LAURENT KERMEL - Video Game Den : Super Famicom : THE COMBATRIBES )
THE COMBATRIBES
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game cartridge
コンバットライブス
©1992 Technos Japan Corp.
Release: 1992-12-23 (¥9300)
Cartridge SHVC-CR
Beat'em Up

American Version
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Released in America as
THE COMBATRIBES
( SNS-CR-USA )

Combatribes is a side-scrolling fighting game by Technos, conversion of an arcade game originally released in 1990. A group of three fighters, the 'Combatribes', decide to challenge the local gangs of New York City and to eliminate their most wanted leaders. The Cyborg Martha Splatterhead, the worst of all, has united the gangs and must be stopped. Berserk, the blond of the group, is average with moderate speed and strength, Bullova is the slowest but features more health and power and Blitz is the most agile and trades off a reduced health and power for greater speed. Our trio uses traditional fighting moves such as Punches, Kicks andThrows. They can also hit enemies on the ground, jump in the air and fall on their backs or smash their heads together. Flying Throws can also be triggered by grabbing opponents from the ground and spinning them around by the legs - the stronger the fighter is, the more spins he does and the more damage he can inflict on the surrounding foes. Combatribes features six stages, called 'acts' and each one of them takes place in a different location. Each area is rather short (a couple of screens long) and the stage's boss usually shows up when all his minions have being taken care of. At the end of each level, a password is given to the player to unlock new fighters (mainly game's enemies) from the versus mode. Unlike the original arcade version, Technos threw an extra Versus fighting mode in this conversion. Controls are also slightly different in this mode - shoulder buttons can block and fighters can throw fireballs at each other.
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Arcade game The Combatribes was first released in the arcades in 1990 (picture on the left). Unlike the Super Famicom version, the original features large items (such as bikes and pinball machines) that can be picked up and thrown at enemies. Surprisingly, Berserk is called Berserker and the trio displays different stats. Another interesting feature from the original arcade game is the health counter displayed at the top of the screen - inserting more coins simply buys more health. This feature was replaced by a standard health bar in the Super Famicom version. Stages also have a different structure - for instance in the Clown area the boss fight happens at the top of a scaffolding tower and the club in the third stage features two floors. As a side note, a special cabinet was also available where three players could play at the same time.

The Combatribes : American version As expected the American version of the game was censored. Blood was removed from the boss cutscenes and, interestingly, was recolored in blue to look more like water and sweat. The fifth stage shows the most differences - Its name was changed from The Slaughter Troops to The Demolition Troops and the Execution army men were renamed The Enforcers. Same for the stage boss, the Cyborg Colonel called Swastika was renamed Major Blaster.

Teaser text from the American version:
The Big Apple's Gone Rotten
Rival gangs have joined forces and New York City is under siege. Your mission: seek out and destroy their leader - Martha Splatterhead - former member of your elite Combatribe Cyborg unit. But in order to get to this renegade babe you'll have to do some head bashin' with five of the most feared gangs in Gotham... on their turf!

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Combatribes is not really my cup of tea. I know that at this very moment, fans of the game are lamenting about my statement yet, I wasn't really impressed by the game. Frankly, more than looking bad (saturated colors and 'big headed' fighters), the game features awkward controls. You can do combinations and combos but our trio can't jump and they often get overwhelmed with no breathing space - it is impossible not to get hit and this is especially true during boss fights. That's it, Combatribes is a game that has a lot in common with other Technos creations such as Nekketsu Kooha Kunio-kun (aka Renegade) or Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari (aka River City Ransom) - enemies are there all at once and things get quickly dirty. The two players mode is definitively the game's best asset, the solo option being a bit weak (and difficult) to my taste. All in all, this game regularly gets high praise on popular video game websites but it didn't really light my fire... I'm not sure if this is because I didn't grow up with it, but I think there are much better beat'm ups available for the system. Combatribes for the Super Famicom deserves however some attention as it is the only home conversion of the arcade game that I'm aware of.




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