Review by Heismean

"Disgraceful."

Rival Turf is a beat-em up from 1992 that seems to come from the assembly line school of game design. Everything here is practically the definition of mediocre: It's boring to look at and even more frustrating to play.

STORY
Pretty typical. You can play as some guy named Jack Flak (rhymes with Flapjack) or a police officer named Oozie Nelson (who thought of this name?). Their mission is to stop a gang of criminals from taking over the world. Really, the plot is window dressing in these types of games, so the fact that it's generic and uninteresting isn't that much of a drawback.

GRAPHICS AND DESIGN
The color choices are bland but I suppose it could've been worse. What is most depressing are the character designs. For enemies we have thugs in Mexican wrestling masks, fat guys, martial artists in karate gis, and skinny guys, who are obviously rip-offs of “Holly Wood” and “El Gado” from Final Fight. Even an Andore-type enemy exists, although he seems to resemble a beefed-up Tim Allen. There is scarcely anything in the aesthetic design that is not taken from superior games. Our hero Jack Flak is the stand-in for Cody or Axel from Final Fight and Streets of Rage, respectively. The scenery includes the usual urban areas, baseball stadiums, jungles, bayside vistas—again, nothing original.

SOUND AND MUSIC
The sound when you hit your enemies is dull and not as satisfying as, say, the bone-crunching effects in Streets of Rage 2. When you throw your enemies or perform an aerial kick, your character screams, “Gout!” And you'd better like that scream, because you're going to be hearing it through the majority of the game. As far as music is concerned, it is not any better or worse than what you would usually find in an average SNES game.

CONTROLS
If you press the button to attack or jump, your character will usually respond, so that's a plus. But the whole thing feels stiff, arthritic even. There is a “run” button for your character to move faster, but I question whether this is a necessary feature for this game; also, tapping forward twice would've made more sense than pressing the R button.

GAMEPLAY
Here we have a laundry list of failure, mostly due to the fact that it is incredibly easy to get killed in this game. Your life bar is about half the size of those in other beat-em ups, and with one hit an enemy can drain a quarter of this bar, sometimes more. Those skinny guys have a kick attack that they use often, and if you get in the path of this kick your character locks up, making it difficult to evade further damage. This is not a good situation when four kicks can obliterate your life bar. Imagine Austin Powers performing several stiff “judo chops” to your body while you're forced to stand there, and you can see how frustrating an experience this is. Due to this flaw in the game's design, it is preferable to approach your enemies from the sides and throw them. So what you will hear, again and again, is “Gout!” as you throw enemies to the sides of the screen, maybe occasionally mixing it up with an aerial kick, another “safe” move. Combat this tedious does not belong in a beat-em up. And maybe when you reach level 4 and your continues run out, you will be thankful to the game for putting an end to the misery.

CONCLUSION
That this game is a rip-off does not disqualify it from being enjoyable. Unfortunately, the experience of playing it is wearisome to say the least, making it obvious why it never became popular or noteworthy.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 08/30/12

Game Release: Rival Turf! (US, 04/30/92)


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