Brute Force, huh. Wait, what does that cursive writing say...?

...oh jesus christ it's another Leland game.

What have I done to deserve this? Or more accurately... why am I putting myself through more of this pain?

Maybe it won't be so bad though...



.....right? A man can dream...........

Okay, let's pretend that it's 1991. Final Fight had sparked a craze in the side-scrolling beat-em-up genre two years prior, and lots of companies were jumping on the bandwagon to try to duplicate that success. With so many of them trying to get a piece of that beat-em-up pie, each company would need to do something to make their game stand out, so it wouldn't get lost in the shuffle. Let's say your local arcade just happened to get Brute Force. If nobody was playing it (which would be a VERY likely scenario in this case), you'd see the game running in attract mode. And if demo sound was turned on, you just might get treated to...... this.

Click here to get the true Brute Force experience. Take your time, I don't mind.

I almost miss the early 90's, when everyone was jumping on the cheesy rap bandwagon. So wonderfully horrible. Since I highly doubt anyone has transcribed the actual lyrics to this little ditty, here's my attempt:


Join your friends, we be watching it too!
When the city gon' south, we make our move!

We're the force, the Pop Tarts UNDERGROUND!
Yo don't stop kickin' til the green goes down!


(*whoosh, whoosh*)


(*dude gets shot*)




FYI, some of those sound effects are from the how to play tutorial that runs in demo mode, and I'm far too lazy to remove those. But, uhhhhh, I have the feeling those lyrics aren't particularly accurate. As much as I listen to this I still can't make heads or tails out of the questionable lines at the beginning. They're probably something a little more sensible, but... I just can't figure it out! So, if anyone has any better guesses, feel free to mail them to me! I might edit this page with the most logical/entertaining guesses!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, sums up everything you need to know about Brute Force. Thanks for reading.

.......oh what, you want to know about the actual GAME too? I was afraid of that. Ehh, fine then. It's all downhill from here, though!

Yes, I've made it abundantly clear thus far that the object of Brute Force (not to be confused with an X-Box game of the same name, I'm not at all familiar with it but it has to be a better game than this) is where you and a couple friends can beat the shit out of every enemy that gets in your way (at least until you or your friends say "Fuck this, let's play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead").

The first thing you might think when you see the game is "Holy shit, everything's so TINY". While it's a bit superficial to base one's opinion of a game entirely on graphics, it can be pretty important with arcade games. Remember, back in 1991 arcade hardware was more powerful than the home systems (unless you shelled out the big bucks for a Neo-Geo), so nobody wanted to play games that looked like ass. Just compare the visuals in this game to the larger, more detailed characters in Final Fight, which had already predated this game by over a year... it's downright embarassing in comparison. Who wants to go to the arcade to play a brawler that practically looks like an NES game?

But the game has plenty of other problems outside of the visuals, since it just so happens that it plays horribly too. I'm not really sure how many people agree with this, but I've always felt that beat-em-ups in which you can move around and face 8 different directions... just don't work as well as the more traditional ones (Double Dragon/Final Fight/etc) where you only have 2 directions to worry about. Being able to move up and down in those games makes it easier to avoid attacks and help give yourself a way of being able to "control" enemies, which makes you feel like more of a badass (since you're already beating up dozens of people, always badass in itself). When you have 8 directions to move in and attack, you have 8 directions to worry about enemies attacking from as well. Getting surrounded and bombarded with cheap hits becomes a more common occurence, and a new problem pops up - you have to figure out the attack range/hitboxes for your character for multiple directions.

In a traditional beat-em-up you can usually get a feel for how much range each one of your attacks have, and that's because you're always facing left or right. Now you have to figure out not only the horizontal axis of attack, but vertical as well, which is something entirely different to learn as your character sprite is completely redrawn! And then there's the diagonal directions. Look at the screenshot above in which I am attempting to punch a guy located up-right from me. It looks like my punch should connect, but instead it whiffed and I ended up getting whipped for my efforts. Which might be ok if it was a leather-clad dominatrix, but no. (What?)

If there's anything the game has going for it, it's that it at least has a decent number of ways in which you can attack enemies. The problem is that the regular standing attacks (neutral direction = punch, hold direction then push attack = kick) have shit for range and don't do much damage... unless you hold the button down. Holding the button down charges up the attack and delivers a more devasating blow, sending them flying with a hilarious "DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH" voice. Satisfying if you can land it, but again, these attacks have dumb range and you''ll often end up getting hit before you can unleash the attack. Pushing the jump button by itself does a goofy dive attack with tons of recovery, pushing joystick direction+jump+attack does a jump kick that at least knocks the enemies back a bit, but the most useful attack in the game is the cyclone kick (pictured above), done by pushing jump and then attack the second after you leave the ground. It's important to learn to constantly jump around like a moron, whether it's with jump kicks or cyclone kicks, if you want any chance of having your credit last for a while.

But, there are weapons you can pick up too! YEEUH!



Beer bottles!


Rocket launchers!

Flamethrowers! (they fucking suck)

Time bombs!


Molotov cocktails!

Uh... tomatoes? I'm guessing these are supposed to be rocks or something... maybe bricks, but they're too round to be bricks. So I'm going to go with tomatoes on this one. Hey, they were pretty lethal in Toe Jam & Earl, so yeah...

There are a few other weapons listed here, but they're all pretty similar to others. Make the most of every weapon you can find, before the enemies get their hands on them and use them against you.

Every level in Brute Force starts from the same central location, with some blonde bimbo on TV telling you who you're supposed to beat up. "Skinheads riot in packed theater!"... yes, because if there's one thing everybody knows about skinheads, it's that they love to start trouble when they go to the local movie theater. I do think this is a sorta neat aspect of the game - every level starts from this same central location, and then you head to a different direction towards each area from the city. It makes a little more sense compared to the disjointed level progression in other games, anyway ("I just went to the top of a high-rise building and fought a boss, now I'm at the harbor? Huh?").

One thing I absolutely despised about Asylum was the multitude of cheap ways you could die if you didn't know any better. While this game doesn't go quite as overboard, there's still some really stupid shit in there that can fuck you over. Take this fire hydrant. You might feel like punching it just to see what happens, since beat-em-ups usually have powerups hidden in crates and telephone booths and the like. Destroy a fire hydrant though, and a stream of water sends you flying up into the air, killing you instantly! Yeah, that's great. And then even though you're supposed to have a brief period of invincibility between lives, the water keeps going and sends you up into the air again, since you respawn in the exact same spot you died. So you lose ANOTHER life. Did I mention that this fire hydrant appears ON THE VERY FIRST SCREEN OF THE GAME? That's right, the game wastes no time at all in letting you fuck yourself over and lose 2 of your 3 lives right off the bat. Lesson learned - you do NOT fuck with fire hydrants. Ever.

So the first level has lots of skinheads looking to kick your ass. Some have mohawks and take more hits to kill, but.... then they're not skinheads any more, huh? When you reach the movie theater, a mohawk skinhead comes out with a gun! Oh no! Luckily for whatever reason getting shot doesn't hurt that much (at least compared to riding the water of a busted fire hydrant), so he's not that hard to kill.

Then you go in, and fight even more skinheads. Now, beat-em-ups typically end in a boss battle so it's not out of the question to expect something new here. Instead, the "boss" is just... another mohawk guy with a gun. Beat him up and that's the end of the level. Huh. Maybe it's for the better that you don't have to fight an uber-cheap boss to further drain your lives. Plus in celebration of clearing a level, you get another totally kickin' rad voice sample!


And so the theme of the game is established - every level takes you to a different area, fighting different enemies... although you'll end up fighting those same enemies over and over for that duration of the level. The game picks up a little after the first level, as weapons become more plentiful throughout the levels and the game starts to suck a little less when you're able to do stuff like throw grenades at people (which is made all the more satisfying by the hilarious "YEEEEEEEEEEEEEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" scream they make when they get thrown up into the air). But the game never stops being cheap, as even the most basic of unarmed enemies can sneak in a few hits if you don't have a weapon and end up missing with the spin kick move. Then again, even when you DO have a weapon it's sometimes a pain in the ass to hit enemies with it. Especially the gun. The aiming on the gun makes no sense whatsoever, I often end up spinning the joystick and sending bullets in random trajectories all over the screen, and yet even with so many onscreen bullets they still manage to miss whatever enemy I'm aiming at.

And of course there's more "fuck you" moments, like when you're fighting terrorists on their rooftop stronghold (...what?). Falling off the building is instant death, I expected that much. But don't you DARE try to walk over those windows, as they'll instantly shatter and cause you to fall and die too! It's starting to feel more and more like Asylum...

If you're still playing by the time you reach the 7th level, you'll sincerely hope that it is indeed the last. Gotta love the premise though - "City sewer target of ninja sabotage"! How many times have we heard stories of ninjas causing trouble in sewer systems? It's a pretty popular ninja cliche. Almost as popular as the cliche that nobody actually enjoys sewer levels in video games, but at least that one is 100% true. And god is this level ever retarded. You move slower in the water, and for the love of god do NOT touch those tunnels. Going anywhere near a tunnel with slow-moving water coming out of it will either cause you to lose half your life or die instantly. On the plus side, it'll also kill any ninjas that are dumb enough to get near them too. Speaking of which, are these guys REALLY supposed to be ninjas? They're shirtless, they don't know how to properly wield a sai, and they're wearing SKI MASKS. Come the fuck on!

But guess what? Once you clear the sewer level, you're not done yet, because Cindy Summers has been kidnapped!!! Who? Oh right, the blonde bimbo from the beginning of the game. Were we supposed to know/care about who she was beforehand? Anyway for the last level you go back to the subway area for the third time in the game, and then take a hidden passage into... a cave full of generic martial arts assholes? Uh, ok. And hey look, we've got sections where you have to jump over bottomless pits! Don't get knocked into them, because... well if you've been paying attention you should know what will happen.

Then it's into a sewer tunnel where the game decides to stop being completely unfair for once, and hands you a constant stream of rocket launchers to blow up all the enemies coming at you. It almost feels like the game is playing a trick on you, that it's going to craftily fuck you over in some way soon... but it never does. Once you're out of the tunnel, you come to the final room of the game! Cindy Summers is tied up next to a stolen TV News van (and amazingly impervious to any rockets you try to fire at her), and the final batch of bad guys assault you! Surely now there will be some sort of mastermind behind it all, a final boss to make up for the lack of bosses present in the rest of the levels?

But no. Nothing. Just keep shooting random assholes with your rocket launcher, and that's it. As for the ending? Cindy gets untied, and says "THANKS, BRUTE FORCE!". And then you put in your initials (assuming you got on the high scores), and the game goes back to the title screen.


A completely unsatisfying end to a completely unsatisfying game. The lack of effort that went into this game is trickling down into the lack of effort I'm trying to make into talking about it. Let's end this shit.

Brute Force sucks. Don't play it.

...well okay, I do have one more thing I need to talk about. The scoring system. Sure, by the time this game came out, a lot of people stopped paying attention to high scores. Any random arcade-goer that was playing a beat-em-up usually had only one goal in mind, especially if they were playing with some friends - finish the game. Often this would require a good number of quarters/tokens, but people wanted to see the game through to completion (or until they got bored). As we've just learned, playing Brute Force with the sole purpose of reaching the end isn't a very good idea.

So how about playing for score? As it turns out, a lot of beat-em-ups kept your score going even when you continued, making it possible to "buy" your way into the high scores even if you lacked skill. Brute Force falls into this category. So, just play solo through the game and get all the points for yourself, and you're assured a high score. Easy, right?!


This is because while you get points (or rather, money) for beating up hoodlums, you can ACTUALLY lose points during gameplay too. Whenever parts of the background are damaged, such as windows, fences, telephone booths, those goddamned fire hydrants, etc... you lose points/money. Even if you're not the one that did the damage! Letting your enemies trash the city will have a negative effect on your score... and as it just so happens, the enemies just love to do that on their own. Try as you might, you'll never be able to stop most of them from smashing random parts of the background. To make things worse, there are certain parts of the background that drop weapons when smashed, so if you try to prevent that then you'll have a lot less weapons to use, and using the weapons is the closest this game ever comes to being fun.

Solution - don't play Brute Force for score. In fact, don't play Brute Force. The End.