The Punisher — Issue 40

The Pun­ish­er makes good in dig­i­tal crime cleanup

Before Mar­vel vs. Cap­com became a rel­e­vant name to gamers, the com­pa­nies col­lab­o­rat­ed on oth­er games. Those games became essen­tial clas­sics to devel­op gamers who spe­cial­ized in sin­gle-com­bat titles. In 1994, Cap­com and Mar­vel brought a Final Fight-style game to the Gen­e­sis that starred comics’ most infa­mous anti-hero: Frank Cas­tle aka The Punisher.
The game fol­lows the sto­ry­line of the clas­sic Mar­vel comics series. Frank Cas­tle, a dec­o­rat­ed vet­er­an Marine, was enjoy­ing a day in the park with his fam­i­ly when they unwit­ting­ly became wit­ness­es to a mob shoot­ing. As a result, Cas­tle and his fam­i­ly were mas­sa­cred, him being the only sur­vivor. Cas­tle became deter­mined to get pay­back by any means nec­es­sary. With fel­low war­rior Nick Fury (of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Cas­tle begins his war on crime against mob boss Wil­son Fisk aka King­pin, who caused the death of his fam­i­ly and many oth­er innocents. 
The game plays sim­i­lar­ly to “Final Fight” and “Cap­tain Com­man­do.” You can choose to play as either Cas­tle or Fury and can team up in mul­ti­play­er. You start off with the basics, pro­gress­ing to com­bos and var­i­ous weapons such as hand­guns, auto­mat­ic rifles and katanas. There was lib­er­al food and oth­er pow­er-ups such as cash, gold bars and dia­monds that increased my score and restored health since the amount of ene­mies com­ing at me was nonstop. 
The graph­ics were pleas­ant enough, although they attempt­ed to copy arcade cab­i­net-qual­i­ty with lit­tle suc­cess. I will give Cap­com cred­it for mak­ing the graph­ics comic­book-like. it was like read­ing an actu­al issue of the comics includ­ing cap­tions “BLAM!” “KRAK” and BOOM!” instead of play­ing a rushed paint job of a pop­u­lar com­ic series video game. The music of each stage was also decent as Capcom’s sound team deliv­ered, keep­ing things close to what the Pun­ish­er feels like. 
With the work Cap­com put in, the atten­tion to detail made me want to pick it up to play as a return­ing com­ic book fan who knew about Cas­tle and Fury but want­ed to learn more about the King­pin and oth­er Mar­vel vil­lains such as Bush­whack­er and Bonebreaker. 
The Pun­ish­er is the first suc­cess­ful par­ing of Capcom’s know-how with Marvel’s leg­endary vig­i­lante who wastes no time dis­pens­ing his brand of jus­tice on crim­i­nals. Play­ing through this isn’t exact­ly punishment.

NBA Jam — 3Q2014 issue

Pho­to cour­tesy of Gamefaqs.com

The old king of the court

NBA Jam was — and still is — an expe­ri­ence. No, that’s not some pre­pos­ter­ous fluff dreamed up by an Nation­al Bas­ket­ball Asso­ci­a­tion maven like yours tru­ly. It was tru­ly an expe­ri­ence because if you were around at the time that Jam hit the streets, you’d remem­ber the sheer amount of hype that sur­round­ed the arcade release. You’d also remem­ber the hype that came home with it. Was it jus­ti­fied hype? Yes and no.

You see, Jam rep­re­sent­ed the start of the exag­ger­at­ed sports game era, the type of game where the play­er ani­ma­tions were over the top and the action just as extreme. Throw in a pletho­ra of secrets — like play­ing as Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton — and the hype went into over­drive. The game isn’t bad and it most­ly lived up to its billing. The sim­ple set­up of two-on-two bas­ket­ball and fast-break bas­ket­ball helped cer­tain­ly, and the ani­ma­tion isn’t bad at all. The play­er inter­ac­tion is where it most­ly suc­ceeds, actu­al­ly. At the time,

Pho­to cour­tesy of NIntendolife.com

there was no oth­er place to get the kind of play that Jam offers: Crazy dunks, the abil­i­ty to be on fire from great shoot­ing and street ball-type rules. It’s that offer­ing that made it a phe­nom­e­nal success.

Jam does­n’t stum­ble in its race to be an in-your-face baller expe­ri­ence. That street ball play­er inter­ac­tion means you don’t have to learn much about the game to suc­ceed and play well. The con­trol is sim­ple yet has a lay­er of depth that means any­one can do well at any skill lev­el. The atmos­phere could be a lit­tle bet­ter with a bet­ter sound­track, but what will make you take notice is the announc­er. If there’s any­thing you will remem­ber about the game, it’s Tim Kitzrow shout­ing to the top of his lungs that a man is “on fire” or “BOOMSHAKALAKA.”

The graph­ics, like the sound­track, are noth­ing to get excit­ed about. There’s a sta­t­ic crowd except for the court­side folk, and then there’s the play­ers. Jam pop­u­lar­ized the over-exag­ger­at­ed look for play­ers, and it cer­tain­ly had its uses. It’s not out of place for Jam, and it brings a cer­tain atmos­phere to the action that Jam ben­e­fits from.

If there’s ever a rea­son to play NBA Jam, find it in the car­toon­ish action, sound and look. That’s where the fun is, and the main rea­sons why the game suc­ceed­ed in liv­ing up to the hype (most­ly) that broke back­boards in the old­en days of 1993.