Hello, one and all, and welcome to another In Desperate Need of Love, the posting that showers praise on the overlooked gems of the video game world. This time around, I’m covering Two Crude Dudes, the Megadrive/Genesis port of the arcade game, Crude Buster. My reason for this is pretty simple. Sometimes, games come along and are universally well received, scoring high ratings here, there and everywhere. Sometimes, those games then disappear into the sands of time, somehow failing to leave behind the legacy that they deserved. This is one of those games.
Originally hitting the arcades in 1991, the home console port came only a year later, and was met with scores of around 80% and up. The game sees you playing as The Crude Busters, a pair of punk rocking hoodlums that have been hired as mercenaries by the US Government. Why would they do such a thing? Well, the notorious terrorist organisation ‘Big Valley’ set off a nuclear explosion, levelling New York City and leaving behind a mass of wreckage and mutants. With such a dangerous terrain, the government saw fit to send in two guys just crazy enough to not care. As such, players are tasked with brawling through everything from street thugs to wolfmen to tanks as they try to bring down the bad guys in the name of justice.
Once described as ‘the first Megadrive beat ‘em up to come close to rivalling Streets of Rage’ and ‘a classic in terms of style and gameplay’, it’s a wonder that it seems to go by unnoticed these days. Unless you owned a Wii and bought the ‘Data East Arcade Classics’ collection of course. Regardless though, there is much fun to be had here. First of all, the graphics are beautifully cartoony, featuring weirdly proportioned characters against backgrounds that are strangely realistic for the era. If you’re wondering why I’m using that juxtaposition as a positive, it’s simply that that’s part of the game’s charm. The gameplay itself (which I’ll get to shortly) is such that the graphical style used really makes you feel like you’re playing some sort of mad cartoon that may have been created by a drunken team up of Jamie Hewlett/Alan Martin (Tank Girl) and David Wise (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987). Sure, it’s dated now, but it’s still suitably impressive when taken in context of the time. The game even adds some Adam West era Batman style sound effects on screen.
Now, the gameplay itself is in some ways very standard. You move, jump and whack stuff. Simple, and pretty much like any scrolling brawler. Unlike the previously mentioned Streets of Rage, this one is not an isometric game, but a side-on piece, meaning that rather than walking up and down the screen you get some pseudo platform elements. The levels are suitably large too, featuring not only multiple sections to explore but a mass of enemies to play with. Oh, and if you get low on energy, don’t worry. Just look for a vending machine, give it a couple of whacks and grab the high in caffeine super cola that comes out. Down that, and the instant kick gets you right back on your feet!
Of course, that doesn’t touch on the most fun part of the game. Often times if I mention Two Crude Dudes, I describe it as ‘the game where you can pick up everything’. And I mean that. Being muscle bound brawlers, The Crude Busters can perform some massive feats of strength in order to up their arsenal. Need a metal bar? Pick it up. Fancy a traffic light instead? Pick it up. Oh look, car. Pick that up and throw it. What? The bosses for this level are a pair of tanks that don’t seem bothered by my punches? What shall I do? Oh, that’s right, I’ll pick one them up and throw it at the other. It sounds daft, but it really doesn’t seem to get boring looking for massive things to pick up and launch across the screen. From the interactive environmental elements to the enemies themselves and their transport, most things in the game can be used as a weapon. Even your fellow Crude Buster is usable when playing two-player.
I’ve mentioned the fun style of the graphics, but let’s look at the actual character designs for a minute. The Crude Busters themselves are very much in the Duke Nukem style, with dated haircuts, more muscles than should be humanly possible, and a partially toothless victory grin. All perfectly serviceable. The enemies are where it shines though as, outside the expected colour swapped grunts, the bigger foes come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Throughout the game, you’ll face such foes as topless-Gene-Simmons-with-a-snake-that’s-also-a-whip, what-would-happen-if-a-Terminator-disguised-itself-as-Patrick-Stewart-and-was-programmed-by-Bruce-Lee, and Ozzy-Osbourne’s-Bark-at-the-Moon-cover-on-steroids. With such fun villains, how could you not enjoy it?
So, is Two Crude Dudes as good as Streets of Rage? Not quite. Does that matter though? Not in the slightest. The key here is that the game is simple, brawling fun with an abnormally large cast of enemies and weapons to use. It won’t make you scream about it being the greatest game of all time, but it’s one wild ride that deserves to be as fondly remembered as some of its better-known genre mates. Want to see it in action? Have some gameplay.
Do you agree though? Or did you play the game and find it to be more crude than dude? Let me know below.
Thanks for reading everybody, I’ll catch ya later.