Oh! big… I’m a BIG
It’s a good season for beat ’em up fans. This week saw the release of WayForward’s radical brawler-cum-RPG River City Girls. There’s an exciting looking return to the Streets of Rage on the horizon, and even Battletoads is getting a look-in before the year is out. But for those who fancy taking a look into the genre’s past, retro publisher Hamster has you covered with this week’s Arcade Archive release: Vigilante by Irem, available to download now on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
Arriving in arcades back in 1988, before being ported to a host of home computers, Vigilante is legendary beat ’em up which served as a pseudo-successor to 1984’s Kung-Fu Master. Set in downtown New York (which was, at the time, the go-to “dangerous city” used in all fiction) Vigilante sees players in the role of a martial arts expert, forced to brave the mean streets on a mission to rescue his kidnapped sweetheart, Madonna.
Like Kung-Fu Master before it, the player slowly dawdles across a singular 2D plane, taking on an endless horde of punks and thugs, racing in from both directions. Armed with a sweet high kick, a terrible jump-kick, and a few other Bruce Lee-esque maneuvers, the player brawls their way through five locations, taking down dime-store punks and much tougher boss characters. The mission concludes at the local construction yard, where our hero makes his last stand against the gang leader “Giant Devil”.
While undeniably a classic release (the hilarious, nonsensical background signs are almost worth the price of admission alone) Vigilante is held back – then and now – by sluggish controls and somewhat frustrating difficulty. Regardless, Vigilante is undeniably a classic arcade, and one which I have particularly strong memories of. It’s worth a look for brawler completionists, but is a bit of an ask at eight dollars.
Vigilante is available to download now on PS4 in Japan and Nintendo Switch worldwide.