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RELEASE DATE (US): 1993 GENRE: Beat-'em-up
// review by SoyBomb

Put on your galoshes... of DEATH!!

If we look back at the beat-'em-up genre when it was in its prime, whose games do we think of primarily? Perhaps Capcom, who was rather prolific in its output, including the staple Final Fight series, as well as other notable entries such as Knights of the Round and Captain Commando. Or perhaps Technos springs into mind with its Double Dragon series or the classic River City Ransom. But let us not forget about Konami's contributions to the genre, such as its adaptations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. Konami's beat-'em-ups were nothing to scoff at (although The Adventures of Bayou Billy hardly qualifies to contend this point). One game that quickly fell off the radar was Violent Storm, a 1993 beat-'em-up that was one of Konami's last for the arcades.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for one violent storm.

First thing I notice, right off the bat, is the name. VIOLENT STORM. This game is not afraid to shout out exactly what it contains: violence so wild, it causes meteorological concerns. I can't think of any other game off the top of my head that actually refers directly to violence (or word from the same family). Sure, there's Final Fight, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, or Last Battle, but no game is as direct as this. I think we're in for something fierce.

Violent Storm absolutely reeks of the 1990s. I'm sure there are still old pink tie-dye T-shirts with the phrase "COWABUNGA!" hanging from old dusty Violent Storm arcade cabinets. The game is set after the effects of World War III, which apparently happened in the late '80s. I don't remember this part; I was either asleep or glued to Full House to see what strange and haunting noises would come out of Dave Coulier every week. Civilization has fallen and the surviving citizens have to come together to build a better tomorrow. Unfortunately, gangs begin popping up as post-war punks decide it's better to beat up strangers and horde their Jos Louis supply instead of being, you know, helpful and human. Luckily, there are still good-hearted and fair-minded citizens such as the quaintly named trio of Wade, Boris, and Kyle, who put on a Robin Hood-style facade and help the unfortunate. Their main rivals are the Geld Gang, a group so ruthless, they would probably use the corpses of their own departed mothers as shields. Sheena, a friend of our heroic trio, is captured by Red Freddy, a close subordinate of Lord Geld, in an effort to prove that the damsel in distress trope is still alive, even in a world governed by chaos and anarchy. It's up to Wade & Co. to rescue the token kidnapped woman and put an end to Geld fever.

Pretty wild, huh?

Everywhere you look, there's someone flying through the air. Muscle-bound buff folks are the precipitation of this storm.

Violent Storm is a beat-'em-up, and frankly, it's exactly what you would expect. Taking a direct cue from games like Final Fight, you're given the option of playing as one of three characters. Wade is the most balanced, a blend of speed and power. Boris is all might but not very light. He packs a wallop but cannot gallop. (We're going to pretend that rhymed.) And last is Kyle, with plenty of speed but a weaker kick that mimics Chun-Li's lightning kicks. All three of them are buff and wear the tightest pants they can legally get away with. Grab a second player, and you'll have to fight over who gets to be Wade. Everyone wants to be Wade. He's cool and well-coiffed. With a name like Wade, you know he means serious business. VIOLENT business. All three characters have special moves as well, such as Wade's uppercut or Boris' ability to pick up and toss enemies about, accomplished by pressing both the Attack and Jump button at the same time.

If that's not enough, there are also plenty of breakables along the way (including some items, such as museum statues and works of art, that really should be left alone) that can reveal food left on the ground to be picked up and devoured. Remember, folks: never hesitate to pick up a plate of sushi or a lobster you find in the street. It's COMPLETELY safe. There will also be weapons to pick up, such as a knife or a lead pipe. That makes it a bit easier to take down the hundreds of hoodlums all named Jaxom or Talcus.

For me, however, the pull factor of Violent Storm (which, for some reason, I keep wanting to call "Victory Storm") isn't the gameplay. That aspect of the game is average at best and fails to provide any sense of innovation whatsoever. And it's not the graphics either, although they're quite bright and the character sprites are rather large. No, I stuck it out for one reason: the FREAKIN' AMAZING SOUNDTRACK.

This game is chock full of guitar riffin', fake saxophone blarin' 90s schlock, and I love it! And you never know what to expect next! You might end up listening to a Saved By The Bell jam with random voice samples shouting things like "Oooo-wow!", "Reaper madness!", or "Break out, break out fightiiiing..." In another stage, a rapper starts throwing out bad lines like "This world is very difficult, but I got nothin' to lose now!" Oh... excuse me while I wipe this tear from my eye. It's just so poetic. Another stage in the park plunks us into an 80s Peter Gabriel instrumental. And boss battles love to whip out the fast-tempo hard rock, pumping us up to dish out damage to steroid-infused spike collar enthusiasts. We can thank the sound man who calls himself "Prophet Fuka", according to the credits, for this one. If it wasn't for this wild soundtrack, the game would be much more easily forgotten.

Violent Storm is overall your standard beat-'em-up but is pushed over the top with that 90s "everything is rad, dude" persona that, thankfully, was short-lived. This game now has a bit of a campy value to it, but that's not enough to cover what it really is: another game that does what games were already doing years earlier to a tee and adds nothing whatsoever to the genre. Violent Storm is competent, but aside from that music that makes you want to stop playing and do the Running Man, it's nothing really worth seeking out.

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