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Chicago Syndicate

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Released: 1995

Genre: Beat-'em-up

Format reviewed: Game Gear

Publisher: Sega

Developer: Climax Group

Looking at these screenshots, you might be tempted by this US-only release. Don’t be – Chicago Syndicate is a bad beat-’em-up. It’s got some of the elements of a good game, including an intriguing design, nice visuals and a wide variety of fighting moves, but it most definitely fails to hit the spot.

The idea is that Larcen Tyler, the cat burglar and praying mantis kung fu practitioner from Eternal Champions, is in an alternate timeline in which he successfully avoids being killed by a bomb and turns against the mob. The chief of police quite likes this idea, but still suspects Larcen – so he’s only got a year to clean up the city. In order to effectively tackle the mob, you can research which has the most thugs available, who’s running low on ammunition and so forth, picking off the weakest one at a time. However, the clock is always running whether you’re researching, fighting or resting, so you’ll need to be quick.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work. Apart from the fact that Larcen has taken a turn for the supervillain and donned the colours of The Riddler, there are some major gameplay flaws. The game tries to squeeze too many moves into three buttons, even pulling the start button into play, but you only ever need to crouch kick enemies. Well, unless they’re standing to your left, as you can’t turn around – a ridiculous design choice which fundamentally ruins the game. That’s too bad, as the idea is quite good.