Review by xenodolf
"Jaleco’s humble precursor to the Rushing Beat brawler trilogy."
Neither Jaleco nor their Rushing Beat franchise are exactly house-hold names to the average gamer (Rushing Beat was released in bastardized installments here in America as Rival Turf, Brawl Brothers, and The Peace Keepers). However, if you've read my reviews for the SNES/SFC beat em series here on GameFAQs I've given most of the titles a healthy dose of praise with even the lowest-scoring game of the trilogy earning a respectable 7 out of 10. While 64th Street doesn't seem to be part of the same universe as the aforementioned trio of games, it shares a similar vibe and clearly laid the groundwork for the later titles even if a lot of the foundation seen here isn't nearly as refined.
64th Street starts out with a nice departure with the typical kidnapped girlfriend and/or cops cleaning up the crime-ridden streets cliches. Set in 1939, two private eyes are on the case of a missing girl when one of them discovers a series of coded messages in the wanted ads of the newspaper that matches the syntax of their client's ransom note. A conspiracy unravels involving a steam-punk themed human trafficking scheme that on a superficial level sounds pretty cool. The problem here lies in that the dialogue for the story seems poorly translated, with 1939 persons using modern slang like dude, while the overwhelming majority of enemies in the game look like they're dressed for a role in an 80s / early 90s game instead of the time period they're supposed to take place in.
The visual department certainly isn't ugly, but there isn't much here that couldn't have been done (and in the case of games like Final Fight, was done was certain) several years prior. Enemies look pretty average, and although the opening level (a commercial storefront district with a street trolley you eventually end up fighting in) looks good, the later levels become bland and repetitive. I will give 64th Street credit for its impressive environmental damage properties, which are displayed whenever you throw an enemy into the background and shatter a window, bend a railing, or crumple a row of pipes. As I mentioned earlier, most of the characters seem especially out of place taking into consideration the era the game is set in while some (like a pirate that hops around on his peg-leg) are just silly.
The din of combat is pretty average, but the soundtrack for the game dips under the genre's norm and drones on and on through the multiple sections of each level. The bosses all share the same theme, which isn't bad to listen to in small doses.. but the simple nature of its arrangement and its short, repeated duration during long battles will eventually test your patience.
I'm emulating this game on my Xbox using MAME, so I cannot being 100% sure about how accurate the controls are compared to real-deal arcade hardware. I had a bit of difficulty getting the special attack to work every time with one of the characters, and instead I found myself dealing out some kind of ineffective backwards attack when I'm trying to clear out a number of hostiles in front of me.
64th Street is about as run-of-the-mill as it gets for an early 90s beat em up. You fight a handful of enemies at once, restore health by punching apart boxes, pick up the occasional pipe and wrench, and use desperation attacks when things get hectic. It even has you fight all the bosses over again during the final level.. some of them more than once. I endured, though - mostly to see the game transform* from standard street brawling (*that could be a bit of an overstatement.. its more appropriate to suggest it weens into) to a battle against steam-punk enemies (there's really only one opponent that even falls under that stroke of brush). There really isn't a whole lot more I can say, because aside from the strange setting and courtesy of letting me fling people against the background environments 64th Street is a textbook beat em up.
Replay value 2/10
With only a single ending to view, and none of the levels had anything along the lines of branching paths. 64th Street supports 2-player co-op, and two choices of characters (although I found that Rick, aside from a few boss battles requiring his powerful throw attacks.. was largely inferior compared to the other character, Allen). As far as natural magnetism, I don't think 64th Street has the charisma to entice most gamers for a second play-through as it certainly couldn't pull a beat em up fanatic such as myself into another bout.
Like peering back into the annuls of history, my time with 64th Street: A Detective's Story has shown me the roots of Jaleco's workings with the beat em up genre with much of its content to be pruned, groomed, or revamped for future games of similar design. Although the game isn't terrible, its unremarkable mechanics and mostly bland presentation seems especially extreme when compared to the company's best brawler (Rushing Beat Shura, which is also in my top 10 SNES/SFC beat em up picks). With so many other brawlers having come out around the same time as 64th Street, I can't suggest anyone go the distance to seek it out as opposed to dozens of better titles unless they're looking for a little history on the ancestor of the significantly better Rushing Beat games.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/22/10
Game Release: 64th Street: A Detective Story (US, 12/31/91)
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