Crisis Beat (PS1) Review

Ah, Crisis Beat… A game I had no idea existed until one day I found it in a local second hand shop, read the back of the box and thought “A new scrolling beat ‘em up? I thought I knew all of the most recent ones!” and brought it for … less than £10, can’t remember the exact amount. Turns out, of course, that I hadn’t heard of it because it was a tiny, off-the-radar release that wasn’t well received by those who had to review it. The important thing though is this: did I enjoy it, and do I enjoy it now?! Let’s find out!

Background:

Now there’s a lack of imagination, then there’s calling an enemy in army gear “Troop”…

Crisis Beat was released in Japan on July 18th, 1998. It was ported to Europe two years later, but never made it to US shores. It was made by “Soft Machine”, who at that point had only really made Pachinko games (basically a gambling machine involving steel balls falling across brass pins, to put it as simply as possible) so it’s not a great surprise it wasn’t the most polished effort ever…

Gameplay:

I’ll admit I’m a sucker for someone arrogantly kicking with his hands in his pockets. Keneth (yes, only one ‘n…) scores points there at least!

While at first glance the gameplay seems pretty simple, Crisis Beat does have a few good ideas going for it. There are two attack buttons for starters, and this can be used to create a couple of different combos, along with the ability to grapple like usual but with the ability to move around with your captured foe so you can put him in a direction that will lead to him hitting some furniture or bouncing off a wall to do some juggling combos. When you do hit someone off an object or a wall you get a pop up saying “Lock-On Counter!” which… erm, isn’t a counter, nor did I in any way lock on, but at least the furniture and wall bouncing feature has a name I guess…

The weapons work in a very odd way too. There are knifes and brooms you can use, but they hit people down in one hit and don’t do much damage, so really you’re better of fighting hand to hand unless you want to wait around all day. The guns that drop automatically fire in the direction of any enemy on screen once you pick them up, which is a very strange thing to take away from the player’s control! The furniture you can, ahem, “Lock-On Counter” people into can also be picked up and tossed, or turned on the spot like you’re trying to rearrange it instead of hitting people with it, which can be funny when you slightly turn a sofa and someone goes flying backwards as you twist it. Another good idea is that the four playable characters are split into two teams, and each team has a completely different starting level, before pretty much folding into the same path. It’s not a big branching paths story, but it’s a neat enough little … thing.

Sadly all this innovation is lost somewhat due to a lack of A.I. programing, as most of the people you fight suffer from default level Dynasty Warriors grunt syndrome (or “DLDWGS”, I guess?) where all they do is stand there ready to be beaten up, maybe occasionally throwing a punch and doing no damage, but unlike DW there aren’t other generals or a higher difficulty to change this, instead it’s just unintentionally bad A.I. that makes the game far too easy, even the bosses aren’t challenging. The only thing stopping you from completing the game is whether you can be arsed to finish it…

As for genre clichés? Well it’s the first game in a little while to have ninja enemies, though they’re kind of more special soldiers with claw hands… It once again lacks overweight enemies, and the only female you fight in the whole game is a single boss, who isn’t provocatively dressed. There is, of course, a lift level though! Otherwise, it’s just generic looking army guys…

Graphics and Sound:

Well, I guess a huricanrana is at least a bit of a change from the German suplex…

The graphics are obviously quite blocky, but unlike a lot of PS1 games the murky and muddy colour pallet is missing here, and it can look quite bright and, dare I say, smooth and pleasant to look at… for a PS1 game. Still, won’t blow you away, and CG cut scenes are, erm… “of the time”…

Sound isn’t terrible, the Japanese voice work is fine (though the subtitles are atrocious!), some of the sound effects are quite good, and the background music is overly dramatic in a good way, that is when it plays. They had a weird idea to cut the music off whenever someone goes outside on-deck, and only play it inside the cruise ship the game is set on. No idea why they thought that was a good idea, unless they’re claiming the dramatic music is playing over the ship’s PR system or something…

Story:

That right there is classic auto translation! Anyone who knows English would immediately rearrange that to “Someone has planted bombs on the ship!” or “Bombs have been planted on the ship!”. Still funny though…

Basically Die Hard on a boat (including being set at Christmas!), as a cruise ship named the “Princess of the Fearless” gets taken over by terrorists. The group, led by Colonel Whigen, have taken hostages and are bargaining for money, or… something. Unlucky for them four people on the cruiser, detective Eiji Garland, female pro-wrestler looking for her lost friend Julia Jefferson, Russian secret agent Keneth Kirova and teenage girl Han Feisu, who hid from the terrorists in a broom closet, all come together and join up to take out the invaders, which they do!

Funnily enough it shares a lot of similarities with the next game in this weekly feature, Dynamite Cop, though both games came out so close together it was most likely an odd coincidence…

Thoughts Then:

A very limited casino can be found on board the cruise ship, by which I mean “a few rows of fruit machines and a large open carpeted area for people to fight on”.

At the time … okay, I’ll be honest, I played through it with a friend once, and then played a few levels as the second set of characters by myself, and then that was it. It’s just… not very fun when it feels like you’re playing on Easy despite … well, not.

Thoughts Now:

Eiji just activated his special move, if you’re wondering what that white circle is. I swear I pressed the screen shot button a few seconds later… Oh well…

Now? I can appreciate some of more unique things it brought to the table. It tried, I’ll give it that… but yeah, much like past me, it’s just too easy, and the fighting isn’t fun enough for you to just play it as a “shut your brain off” activity. Add in obviously dated graphics, which isn’t its fault (obviously!) and Crisis Beat isn’t something I’ll be in a hurry to give another go…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s