Ahh, the side scrolling beat'em up. In gamerland there is no experience like controlling a a big buff action hero beating the living crap out of multiple people who all look the same, hearing thier screams of pain as you leave them crushed and bleeding. Combatribes is such a game.
Back in the early 90's it was all about co-op beat'em ups. American Technos was king of this genre and are better known for thier popular Double Dragon and
Kunio-Kun (Renegade, River City Ransom) series of games.
There is zero story in this game. No character development, no moral lesson, no thought provoking background theme, no talking. What is in this game is asskicking. Asskicking the likes of which has never been seen before or since. In a suprising twist for this type of game your fighter is actually larger and stronger than the enemy fighters. You choose one of the three characters who make up the very well racially integrated team called the Combatribes. Doesn't matter who you pick though as they all have the same moves, with minor variations. Once you've chosen either Bullova the black guy, Blitz the American Indian or Berzerker the white guy with the mullet you then proceed to asskicking.
And asskick you do, very, very much so. You can run and knee strike someone in the head. You can grab a guy and smash his head onto the concrete once he's down. You can spin a fool around by his legs and knock all his friends over like human bowling pins. You can grab two assholes and smash thier heads together like melons. You can also just punch, kick, and bust out three hit auto combos if you're feeling lazy.
Levels are short. Like three screens short. To compensate a shitload of bad guys attack you, like ten at a time. You travel through carnivals and fight killer clowns, run through discos and take out roller skating fools in pansy outfits, smash some heads at a baseball game, etc. Each level has a distinct look with an appropiately themed bad guy type for that level (thugs on the street, mimes at the carnival, etc.) You also fight a boss who has a gimmick on each level, such as a spinning tomahawk or a large peice of wood with a nail in it. The bosses aren't too hard but fighting them and seven other little guys at the same time gets pretty hectic. The end boss is this cyborg chick who is of course extremely cheap.
Graphics, sounds, and control are spot on with the arcade version. A few of the levels have been removed, as well as the ability for three player simultaneous play. Also the arcade had large objects like barrels and popcorn machines you could pick up and club people with that are missing in this version. To compensate the bosses unlock to be used in a verses mode which already makes this game better than the original.
By the time this game was released the focus had already shifted from side scrolling beat'em ups to one-on-one fighters like Street Fighter II. Thus Combatribes is one of the last and one of the best of this now dead genre. Long live the beat'em up, long live Combatribes.
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