As much as I love Ultimates era Samuel L. Jackson Nick Fury, I’m all stoked on classic honky Nick from playing Capcom’s 1993 Punisher arcade game tonight. This is one of those beat ’em ups that I can’t believe I missed when it was released. Sure, there was a console port, but it can’t compare; I would have given a sock full of quarters to be in some grimy arcade playing this.
First of all, Punisher is seriously the most violent brawler I can think of off the top of my head. With Player Two taking control of a ripped, cigar-puffing Nick Fury, he joins Frank Castle in a handful of goon-thrashing stages, during which they’ll both frequently brandish axes, hammers, uzis, dynamite, grenades, baseball bats and so on.
Guns are really a special treat in beat ’em ups, and when you pick them up in Punisher, all hell breaks loose. This is most apparent after questioning one of the bosses you just defeated. Once you get the answer you seek, Castle and Fury execute him. This was not in the console version!
All of the mayhem in the game is punctuated with cartoony KA-BLAMs and POWs, typically following or preceding an instance that gives both players an excuse to do their best Rob Liefeld-style jump kick through whatever brick and mortar obstacle stands before them. KA-POWIE!
The music is really excellent, too, oddly enough. Some of it seems like it was composed for an RPG, actually, with large scale synthesizing serving as a strange symphony behind the tossed barrels, pipin’ hot turkey legs, and enemies flying back from your punches and kicks with all the fury of a muffled sound chip screaming.
It is truly a heck of a game.
*PHOTO: I really like picturing the cabinet just being out in the middle of some inner-city basketball court like this, waiting patiently for the next challenger.