New York City is in a terrible state, with most of the inhabitants living in conditions unfit for rats, whilst the fortunate few, the drugs barons, live in luxury. Having lost control over the city the US government, they call in the CIA to clean up. They do so very well, the crime bosses are forced to run. Terrible revenge follows: they take CIA boss John Stevens hostage!
As the CIA's top operative you must rescue your boss and lead him to safety. To help you in your search you have your faithful sidekick Black Virgin, the panther, and a .357 Magnum. Together you battle the thugs that attack you along the way: members of gangs such as The Mutilators, The Happy Undertaken and The Streetwise Tigers. Your panther will occasionally help you out of a tight spot, but in general you must rely on either your martial arts prowess, or your gun (search for ammo, it's limited). At the end of each section a gang leader must be defeated before you can carry on - big dudes who need a lot of stomping.
Do your job, and Stevens is found, but that's only half your problem solved. You must get him back to the starting point, and to make matters worse, he's a physical wreck.
This game's streets may be wild, but I found myself falling asleep very swiftly. The idea is quite a good one, but the gameplay has all the appeal of a major traffic jam. The sprites are small stick like figures who judder around the screen like drunken CRASH reviewers. Take my advice, steer clear of Wild Streets.
MARK ... 35%
'Wild Streets did not impress me at all. The graphics are badly drawn and undetailed, especially in the white monochrome the programmers have chosen. The only colour you see in the whole game is the small bit on the status panel at the bottom of the screen. Beat-'em-up games are not new to the Spectrum (as you probably know), so why we need another one to add to the ever increasing selection I do not know. This one's not going to rank among the best of them either. Wild Streets is anything but: you'd have more fun watching a street sweeper do his job!'
NICK ... 52%
Ready for the plot? Okay, here we go. You're a cop. Your job is to rescue the head of the CIA, who's been kidnapped by the Mafia (because he'd been trying to organise a major drugs clean-up or something). And, um, that's it, more or less. Hardly original, eh? Oh well, never mind- it sort of suits the game.
Basically, this is about as bog-standard a beat-;em-up as you can get. You've to fight your way through 'five action-packed levels', each divided into lots of sub-levels (ie different screens, because it doesn't scroll), and featuring various sections of New York. Not easy, you might say. but luckily the NYPD have provide you with some help to prepare you for the forthcoming onslaught of violence. No, not a whopping two-ton bazooka and a bloomin' huge tank (which I'd have chosen) but a rather large pussycat and tiddly little pistol. Titus seems to think they'd be more help. Oh well.
As with most games of this type, everything is viewed from a cross-sectional perspective, which means you see everything from the side as you walk from left to right, killing everybody/thing in your path. The best way (as you might expect) is to deliver a quick parp from the old gun, knocking 'em dead in a flash, but oh no! As luck would have it, in your eager rush to single-handedly take on the entire cigar-chewing Mafiosi, you've forgotten to pack more than six bullets! A bit of an oversight, I'd have said, because once you've dispensed with all your ammo (round-about the third screen) you have to resort to the usual kick-and-punch method, which is not only slower, it's been done much better before. Take Renegade for example (which'll only cost you three quid these days).
Ho hum. Anyway, how does it work? Well, various waggles on the joystick will enable you to punch and kick your enemies in various parts of the body, which is all well and good as far as it goes, but unfortunately it doesn't go very far. For example, no throws or leg sweeps or any other vaguely interesting moves are up for grabs - I'll admit it is possible to head-butt but the pathetic beeps that the Speccy gives off and the lack of pain on your enemy's face when you sock it to him above the eyebrows hardly make it worthwhile. The end-of-level baddies only take a few punches here and there to them off too. I don't know, baddies these days - they've just not got the staying power.
Yes, yes, yes! But what about the pussycat, I'm sure you're shouting! What does he do? Surely he spices things up a bit with a spot criminal dismemberment or something? Well, no, actually. I mean he should - he's a blimmin' panther! But with a name like Black Virgin all he does is wander around looking bored (intelligent animals, panthers) then jump up and knock one or two of the baddies over when you're in a bit of a tight fix. No blood or anything. Personally I think he'd be more help as a rather silky fur coat to keep you warm through the cold streets of New York!
So what's the plus side? Well, the characters are large and quite well drawn, and the flip-screen backgrounds are well detailed, adding more variety and realism to the game than in many others. Unfortunately though, a few minor things seem to have been ignored - playability, smooth animation and sound. The movement of the characters is both jerky and unrealistic (check out that jumping movement!), and what is that large banana-shaped thing doing each time you throw a punch? Growing out of your head or what?
Um, so where does that leave us? Well, I can't help thinking it's with a well-known four letter word beginning with 'c' I'm afraid. Well, perhaps that's a bit harsh, but it's just soooo boooring. I mean, I'd happily let the CIA bloke die rather than go through the hassle of trying to save him in the first place. (Sorry, any CIA types out there - I don't mean it personally.)
Dodgy storyline ahoy! 1998 New York overrun by drug barons and weirdos. Pushers own whopper mansions and loonies live in ghettos. CIA clamp down and begin to win the war (why no earlier action was taken is unclear). Drug barons kidnap head of CIA in order to identify his lieutenants and bump them off. Lone agent, James Taylor and his panther - 'Black Virgin' if you please. must infiltrate the city and rescue the CIA chief.
So, what we have here in an Escape from New York sort of way is a left-right scrolling walk'n'punch affair. What makes it different from Renegade (parts 1 to 3) Streetfighter, Yie Ar Kung Fu, Exploding Fist et al? Two things; your gun and your panther.
The gun is a .357 magnum six-shooter (no spare ammo; you have to rely on finding some on the floor - very efficient) which is fine, and very useful.
The panther, on the other hand, is about as much use as a chocolate fire engine in summer. Her main purpose is to savage to death the thugs which you can't handle. Unfortunately, you need to be on the floor, bleeding from every orifice before she registers that you need any help.
Once she's decided to participate in the action, as opposed to padding around like a furry imbecile, she leaps into the air and passes over the bad guys. Gripping, eh?
The graphics are pretty shoddy. Monochrome figures wander around in front of monochrome backdrops. The animation is less than brilliant, too, and the characters sometimes look downright silly when fighting. The panther doesn't even jump properly.
For most of the time, then, since you can forget about the Black Virgin being of any use, and spare ammo for your gun is thin on the ground, it's a straight fist tight.
The moves available are pretty comprehensive. Elbow jabs and high kicks being available, if not entirely easy to pull out of the bag in a tight situation.
The biggest problem with Wild Streets is that it's a crashing bore. Walk right, have a punch up, fall down, get up, shoot someone, walk right, have a punch up. Even on later levels, the action is really pretty dull.
Reviewer: Jim Douglas
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