In the early Nineties the Mega Drive (Genesis in America) may have been in its infancy but the Master System was out to prove it still had some life left in it as well. A lot of love for the European gamers where the Sega consoles were selling very well meant that this was still a viable buisness model for publishers. In 1991 Running Battle was released exclusively for the Master System in Europe. Here are my thoughts.
Now this may be a nineties game but it really has the heart and soul of an eighties film. You play as Detective Sgt Gray one angry police officer who dresses in red jump suits and happily wears his shades at night. Gray is one angry cop out for vengeance after his best buddy in the world Sgt Brody dies after going on a one man crusade to take down criminals in the 'Dark Zone.' So rather than learning from his friends mistakes what does our character do? Go on a one man crusade into the 'Dark Zone' to hunt down the dreaded Mr M the man responsible for Brody's death... sigh. The story is basic and I totally buy into it, I'm pissed and I'm going to kill criminals while causing as much collateral damage as possible.
Gameplay is quite tough at first. You can jump, punch or use one awesome over heightened jump kick. Hand to hand combat is very finicky, it’s definitely not a good idea to hit enemies with the standard punch or duck and punch as touching them causes damage to you. You need to master the jump and kick move which is tough to do but once you get your head round it you will be beating bad guys down like no tomorrow.
Power ups are also available such as hand guns and rifles which dispatch enemies easier and quicker. There is also health, 1-ups, armour and an invincible power which makes Gray run super-fast to the right for five seconds taking out everybody in his path, it also features great music to accompany this brief moment of awesome.
Enemies are your criminal thugs who will use melee or guns to take you down. There are also robots and sentry guns to keep you on your toes, don't forget however the boss battles which are quite the highlight as they feature small cut scenes before and after the fight that will probably bring a little chuckle to those that appreciate a bit of cheese especially with names like Samurai man. These Boss battles are melee only and are quite tricky but not impossible, they just require a bit of patience and pattern recognition though I will warn you the final boss is cheap, unfair and nuts.
Music is standard 8 bit Master System affair the same music is used for most levels though it has a nice tune to it. As mentioned the invincibility power up is definitely the most memorable jingle.Graphics are ok, most zones and enemies are essentially a pallet swap which seems a bit lazy. Boss levels and sprites are unique and different each time which is good and your red character sprite in his hip jump suit is easily recognizable. For a Master System game an impressive amount of colour is used but it won't leave any lasting impressions.
Running Battle is fairly difficult to start with but once you get the hang of the controls which come across a bit awkward at first it's a lot of fun. There are about five levels though there are sub areas within each stage. You have five continues, a health bar which is quite generous and more than enough lives. My favourite part of te entire experience is when you die as a heart drops down from the left of the screen and it changes into your avatar, retro games can be so inventive sometimes.
This is not a long game but the final boss might give you a bit of trouble, it may also infuriate those ho have little to no patience (Megatron's_Fury, that means you buddy.) It's fun for a quick gaming session absolutely, however, you won’t be playing this for more than an hour each visit. It's a tricky one to score or sure as im sure a lot of people will just breaze through it never to return but underneath the surface this game does have some endearing moments and attributes, it's not great by any means but it does have a certain something about it, for me anway.
Verdict:- Running Battle is a fun ride especially if you want a quick game fix and if you love the eighties feel in your retro games.
It's for me a hidden gem that certainly won't appeal to everyone especially with the finicky controls and tough boss battles. However, if you love your Master System then this game should be a nice little find to add to the collection. It may not be the best game but there is a lot of love to be found if you give it a chance.
Second Opinion:- Transbot does not like this game much at all, it's one of those meh games if ever there was one and almost nothing bar the 80's references stand out.
That being said if you have an hour or so to kill and actually want to kill things then you could do far worse, you could of course do far better so for me this gets a below average score.
Transbot Scores:- 4 out of 10