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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 07/21/03 ] = Koriru

Back in the good 'ol days when the universe of Marvel Comics was at its prime, there was a character called The Punisher. Torn by the sudden death of his family at the hands of Mafia, Frank Castle swore vengeance on his enemies, and walked alone among them as The Punisher. Wielding a plethora weaponry, The Punisher waged a one-man war on crime, leaving piles of spent shells, chaos, and death in his wake. On the streets and in jungles, as the smoke of violent wars settled, only one figure emerged: The Punisher. More than just a story of meaningless killing and sin, throughout his journey on the road to vengeance The Punisher struggled to find a piece of himself, and often tried to make sense of his existence. There is beauty in the simplicity of the The Punisher's concept and design. The Punisher had loyal fans who went out of their way to support the comic from its beginnings until its sudden end...and I was one of them. The Punisher was the best comic-book character then, and is still the best even today. Never before has a comic-book character left the impression on me that The Punisher did.







Over time, Capcom has used Marvel characters to create arguably the best American comic-book character based videogames in history. They've used Marvel characters to make successful fighters like X-MEN - Children Of The Atom, Marvel Super Heroes, and Marvel VS game like Marvel VS Capcom 2, as well as great side-scrolling fighters like X-MEN - Mutant Apocalypse, The Punisher, and Marvel Super Heroes - War Of The Gems. Although X-MEN - Mutant Apocalypse and Marvel Super Heroes - War Of The Gems were great titles, The Punisher was a dream come true. The game was a dream come true ultimately because out of all the Marvel characters that Capcom could have chosen to make a game with, they chose the Punisher.

It was absolutely amazing to see that Capcom, the best Japanese developer, had chosen my favorite American comic-book character to make a game out of. My jaw dropped, and my eyeballs nearly fell out of my skull and onto the floor when I first saw the game. To say I was shocked is an understatement; I just about shit my pants when I saw Capcom's name together with the Punisher. To see the Punisher designed and animated in the same fashion as other hit Capcom games like Street Fighter II and Final Fight was nothing less than a treat. Capcom, the developer of the awesome Street Fighter series, had decided to make a game out of the best Marvel Comics character ever. Combining their own signature style of quality animation with their polished side-scrolling fighting formula, and with Marvel's best character, Capcom made one impressive side-scrolling fighter.




Having played the game only a few times during its initial arcade release, I had always wanted to play the game in its entirety and learn its intricacies, but never had the time nor the funds to do so. So, as expected, I was especially hyped when Capcom brought The Punisher to the consumer via the Genesis hardware. Playing the game at local arcades was great, but there was nothing like having the game in the comfort of my own home (to play as much as I wanted with no limitations). Of course, the lowlife assholes at GamePro had lots of shit to talk about this game upon its release, but as one who actually plays games, I'm saying that The Punisher delivers side-scrolling action goodness. This one is a bit hard to track down (especially new), but this is one side-scrolling fighter that can't be missed by Capcom or Marvel fans. Capcom did a great job in making the game accurate to the Punisher and Nick Fury comics, right down to even the smallest details. This was yet another reason for me to love Capcom back then, and is still a reason to this day even when the developer's most recent works are considered.

As the name suggests, this game puts you in control of the killing machine affectionately referred to as The Punisher. There's nothing like actually playing as the character that I could only read about before. The Punisher just kicks ass in this game! His animation is cool to watch; even in his walking animations he looks just as hardened and pissed off as in the comics! Although the Punisher usually walks alone (except when sometimes assisted by the trusty Microchip), the hard-hitting Nick Fury fights at his side in this game. I thought Nick Fury was a cool character back in the days when he had his own comics, and it's cool to see him fight valiantly next to the best character in the Marvel universe. I think Capcom made an especially good decision in choosing the hard-hitting Nick Fury to fight alongside the Punisher; it's hard to find another character that fills the void as good as Nick Fury does. Together the Punisher and Nick Fury set out to dethrone the tub of shit commonly referred to as the Kingpin. This is the duo that destroys.

Familiar villains from The Punisher comic series also make appearances throughout the game, like Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy, Bushwacker, Jigsaw, and The Kingpin. Kicking Bushwacker's ass is fun, and putting The Kingpin in his place (six feet under) is cool, but I like going up against The Reavers (Bonebreaker and Pretty Boy) more than anything; these assholes nearly killed The Punisher before in the comics, and any fan of The Punisher would feel content getting revenge on these jerks in the game. Nearly every cool character that the Punisher fought in the comics shows up, from the persistent Jigsaw to the asshole Kingpin, but I would have liked to see Dr. Doom in the game. Seeing The Punisher fearfully "surrounded by Doom" in an earlier issue of the comic series, I would have liked to beat the shit out of Doom if he were put in the game (for being a jerk) just to bury that memory. However, Dr. Doom wishes set aside, the bosses in the game are good and fun to fight against.

Not to be left out, The Punisher also gets to smash the lowest of the low; enemies in this game range from dirty thugs (Max, Chrys) and knife-weilding jerks to gun-toting assholes (Jagger, Luis Allegre) and beefy troublemakers. There are even a few enemies that carry axes and katanas, who are probably the most fun to fight because you can kick their ass and then turn their own weapons against them (it becomes a sick obsession real quick). The Punisher's enemies seem a bit more aggressive than in other Capcom titles of the same genre; they have nasty jumpkicks, throw lots of knives, slash with axes and katanas, and shoot at you more than often. Get cornered in this game, and it's all over for you; it might take a bit of swearing and losing before you actually get used to how aggressive they are.

While not on the side of the opposition nor the Punisher, one character design I think is absolutely awesome in The Punisher are the business women (office ladies, if you will) that are seen throughout the game. Running from crime scenes and locked in prisoner cells, these hotties reward you with sensual hugs if rescued, and sometimes even leave a pizza behind! Now that's what I call debt repayment! Drawn in the style only Capcom can produce, they animate perfectly; when they run away from crime scenes or out of cells, they animate beautifully. Don't believe me? Play it and see for yourself! For fans of OLs, The Punisher is a must-play. Definitely, the animation of these ladies shows the game's style.

As in other Capcom side-scrolling fighters, The Punisher features an Attack button and a Jump button, which are used to perform the various normal, jump, and special attacks. The Punisher is set apart from other side-scrolling fighters of its time (Final Fight CD, Streets Of Rage 3) due to the large number of attacks that can be performed with just two buttons. With just two (Attack and Jump) buttons a ground attack, jumping attack, dashing attack, throws, and various special attacks can be performed.

In most side-scrolling fighters there's usually a throw, but in The Punisher there are five different throws; both the Punisher and Nick Fury can perform a ground throw, an air-throw, an alternate air throw, a special throw, and downed enemies can be picked up and thrown. In addition to the standard air-throw, there is also a second air-throw in the game appropriately called the Izuna Fall; a move that takes the enemy right-side-up into the air briefly and then upside-down back into the ground headfirst. Now that is an air-throw! The Izuna Fall can even be aimed (to a certain extent) to hit selected targets; this is an especially effective tactic in creating breathing room. Also, nearly every downed enemy in The Punisher can be picked up off the ground and tossed with a move called the Death Lift; moves similar to this have been seen in the past (anyone remember Two Crude Dudes?), but in The Punisher it is essential to learn if you really want to raise hell. You know a move kicks ass when it's called the Death Lift! And although it takes off a bit of energy, in desperate situations an area-clearing, skull-cracking special throw can also be performed by both fighters.








Ultimately, throws are so unique to The Punisher simply because in most side-scrolling fighters various executable throws aren't that common (even in the later titles of the genre), let alone two air-throws in one game for each playable character. Following the various throws, there are also various different special attacks; both the Punisher and Nick Fury can do a ground area-clearing Sure Killing Technique that drains a bit of energy (like in Final Fight); Punisher does a spinning sweep kick that floors everyone around him, and Fury swings around a bar (?) that clears the area. In addition, the Punisher and Nick Fury also have their own unique special attack to use in battle; the Punisher has a quick roundhouse, and Nick Fury has a somersault kick. Both characters can also put their special attacks into ground combos to create devastating results. Just seeing the moves connect might give you a slight toothache. I wasn't sure how to really classify these, but there are also highly effective dashing attacks in the game that literally "floor" enemies upon impact; the Punisher has a dashing sidekick, and Nick Fury has a dashing high kick. Destroy.

Yet another aspect unique to The Punisher is the ability for both characters to draw guns and use grenades at will. Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the game, The Punisher and Nick Fury have the ability to draw their guns and engage in gunfights. Triggered when enemies with guns approach, the gunfights in The Punisher are just plain nuts. Fucking nuts. After your character draws their weapon, get ready, because the screen just explodes into war. This is the essence of The Punisher. I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but besides Capcom's own Cadillacs & Dinosaurs (and the later Alien VS Predator), intense gunfights are a bit rare in side-scrolling fighters. In addition, the Punisher and Nick Fury can throw grenades by hitting Attack and Jump simultaneously while in the air, which douses the ground below and all of its occupants in glowing flames. Throwing grenades is one of the coolest (and most fun) aspects of The Punisher's gameplay; there's nothing like recovering from a cheap-shot and then lobbing a grenade at the bastard who did it!

Capcom did a good job in making The Punisher true to its comic roots; the gameplay is furious. The Punisher's gameplay is faster and meaner than other Capcom titles of the same genre like Final Fight CD and X-MEN - Mutant Apocalypse. The gameplay is fast, attacks are fast, and the gunfights are fast. At any given time, there can be up to four enemies and two players battling; battles range from all-out brawls to intense shoot-outs. While normal standing attacks are performed in order create combos, in The Punisher these combos can be canceled (by both fighters). While it may seem to be a sort of disadvantage at first, canceling combos knocks enemies down quickly and makes back defense easier; while throws can also be used for this same purpose, cancel combos work nicely. With dash attacks, rolls, grenades, and cancelable combos, The Punisher's gameplay stays at a frantic pace unlike few games in the genre. There are instances in this game that are absolute chaos; the screen more than often erupts into gunshots and explosions.

The most distinguishing aspect of The Punisher's gameplay is the sheer amount of weapons in the game. When it came out, there were few games in the genre that could match it in terms of weapon selection. Weapons in the game include knives, baseball bats, pipes, axes, katanas, M-16 assault rifles, Uzis, flame-throwers, dynamite, throwing stars, chairs, and even rocks! While a crowbar or a board (with a nail through it) would have been cool to see, I'm satisfied with the many weapons of The Punisher. My favorite weapon, of course, is the axe; there's just something cool and refreshing about bringing an axe into a fight against a band of gun-wielding thugs. That being said, there's some bloodshed in The Punisher. A lot. There are parts of this game that can be considered small-scale massacres. While the bloodspill in The Punisher is nothing like that of Capcom's later Alien VS Predator title of the same genre, there's still enough to paint the walls.

I have often heard The Punisher being compared to Streets Of Rage 3. While Streets Of Rage 3 is a quality title, and I think Sega did a good job on it, I still like The Punisher better. To start, Streets Of Rage 3 has four selectable characters (and maybe some secret) compared to The Punisher's two, but even with four characters (one of them an attractive woman) it's hard to beat the awesome duo of The Punisher and Nick Fury. Just look at The Punisher and Nick Fury as they plow through the Kingpin's minions; it's just beyond comparison! While the animation in both games is good (Sega put a lot into SOR3), The Punisher just has that signature Capcom animation that fans have grown fond of. The category The Punisher really beats Streets Of Rage 3 in is sound; in Streets Of Rage the background music is almost irritating at times, and the sound effects just don't sound as good. Not that the music in The Punisher is the best ever in side-scrolling fighter history, but I think it certainly fits the fighting better than the bad techno-fusion-inspired tunes of SOR3.

Streets Of Rage 3 is a fun game, and the fighting is good, but I like the seamless, gritty action of The Punisher more; when compared to The Punisher, SOR3 can seem a bit slow at times (especially while waiting for fights or really long lifebars). Although SOR3 has running attacks, fights just don't seem to occur as consistent as those in The Punisher. One thing many might like more about SOR3 is that the fights just don't get as nasty; fights in The Punisher often escalate into shoot-outs, and things get really bad. Death doesn't seem to come as often in SOR3 as it does in The Punisher. Aggressive (and sometimes cheap) enemies set aside, I think The Punisher ultimately has better gameplay out of the two; however, it should noted that Streets Of Rage 3 is a good title in the genre of side-scrolling fighting games.





Both games are probably close in terms of moves and abilities; the attacks in SOR3 are on par with that of the The Punisher, but I think the latter wins in the throw dept. The Punisher also wins in sheer selection of weapons; there aren't nearly as many ways to dispose of the opposition in SOR3 as there are in The Punisher. Sure, there are a few weapons in SOR3 (knives, boards, swords), but they don't play a significant part in gameplay; in SOR3 you can live without using them, but in The Punisher it's hard not to use weapons in battle. Also present in both titles are cinematic cut-scenes between stages that progress the story of the game. While Streets Of Rage 3 has some good cut-scenes that tell a decent story, it's hard to beat the concept of The Punisher. SOR3 may have a good amount of cinematics, but The Punisher has an unbeatable theme to it: a man who has left society and turned vigilante to avenge the murder of his family. Sega's Streets Of Rage 3 was a good title and a welcome addition to the genre of side-scrolling fighters, but I think Capcom's The Punisher is hard to beat.





Following great titles like Final Fight CD, Final Fight 2, and X-MEN - Mutant Apocalypse, Capcom used their signature design craftsmanship and developing experience to create a solid side-scrolling fighter that came to be released as The Punisher. Based arguably on Marvel's best character ever, Capcom made one hell of a gritty side-scrolling fighting game with The Punisher. Various familiar faces were pulled straight from the pages of the comic series and thrown into the The Punisher to make it one of the most faithful comic-based games of all-time. The Punisher takes care of business just as he does in the comics, and the game is chock-full of the many weapons that the Punisher has used in waging a one-man war on crime. The Punisher is a solid white-knuckle battle that should please fans of the genre. Chalk The Punisher up as yet another good fighting experience from Capcom.