Rival Turf
Release year - USA:1992
Company: Jaleco
System: SNES
Genre: Beat 'em up
Players: 1-2

Review by: PrimeOp

The debut of the SNES/Super Famicom came during a time of diverse tastes in gaming, and many gamers were hungry for beat-em-ups. Rival Turf, known in Japan as Rushing Beat, was Jaleco's first jab at the home BEU market. It had the two player option that Final Fight lacked and starred a heroic duo of characters. Jaleco had good ideas and good intentions, buuuuuuut...

A gang leader named Big Al unites Mexico and L.A.'s worst street gangs into a single, super mega gang. To combat this talking point word salad of a situation, Jack Flak and Oozie Nelson are sent to break things up. Rival Turf is a bit more than your average post-Final Fight/early SNES beat-em-up. Heroes Jack (Rick Norton) and Oozie (Douglas Bild) only mimic Cody and Haggar on a basic level. Flak's speed makes him great against single opponents and bosses while Oozie's powerbombs and suplexes also clears out surrounding enemies. You have the standard tap-tap-'til-knockdown combo, vert jumping attack, flying jumping attacks, forward and back throws with an energy-sapping super attack. There are weapons that you can pick up and use on the enemy but they go poof if you die while holding them. The gameplay quirk comes in with the angry mode. If you take a large amount of damage (and you will as I'll explain later) you'll go into Angry Mode which lets you strike enemies harder and throw them farther all while being invincible. It lasts for a few seconds and gives you a chance to get revenge on the tougher enemies of a screen. The control is more crisp than you'd expect since this isn't from Capcom, Konami or the other big names. Surprisingly, this was an early two-player simultaneous game in the days when Final Fight was only single player on the SNES.
Don't let the wack(y) new names fool you. Jack Flak is Rick Norton and Oozie Nelson is Douglas Bild. Why Oozie? At no point in this game does this man ooze! Is it an ironic nickname? "Mr. Nelson, I'm a call you Oozie on account that I've NEVER seen such a non-oozin' mother***er in my blessed life!" If so, that co-worker should've been spun off into his own series.

See that chump at the top of the screen that just got thrown like a living lawn dart? That is the kind of superhuman power you can possess once you take enough damage to slip into Angry Mode. As cheap as these enemies are, you'll be doing that A LOT.
The graphics are okay with a few nice poses, but the character designs are quite good. Instead of the typical blond hero with a white T and blue jeans, Norton beats Terry Bogard to rockin' the brown bomber jacket and fingerless black gloves. And what other game has a hero in a red police officer uniform? The drones get the same level of design care, despite there being an Arnie clone. From the really short karate fighters with backwards baseball caps to lanky lounge lizards with huge medallions, most of the enemies do not fit the usual cliches. The bosses also mostly impressive with my favorite, the Iceman (Karn in Japan), a luchador in street clothes who is armed with a dangerous spinning kick. This game does a nice job of adding variety to the battlefields which include city streets, ballparks, jungles and high-tech labs. I'd say that the music is just average since this seems to be before Jaleco's soundsmiths mastered that synth keyboard sound that would bless later games in the Rushing Beat saga. Like many SNES games, the vocal grunts and yells are echoed. In this case, a bit TOO much.

Now for the rain on this parade. Jaleco USA either didn't bother to translate the Japanese story or didn't have the resources to do so. Then there's the names. Really, Jack Flak and Oozie Nelson sound more like 80's TMNT figures than brawlers. The only one of the new names to reappear is Iceman... for a completely different boss. The worst part is the cheapness of the enemies. Quite a few serious drone attacks have no lag times so they just instantly hit you. Enemies also seem to have a much superior vertical attack range. You can miss hitting an enemy that's a few pixels above you but that enemy can hit you. This also makes it tricky to throw weapons at distant foes. Later in the game, you'll barely go five minutes without thinking "Bullcrap!" because you KNOW your attack should've connected. Certain enemies, including bosses, have animations that seem to make them invincible for no logical reason at all. In short, it feels like you're playing a game that's designed to take your quarters, except that it's a home game. Your mileage may vary, depending on your ability to accept video game dickery. For me, all this brings down what I'd have considered a pretty good game.
The enemy designs go above and beyond the typical beat-em-up and they don't try to rip-off well known characters from other games. It's too bad that their stylishness is matched by their utter cheapness. Use crowd-clearing slams whenever it's safe so you can overcome the bad hit detection.

If you're a fan of the Rushing Beat series, this is an interesting game that'll show you the original Norton and Bild adventure, the original Angry Mode and the first rendition of some recurring BGM. Beyond that, there's no reason to bother with it and I say that as a Rushing Beat saga fan. If you're just looking for a good SNES beat-em-up, you can do much better with the later RB games Brawl Brothers and Peace Keepers.

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