Konami used to make some great games. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (arcade and home versions other than the original NES game). Contra, Castlevania, Gradius, and X-Men (arcade) to name a few. One title that fans seem to have forgotten Konami released (or is it a willing “slip” of memory?) is a little arcade game called Crime Fighters. Available in two versions – two player and four player – this fighting game will test your ability to not rage quit a game. If you think Contra is hard, that Castlevania on NES is cheap, or that it is impossible to beat the NES version of Dragon’s Lair without taking damage, then you are in for a ride that makes those games look like church cake walk sales.
From the punk rocker boss of level one that didn’t realize the ’80s would eventually end to the sweatpants wearing Dolph Lundgren look alike that shows up in level two (the subway train) you are going to get mad. Often. Seriously, Cuphead, while hard, is nowhere as hard as Crime Fighters, though for distinct reasons.
I must say, I am a huge fan of Crime Fighters. After playing through it on my GPD XD using MAME (I know, piracy and all that jazz) I must wonder if my love for this game is severely misplaced.
Graphically, Crime Fighters holds up well, even today against some stiff competition in the scrolling brawler world (have you played Mother Russia Bleeds yet?). There are tons of minute details in the backgrounds. On level one there are banner posters in the background, some partial nudity, and other tiny details that you won’t have time to take in. On the subway car (level two) there is debris littered about, including what appears to cigarette butts and other assorted discarded items. Level three features store fronts with unique styles and colors.
The levels often have little interactive bits – including billboards that fall, women in the background that you can ogle at your own risk, vehicles that will run you over in the streets, and more. Konami certainly did their best to keep the action in Crime Fighters hot and heavy, in more ways than one.
The character sprites are on the smaller side – nothing like what we saw in the arcade versions of the heroes in a half shell games. This allows a TON of enemies on the screen at once – all ready to take you down with knives, guns, pipes, bats, and other assorted weapons that street thugs happen to have handy.
Much like playing Double Dragon, or any other brawler, you have an assortment of moves available to defend yourself and crush the skulls of your enemies. From kicks and punches to using weapons, you are far from helpless – though the attacks you have available do become a little monotonous by the time you get half way through.
To say a game will put hair on your chest may seem trite but seriously, Crime Fighters will test your mettle as a gamer.
Don’t let the enemies get a hold of you for long because they fight dirty. Actually, at least once during your playthrough you will probably see one of the funniest attacks in a brawler when an enemy kicks you below the belt. For some reason, maybe the accompanying animation, this is a funny moment that doesn’t get old. I know, I need to grow up, I am working on it.
Much like other brawlers, there are no life bars for your enemies, so you are not sure how much more of a pounding that Chi wearing, somersaulting, enemy is going to take before he goes down. This is either a hindrance or added challenge depending on your point of view.
The bosses are wacky and even more cheap than the regular foes you face in the levels. Most have a glaring pattern to them, such as the first boss – the punk rocker. While he is wildly swinging his aluminum bat, complete with nails in the end, you should steer clear of him. After a few swings of that bat he will tire and must stop to catch his breath, and a few well-timed kicks and punches to the face, before wildly swinging it again. Watch for those patterns and you are golden. Remember, this is a game from the ’80s – patterns are everything.
I prefer Crime Fighters to Double Dragon by a mile I recently loaded up Double Dragon Trilogy for Android in an effort to review it here but couldn’t stand it. The animation is jerky, the enemy hit boxes are WAY off, and generally I was not as impressed today as I was back in the day. Rose colored glasses or not, Double Dragon has not aged all that well.
Before you get the pitchforks out (where did you guys get torches so quick?), I am willing to concede that the problems I had with Double Dragon I and II could be due to the port job that DotEmu did to bring them to Android. Normally DotEmu’s work is phenomenal so I naturally assumed the problems were in the original games. I am willing to check out the originals and get back to you about them in a future article.
If you can find the four-player version of Crime Fighters, or link four devices for some “not so legal” gaming on newer hardware, then you may have an easier time with this Konami classic. I figure four players at once would actually be a big help as the screen quickly fills with enemies that are quick to gang up on a single player, or even in two player mode.
It is an interesting tidbit that I want to share about Crime Fighters. Did you know that at no time so far has Konami released this game on home platforms? I am not sure why this is because Sega was pretty lenient with games on their Genesis console so censorship would not have been a concern there. I can see why this game never reached a Nintendo console of the period though. By the time Nintendo decided to “Play it Loud” the time of Crime Fighters was long gone. Still though, why would Konami leave this game off of compilation releases over the years, or even a release on Android using emulation but giving fans a legal way to enjoy it?
Crime Fighters is not for everyone. It is cheap, tough, and cheap again. In real life this thing is a quarter muncher to the extreme. Emulated, it is a decent romp through 80’s style brawlers that will probably make you rage quit a few times before you complete it.
Over on eBay you can grab a four player JAMMA board for Crime Fighters (additional hardware required to make it run at home though).