Retronauts Volume III Episode 9: Konami Arcade Beat-Em-Ups

Retronauts 9 cover

I’m Ray, I’m hosting Retronauts again, and this week we talk about the arcade beat-em-ups of Konami, a topic requested by listener and Kickstarter backer Steven Martin.

Like several other companies in the late ’80s, the Double Dragon-inspired “belt scroll” beat-em-up became a staple of the arcade, and Konami was no exception. They started a little rough at first, but by the early ’90s, they went pretty much full-on with beat-’em-ups for a few years, and mostly maintained high-quality throughout — from oft-remembered licesnsed games like The Simpsons and X-Men to original productions that they somehow found time to make, like Violent Storm and Metamorphic Force. We go over all those games and more, and though it’s hard to say a whole lot about games that aren’t completely different from one another, we do, as usual, get to dip into some nostalgia related to some of them.

Polygon’s Matt Leone rejoins us after talking about arcade racers a few weeks ago. As stated before, Matt knows his stuff about arcade games, and so it was kind of half-coincidence to have him on again when this topic came up.

As a side note, since Jeremy had to up and leave us for the eastern part of the US, he joins us through Skype. He did record himself and I spliced him in, though it’s still not ideal — nevertheless, I’m aware of any hiccups you might notice, and we’re already thinking of how to work it out the next time this happens. On the bright side, you still get Jeremy on Retronauts. (Also, Jeremy’s talk of Konami’s arcade flyers inspired him to write a history of sorts for USgamer.)

Thanks once more to Steve, and I hope to start tackling more backer requests in the future. Though next week on Retronauts Pocket, I just had to talk about accessories again.

Enjoy the show.

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This episode’s breakdown:

01:03 | Introductions & Konami’s original arcade brawlers: Crime Fighters, Sunset Riders, Metamorphic Force, and more
18:42 | Music from Crime Fighters
19:01 | Konami’s licensed beat-em-ups: Aliens, TMNT, Simpsons, and more
40:12 | Music from X-Men
40:42 | More licensed games: Bucky O’Hare, Moo Mesa, etc.
59:08 | Wrap-up!

29 thoughts on “Retronauts Volume III Episode 9: Konami Arcade Beat-Em-Ups

  1. I always thought that the X-Men arcade game was based more on Pryde of the X-men than anything. I think even Wolverine had a strange Australian accent in the game.

    It’s a little goofy, but it’s still pretty fun to watch

  2. Bob, you go right ahead and bash the 90s X-Men cartoon. I will stand by you on that opinion. And anyone who doesn’t like it can WELCOME TO DIE!

    You guys mentioned how Dead-Eye Duck looks similar to Ace Duck. Bucky O’Hare also has an elseworld doppelganger in the form of Jaxxon from the Star Wars expanded universe.

  3. Great topic there. I have quite the memories being amazed at the X-men game which is indeed based on Pryde. The first level of Sunset Riders is very memorable, played it on Thanksgiving Day 95 so kind of timely given it is November. Bury me with my money.

  4. Okay, about to start listening…

    If this podcast doesn’t open with “This week in Retronauts, Welcome to Die!” it will be a criminal waste of a golden opportunity.

  5. I think you missed a golden opportunity to splice in the Monster Maulers theme, personally. Konami actually hired Masato Shimon to sing it, who worked on some very high profile anime and live-action hero series in the ’70s and ’80s. Of course, I may be the only person here who cares about that.

  6. Most of these konami beat’em ups ive heard of expect for monster maulers.If it had only a europe and japan release it’s no wonder kind of like what,capcom had with battle circuit.Konami beat’em ups sure were colorful and had a very cartoon look,even ones that were not license such as metamophic force.It’s a shame metamophic force never had a port ‘the first time id played it was through emulation.I can say i’m no expert on asterix either,it’s just another beat’em up i didn’t get to play in the arcades until i tried it through emulation.I find asterix to be a very standard beat’em up,but it plays well enough.

  7. Pingback: Retronauts podcast covers Konami arcade beat-em-ups « Juice

  8. People remember the X-Men game for the dual monitor, 6 player setup, but I think it is one of the worse playing Konami beat em ups by far. It is impossible to one-credit. It might have to do with the limited attack range of the player characters, which emphasizes the war or attrition fighting. The Simpsons game somehow felt better, maybe due to the increased variety of attacks, and emphasis on weapons you pick up. With most Konami games of this type it feels you are waving your weapons at the enemy until they loose their balance and trip. I prefer Capcom games where it feels like you are really hitting enemies with solid attacks. I still appreciate the art and music of Konami games, especially Turtles in Time. Bury my shell at wounded knee.

  9. Hi, sorry this offtopic, I am trying to remember an anecdote told on the retronauts podcast about a man that was selling nes bootleg games something like that, and there was a game that didnt exist but due to demand the chinese bootleg developers ended up making that game, does anybody remember his name and the name of the game?

  10. I was one of those that was into the Turtles and Simpsons game whenever I came across that machine at an arcade, roller rink or Chuck E. Cheese clone. Don’t have to say much about that here, but I would suggest the Asterix game Konami produced for Europe wasn’t too bad. The fighting in the comics was just as comical as depicted here. The little guy who drinks the magic potion is Asterix of course, his partner-in-crime, Obelix, can’t simply because of an incident he had as a baby of falling into a cauldron filled with magic potion brewed by the druid Getafix in their village. Having consumed the potion, it no longer has an effect on him simply for now having built-in strength from the get-go (but Obelix still tries).

    While it is true how rather below the radar those comics have in the US (same for Tintin as well), they’re still quite popular in their native land where all sorts of movies (both animated and live-action), merchandising and even a theme park devoted to the indomitable Gauls have transpired over the decades. Just recently, a new Asterix adventure was just published last month called “Asterix and the Picts”, though it is no longer written or drawn by it’s creators, Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, who started the tales over 50 years ago, as this is the first time two new guys have came over to take on the challenge of keeping these guys out on the bookshelves.
    http://www.asterix.com/asterix-and-the-picts/

  11. I have to say I can’t thought about Crime Fighters in over 20 years. When that game came out it had its brief moment in the spotlight. For maybe 6 months or so it was the hot arcade game and you could find it everywhere

    • (Accidently hit post.) But it was quickly overshadowed and forgotten I think by Final Fight and its successors. But for a while it was a pretty fun, if not a. It cheap game. It had that stupid countdown health meter that dropped continuously instead of having lives where you had to but in quarters to replenish.

      I loved all of these Konami era beat me up games. But it was interesting looking up some of the later ones I never heard of. Great episode. Also the podcast sounded fine. I couldn’t tell Jeremy wasn’t in the room honestly. I don’t know if its going to be an editing headache or not but I hope you guys keep it up to keep podcasting together.

  12. Another fun episode. I thought you all did a good job trying to highlight what each game contributed without dwelling on them too long, because honestly a lot of them just blend together.

    Crime Fighters is seriously one of the worst beat-em-ups I’ve ever played. The controls are very stiff and bad in the Renegade style and the game gives you virtually NO invincibility time once you’re knocked down. If you’re playing by yourself and enemies are on both sides of you, kiss that quarter goodbye. They’ll just beat you back and forth and never give you the opportunity to get up. There’s a final bonus level where you fight all of the bosses at once, I think I had to use upwards of 50 credits in MAME to beat it.

    The sequels, however, are great. Vendetta and Violent Storm are much more fair, with Vendetta featuring lots of different attacks and very vibrant, colorful artwork even with its back alley thug punching aesthetic.

  13. The 90s X-Men cartoon was decent, though hasn’t aged like Batman:TAS. This GIF shows some of the fun the cartoon has, though: http://s15.postimg.org/hvrd1zv8p/Coward_Wolverine.gif

    For those who want to read, HG 101 has nice articles about these games and more, going into some of the ports and some of the more run&gun titles from Konami.

    http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/konamibeatemups/konamibeatemups.htm

    http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/konamirunnguns/konamirunnguns.htm

    Nice off-mention of Two Crude Dudes, though. I may or may not have written about that game on the atformentioned site.

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