Per the readme, “navigate the
streets and fend off thugs as you make your way to the king of thugs
Mark at the end of the last street” “you must level up
several times to beat this game”. Made by fishbone in 2005,
Street occupies an abstracted urban wasteland, desolate to the point of
apocalyptic. You’ll pound endless swaggering clones who exclaim,
“Watch it punk!” Inadvertently Kafkaesque, it’s fine
social commentary (or possibly a metaphor).
Street has three small, nearly identical maps and a single enemy type.
While the repetition adds to the setting’s starkness, it’s
unintentional and lazy. Likewise, half the stats and most of the
equipment slots aren’t used, and the only skill
(“steal”) has no effect. Plus the typical amateur mistakes:
holey wall maps, jacked animations, and no ending. And particularly
annoying, healing items target enemies first. For something so
short and simple, the prevalence of bugs is
bewildering—especially considering Street is not fishbone’s
first effort. He made seven games in his month stay at Castle Paradox,
most of which predate Street.
I suppose it’s not really surprising—Castle Paradox is rife
with similarly ludicrous rubbish. But the purpose of game archaeology
(as I sometimes term retro reviewing) is to scrape off the dirt and
find each game’s tarnished by salvageable core. Street fighting
RPGs are a rarity which somewhat redeems Street. I appreciate its
primitive but consistent style. Visually, the dingy maptiles contrast
the strikingly colorful graffiti-like character graphics. Also, the
droning two bar music loop is fittingly dread (and headache) inducing.
The setting (urban decay at its bleakest) is thematically compelling
stuff, and considering that, the single “steal” skill is
Certainly Street was barfed out lacking content, balance, polish, or
anything requiring effort, but serious game makers might find ideas in
it. I could imagine a remake, maintaining the claustrophobic world and
faceless enemies. The fistfights would incorporate a tactical system of
blocks, counters, and holds, plus an array of improvised weapons and
stat boosting performance drugs. The structure could remain
uncomplicated (kill king of thugs Mark) but progression should be
tougher and more harrowing.
Street doesn’t lack vision but it lacks everything else—an
unfortunately common theme in my retro reviews (recall Conquer the
Empire in issue 48). All these pathetic games are someone’s
attempt at expression (however futile) and that’s why garbage
like Street is so tragic. Fishbone’s aim is clear but his
execution is deeply damaged and the carelessness is
heartbreaking. Dear forgotten Castle Paradox users: Please try
harder so I don’t have to cry anymore.