Beat em’up games have always been a hit or miss (no pun intended) proposition for me (no pun intended? oh really? – Ed). I either really love the game or would rather hit myself in the head with a tack hammer for 6 hours straight then play the bad game again. While there have been a great deal of awesome beat em’ups like River City Ransom, Final Fight and Double Dragon, bad ones come along and ruin my day. Last Battle is one of those games.
Last Battle is a side scrolling beat em’up where you as the hero Aarzak punch and kick your way though 4 chapters of mind numbingly terrible action. Now, that actual onslaught of generic palette swapped bad guys who look like rejects from a post-apocalyptic biker movie are not too bad, I have seen far worse. What takes this game from a middle of the road exercise in button mashing to a controller hurling, console breaking adventure are the maze levels. At certain part you must guide your hero through a series of rooms that form a maze which have to be traversed in a certain order. Does the game give you any hint as to what that order might be? No. What makes it worse are the traps and hazards that drain your life in these areas. At times, you would swear a massive army of axe hurling thugs just off screen are heck-bent on ending your gaming experience by throwing a non stop torrent of sharp blades at you. Very frustrating.
Now, I would be amiss if I did not mention that this game in Japan has a much different plot and larger level of violence. Why you ask? Localization. Localization is the process by which a game developed in one country is changed for distribution in another. One of the most famous examples of Localization is the game we outside of Japan know as Super Mario Brothers 2 (SMB2). In Japan, the game that would become SMB2 to us was called Doki Doki Panic and had nothing to do with the Super Mario franchise. Still, wanting another Super Mario hit for the Nintendo, the game underwent a localization process that changes the sprites (in game graphics) for the main characters into the familiar forms of Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad that we all know and love.
The original title of Last Battle is, and I challenge you to say it three times fast is: Shin Seikimatsu Kyseishu Densetsu Hokuto no Ken. It was actually a game based off the Fist of the North Star anime and comic series which if you are familiar with, you would recognize many of the characters from the anime/comics in the game but with different color skin and what not. Not only did Last Battle change the plot and characters, it toned down the violence considerably. For example, in the original Japanese release bad guys would explode in bloody messes when it, instead of the just flying off the screen like an errant pinball like they do in our version.
Why doesn’t the game get a 1 out of 5 you ask? Well, graphics need to count for something. In an era where the Genesis was all about looking better then the Nintendo Entertainment System, Last Battle did look great. Also, look at the cover of the game. Those pants are super 1980s future tight, and steel shoulder pads with a black a-shirt underneath? Awesome. When I have to battle for my life against an angry mob in some sort of desert wasteland, that’s what I want to wear, and I think you should too. Just watch out for those axes my fellow wastelanders.
Trivia: Versions of this game were also released for the Commodore 64 and Amiga. That means even more people got to gouge there eyeballs out in annoyance.