Demolish Fist (Arcade) Review

Over the weekend, my family went to the Lake Barkley State Resort Park. Though most people look forward to, say, the lake or forestry, I was particularly excited about one thing: the game room. In the lodge (the restaurant area), they have a pretty nice game room. I remembered Area 51 and Tekken from the previous visits, and I was looking forward to playing through either one of those games. When I got there, however, I was greeted by a pleasant upgrade to the game selection. The working games included Tekken 3, Demolish Fist, Cruis’n USA, Rush: The Rock, Johnny Nero: Action Hero, Big Buck Hunter II, a Multicade, and a Gottlieb pinball machine. There were a few others, but we’ll go over that in a bit.

I had brought $9.25, and I was ready to blow it all on video games. If you’re wondering what I played, I started out with one race in Cruis’n. It certainly isn’t a flashy as modern racing games, but it was just as fun as I expected it to be. I love Cruis’n on the Nintendo 64, so it playing it on arcade-quality hardware was very nice.

What really caught my eye, however, was a Sammy game that I had never before seen in all of my limited years: Demolish Fist. A 2003 Japanese beat-em-up? I couldn’t leave without playing it! As such, I put a two quarters in, and the rest is history. Much of my enjoyment probably stems from the fact that one credit was only one quarter, and each credit gave me two lives. Because of this (and the fact that I wasn’t terrible at the game), I beat it with only $6.00. That incredible “price” for a fun, substantial game really helped me enjoy Demolish Fist that much more. And since I completed all six stages, I consider myself fully able to review this (unlike my recent Time Crisis 5 article). Let’s begin!

Demolish Fist Arcade Review

Developer: Sammy

Release Date: 2003


Since many modern arcade titles are, like I’ve said a million times, either rail shooters or racing games, the mere novelty of having a range of movement besides “forward” really sucked me in. From a more objective standpoint, however, this is a fantastic beat-em-up. The game doesn’t ever cheat or feel overly difficult. Like I said, I played with the game set at a quarter per credit, and each credits gave me two lives. Even if it was set to say, 50 cents, I still feel that this game is very fair and worth the price of admission. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a blast brawling your way through varied environments and bashing a bunch of quirky enemies. Boss fights are also especially fun, and I love the "Vertigo" mechanic (where you fill up the blue bar and then unleash a series of attacks by repeatedly hitting the attack button as fast as you can). Basically, you won't get bored with this title!


Demolish Fist is positively packed (alliteration) to the brim with content. There are six stages, and the game clocks in at about an hour in length. This is the only beat-em-up I’ve ever played, but as far as I know, this length is fairly standard within that genre. Compared to arcade games in general, though, it’s a pretty long game. I loved it, but some people might consider it too long.


The control panel is set up for two players simultaneously, and each player has a joystick and three buttons. There’s a guard button, an attack button, and a jump button. The control layout works great for the game. The buttons are standard and work well. The joystick I particularly enjoyed, due to its analogue nature. My only problem was performing dash attacks with the joystick, which required me to quickly push it in one direction twice. For whatever reason, I found it difficult to pull this off with the joystick. That could be a fault on my part, however.


This game uses the very capable Atomis Wave hardware. Character models and environments have very nice polygon counts, and they are displayed on a crisp CRT monitor. I’m glad that it’s on capable hardware, too, because the characters are pretty gosh darn interesting. Enemies can be both menacing (Thorn, with its flaming hands) and just plain weird (Mangos, which look like theme park mascots). Some are even a little bit of both, like the chainsaw-wielding doctors! (You’ll see what I mean when you get to Sound).


There are two different cabinets, both of which are (as far as I know) standard Atomis Wave cabinets. I played on the smaller one with “Atomis Wave” written along the side of the cabinet. I really liked it, and it certainly looked less bland than the bigger cabinet. The monitor was a good size, the speakers were in a good position, and the control panel was wide enough for both players. My only complaint was that the smaller cabinet was a little too short, in my opinion. Then again, maybe I’m just too tall. In the game room, I saw another game in the bigger Atomis Wave cabinet, and I feel that it’s just too bland. Only the marquee art and red T-molding make it stand out in any way. I like simplicity, but this doesn’t really work.


I flat-out love the sound effects in this game. Voice acting, as limited as it is, isn’t actually garbage. Oh wait, it was in Japanese, so I have no idea if it was good or not. Also, much more importantly, character voice clips throughout levels are absolutely hilarious. There are chainsaw-wielding doctors that sound like WALUIGI. I’m not even joking. I couldn’t help but crack a smile each time an enemy went out with a “WAAAA!” It was fantastic. Also, the music wasn’t bad. It didn’t leave a huge impact on me, but it wasn’t bad. You’ll probably enjoy the credits song at the end, too.


Demolish Fist has fully earned its place on my all-time favorite games list. This is the game that finally got me into the beat-em-up genre. No wonder people like them so much! It’s a perfect genre for the arcade environment! The game is a blast, and its lack of self-seriousness made it stand out among other titles. Based on its lack of much of an internet presence, I believe this game might just be an underrated gem. If you ever see it in the wild, make sure you play it!

Before you go, I’d like to share something else with you. I got the high score on the machine, too: 22,546,123. I played as Leoneed, and my maximum number of hits was 63. If I ever come back to this game room, you can bet your beard that I’ll be trying to obliterate that score.

Lake Barkley Game Room

Because this was such a highlight of my weekend, I’d like to expand on it a bit. Like I said, the game selection was as follows: Tekken 3, Johnny Nero: Action Hero, Sports Shooting USA, Big Buck Hunter, Krazy Bowl, Suzuka 8 Hours 2, Cruis’n USA, San Francisco Rush: The Rock, and of course, Demolish Fist. There were two games that I would have loved to play, but they were unfortunately out of order: San Francisco Rush: 2049 and Silent Scope. On the non-video side of things, the Lake Barkley game room had an air hockey table, a foosball table, a pool table, and a ping-pong table. There was also a pinball machine: Rescue 911. Now, I’d like to go over a few games individually (and in groups) and explain their impact on me.

Racing Games