Everygamegoing26th August 2018
Published in EGG #013: Acorn Electron
If you were around in the era of the Electron's golden era, you may well have heard of a rather fantastic beat-'em-up called Renegade. Originally an arcade machine, the Spectrum got a spanking monochrome conversion that was the talk of the school playground for a good few months. And Shanghai Warriors, if it had been programmed with an ounce of the same skill, might well have been the beat-'em-up game the Electron owners could have smugly presented as a riposte to all that Renegade-love. But there's no beating around the bush with this one. Shanghai Warriors is crap. Total and utter rubbish.
You play a nameless thug who can pathetically lumber, very slowly, around a playing area about half the height of the screen. Most of the screen comprises the ground which is white, with a cityscape as background. Your mission is to kick and punch other nameless thugs, two of whom start off in the top left and top right corners. The one on the left ambles over to slug it out with you; the other just stares into space. When there's only inches between the pair of you, press Return to perform a high kick to any thug's face and, in a very exciting *two frames* of animation, he will fall down. Note, however, that the collision detection is terrible.
Now if, so far, you thought this game was appalling, believe me, you haven't even experienced the half of it yet. Firstly, if you've ever heard the annoying beep the Electron makes when you make a mistake in a word processor or some such, this comprises the entire soundtrack for Shanghai Warriors. Every punch = beeeeep. Every kick = beeeeep.
Next, Shanghai Warriors reverses the natural "order" of things in a beat-em-up. Usually, certain moves reverse themselves depending on which way you are facing. Unfortunately, this game plays by its own rules. Cue lots of elbowing left when you wanted to throw a punch right, and the like.
I also have to mention the very strange effect caused by having every bad guy look exactly the same, and how another bad guy always appears in one of the two corners whenever the previous one is knocked down. Because there is no pause between the guy on the ground disappearing and his identical twin appearing, the effect looks precisely like he magically teleported himself across the screen! In fact, for many years I thought this was an actual bug and it was the same guy clambering to his feet after a short period of unconsciousness!
I originally reviewed Shanghai Warriors for EUG magazine and concluded it was "really one of the worst games you could ever invest in". I don't know how Players dared to charge money for this back in the day and its only use is an exhibit in an Exhibition Of Absolute Crap. If looking for a physical version, expect to pay around £1.