Review by PickHut

"Upgwade!"

Capcom has made a lot of beat'em ups during the late 80s and most of the 90s, some of which were street brawlers that involved mayors and ninjas, knights and magicians that fought inside dungeons that possibly included dragons, and a game where you run around in giant robots, tearing stuff up. So, after making a variety of brawlers, how does Capcom attempt to make another one without it feeling like a rehash?

I guess by going crazy.

Battle Circuit is most likely the result of the craziness, because it's one of the more kookier beat'em ups Capcom has released. You'll realize this the moment you enter the character selection screen and set your eyes upon the five "characters" you can choose from. Cyber Blue is the most normal of the bunch, which isn't saying much, because he is basically a Captain Commando look-a-like, give or take a few cosmetic changes. Then there's Captain Silver, an experienced bounty hunter that can stretch his body, and Yellow Iris, a beast woman that also happens to be a part-time model (eat your heart out, Cheetara). It gets weirder from here with Pink Ostrich, a... pink ostrich who sports an eye-patch and has her owner, who happens to be a little girl, ride on her back the whole game, and Alien Green, an extraterrestrial that resembles a venus flytrap. Man, imagine being attacked by something like that on the streets.

Once you pick your character, you'll immediately be dropped into action, getting inside a spacecraft as it's about to self-destruct going into the Earth's atmosphere. With a timer planted right in the middle of the screen, you'll only have a few seconds to take out a bunch of reptiles in battle armor. Defeat enough of these creatures, and the boss himself, Dr. Saturn, who literally has a head shaped like the planet Saturn, along with his little, green glob minion, will join the battle in an attempt to beat you down. Of course, you, being the expert at brawlers, easily take him out with your masterful use of the punch and jump buttons!

What... there's only one attack button? Don't fret! Despite that, you'll have a range of attacks you can perform. You'll just have to purchase them, first. You do this by collecting coins dropped from the enemies you defeat, and normally from the barrels and crates you'll destroy along the way. Which also includes items such as a burger and a plate of curry, of course. At the end of each stage, you'll be sent to an "upgwade" shop, where you can pick from a variety of moves and items that can greatly affect how you fight future battles. This shockingly implements an element of strategy into the game, as you'll have to figure out if you really need a certain move for the next stage, or just skip buying anything at all and wait until next time when you have more money to by the expensive ones. And you're going to be needing these moves for all the oddball baddies you'll be facing in Battle Circuit.

After you're finished with Dr. Saturn in the first stage, you'll be sent next, of all places, to a disco. An onslaught of Robotnik-style robots, more reptiles in battle armor, and mutated freaks with four arms will take you on. Meanwhile, the audience, which includes men in spandex costumes with antennas on their heads, chicks with big afros, and buffed-up, mustache men, sporting small hats, watch and dance in the background. Eventually, you'll make it to the boss, Johnny, who happens to be an Elvis impersonator. As you try to defeat him with your still-limited move set, he hops, slides, and sings his way around the arena, while his little, robot goons get in your way. Finally take him out and what do you witness? A smaller, fatter Johnny lying on the floor, passed out. At this point, the game attempts to form a plot when Johnny drops a disc. Plot? In a beat'em up? Madness! Unfortunately, you can't skip any of the dialog boxes that pop up during the game. You can press the button to make the text go by faster, but it still temporarily puts a dent into the flow of the action.

As you progress further into Battle Circuit, you'll meet more varied enemies. You'll run into a group of biker chicks whose breasts pop out of their open jackets a lot, fight against Dr. Saturn's lover, a giant, amazonian-type woman who attacks with jellyfish, and avoid moving, spiked mines while you drive down a highway on your hover board. The more bizarre encounters happen later on, when you go up against a huge baboon named Doc, who always holds a female puppet, Jennifer, in one of his arms. Then there's Zipang, a red robot who rides around on a two-headed creature that vomits oil. Around these points in the game, you'll have (hopefully) built up a sizable move set. These are normally performed by doing specific motions on the stick, then hitting the attack button. Like a fighting game. Hit down, up, then the punch button, and your character will launch into the air with an uppercut attack, hurting multiple foes if you're in the right spot. If you wanna dive into an enemy, you can dash toward them, jump, hit punch, and you'll fall towards them with a strong kick assault.

The game plays very similarly to Captain Commando, with one notable difference: Battle Circuit is better. CC had a limited move set, with just a normal punch attack and a super attack by hitting both the attack and jump button. The game got old, fast. BC starts out with a limited move set, but it grows as you go on, making each fight more varied as you attempt to combine these moves on poor saps. Of course, the unique cast of characters make it a much more interesting, refreshing title to play through. While it won't dethrone some of Capcom's past titles in terms of gameplay, it's still quirky, flexible, and fun enough to warrant multiple playthroughs with your friends.

Yes, I know it's something you just won't see in the arcades, so MAME it.

Yeah, I said it.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/25/08

Game Release: Battle Circuit (JP, 12/31/97)


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