Ahhh, the early 90s, when all of a sudden, saving the earth and shit became popular for the first time since the 70s..and what better way to promote saving the earth than by with a violent video game!...fuck yeah!
Wait a minute..is that Indiana Jones?...no, course its not...never mind...
So yeah, the game was originally released as a coin-op arcade game in Japan under the name of "Runark".....Run Ark?...Lost ark?...Indiana Jones as one of the playable characters...nah, i'm imagining things...
It made its way westward and was rechristened "Growl"....probably because people would get the distinct feeling that it was an Indiana Jones game, and therefore Stephen Speilberg would probably want paying...but as we all know it definitely isnt, oh no, nah, never, gawd bless ya no...
So yeah, I, like most people, encountered this one day in my mis spent youth, and shovelled a hell of a lot of 10p's into it....why?, well, because its a fucking hard game thats why, it has "Noob trap" written all over it!.
The gameplay is similar to other brawler type games of the time, like Double Dragon for example.
You shovel in your money, then you can choose from one of four characters, but everyone always seemed to choose they guy who definitely isn't Indiana Jones.
The storyline is simple, one day at what we are informed is the early 20th century, a "Park Ranger" is sipping on a nice glass of something in a bar, when a bunch of evil and quite heavily armed poachers bust in and blow the place up, from then on you move from level to level punching the fuck out of anyone that happens to look at you in a funny way, and eventually kicking the shit out of an end level boss in order to release one of the many endangered animals that those sneaky bastards have managed to trap while you were sitting in the pub.
Like Double Dragon, your basic attacks are punches, kicks, flying kicks and a sort of shoulder barge thing which is of questionable use. The difference between this and Double Dragon is that the screen gets busy..and I mean BUSY, at any one time you will more than likely have at least a dozen badass muthafuckas trying to break their foot off in your ass, and most of them take quite a bit of a pummeling before they eventually change occupations.
You can pick up weapons along the way, ranging from pipes,knives, rocks, pistols, assault rifles (dafuq?, is supposed to be like, the 1930s, why the fuck can you pick up an M-16?) , rocket launchers (aww come on!) grenades, barrels, explosive barrels, a bullwhip.....a bullwhip?...*sigh*.
The end level bosses are usually some sort of big, burly bastard who takes a ridiculous amount of damage to kill off, and if you aren't holding a ranged weapon (you'll never have a gun, because their ammo runs out reyt quick it does, you're best off trying to keep hold of the bullwhip..seriously, its the best weapon in the game), expect to get killed a lot as your guy rains punches down on them, all while taking damage.
One interesting, and somewhat funny, feature is the ability to kick someone while they're down. Basically, sometimes you will beat someone up to the point at which they fall to their knees, at that point if you move in close, you can knee them in the face, rabbit punch them, or even grab them by the collar and slam them around a bit before throwing them off to the side, where they make a handy improvised weapon if you have shitloads of assholes trying to administer a kicking in your direction.
The game lasts for a mere 6 levels, but trust me, if you're playing this game in an arcade, to get that far you'll probably have spent at least a tenner, and that's why they invented emulators.
The final boss is seriously weird, I wont spoil it but if you ever happen to play this game and get to him, you'll be having a serious "WTAF?" moment.
A curious thing about this game, which probably explains its difficulty, was that most examples of the cabinets that show up are 4 player set ups. Now, while most games would adjust the difficulty depending on how many players are currently shovelling money in, this game doesn't...because fuck you that's why!.
In 1991, the game was ported to the Sega Mega Drive, losing the real voice bits, most of the cartoony graphics, and the need to shovel in money in the process....the port was shite, but at least they replaced the M-16...with an AK-47..oh, and they made it single player only...yeah..thems were good times...
The game was also included in the Taito Legends collection, released for the PS2 and XboX, however this version, while being a more or less faithful port of the arcade version, removed all the blood and/or gore that appeared in the original....no longer did the level bosses splatter everywhere when they blew themselves up after being defeated by not Indiana Jones....shame.
Anyways, the game wasn't terribly well received at the time of release, primarily because it was designed to make you burn through money quick, regardless of how l337 your skills were, and secondly because of its flimsy plot and fairly bland action, that we had all seen before done much better by such games as Final Fight and Double Dragon.
Overall - 5/10