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Shanghai Warriors

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Released: 1989

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Commodore 64

Publisher: Players Software

Developer: Imperial Software Designs

We’re fond of exercises in futility at Retro Gamer, and our favourite is playing bad games hoping they somehow become good. It’s just so tempting! Take Shanghai Warriors here as an example. On the surface, this looks like it could be a solid C64 beat-’em-up – there’s a decent number of enemies on screen, you can see weaponry on the ground, and the background visuals are attractive. We’d certainly find it relatively enticing if we hadn’t played it, and seeing it in action might not hurt as characters animate smoothly and the game plays at a decent pace.

Unfortunately, we have played it – and that’s where it all falls apart. For a start, the enemies have a couple of weird walking habits. Sometimes their animation simply never kicks in and they slide towards you, but other times they’ll face the wrong way and moonwalk towards you. Quite often, when they reach you they have no clue of what to do and simply stand frozen in place, or punch in the wrong direction and still somehow hit you. You can deal with the majority of them by simply walking up to them, then holding the fire button and right on the joystick until they’ve been kicked to death. Walk forward a little bit, and repeat.

But still, we can’t help but wonder what Shanghai Warriors would be like if the bugs were ironed out and the enemies were a bit more intelligent. It’d be a better beat-’em-up – but then there are plenty of those already. We should probably be playing them instead.