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Actually mean to give this game a three-and-a-half stars review, but will round up rather than down in this case because the Punisher is my favorite comic book character.

Obviously, this game stars Frank Castle aka The Punisher, and is a home console port of the popular arcade game. Co-starring in this game and also playable is Nick Fury, but his trademark cigar-in-mouth has been removed from the home console port as a means of “censorship”.This is one of numerous differences between the arcade and the Genesis version, but many fans seem most disappointed by this particular change.

The game is a side-scroller beat ’em up with the added flavor of allowing the Punisher to draw his gun and open fire during certain parts of the game. Those parts are infinitely satisfying, and the gunfire sound effect is quite good on the Genesis. What also sets this game apart is that there is no shortage whatsoever of weapons for the Punisher to use in the form of baseball bats, axes, swords, flame-throwers, lead pipes, ninja stars, knives, bar stools, and oil drums. In short, when Punisher isn’t shooting up his enemies, he can resort to other weapons or standard fighting. This gives the player a tremendous amount of freedom in deciding how to approach enemies.

The bosses that standout the most are BoneBreaker (the half-human/half-tank), BushWhacker (has a gun for an arm), and the final boss, The Kingpin. Although I think this is a pretty cool line-up, I can’t help but compare how pitiful the Genesis version of BoneBreaker looks compared to the arcade version. The assortment of enemies are generic thug-types, female ninjas that look really awful, and terminator-style robots. I should note that the female ninjas in the arcade wear skin-revealing clothes and are distinctly female, but in the Genesis version they wear more a more conservative outfit. The blood is also gone, and so are the martial arts enemies.

The level design, which directly resembles the arcade, is quite good. The Punisher or/and Nick Fury will fight in mob houses, on the street, on a moving bus, at a waterfront and warehouse, in the woods, the sewer, on a moving train, and in The Kingpin’s headquarters. No levels were added, and some might feel that the game is too short. The in-game music barely resembles the arcade’s, and doesn’t sound very good. The challenge is fair on Normal and Hard, but only Expert difficulty reveals the ending to the game. I consider myself pretty good at beat ’em up type games, and I was able to finish the game on Normal my 2nd time playing.

Now where this game really has problems is with the control. The Punisher (or Fury) is horrifically sluggish on the controls and the movement. It feels as though Punisher is being severely weighed down with each movement, and it seems lousy that so many of the enemies move so much faster. The Punisher’s jump is stiff and painfully difficult to control. All the smooth movements and speed of the arcade are sadly nowhere to be found. Even the Punisher’s roll is slow and awkward. When I play this game I find myself desperately wishing that the control, speed, and movement were more on par with “Streets of Rage 2”.

Again, I really wanted to like this game. I grew up playing the Sega Genesis and took great pride in my system getting quality games that Super Nintendo did not. Having a port of the awesome Punisher arcade to play was a huge plus for Genesis fans, but unfortunately, it is poorly executed, and a Super Nintendo port would have blown it out of the water. Shoddy music and poor controls prevent this from being a great installment in the Sega Genesis library, but it’s still mild fun for beat ’em up enthusiasts, old-school arcade rats, and Punisher fans.

If You’re Guilty, You’re Dead

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