Released back when the scrolling fighter was still seen as a massive money-spinner, Riot Zone (AKA: Crest of Wolf in Japan) was Hudson’s attempt at muscling in on the territory traditionally presided over by Capcom (Final Fight, Captain Commando, Knights of the Round, etc) and Sega (Streets of Rage, Golden Axe).
Now let’s not kid ourselves here – most scrolling beat ‘em ups are painfully generic with similar-looking characters and virtually interchangeable move lists (punch, throw, special move, etc).
Riot Zone takes this banality to new levels though – the characters and their attack styles are lifted almost directly from other (far superior) titles. The entire game is totally bereft of any innovative ideas or fresh mechanics.
The visuals don’t improve matters either. Despite this being a CD-based release there’s nothing to impress in terms of graphics; even the obligatory animated introduction is as dull as dishwater. The music is also instantly forgettable and is accompanied by some truly underwhelming spot effects.
Regardless of all this, there is a shred of playability to be found deep with Riot Zone. Even the worst scrolling fighter is fun for a while and will keep you relatively content for a short period of time. However, the game is so limited, so repetitive, and so generic you’re unlikely to remain that way for long.
In terms of challenge the game represents the electronic equivalent of fighting your way out of a wet paper bag – it’s insultingly easy and even the most bumbling of gamers should breeze through it in the space of one sitting.
The final nail in the coffin is the lack of a two-player mode, something that all scrolling fighters should have by law (yes we know the SNES version of Final Fight didn't have this feature either but it's basically great so we're more willing to forgive). If you feel the urge to play a scrolling fighter then go for Streets of Rage or Final Fight instead.