Someday, there will be a book on store shelves
called "When Fighting Games go Bad." It will have pictures and information of
all the famous fighting games that were hyped by the video game media, yet failed to
deliver. This, while being entertaining, is also depressing. The very thought that enough
terrible fighters exist to fill a book is remarkable, and Brutal would be close
to the front.
This is one of those games that got away somehow, appearing on an absurd number of
consoles, most of which didn't even bother to upgrade it. It's a sloppy, shoddy, and
all-around disaster. In fact, there are times where you even have to question if this game
has been finished.
At its default setting, the game is unplayable. It's too fast to even comprehend quickly
enough what you're doing. Slowing it down is a necessity, though you'll need to traverse a
needlessly complicated menu system that takes a few seconds to pull up a graphic just to
say yes or no. Then, once you've found the right speed setting, you realize it really is
Part of the problem is that this is as wildly an inconsistent game as you'll find. The
animation is at times brilliant; the next second it's cut to one frame. The AI is all over
the place, varying from fight to fight. Don't believe for one second that playing on the
easiest level will be a quick ride.
This game is ridiculous, pulling off absurd corner traps that should be impossible if this
game was programmed correctly. You simply have to stare in awe as you're beaten down by a
special whirlwind kick that should have a delay in between strikes. The first few fights
don't even allow special moves on your end. You need to earn them and write down passwords
to keep them. This is passed off as a "feature."
The screen also scrolls with the person moving against the edges of the screen. In other
words, if your opponent is moving to retreat, the screen goes with him. In a hectic
battle, this is completely disorienting and pulling of combos without being cheap (though
against the AI, anything goes) is impossible. Hit detection is also spotty. It seems this
cart is programmed with some random code to determine if your blow is going to land or
There is one unique feature here and that's the Battle mode. You pick a few fighters and
battle it out to take over the most spots in this small board game-like experience. It's a
nice idea wrapped around a sadly beaten fighting game.
Sprites here are small, yet well detailed. Character designs are not very original, and
could come from any failed cartoon series. The backgrounds feature gorgeous settings, but
foreground objects can (and will) completely obscure the fighters. Certain stages make it
impossible to figure out what's going on.
There's little indication that you've hit someone in the sound department. This is a
meager package. It barely has enough going for it to consider it as audio. Some of the
music provides catchy themes to fight with, but without that satisfying "thud"
of mutant animals wailing on each other, it seems wasted. Voices are absent, and don't try
the argument that they're animals. If the Ninja Turtles can learn karate and talk, so can
the cast here.
This game would appear on five consoles before gamers stopped buying it. That, or Gametek
began to feel guilt for putting this out there. They might have learned a thing or two
about Karma too. Whatever happened, we'll never know. At least the plague stopped here.