Rival Turf (SNES) Review

Rival Turf is probably most fondly remembered by people for the US cover art featuring teenage thugs trying to look cool and tough (and failing!), but for us here in the PAL territories it was just another scrolling beat ‘em up with a rather bland cover. That all being said, my brother had this and we played it a lot, and me and my friends had great fun playing it in the past, though a lot of that was due to the renaming characters cheat… How does it hold up in 2020, especially in the middle of a long marathon of similar games?! Let’s find out!

Background:

The first kind of overweight enemy has glasses on! That’s a little different, at least…

Rival Turf was released in Japan on March 27th 1992 as “Rushing Beat”, then released in the US as Rival Turf! the following month. It finally saw a PAL release 1993 as Rival Turf without the exclamation mark…

Like most SNES games it was re-released digitally on the Wii and Wii U virtual consoles, in 2010 and 2015 respectively.

Gameplay:

Genie here isn’t walking in the air, it’s just thrown enemies have no “getting thrown” movement frames…

Gameplay is as vanilla as Scrolling Beat ‘Em Ups can get, with a jump button, attack button and a button for health-draining specials. If you walk into people you grapple them, where you can either do grapple punches or a throw, and you can also do a jumping attack as well as pick up a few weapons to use. It has to be said though that the hit detection and animations are a bit more… cheap and clunky than a Final Fight or Streets of Rage, especially animation frames, where everyone seemingly only has “normal, getting hit, laying on the floor” and will just cycle between the three no matter what’s happening to them…

The levels, enemies and art style all scream of Final Fight, to the point where many think this game was created to capitalise on the fact that the SNES version of CAPCOM’s classic didn’t have simultaneous co-op, so they pretty much copied it but made sure this does have the much-requested feature. The game does feature an “angry mode”, where if you take a certain amount of damage you can gain temporary invincibility, but being honest I’m not sure I ever knew it was a thing back then! I don’t think I ever turned it on in the options, because playing with it on for this review was like a new addition to the old game, even if it just adds a bit of extra height to your throws…

The game has two very plain playable characters in street fighter in a white t-shirt and jeans Jack Flak (Rick Norton in the Japanese version) and Oozie Nelson (Douglas Bild in Japan) a pro-wrestling grapple-type… what’s that? Oh sorry, Jack Flak has a red jacket on. Never mind… About the only other original thing this game has going for it is the aforementioned cheat that allows you to rename all the enemies and playable characters in the game to whatever you want, which for a pair of teenagers was quite the car to be given keys to…

As for clichés you won’t be shocked to find out it has a lot of them, given it so closely follows Final Fight’s formula, but a few absences might surprise you! It has ninjas, pro-wrestler enemies and a playable pro-wrestler character (though they DDT and huricanrana instead of piledrive people) and of course overweight enemies, though they don’t breathe fire. It’s completely lacking in ANY females, both playable and as opponents, and would you believe it DOESN’T have a lift level?! There is a part of a stage where you go up a building on a lift and can move around, but not enemies drop in. It’s literally a life. Foreshame!

Graphics and Sound:

Arnold gets powerbombed, well… sort of, the “no frames” thing kind of ruins it again…

The graphics look a lot like the Final Fight sequels I played earlier in the marathon (shocker!) complete with decent sprites and a sadly muted colour palette. The backgrounds are fine, but they won’t wow you either.

Sound has the same issues, the background music won’t last in your head after you turn the off switch, but you won’t dislike it while it plays in the background. Sound effects are perfectly fine… It’s not bad, not great!

Story:

For extra Final Fight-ness the skinny guy throws sticks of dynamite…

The original story sees Rick find his girlfriend kidnapped (yes, really…) by a gang peddling a new kind of drug around the city of Neo Cisco. Rick teams with his old cop buddy Douglas to clear the streets and get his girl back, which they do.

The Western version of the story sees Jack discover his girlfriend had been kidnapped by “Big Al and the Street Kings” and so he teams up with his cop buddy Oozie to rescue her and clean the streets of Los Angeles, which they do. So basically the same story but no drug subplot and it being based in a real city rather than a made up one…

Thoughts Then:

Jack Flak turns into a being of pure light as he enters Rage Mode!

At the time it was fun to play with my brother, but in my late teens it became a mini-hit with myself and my friends, especially making up stupid names for the enemies and giggling when they appear on screen (teens, eh?) It never really occurred to me how much of a rip-off of Final Fight it was, but then I was always much more of a Streets of Rage guy anyway…

Thoughts Now:

Which character is Nelson actually hitting the huricanrana on? No idea…

Now? It’s still… fine. I saw someone describe the game as “vanilla” and that makes sense. It doesn’t come close to reinventing the wheel, choosing instead to stick close to the successful games that came before it. Plus this time round I really noticed the lack of animation frames and general slower feeling of it. Doesn’t hurt it TOO much, but that might just be the nostalgia talking…

This is another game series I had no idea spawned two sequels until the “naughty ROM era”, so look forward to more generic-ness (or worse!) in the next two weeks!

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