The Retro Critic

Running Battle

What do you mean you’ve never heard of Running Battle?

For shame!

It’s like the Sega Master System’s answer to Super Mario Bros 3! If Super Mario Bros 3 was a generic beat ’em up with no real identity, of course.

Actually, to give the inaccurately titled “Running Battle” (it includes very little running) some credit, it’s more enjoyable to play than some of those arcade classics given the shoddy Master System treatment as it mixes in a more appropriate pace and graphics more suited to a console-based side-scrolling action game.

The game is set in America, in the near future.

America Running Battle

Well that screenshot helped.

Hey, at least it’s clearer and less cluttered than this one explaining the plot:

Story Running Battle

Hard to read, much?

Also: “foolishidea” is not a word.

To cut a long story short: bad guys kill some cop and your job is to basically get revenge and put a stop to this criminal reign. Which is ironic seeing as that’s exactly what poor old Sgt. Brody set out to do before his plan backfired.

The game is kinda like Double Dragon if you zoomed in the screen a bit and if punching was excruciating. Every single punch is so annoying to pull off that you start wondering whether your enemies have longer arms than you. If they do, that’s really unfair, by the way.

Luckily, you have random glitches on your side.

Glitch Running Battle

(he’s not meant to be down there)

It’s a challenging game to say the least, seeing as you’re required to punch your way through it with tiny T-Rex arms. Luckily, the kicks work ok even if you do jump far too high. Like with most beat ’em ups, do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to stand in between two thugs because they’ll fist bump right through your head.

At the end of each stage is a boss, of course, and that’s where the fun really starts.

See, the thing about these bosses is…

Killer The Kid

They’re all completely unimaginative and they all have silly names.

I mean… “Killer The Kid”? Really?!

Did they not get the rights to real life? Are Billy The Kid’s descendants really THAT picky? Or did Bill & Ted really bring him back to the present for good?

Either way: I love it.

I’m going with the whole rights issue, though, because I don’t think they even got the rights to the word “samurai”.

Samrai Man

Unless that dude’s first name is Sam.

That boss battle, I should point out, is actually one of the best in the game. For one thing, Samrai Man entertainingly spins around as he fights you but also his level is one of the most visually interesting and ornate in the game.

Samrai Boss Level

Other bosses include pirate guy Captain Brass, arch nemesis Mr M. and…

Milacle Man

Milacle Man?

What kind of superhero name is that?

Unless it’s a hilarious typo.

He’s actually a pain to beat because bricks rain down on your head constantly as you’re fighting him, which is nowhere near as fun as it sounds.

Mr M. is the final boss and he is a tough one since he doesn’t just show up and fist-fight, no, he shows up with a friggin’ green space tank!

Green Tank Running Battle

No fair!

I mean, I guess I can kick it a lot but that honestly hurts. Really wish I didn’t have to do that.

The game does eventually provide guns for you to pick up and that helps a great deal but you run out of bullets quite quickly, unfortunately. Running Battle would honestly have been way better and way more fun if there had been loads of cool weapons to pick up and use because whenever your gun is emptied, going back to punching is heartbreaking.

To give you an idea of how difficult this game can be, here’s a brief illustration of the type of situation you can find yourself in with all the danger zones outlined:


Well at least I’ve got that middle part I can hang out in and that top left area.

It’s not impossible hard but it’s still tough and resisting the urge to use cheats on this one is no easy feat. The controls aren’t too bad if a tad sluggish at times. Beating the bosses isn’t too difficult but when you know you have to not only fight a whole bunch of them plus survive those stages, you’ll just want to run past everybody, which isn’t exactly a positive thing when it comes to gaming.

Fighting bad guys in games should be fun, not a chore to avoid at all costs.

The graphics aren’t too bad despite all the distracting glitches (see half dude on the left in the above picture) and the rubbish writing throughout the game is admittedly kind of fun.

Justice Running Battle

The other Justice?


Never mind.

As you can probably tell, this isn’t exactly a must-play but Running Battle is still one of the better beat ’em ups of that type on that particular console. I’d suggest the Genesis or even the Dreamcast for arcade-style games over the Master System, frankly.

Sega Graffiti

Or the Neo Geo, obviously.

That’s a given.