Approximate Release Date: December 23, 1992
It won’t wow anyone, but Rival Turf is a competent brawler perfect for beginners.
You can’t play it without getting heavy Final Fight vibes, though. I’m not saying that because Capcom’s beat-’em-up is one of the better ones released for the console; I’m saying it because Rival Turf “borrows” a ton of design elements from it. It’s most striking when looking at the two playable characters, Jack Flak and Oozie Nelson, because they look and play almost exactly like Cody and Mike Haggar. Both games also take place in similar environments and has you taking on similar enemies.
I don’t know if these similarities were purposeful, because every brawler ends up being very similar in most respects if there’s not a license attached like with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. Rival Turf takes place in a city, so of course you fight along busy streets, on public transportation, and on skyscrapers. Of course you fight punks and bodybuilders. And none of these elements are done better here than in other games.
The only major differentiator that separates Rival Turf from other, better games is how playing it is relatively breezy. The default difficulty setting will never throw more than three enemies on-screen at the same time and gives you five continues with five lives a piece. I never encountered ranged enemies, and the only environmental danger I saw was from a boss that could summon goons to fight with him by driving across the screen in a car and hopping out. It should be easy to finish the game in two-player co-op.
Rival Turf is okay, but only okay. If you value originality, look elsewhere. But it’s a great choice if you’ve never played one of these games before and want a gentle introduction to the genre. Don’t expect too much.
Tomorrow: It turns out that Rival Turf has a sequel: Brawl Brothers!