you in the non-regulation shoes of a plainclothes detective on a mission to rescue the city's major and put an end to the huge crime spree sweeping the city. A cliched plot devoid of any originality whatsoever, this theme carries over into the game itself, which plagiarises  pretty much every platform action game that came before it, as well as many popular movies of the 1980's, most notably the Lethal Weapon series - the two main characters are a black and white detective named Tony Gibson and Raymond Brody respectively.

Over the course of the meagre amount of sidescrolling stages you will shoot and punch your way across streets, a bank robbery in progress, warehouses, docks and, of course, the obligatory 'lift' stage. The highlight is actually the second stage in which you are running along the roofs of lorries and cars as they speed down the highway, an idea stolen straight from Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja. There is some respite from the constant samey action in the form of two, very brief, shoot-into-the-screen sections that are a take on the Cabal / Blood Bros / Nam-1975 games, as well as some stages scrolling from right to left (but only in the World ROM, the US version sticks to left to right scrolling only), but otherwise it is a fairly generic and repetitive affair that can be finished in about 20 minutes.

There is nothing really wrong with Crime City, but it fails to provide anything that grips you and does absolutely nothing that hasn't be done better elsewhere. The game is solely constructed of ideas and elements from superior games such as Shinobi, Robocop, Bad Dudes, Rolling Thunder and a ton of other similar titles. Crime City tries hard to reach the same heights as those great titles but is let down by clunky controls, poor character animation and movement and (with the exception of the aforementioned highway section) bland environments to traverse. It is also exceptionally hard due to the size of the enemies and the lack of manoeuvrability of your character. Without the interactive doors featured in Rolling Thunder and Sunset Riders, the varied stages of Shinobi, the multidirectional shooting of Robocop (here, you can only fire forward), or the satisfying fisticuffs of Dragon Ninja, you are left with a dull affair that will barely hold your interest for its short duration.

It's a shame, as Taito are responsible for some of my favourite arcade games, but here they have failed to capture the magic of the previously mentioned games from other developers, or to offer anything remotely original. The graphics and sound are acceptable, with some amusingly bad cutscenes in-between levels - themselves a complete copy and paste job of those seen in Taito's Chase HQ series - and some colourful in-game visuals that initially impress but soon become tiresome due to the lack of variety. However, while fun for a short while, the gameplay lets Crime City down, and it just leaves you wanting to play one of the far superior games it tries so hard to imitate.

Title : Crime City
Developer : Taito
Year : 1989
System : Arcade

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