Note: Bop'n Rumble has also been released on C64 by other names: Street Hassle and Bad Street Brawler. The differences of these versions seem to be only graphical, so all praise and criticism probably applies to the other versions as well.
Bop'n Rumble is one of those C64 games that has the courage to deal with one of the more delicate issues of modern society. The game displays street violence, it's symptoms, causes, and, most importantly, the various possible solutions. Most of the cures, in this case, have something to do with the art of punching and kicking...
Spin doctor talk aside, Bop'n Rumble is hardly a politically correct game. It's both violent and a comic game. The sole objective of the game is to walk the city streets and beat everybody into oblivion. There doesn't seem to be much of a story in the game, so the main character's motives are anybody's guess. The main character is a blond guy with sunglasses, yellow shorts and an angry expression. Opponents include senior citizens, animals, obese men and motorists, all of which have different attacks, strenghts and weaknesses. For example, old ladies throw purses at the player and fat guys use their bodies as a weapon, both actively and passively (you'll see if you're not careful). Wait a minute... old ladies ? That's right. The adversaries you'll encounter aren't your everyday criminal/street punk/semi-human/undead fighters.
Gameplay is simple enough. The player walks forward and opponents appear on the screen. In the beginning, Bop'n Rumble gives players four different offensive moves. Roundhouse kick and foot grab are basic moves, while the other two moves change as the player finishes a level. The level-specific moves are the most funny ones. For example, the player can do various throws, grabs and some very dishonourable non-karate moves. The selection of moves affects the difficulty and fighting tactics of each level a bit. Some moves are meant to deal lots of damage, while others may give you a small breather. However, attack is the best defence, period. "Hit the enemies before they hit you" is a very sound strategy. All of the moves are useful in some way and fun to use.
The enemies provide a good challenge, especially when they attack in pairs. Given a chance, most of the enemies will do serious damage even when encountered mano-a-mano. For example, the Old Man with the Cane will repeatedly beat you, preventing you from attacking, so you'll have to retreat before trying again. Gorillas will also quickly beat you, but with even more strength. Annoying ? Yes, but you're not a superman. Unfortunately, there are some very frustrating spots in the game. In more than one occasion the game throws unlimited numbers of enemies at you no matter how many of them you beat.
Usually jumping forward past the enemies will make the level advance past the problematic spots, but nevertheless they are quite annoying. Also, sometimes an old man may stand still, waiting for the player to come too close. Jumping past him is not an option. Good timing and perhaps a good energy supply is required to dispose of the standing fellow... especially if a less passive enemy (which keeps reappearing) protects him! And when your health is at zero and death comes, you may have to replay a considerable chunk of the level, which is also an annoyance. Sometimes the player may get more health by collecting hearts, assuming that a certain mysterious little fellow bothers to bring them to you... instead of a nasty surprise.
As the game progresses to the later levels, difficulty increases rapidly: more vicious and strange enemies appear... and eventually the player is robbed of the very handy roundhouse kick. The game no longer supplies the player with new tricks, and the player has to make do with some of the more uninteresting moves. A slightly more welcome and realistic touch comes from an exhaust factor - the player can't perform high jumps indefinetely without resting a little. This feature affects the game only so much, but it's there nevertheless.
I've only managed to get past the fifth level with the help of a trainer. Or was it the sixth or seventh level ? At certain point, the game simply grows repetitive. After all the moves and enemies have been introduced, Bop'n Rumble stops rewarding the player. So, there is little reason to keep trying to complete the higher levels. If anybody has managed to complete this game, write a comment and tell us what lies in the end...
Bop'n Rumble is one of it's kind and definitely worth trying out. You can still use this game to increase your popularity: load this game up, invite your neighbours to watch you play and tell them in an inhuman voice that you grew up playing games like this.
What about the PC/NES version ? To gain some funny insight into the game, check out the following URL: http://www.gamespy.com/legacy/top10/lameleads_c.shtm It is a part of a Gamespy article called "Top Ten Lame Lead Characters", and the featured poor sod of a hero comes from the PC/NES version of Bad Street Brawler / Bop'n Rumble / Street Hassle.
Downloads: Game, Music
|GRAPHICS - 6/10|
|Despite the changing environments, the backgrounds consist of gray, gray, gray and the occasional green colour. In short, the backgrounds are boring. The player and opponent sprites, despite their blockiness, are mostly good-looking. Some moves are lazily animated, while others look brilliant and are extremely funny. The enemies react nicely to bone-crunching, intestine-cracking moves like... you'll see them when you play the game!|
|SOUND - 7/10|
|The in-game tune is the only real song you'll hear in this game. It fits well in the game, which doesn't mean that it's overly great or memorable. And alas, it's hard to whistle. The sound effects, on the other hand, are mostly great and cartoon-like in a positive sense.|
|PLAYABILITY - 6/10|
|The player character responds well to controls. However, the fighting is sometimes a bit unfair and unforgiving. As a result, the standard two simultaneous enemies may seriously overpower an inexperienced player. Still, the difficulty comes from the enemies and not from the playability, controls and other "features" like in many other beat'em'ups. For your information, Leonardo the Ninja turtle complains that the very tip of his katana does 0 points of damage. Luckily, our hero in Bop'n Rumble doesn't have problems like that: if the hits look like they connect, they usually will. Some glitches in the gameplay and repetitiveness bring the playability score down to 6. At least during the very first four or five levels it's definitely 7.|
|OVERALL - 7/10|
|The major negative aspect of the game is it's unpolished gameplay. It's mostly all sugar and spice, but with some minor changes, it could have been that much nicer. The changing moves are a great way to keep the game interesting for a couple of levels. The humour is an important part of the game's soul and at least for me it still hasn't lost it's special shine, no matter how eerie it may seem. Bop'n Rumble doesn't try to be a serious game at all (like Double Dragon series). I simply don't have the heart to give this game an overall score of six, which isn't far away from what it deserves. As an alternative sidescrolling beat'em'up Bop'n Rumble is a highly entertaining game.|