At a Glance: Nintendo, the company responsible for the "Special 'No-Blood Wussyboy' Edition" of Mortal Kombat, hypocritically produced what could be considered the very first 2-D fighting game, Urban Champion, in 1984. The reason you've never heard of it before is probably because the moment children began to play it, they were overcome with an urge to go duke it out with their peers in front of the local Discotheque or Old Man Handley's Malt-Flavored Beverage Shop or whereverthe hell kids hung out in 1984. Truly Urban Champion was a game that was ahead of its time. What time that that would be, exactly, is unknown.
Platform: NES (Download Emulator here - 192k)
Download: Download ROM here - 16k
Game Plot: Against the skyline of a vast urban empire, two warring gang syndicates send their best fighters, who happen to be identical twins separated at birth, to battle it out for control of the city. Two brothers, one balanced, refined, and trained in "Tiger" style kung-fu, the other a burly street fighter used to no-holds-barred grudge matches, fight to the death as bass-thumping techno music surrounds you, making you part of the action. I thought to myself "Wow, what a great game! This beats Marvel vs. Capcom Super Hyper Accelatron v4.1 anyday!"... but then my acid trip wore off and I quickly came to realize that this game is nothing like it seemed in my drug-induced euphoria. Take the scene I just described, make the skyline consist of the same three buildings, the brothers to be identically disfigured mannish transsexuals who only know how to bitchslap and suckerpunch each other, and the techno music to be the same four notes repeating in random order, and you have Urban Champion.
Weapons: When I started round one, I immediately began to try and execute some sort of button-combo move. Then I realized this was made in 1984 when "Haduken" was just the sound a four-year old Texas girl made while introducing her Rottweiler-chewed Ken doll to the Barbie she found behind the Dairy Queen. With that in mind, I attempted to simply pull off a punch/kick/punch combo, only to find that the fighter I controlled must have been stuck in cement shoes because he couldn't kick. Here is a rundown of the moves you can perform in this game:
Left/Right: Move, then punch
Down: No Function
A or B+Down: Crotch Grab
The "punch" is pretty straightforward. You have a "stamina" bar which gauges how hard you can punch. The only other move you can perform besides the standard punch is a crotch grab, in which one fighter makes a blatant attempt to grab the other fighter's penis with a look of raw, animal lust on his face. This move is pretty weird considering that the main enemy is your paternal twin. Maybe they thought this game would sell big in Tennessee. Not only that, but blocking seems to be entirely random, which left my fighter unguarded for repeated hits to his head and torso. When my doppelganger was not near, however, I was in my blocking stance and ready for anything that might come my way (i.e., low-flying birds, midgets, or a light wind). There was no way to duck either, so there is virtually no way to deflect the physical onslaught except to grin and take it like a man. Surely street fighting at its best! No wimpy "fighting styles" or "variety" here! Just pure, unadulterated pain... which is exactly what you experience from playing this game.
Enemies: The main enemy is your evil twin half brother from "the wrong side of the tracks", as you can tell from his affinity for different-colored clothing and his "uncool" green-dyed hair. There are a few other obstacles and random enemies thrown in for good measure. Of course, what back-alley fighting game would be complete without the "man" putting his foot down? And sure enough, once we took too long grabbing each other's manhoods, the police drove by for a random check of the neighborhood. As soon as the fighters hear the sirens they back away from each other and stand staring into the sky, looking around for the source of the noise like a couple of idiots. Or maybe they were looking for Superman to come and bust them. Either way, they looked pretty dumb.
I got hauled away by the cops only once, and I simply appeared on the curb of the next-door building. Maybe I killed them and let the car roll into a ditch. Or maybe they beat me senseless and my twin decided he would have the honor of taking my life. In any case, that's not all I had to deal with. The cranky old hermit living on the second floor of the buildings gets pretty angry hearing the sound of fisticuffs when he's trying to watch "Matlock" before drinking his Fibercon and taking a nap, so he regularly tosses his finely-pruned potted plants out the window. I got hit once or twice, but once I realized that my fighter could be halfway to Borneo before that shrubbery touched down, I was dodging with the best of them. Good thing the programmers didn't take silly things like "gravity" or "reality" into account when programming the game physics.
Number of Levels: I only got up to "Round 09" before I was forced, by pain, to pop the cyanide capsule located in my molar. As far as I could tell, there are logically no ways to win a round except forcing the other fighter off the screen or down an open manhole (no, not that manhole). There is no life bar or any other sort of progress indicator. The only indication I got that I was winning was that after I knocked the other fighter around a bit, some chick stuck her head out her window and proceeded to shower me with trash from her crackhouse. I assumed that meant it was the end of the level. You do have a time limit like all other fighting games, but also like all other fighting games, you'll kick ass before the time runs down. Maybe if the time runs our they head over to the snack bar to grab a slice of pizza and do some crotch grabbing in private.
Number of Bosses: (see above)
Defining Moment: After I had played six rounds, my fighter vanquished his evil twin, became the urban champion, and celebrated by having the community whore dump her trash on my head, only to walk to the next screen to find my twin standing there waiting for me. Nothing else was different. I am inclined to believe that the entire game consists of me dishing out the smackdown to my evil bro. Needless to say, the replay value of this game is surely lacking. Hell, the PLAY value of this game is surely lacking. I suggest, if you want to enjoy this game, it is best viewed through the scope of a high-powered rifle immediately before putting it out of its misery.
Each category in the rating system is based out of a possible -10 score (-10 being the worst). The overall score is based out of a possible -50 score (-50 being the worst).