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Urban Champion (NES) artwork

Urban Champion (NES) review

"Basically the opposite of BlazBlue."

The NES didn't feature a ton of fighting games. Urban Champion was actually the very first game of its kind on the system. You may be tempted to view it as an important contribution to the NES library for that reason, but that would be giving the game more credit than it deserves.

Urban Champion plays more like sumo wrestling than it does Street Fighter. Two fighters stand on opposite sides of the screen, and both will attempt to knock each other back with punches. Light punches are quick but weak, while heavy punches are slower (and thus easier to block) but will send your opponent back further. Your goal is to push your opponent all the way to the edge of the screen, which allows you to then roll off to the next stage. At the end of each third stage is a manhole. Once you knock your opponent into the hole, you've won. Congratulations! You've now experienced everything noteworthy thatUrban Champion has to offer.

Sure, there are a few little mechanics and rules to consider… though you can mostly just ignore them. For instance, you have a stamina meter that constantly drains whenever you do anything. If it happens to run out, your punching speed will drop even lower than it already is. You're given enough stamina that this is unlikely to ever happen, however. Then there's a timer that will probably also never run out, but if it does, the character closest to failure will be arrested and the match will end. You can punch and block both high and low. Occasionally a police car may drive by, which sends both characters back to their starting positions, or someone may drop a flower pot onto your head from an overhead window to try and stun you. Mostly, though, you'll just mash A or B to throw punches and hope for the best. You can block, and lean back to evade for no reason, but that's about as far as it goes. You can't jump, duck, or even kick. All you can do is punch.

There's little variety in Urban Champion. The two fighters are identical in every way except for their colour palettes. Stage backgrounds are all buildings with only superficial differences in window shape and wall colour. The first fight feels much the same as the fiftieth, only with a less aggressive AI opponent in the early going. There's one humdrum song that plays through every stage, which would get annoying if it was at all infectious. Instead, like the rest of the game, it's just sort of there to be ignored. It's really remarkable just how much nothing the developers managed to cram into this game.

Even what little there is to Urban Champion isn't very good. Characters move slowly and punches are sluggish. It's not like the game even starts interesting and gets old fast; it starts boring and stays boring forever. And it really is forever. There's no ending. The matches simply repeat until you finally lose.

Urban Champion is a Famicom game from the pre-Super Mario Bros. era, and thus released during a time when standards for depth and scope were low. Urban Champion's entire worth as a game is to show just how blah games of that era often could be. There's a two-player mode that's no more fun or interesting than the single-player mode. Maybe you can get together with a friend and laugh at how boring Urban Champion is, but there's basically no reason to play this game beyond nostalgia. Don't bother.


Roto13's avatar
Staff review by Rhody Tobin (March 03, 2013)

Rhody likes to press the keys on his keyboard. Sometimes the resulting letters form strings of words that kind of make sense when you think about them for a moment. Most times they're just random gibberish that should be ignored. Ball-peen wobble glurk.

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