Konami’s ’80s brawler Crime Fighters returns to clean up the streets

Its kinda bad, but paves the way for superior sequels

You have to love that flyer… Jerrica Benton from Jem, some dude doing Joey Tribiani’s “Smell the Fart” acting, a British football hooligan, an Offspring fan, and me on the far left wearing shades… Even though I don’t remember this photo being taken, I’m sure that’s actually me.

Hamster has stepped away from its run of shmups to deliver close encounters of the worst kind for this week’s Arcade Archives release. Revisiting the brawler genre, the retro publisher has dropped Konami’s 1989 release Crime Fighters onto PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Crime Fighters sees up to four players take to the mean streets in order to rescue a literal parade of kidnapped women from a gangland boss. Seriously, there’s not one damsel in distress in Crime Fighters, there’s about 14. As is the meta of the 1980s, rather than simply send an armed task force directly to the villains’ lair, the police instead assign a small contingent of undercover cops. Their mission: Trudge through the city and beat the ever-loving shit out of anyone sporting tie-dyed clothing or a mohawk.

Check out the action below, in this video courtesy of YouTuber World of Longplays.

Released during an era where the entire industry had fallen head-over-heels for beat ’em ups, Crime Fighters is, frankly, a poor example of the genre. The blah brawler features microscopic visuals; unwieldy controls; weak special moves and weapons; and vast, empty stages. Players even lose health simply by existing – a dick move employed by Konami in certain arcade releases to keep the quarters flowing. Crime Fighters would be roundly and rightly trounced by Capcom’s Final Fight and Konami’s own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, both of which launched the same year.

Crime Fighters does maintain a legacy, however, in the form of its two brilliant sequels: 1991’s tongue-in-cheek face smasher, Vendetta, and 1993’s post-apocalyptic punch-up, Violent Storm. Both of these titles learned much from Crime Fighters‘ failings in gameplay, variety, and aesthetic – and as such are rightfully ranked among the best brawlers of all-time. Here’s hoping that these arcade classics will also be headed our way, bottle in hand, very soon.

Crime Fighters is available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch, priced at around $8.

Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s. Former Saturday Night Slam Master. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors.