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Crash 'N the Boys Street Challenge (NES) artwork

Crash 'N the Boys Street Challenge (NES) review

"As a party game, Crash ĎN the Boys: Street Challenge could be a blast. Itís designed for trash talking and the raucous shenanigans that occur when four gamers crowd around a TV."

I purchased Crash ĎN the Boys: Street Challenge years ago but didnít get around to playing until now. The gameís pedigree--one of the ďKunio-kunĒ series of games that included River City Ransom and Super Dodgeball--is what prompted my purchase. I have a soft spot for those squatty characters and their wacky facial expressions. Street Challenge is jam-packed with those familiar elements, but ultimately the game fell short of my lofty expectations.

The Street Challenge experience is divided into five no-holds-barred events. Itís worth looking at each of those attractions separately and in detail, but first I should mention that the gameís controls are far from intuitive regardless of the event. I highly recommend looking them up online if (like me) you donít have a manual on hand. Another criticism is that solo play is an exercise in frustration, since the game is designed for multiplayer activities and the computer tends to perform flawlessly if youíre playing without a friend. I had to play the game on my own when I was preparing to review it, and that naturally affected my opinion on the game because I believe that sports titles should remain entertaining even when youíre forced to go up against the computer.

The first of the street games is the 400-Meter Hurdles. In keeping with the street challenge theme, these are the most violent hurdles to have ever been hurdled in the history of hurdling. Instead of merely being able to jump over these obstacles, competitors can also shoulder charge through them or slide under them. Meanwhile, thereís an opponent to deal with, who can be tripped up if you smack him with debris from shattered hurdles or a well-timed spin kick. I didnít manage to stay on my feet too often throughout such races, as I was always on the wrong end of those attacks. I soon began to notice a theme as the computer breezed through challenges and I was left chewing pavement.

Next up is the Hammer Toss, which is easily the most normal (and therefore boring) sport offered in Street Challenge. Compared to many of the other events, the controls for the Hammer Toss are really simple. The only real twist to this one is that itís combined with a version of golf, meaning players need to get their hammer to the goal while avoiding water traps. Once youíve reached the goal, you can go ahead and make yourself a sandwich while the computer takes its turn because thereís no way to skip it. The necessity to sit through computer-controlled matches after youíve placed or have been eliminated is always cause for complaint, particularly with an event such as this one that is turn-based.

Moving right along, we next have the Swimming event. Itís far more hardcore than it sounds and serves as my favorite event, even though Iím awful at it. Two competitors swim towards the screen, but their goal isnít some distance marker. These gluttons for punishment are instead trying to knock each other out, by any means necessary. The only way to succeed is to deplete the opponentís oxygen, causing him to pass out underwater for a bit, which drains his health. Taking your foeís breath away is the fun part, thanks to the hilarious options available. Dive down and pull your target down like a jock version of Jaws, jump on top of him and hold him under the water, or just pound him into submission. Any way you do it, the overly expressive faces on the athletes disguise the brutal reality of this challenge.

After that highlight comes the deeply frustrating Rooftop Jump. By either pole vaulting or using a unicycle to ride a tightrope, the goal is to traverse as many buildings as possible before falling three times. The controls are once again a stumbling block, and pole vaulting is full of nuances with which I was never able to come to grips. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that youíre sometimes given a choice between vaulting or grabbing a unicycle, but itís impossible to know which is the correct choice until itís too late. Of course, the computer had none of these problems and was happy to school me at the drop of a hat.

Finally, thereís the most accessible event: Fighting. Much as they may have done previously in River City Ransom, players will punch, kick, and throw each other until coins fall out of beaten bodies. Adding some depth is the power meter, which is expended by attacking. This ďPPĒ gauge rapidly depletes when fighters grapple each other, with the first person to lose all his stamina finding himself on the receiving end of a big special move. These over-the-top attacks feature some great animations, and since there are only ever two characters on the screen at once, Crash ĎN the Boys doesnít fall prey to the flickering and slowdown that plagued Super Dodgeball. The characters are also much larger and more detailed here, adding a certain special something to the game when the more ridiculous moves are used.

As a party game, Crash ĎN the Boys: Street Challenge could be a blast. Itís designed for trash talking and the raucous shenanigans that occur when four gamers crowd around a TV. If you have someone thatís willing to throw down with you, this is a fun competitive game. Otherwise, youíre better off seeking out Super Dodgeball for your Kunio-based sports gaming needs.


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Freelance review by Julian Titus (June 14, 2013)

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