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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

Cruis’n USA, like I said, was just as fun as the Nintendo 64 port, but with the added benefit of great hardware that doesn’t chug along at a painful 2 frames-per-second. Rush: The Rock was fun to stumble upon, because I hadn’t seen any of the Rush games in many years. I only played it once, but I did determine that it is a very, very solid racing game, and the crashes are pretty wild.

Suzuka 8 Hours 2 seemed really cool, and I really wanted to try it out. Unfortunately, the coin mechs were absolutely wrecked. It makes me wonder why they even bothered turning the gosh darn thing on, seeing as how players couldn’t even put a quarter in if they wanted to. I was a little baffled by the game being 75 cents per credit. Perhaps it was a bit expensive for the operator to purchase and/or maintain, as every other game (with the exception of Demolish Fist) was 50 cents a pop.

Shooting Games

Sammy’s Sports Shooting USA wasn’t really anything spectacular. The guns didn’t seem entirely calibrated either. I might try it next time to see if maybe it is really fun. Big Buck Hunter II wasn’t too great for me either. I personally only liked the series with the advent of Big Buck Hunter Pro and everything that came afterward. The calibration of the guns was a horrid mess, but beyond that, I don’t think Play Mechanix games were quite as refined until they became part of Raw Thrills. I despise Incredible Technologies in general, so perhaps the discovery that they published early Big Buck games gave me a bias. Eh, what can I say? It just wasn’t fun for me.

What I would like to focus on, though is Johnny Nero: Action Hero. When I was a much younger lad would often play games at Godfather’s Pizza, I loved this game. Before this weekend, I didn’t really remember anything about it. I just knew that I enjoyed it, and I wanted to find it again. Well, guess what? This game was a massive disappointment. ICE, being the videmption nut that company is, probably wasn’t the best publisher for this kind of game anyway. It just was not that spectacular. I mean, it wasn’t the worst rail shooter ever, but I did find it rather subpar. It also brought to my attention that I just cannot play a rail shooter that doesn’t have force feedback in the guns. It was kind of odd feeling…nothing. Maybe I’m just spoiled by the insane $15,000 games the industry churns out these days.

Tekken 3

I’ve never been big into fighting games, but Tekken 3 may have just changed that for me. Unfortunately, the two kick buttons didn’t work for either player, but it was still a lot of fun. In the past, I felt that fighting games might be too slow and complex for me, but Tekken showed me that I was wrong. Even if I didn’t bother memorizing combos, I could still have a lot of fun trying to beat the game. Next time, I’ll bring more quarters. Then, I can beat Demolish Fist again and play Tekken the whole way through.

While we're on the subject of broken buttons, I'd like to mention some things. Though the Lake Barkley game room is awesome, it's unmanned, and there are some problems. Like I said, the Suzuka coin mechs were destroyed, and the kick buttons on Tekken don't work for either player. What really bothered me, though, was how the two-player start button didn't work on Demolish Fist. I was ready to show that game to my brother and play through a bit of it with him, but alas, I could not.

Rescue 911

Before this weekend, I had never played pinball before. No, I’m being serious. Despite being a huge arcade fanatic, I had simply never played pinball. Of course, that all changed after playing Rescue 911. After putting quarters in the machine and pressing start, I finally realized why people love it so much. It’s an entirely different experience than anything else—the lights, the sounds, the…everything! Was I particularly good? Probably not, but I’m now going to play pinball every chance that I get. Ah, look at me, discovering all these hallmarks of arcades that I’ve been denied by the modern industry. At least pinball is making a huge comeback!


As you can see, I was in absolute arcade heaven this weekend. Yes, the actual "lake" part of Lake Barkley was great, but...well, you know me!

Anyway, I've got Arcade and Retro Gaming Club after school today. We've had a fairly consistent turnout of eight or nine people every Monday, and that's fine by me. Fighting games continue to dominate, but we tend to play a lot of other games on the second TV, if fighting isn't your thing. Today, I'm bringing Midway Arcade Treasures. Hopefully, we'll do some SMASH TV!

Keep it real, ya sweaty nerds.


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