Monday, April 13, 2009

AAA looks at: Growl

Growl is not a great arcade game. I'm not even sure if it can qualify as good. I will however say it's definitely competent and totally worth playing.

Like most Taito games the story is absolute nonsense. In what looks to be the 1940s evil poachers are capturing animals left and right and the government sends in an Indiana Jones lookalike and three of his buddies(all with varying stats) to set things right. Setting things right is done by...of course...killing them all.

I use the word competent to describe a game that doesn't particularly do anything wrong but it's still nothing exceptional in terms of design, mechanics, and execution. However Growl is maybe 15 minutes in length and you could definitely do alot worse than check this bad boy out. 

First off this game really loads it up on the enemies. Typically in a beatemup you'll somewhere between 2 and 5 bad guys on the screen. Growl triples this as you'll likely see 15 or even 20 guys gunning for you at the same time. To balance it out the good guys have access to some serious firepower(like grenades, rocket launchers, guns, etc). On top of that every now and again animals will come by to give the player a helping hand.

Secondly there are a ton of moves. Most of these are context sensitive(as in depending on where you are in relation to your foe you'll pull off different moves). So don't be surprised that you might grab a guy and knee him in the face several times or actually crouch down and punch his teeth in. Or maybe you'll grab him by the neck and slam him multiple times(which takes down surrounding foes). You can also perform a couple special moves by pressing both the attack and jump buttons together. There are few things better than spin-kicking through a dozen foes at once.

Third and most important this game doesn't give a crap about anything. If you're the kind of person who thinks body parts should go flying whenever someone is shot with a rocket this is your game. If you think trains have to run over people and send them to pieces this is also your game. Women in short skirts pulling grenades out of their shirts? This game has them by the hundreds. Bosses that inexplicably explode when you kill them? Uh huh. A giant spike ceiling that crashes down whenever you continue during a bossfight? You didn't ask for it but it's in there. This game is absolutely ridiculous and yet makes for a very thrilling ride.  

Also this game introduces a neat idea that will be seen in future games. The lone platforming section in the game allows you to stay on platforms as long as you don't jump. Thus you don't have to worry about walking over the edge before you make your jump. Sure one can argue that this game really didn't need a platforming section at all but I think it's nice that they were thoughtful enough to go with this design decision. 

Unfortunately the only problem is neither the Taito Memories nor the Taito Legends 2 releases have this game in its uncut form. So when somebody gets blown up they simply disappear instead of spreading flaming bits of themselves all over the landscape. Those interested in playing this version will have to seek out an alternative. Sure more violence shouldn't make a game better but trust me, would you watch a G-rated version of Robocop?

So yeah I think this is one game you won't regret it. Even if you hate it it's still less than 15 minutes of your life. You can even quit before the admittedly terrible second form of the final boss.

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