Deconstructing the game: Combatribes

This may seem silly going back and breaking down a title that is about 21 years old, but hell, since I played it back then and tried it out again I figured I might as well. After all, these deconstructions are more for my sake, but I put them here so that people can perhaps get some insight into how I think when I play games and maybe see it from a different point of view why a game doesn’t work the way it should. Also posting them on a site makes me write actual sentences instead of scrawled out notes over a couple of pages in a sketch book, so that’s always good.

Something that occurred to me is that some of the more restrictive, less imaginative and seemingly downright lazy design foibles in Combatribes actually remind me of things I don’t like about the God of War series… but that’s a whole different post.

So onto the things I didn’t like or just found problematic about Combatribes:

Lack of combat options: How does a game that made up a word just to have COMBAT sound cooler in the title fail so hard on this level? You only have 2 buttons, punch & kick. There are no jumping attacks whatsoever, something that extremely limits your mobility in a fight. This was essentially a staple back when these games were made, so leaving it out is pretty big. There is a running attack, but you only have one attack regardless of which of the attack buttons are pressed.

2 attacks plus a couple of other attacks just doesn’t a beat ‘em up make. It’s tantamount to if you couldn’t aim in every direction in current FPS games.

All of the characters are too damn similar: This always seemed to be an issue in brawlers, with games like Double Dragon and Bad Dudes giving the player the choice between one guy or the other guy who looks like him but wears different colors. To combat this designers started giving players different character archetypes to use, like the fast guy/chick, a big hulking brute and an every man who excels in nothing but being the cool guy. Those are the casts of Final Fight & Streets of Rage (2) respectively.

In Combatribes however, you get to pick between this guy who looks a lot like that guy who looks like the 3rd guy. At first I really couldn’t tell the difference between Bullova & Berzerker other than the fact that Bullova is a black dude wearing yellow who inexplicably looks like he’s also wearing too much makeup and Berzerker looks like Bart Simpson pumped with steroids to turn into a 7’1 cyborg man, who is just as tall as his other two compatriots.