Street Smart Revival
by Tibe (2010)
Ladies and gentlemen, here's one more UFO (Unindentified Flying Object) over the skies of GWS (Gaming World Scenery) appearing in 1994. ADK, also known as Alpha Denshi, is a subsidiary firm of SNK, which has previously directed some famous games, such as Ninja Kombat, oh... sorry, Combat, World Heroes, Blue's Journey, Crossed Swords, or even the great Magician Lord... Well, these guys are not bad fellas. But they're often misunderstood, like their World Heroes franchise. The firm alternates good and less good titles, so much that players don't really know what to expect then... And when this Gan Gan/Aggressors of Dark Kombat hits the Neo Geo scene, it's hard to know which side will tip the balance! Yet when you boot the cartridge, what you see have you want to play.
The introduction is catchy, the characters presentation screen rather nice (though small, only eight players), with the various fight arenas looking rather nice. The game looks like a modern Street Smart - a late eighties SNK fighting game - which used a three-dimensional gameplay, as Beat them Up usually did. Aggressors is a modern declination of it, offering a better realization, a way more comprehensive gameplay and more fighters. Some elements of the stages can be destroyed, you can grab weapons, run, jump on cars, etc... All this looks pretty fun at first glance! The problem is that because of the "3D" gameplay, the approach is radically different from a 'normal' VS Fighting game. The possibilities are few, and indeed the game packs quite some moves: run, jump, two levels of kicks, two levels of punches, catch in melee... a few specials are available too, and you'll also have to discover the "gan-gan" furies... But some of these are really difficult to perform! In addition, there's no real crouched position and moves, plus it's sometimes difficult to know if one is in front of the opponent or slightly off.
Like many other controls in the soft, having to press the C button to jump is not very intuitive either. If you consider the difficulty to stay in line to hit the opponent, plus the manipulations you must perform with the stick and buttons, plus the fact to have to press C to jump, this might be too much for a majority of players. That said, the game has combos, a few interesting techniques (throws, dodge, dash, furies, hitting the opponent laying on the ground) as well as weapons you can pick up. There is a semblance of depth in Gan Gan's gameplay, the possibilities are many, maybe to compensate the absence of a real roster worth of the name! In short, our Aggressors' asses are sitting between two chairs: On one hand, it's a Final Fight where you would be stuck in a one-on-one fight, or a King of Fighters whose characters would have lost most of their attacks and accuracy. The problem comes essentialy from the maneuverability which is a bit rough, because we can move in depth. All this requires some grip, which can put off many players accustomed to a one-plane game system.
Unfortunately, Aggressors of Dark Kombat came years too late to even create a little sensation in the arcades. ADK's game was released in 1994, the same year as the legendaries The King of Fighters 94 and Super Street Fighter II Turbo, to name a few. I don't need to argue for hours to have you understand it's a no match. Yes, it's still the Street Smart successor, and despite its flaws, some players will have fun rediscovering this kind of gameplay. The action features some good ideas, and the editor provided here a deeper game system. The concept has the merit of being original, but its defects are still there anyway: there's the annoying lack of precision - that can be tamed, however, if you keep trying - and the roster that includes only eight characters, while the competitors sets between sixteen and twenty four characters the same year... An exotic product is that "Gan-Gan", which keeps a certain charm despite its very limited interest.
|Pretty neat, graphics are one of the assets in the game. The stages are nice and don't lack of depth, colorful and sympathics. The characters are big and well drawn.|
|Not a benchmark for the decomposition, but not bad either. Backgrounds are pretty alive, and various effects during fights are cool.|
|As usual with the Neo, it's a great soundscape, both for the global quality and for the compositions.|
|There's only eight characters to discover, no Bosses waiting for you at the end of the game. The difficulty is sometimes strange too...|
|Funny in the beginning, but eventually very restricted, the "3d" gameplay with all its constraints does not convince any more.|
|Despite a decent realization, Aggressors, with its weak gameplay, is deserving only a mediocre rating.|
VALUE FOR MONEY (2010)
Aggressors of Dark Kombat costs about 100 euros in japanese AES, and even more for the US/Euro cartridge. I'm affraid the money/pleasure rating would only please Street Smart nostalgics... By cons, it's an uncommon great piece for a collection.