By the early 21st century one in three adults are in prison. To reduce these numbers, long sentences have been replaced by rehabilitation surgery which removes a criminal's antisocial tendencies. Rehabilitated criminals (the Re-Formed or Androids), cannot think independently and take up menial positions in police no-go areas and Penal Re-Form centres.
Faced with the prospect of a reforming lobotomy, Deke has escaped from his holding prison. In so doing he damages the city's central computer, thus ensuring the inevitable destruction of the city itself.
If Deke reaches city limits he is safe, but to do that he must pass through six hostile zones - the cell blocks, guard area and prison wall, the city, down town precinct, outer city wall, and via a single exit the city wall itself. With the city heading for self destruction, Deke's escape time is limited. A running on screen countdown shows the time he has left.
Five types of android lie in wait on Deke's escape route, each can be avoided or fought. Evading opposing androids allows Deke to explore further. To do that he can run to the left or right, jump upwards or drop down to other levels and pass through doors in his multi-level platform world.
Some androids cannot be avoided, they do not let Deke pass easily and require a sustained battering with kicks and punches before they die. Others can be disposed of merely by running into them. Points are awarded for killing the lobotomised individuals, with an accumulating points total shown on screen.
Combat with androids reduces our escapee's energy levels, displayed on the right of the screen. Should these fall to zero Deke loses one of his three lives. His energy reserve is topped up by uncovering hidden supplies of food and drink. These together with keys for passing through locked doors, extra points and lives are concealed beneath boxes and oil cans and behind doors. By kicking or punching away Obscuring objects these items are revealed, automatically picked up and displayed in the box at the top right of the screen.
However, some of these hiding places conceal ambushing androids. nothing at all or are booby trapped,(when they are, a life is lost and a deaths-head appears in the acquisition box). Deke is not able to uncover any object or escape through a door whilst being attacked.
'MELBOURNE HOUSE have come up with something that we've all seen before. There isn't an iota of Knucklebusters that's completely original. The graphics are very boring and little imagination has been used on the backgrounds. Deke is well animated, but slow to react in the light sequences. The title music is very tuneful, but sound during the game contains the same old white noise effects. Knucklebusters is repetitive and represents low value.'
'As a full price game, Knucklebusters hasn't a lot offer. The graphics are nice enough, with some pleasant animation, particularly on the main character, but I had a problem finding much playability in there. The basic storyline is okay (if slightly short), but the game itself seems to lack any amount of new ideas or interesting bits. The tune and effects are good, but a successful game needs more than pretty graphics and funky music to do well, as I'm sure the folks at MELBOURNE know. Not the best game they've ever produced.'
'I couldn't believe that Knucklebusters was a full-price release, you certainly don't get much for your £7.95. The graphics are ' pretty basic, and the characters (though well defined) tend to repeat themselves, adding no depth to the gameplay. There is some good animation though, especially the smoothness of the central character. The title tune is very original, but listening to it is the only real pleasure to be gained from this program. I don't think that Knucklebusters will get very far.'