Review by xenodolf
"A simplistic versus fighter that gets some credit for splicing beat 'em up and RPG aspects into its formula."
Street Smart was originally created by SNK for the arcades in 1989 to cash in on the renewed fighting game interest sparked by Street Fighter. It was later altered in design a bit and released by a smaller company called Treco for the Sega Genesis / Megadrive. While it is classified as a versus fighter, it had some RPG aspects as well as a number of beat 'em up traits. How does it manage in a genre that would soon be revolutioned by the upcoming Street Fighter II? Find out, in my review...
The visuals are pretty good for a 1991 game, featuring detailed sprites and different looking background environments for each of its many stages. The animation is about average, though - and different enemies are often just recolored palette swaps. Unlike the arcade version, there aren't any women who wander onto the screen after the fight and croon over your combat abilities and you no longer collect the babes like they were some kind of trophies.
There are a couple of decent musical tracks and a number of average tunes to coincide with the battles. The sound effects are rather mundane, with only a couple of grunts that can be heard over the smacking of punches and kicks. Since the women no longer flock to your side in this version, you won't be hearing their digitized voices either.
Every opponent you fight in this game has longer reach than you, meaning that you'll need to be touching them at all times to work any blows in. The beat 'em up style stage design may give you room to maneuver, but it will also cause aggravation due to how you have to align yourself perfectly with an enemy to hit him. Street Smart also has very few combat abilities to use, which limits variety in the flow of battle and shows how outdated the game is compared to the later versus fighters on the Genesis/Megadrive. Fortunately, there isn't any response lag or slowdown and the button layout scheme works with what little it had to deal with.
Street Smart is unlike just about any other 2D versus fighter I have played (Pit Fighter being the closet thing to it), and could be best described as a beat 'em up that features only boss battles. The stage design allows you to walk around in any direction like a brawler, and while the majority of the game is one-on-one - you will take on two opponents at once in a few levels. You can choose between two characters (a karate man and wrestling guy) who play just about the same, although there is no human versus mode. You start off significantly weaker than all your opponents, but after each battle you get a couple of "points" to modify your states - and you can increase your strength, defense, and life-bar in any order you please. At the end of the game you will be about even with your enemies, although there aren't enough "points" handed out to allow you to max out all three categories (I filled out the life-bar and strength, but had a couple of slots left in the defense category blank). The fighting is limited to punching, kicking, and jump-kicking with nothing like fire-balls or spinning upper-cuts to be seen (although once I did once manage some kind of E. Honda-like rapid punching move). Starting from the second battle onward, you are allowed to take your prize money and bet it on either yourself or your opponent. While I originally assumed this was just to accumulate a worthless score kind of thing it turns out that if you beat the game rich or broke you have separate endings. Similar to beat 'em ups, you have several "lives" to spend in each stage that can be burnt up and allow you to remain in combat without losing - although losing a life seems to surrender any money you had bet on yourself. The lives carry over to the next stage, and if you run out of them and have to continue the battle against the current opponent resets. The Genesis/Megadrive version is somewhat different than the arcade one, since you won't be competing with another player to win all the ladies (who are pretty much absent in this incarnation) and an extra opponent and level having been added to the game.
Replay value 3/10
Although there are two selectable characters, they play almost identical and are basically different only in how they appear in the fights and artwork afterwards. It is somewhat interesting to engage two opponents at once in a versus fighter, and the unorthodox stage design helps separate this game from the other pre-Street Fighter II ones at the time. The RPG aspects give a little variety in to how your character progresses through the roster of enemies, and if you bothered with the gambling system you can see the two possible endings. Even so, Street Smart is a relic when compared to the later fighting games on the Genesis/Megadrive with its limited characters and no human player versus mode.
Even if you were a fan of the original arcade game, you might not come to like the altered mechanics of this port. New-school fighting game fans will probably take one look at Street Smart and snub their noses at its limited characters options and bare-bones move-list. However, for the Genesis/Megadrive owner who wouldn't mind dabbling in something somewhat unusual in the versus-fighter/beat 'em up vein - Street Smart may be worth 15 minutes of your time and possibly a couple of bucks.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 08/19/07
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