Battle Circuit (Arcade) Review

With Battle Circuit we have several lasts, most notably the final CAPCOM game, the last Arcade game and the last of the original 2D games (it’s all 3D graphics from here until retro 2D indy games become a thing…) It’s also the last game from the CAPCOM Beat ‘em up Bundle, so I can finally delete the folder of screenshots that’s been in my Pictures folder for nearly a year… Battle Circuit is also the last game in the marathon where I’ve only just played it, so there isn’t a “Thoughts Then” category… Also, it’s bloody weird! Let’s have a look then!

Background:

Why not throw in an evil Elvis impersonator? There’s already a beast woman with a pet squirrel fighting…

Battle Circuit was released worldwide in March 1997, and was CAPCOM’s last Scrolling Beat ‘Em Up released in Arcades. It was never ported to home consoles but did get released as part of the CAPCOM Beat ‘Em Up Bundle digitally in 2018 for PS4, XBOX One, Switch and PC.

An end of an era, certainly. I’ll admit that while some of the games hold fond memories, the final few months of the Scrolling Sundays feature won’t be quite as fun as playing some solid, sprite based 2D action!

Gameplay:

Erm…. I don’t even know any more.

Battle Circuit at its core is still classic CAPCOM scrolling action, with an attack button, jump button, and the ability to grapple and throw people, plus a jumping attack and special attack by pressing both buttons at once that drains your own health doing it. What makes this different from a lot of its predecessors is the ability to buy “Upgrade Discs” from a mid-level shop which contain new moves for your character, often done by Street Fighter style movement and button presses. It also has the Team Attack feature from some previous entries, where if two people do their special moves near each other they’ll do a joint attack.

Each character also has a “Battle Download”, which when activated (by pressing both buttons mid-air) characters get a unique buff, like increased damage, speed etc. This can be shared to other players nearby. All this including being able to pick up weapons and health items and you have not only a really solid beat ‘em up with that classic CAPCOM engine, but one with a unique spin on movesets and five characters that means there is a lot of replay value for this genre…

As for clichés? Well, the enemies are all cartoony villain types like mutants, robots or generally … weird things, but one of the mutants is a big grappler type, so it’s not all lost. There is a level that functionally acts like a lift level, as in a large moving platform that enemies jump on to, but it moves sideways rather than up… and it’s actually a series of large plates moved by… running cat… things?

Graphics and Sound:

Funnily enough, the evil looking plant thing is a good guy!

The graphics are nice, bright and chunky sprites full of personality and movement frames, plus some really varied and detailed backgrounds, so for CAPCOM’s final 2D beat ‘em up release it at least shows the whole genre at its height.

Sound is good too, catchy background music, great sound effects and a few fun voice samples (though the cutscenes are text only). Can’t complain!

Story:

Did I mention the occasional side-scrolling level? It’s been over a year since I wrote the review and I can’t remember…

The year is 20XX and a group of five bounty hunters: regular human Brian Bruno (alias Cyber Blue), rubber man Andrey Mishucin (Captain Silver), beast woman Diana Martines (Yellow Iris), a pink ostrich being ridden by a human called Pinky (Pink Ostrich) and weird plant alien “Unknown” (Alien Green) have been given a mission to track down and defeat Doctor Saturn. They do this, and are soon given a new mission to take out the “Delete Gang”, as they have with them a disc with the “Shiva System” on it, a system that can shutdown every computer system in the world.

The hunters do exactly that! Plus defeat Doctor Saturn a few more times for good luck…

Thoughts Now:

Part of me thinks this universe really needed to cross-over to the Earthworm Jim games, or the cartoon at the very least! (what do you mean it was cancelled over two decades ago?! Shut up!)

Battle Circuit is a great game, full of colourful characters (both in terms of personality and actual colour) and really solid gameplay. It may not be the longest game in the genre, but with five characters and plenty of moves to unlock there is plenty of replay value. Highly recommended, and I’m thrilled to have got the chance to play it after all these years of… not knowing it existed.

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