Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Games time forgot: The Punisher

1:46 PM on 08.26.2008 // Anthony Burch

What with Castle Crashers coming out tomorrow morning, I thought it might be fun to look back on a game which, while not the deepest beatemup ever made, or even one of the best, holds a special place in my heart which no other Final Fight clone of the era will ever dethrone.

It was the 90's, and I was of appropriate age to be in love with all things Punisher. I hadn't watched the Dolph Lundgren movie (probably for the better, all things considered), or even read the comics, but I knew that I loved the look of a character with a big white skull on his chest, and I loved the idea of a superhero who used guns to take out bad guys. 

I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that most six year old boys at the time shared this viewpoint.

This, of course, made The Punisher arcade game my side-scrolling beatemup of choice. Allowing players to take on the role of either The Punisher or Nick Fury (a character I had literally zero understanding of, but he had an eyepatch and grey temples so he was a badass in my book), The Punisher represents all those things simultaneously sweet, violent, and pseudo-badass of the early-90's Winners Don't Do Drugs era.

Hit the jump for a walk down a corpse-ridden memory lane.


Uh, The Kingpin is a bad guy and Frank Castle wants to kill him. That's about as complicated as the comics ever get, so why begrudge the game for following suit?

As a quasi-comic-nerd, I actually somewhat enjoy looking at The Punisher arcade game as being representative of the character's portrayal at that point in time. Too late in the character's life cycle to still be original, but not early enough that the character's dark and villainous aspects had yet been explored in, say, Welcome Back Frank or Punisher: The End, the Punisher of the arcade game is a family-friendly fascist: he beats up bad guys and often times shoots them, but there's no blood, no unnerving squeals of pain, and no real theme other than "bad guys are bad and the Punisher punishes them, and that's super-cool."

And it was, to a preteen in the early 90's. The Castle of the videogame was a violent hero without consequence or depth, and the exact sort of badass we all wanted to be at that age. On the other hand, looking at the game now, I can't help but think of the hellishly disturbing climax of Punisher: The End everytime Frank picks up a gun.

But anyway, yeah: when you punch people, "THWACK" and "BAM" onomatopoeias appear in large, friendly letters, and despite the numerous firearms and knives, there's no real blood to speak of. A game of the 90's if there ever was one.

Also, the Punisher makes a hilariously manly grunt noise when you choose him on the character select screen.



The Punisher plays exactly like Final Fight, save for the following gameplay innovations:

-There are guns

Whether it's M16s and flamethrowers Nick and Frank can pick up, or the bizarre, automatic handgun sequences in which both players simply hammer down on the attack button as fast as possible while jiggling the joystick repeatedly to target different enemies, The Punisher seems to take a lot of pride in periodically rewarding the player with the firearms Castle relishes so much in the original comics.

The handgun sequences go by a little too quickly in the videos I've posted, but suffice it to say that at random moments, Frank and Nick pull out their handguns and, totally immobile, must blow away approaching enemies before bizarrely holstering and forgetting about them until the next big sequence. These are satisfying in a water level, breaks-up-the-gameplay sort of way, but one can't help but ask: if these two dudes are carrying handguns throughout the entire game, why don't they use them all the time?

Apart from the handguns, the game occasionally throws some bigger firepower at you. Occasionally dropped from minibosses or wooden crates, the M16s and flamethrowers, while satisfying to look at and to fire, were surprisingly nowhere near as powerful as, say, a thrown combat knife (which basically amounts to a one-hit-kill). Still, the underwhelming lethality of the weapons did nothing to stifle my desire to collect them ahead of whomever was playing the game alongside me: it's a Punisher game, so you'll naturally want to collect guns. Not because it serves the gameplay, but simply because it feels right. Punisher's gotta shoot stuff, so Punisher's gotta get guns.


Why you're probably not playing it:

As said above, The Punisher doesn't really add anything to the beatemup genre that dozens of other games don't do infinitely better. If you do play The Punisher, it's because of the license and the vibe,not because it's a terribly deep fighting experience. The guns help, and the fisticuffs are solid, but The Punisher is a character-driven beatemup above all else and therefore doesn't really lend itself to multiple playthroughs, especially not fifteen years after its original release. Still, if you want to see the entire game being played, then just watch all four embedded videos in this post; combined, they make up a complete playthrough of the game.

It goes without saying that, being an arcade title, it's hilariously easy to NOT download for either Mame or, if you want the home console port, the Sega Genesis. If you've never played it before and have little to no interest in The Punisher, then go ahead and skip this one: if you did or do, however, then you might find it interesting to visit this beatemup from a time when the Punisher was as clean-cut a good guy as comic heroes get.

Then, after you beat it, read Punisher: The End and bask in its nihilistic horror.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Love, Lost, Live, Lost (2014) - Yesterday was me and my girlfriend's 16th year anniversary together, so I decided to share this song. It deals with being in love, losing that person, moving on, and learning to love again. It's 9 minutes long, too :P
gajknight avatargajknight
I have done my part. Thank you Niero. Question: Does blocking someone also remove their front-page articles too?
iam16bit avatariam16bit
I've been on this site for sometime and for some reason I've never done a quickpost until now.
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
So I'm hearing the UN called Japan in to discus "Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women " Which by Anita's standards = any Violence able to be done. Japan sent a 40 page long NO back to the UN in reply.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Why did I have to read that Austin Grossman was going to be one of the writers on a cancelled Half-Life 2 episode?
Parismio avatarParismio
Dammit its 3 and i cant stop reading cute gay romance mangas.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Going to be honest; I love out-of-context anime screenshots. They're... kind of incredible.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Retweet of the year goes to President of Worldwide Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., Shuhei Yoshida.
Voodoome avatarVoodoome
Just got home from Deadpool and ... it's not good. I liked the jabs at Green Lantern and the previous movie Deadpool, but that was about it. The rest was just painfully forced dick jokes. Wife fell asleep.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Larxinostic rule34
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Looks like I'm not gonna be able to 100% Tearaway Unfolded until Monday at the least. I'm definitely writing about it this weekend and am trying my hardest to get my screenshots off of my PS4 (especially hard as I don't do social media anymore)
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
I've never done a blog before, so I may as well try one with a review of Stranger of Sword City....well, when I get entered into that contest of course
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Shakedown Hawaii is giving me good GTA vibes. I missed the topdown GTA games when they were a thing. I have to decide what platform to get it for since it's coming to 3DS/Vita/PS4/PC (probably the Vita version for moi).
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
You think your art sucks? Here's the rule34 I made of Larx yesterday. Look at it and despair.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Hey Dreamweaver? If you think your art sucks, you should have a look at my magnum opus. It's of Cloud from the popular game, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I never thought this would happen, but here I am. all of my 700+ pokemon gone in one day. My cart stopped working and there's nothing I can do. I quit, you can't just rebuild all that. Time to find something else.
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
Tom Collins is a pretty great drink, and well suited for poutine. consumption
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
It may be because I've been drinking but... We need some dung beetles from ark for the front page. Move that dung on out.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Does anyone know how to get PS4 screenshots onto a PC without needing a flash drive? I don't have a spare.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
This is an example of how bad my drawings are. I honestly think drawing stick figures would've been easier on the eyes. :( The worst thing about this image is that this was made after I got BETTER. Trust me, you don't want to see my earlier stuff. T^T
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -