Review by Flyersfreak85
In the words of Spike Dudley, "Dude, look at all the colors!"
Introduction: A couple of months ago I posted the review for a Konami arcade beat-em-up classic known as Crime Fighters, and as I alluded to in that review, there were a total of three in the CF trilogy. But, to be fair, the next two werent as obvious as you would have known them to be (kind of like how Sengoku 3 was so different from the first two, in all the right ways).
Vendetta (or as it was known as in Japan, yes, Crime Fighters 2) picks up where the first game left off, but makes things a lot more fun than anything could have been in the first installment. In other words, it is a sequel to a game where the original was, leagues and scenes away, inferior to the next one up. And keep in mind this much: there was only a two year gap between the release of CF and Vendetta, so its not like everything substantially changed in 24 months time.
Gameplay: In terms of how the game handles, Vendetta isnt all that much different from Crime Fighters with the entire, Oh look, they kidnapped the girl, well we better move from west to east to find her and save the day deal going on. But thats where the similarities end and the differences are vast and plentiful.
Like Crime Fighters, you can choose up to four players (although the most expansive cabinet allowed for three players at once) but instead of being palette swaps of one another, the good guys are bound to remind you of some pop culture icons of said time. The Cobra gang (with their bright, color coordinated tee shirts and dirty jeans) is comprised of the following: Blood, who wears red with sunglasses and looks WAY too much like Sammy Davis Jr.: Hawk, who wears blue and looks WAY too much like Hulk Hogan: Boomer, who wears yellow and looks WAY too much like Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Sledge, who wears green and looks WAY too much Mr. T.
The Cobras main rival gang, the Dead End Gang (who is so famous the city is named after them, or maybe they named themselves unoriginally after the city) has kidnapped Kate, who is the kid sister to Hawk, so of course NOW its on like Donkey Kong. Now, maybe its just me but, why someone would be in a gang and allow their kid sister to hang around with them just doesnt make a lot of sense to me, but I digress.
Unlike its prequel, Vendetta only features five stages, but the latter ones are multi layered with some interesting challenges unfolding. And, again, unlike the prequel, Vendetta doesnt feature bosses that are ripped off from pop culture references: no, this time its your good guys who are. If you are wondering though, bosses range from a balding lunatic with a buzz saw, a mid-stage boss who swings a chain, a huge guy in chains who is dropped off in a box by a forklift, a midget and his big brother, a guy who welds an anchor, and the big boss, a guy who sports bondage like well you get the idea Im sure.
But the biggest difference between these two games is the ratcheted up intensity and insanity: in other games, weapons are a subsidiary, but in this game, they are a formality. Weapons include knives, shotguns, chains, spiked baseball bats, bottle bombs, barrels, whips, and flower pots, and they all have adverse effects as to how or when you use them. Common enemies also tend to throw up blood and puss if you hit them with some of the sharper weapons, and shotgun blasts are one-shot kill, though they disappear after ten or so blasts.
Gameplay Grade: 9/10
Controls: Again, you will have only two buttons at your disposal, BUT, the execution of the moves are now a lot more solid. For instance, instead of hitting both buttons and getting a pathetic flying knee which misses 90% of the time, your character will do a more powerful standing move. In addition, the kick them when theyre down move remains intact (though some drop elbows, like Hawk, or fists, like Blood) and they even added a grappling system, which also allows you to grab ahold of four of the six bosses in the game (sans the Missing Link and Faust because they are WAY too big).
Controls Grade: 9/10
Graphics: I think I know where ALL the color went: seriously, someone in the graphics department spent a LOT of time on attention to the Cobras tee shirts. Otherwise, they arent bad: the backgrounds are good for the areas you should be in, and interaction is again at a premium. Like in Crime Fighters, Vendetta allows you see some goofy animations, including smacking enemies into the background (try that with glass windows), throwing flaming barrels which catches enemies on fire, getting squashed by falling debris, or having your manhood compromised.
Graphics Grade: 9/10
Sound: This game is just jam-packed with AWESOME sounds: every single boss has something to say to you before they fight you and you, the enemies, and the bosses all have death cries. The weapon shots sound like they should, though Im beginning to wonder why a kick south of the border rings out something akin to dropping a handful of change, and the breaking of doors, motorcycles, and fishing boats sound like they should. The music is pretty good, as I tend to lean towards the third stage and boss themes as the best songs in the game, but the rest of it is good, and it gets you ready to fight through the Dead End Gang members incognito.
Sound Grade: 9/10
Challenge: This game is a lot of fun, although it CAN be frustrating, especially when you get to rounds four and five, but its not nearly as frustrating as Crime Fighters. Reason being is two-fold: the bosses DO have health bars, and so do you, instead of that stupid running timer, though this time around you have health items to restore vitality.
Challenge Grade: 6/10
Final Thoughts: Vendetta was a lot of fun and a real joy to play and beat, but something overlooked is how it inadvertently set a new trend in games. Oh sure, a LOT of the stuff that happened in that game made 22 years ago is more than common nowadays, but outside of the Mortal Kombat series, you would be hard pressed to find a game which just simply reviled in its violence like this one did. It was a tremendous game standalone, and when you consider it was the sequel to that snooze-fest Crime Fighters well, it just makes this one THAT much better.
Final Grade: 9/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Vendetta (US, 12/31/91)
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