Today we break new ground. We make use of that new-fangled invention, flash html5 video:
Our game for today, if you couldn't tell already, is The Punisher, a side-scrolling arcade brawler developed by Capcom, released to arcade in 1993, and subsequently (poorly) ported to Sega Genesis in 1995.
The Punisher is refreshing in two ways - first, it's a fun game, and second, it's not disturbingly Japanese. In many ways, Punisher is a model brawler. What makes it a successful example of the genre? First and foremost, it doesn't dick up anywhere. There aren't any parts of the game that are blatantly impossible to defeat. In our play-through, most of the game was straightforward to comprehend and fairly easy to beat. (To be fair: we did have infinite money, but we never crammed quarters in like crazy like we've done with some games.)
Second, the game features some minor gameplay innovations that add to the enjoyment without disorienting or frustrating the player. Most notably, it features some shooter sections that mesh well with the franchise - The Punisher of course carries a gun but only uses it to fight enemies who come at him with guns themselves. Shooting happens in two varieties - either the usual brawler+gun arrangement where you shoot where you're facing, or a "move the cursor with joystick" variety. Both were used sparingly and were a good change of pace to break up the brawling. The Punisher, when he shoots people, actually kills them, unlike most games where shooting is just a degenerate form of punching.
Third, it has a kickin' score screen. Lots of games have pick-ups - gems, sneakers, BBQ, and so forth - but they never tell you who got the most foods. The Punisher, on the other hand, tells you what items you picked up so you can tell who whored the most food, causing the other player to go woefully undernourished.
Fourth, you can pick weapons up and hit people with them. This is a simple concept that gets overlooked by a surprising number of brawlers. If you can't pick up a dude's battle axe or machine gun and whang someone with it, what's the point of fighting at all? And if you can't fight everything, including the arcade machine in the corner, then I call foul. Fifth - cool brawlers (Punisher included) let you fight one another in coop mode. This is invariably hilarious and should be encouraged. In Punisher it's a bit unreliable, and we wonder if it might be a bug, but if it is, let us say this: Capcom, it's better to sometimes be able to samurai sword your friend than never be able to.
Onto some observations and questions:
Does every final level in a fighter have to have red carpet?
We know why there's barbecue in crates and stacks of old tires. It's because homeless people don't have refrigerators and they need somewhere to keep their cooked meats. But how did they get it into the sealed 55 gallon drums that can only be opened by punching them in half with super human strength?
Why does everyone look the same when they're on fire?
Random thought. Enough of this fading out. Brawlers should let you molest the dead. If you kill someone, you have a right to be able to kick them when they're down.
The building collapses when you kill Kingpin. As the above image illustrates, this is simply due to dropping some five tons of crime boss man-flesh twenty feet onto the penthouse apartment floor. Even the most structurally sound building would succumb to that kind of stress.
Somehow, according to the closing cutscene, the police are able to sort through all the rubble from a collapsed 50 story building by the next morning but don't find the Kingpin's body. Normally finding someone's body in that amount of rubble would be difficult but the Kingpin is the size and build of a Sherman tank.
On the subject of emulation, we frequently turn on turbo when playing so we don't wear out our thumbs smashing buttons. Different games react to button turbo in different ways. Punisher allows you to punch at a full sixty hertz, resulting in what we call Schrödinger's punch:
Finally, we'd like to share this image with you. This is how hardcore the Punisher is. He freaking projectile vomits blood at his enemies. And it kills them.
Or maybe he bit that dude's wang off. We're not sure.