So there I was, wanting to pick a retro game to review that would be based on something Christmassy but not obviously so.
I’d already reviewed the likes of The Die Hard Trilogy, Batman Returns and Gremlins 2: The New Batch so my mind, for some reason, instantly went to Lethal Weapon, a movie I had re-watched very recently and which was set around Christmas.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I started playing Lethal Weapon on NES and realised that, not only was it not Christmas-themed, like, at all, but it wasn’t even Lethal Weapon!
It took me a while to realise what the heck was going on and it was only until I tried Lethal Weapon on the SNES that it all clicked:
Lethal Weapon is Lethal Weapon 3.
Because THAT’s the Lethal Weapon movie everybody loves… right?
For some reason, both the NES and the SNES games chose to not call themselves what they actually were instead going by the franchise’s name.
Can you imagine playing a game just called The Bourne Identity and, for some reason, your main character looks like Jeremy Renner?
To be fair, the games’ covers do show Joe Pesci peeking out from behind Mel Gibson and Danny Glover but it’s still confusing. At least the plot of the games should have encompassed every Lethal Weapon movie, acting as some sort of best of but no, that’s not the case.
Now the rant’s over, let’s check out the games.
Lethal Weapon on the NES, you’ll notice very quickly, is not one of the greatest-looking games you’ll ever come across.
Quite the opposite.
A side-scrolling beat ’em up, the game lets you play as Riggs, who looks more or less like a young, long-haired Mel Gibson, but the way the character walks is so stiff that he looks like he always needs to pee. Basically, what they did is animate the bottom part of his body but not the top part to create a walk cycle that’s wooden and awkward to say the least.
The game seems to pride itself on how many locations it has with every level offering like three different settings to explore.
As you play the game, however, you’ll eventually realise that it technically really has only three main locations.
The woods (park/gardens/docks/downtown):
Indoors (mall/exhibition centre):
And the desert (freeway/camp):
Yes, those are pyramids.
I know they’re meant to be mountains but they’re clearly pyramids.
What, you don’t remember the scene in Lethal Weapon 3 where Riggs goes up to Ramses and asks him to let his people go before a plague of locusts is released?
A re-watch is due, methinks.
Now I haven’t watched Lethal Weapon 3 in years but pretty much none of this game reminded me of it. No Rene Russo character, no Joe Pesci, not even much Murtaugh! Hilariously, Riggs kinda turns into Murtaugh after a while and, I must admit, when this happened I had no idea what I’d done. I honestly thought the game had glitched but nope, the guy on the left below is meant to be Murtaugh:
I guess it’s better than not having the character in the game at all but come on, that looks nothing like him.
Like I said earlier, the controls are really stiff and the backgrounds are stupidly repetitive which, in turn, makes the whole game feel repetitive and, honestly, I was falling asleep playing this darn thing. The only thing that kinda changes throughout is that you start saving hostages after a while (and they’re really polite):
As with many beat ’em ups, a lot of your enemies are cloned hundreds of times.
Usually I don’t mind all that much but seeing as this game has nothing exciting to offer, it gets really boring fighting these photocopied empty characters.
What a situation: Riggs encountering three identical bald topless men, one of which is literally coming out of the grass like a mole. When this first happened, I was totally hoping that bad guys coming out of random holes on the ground would become a thing, allowing me to make an obvious Whac-A-Mole joke and, guess what?
Another silly thing I like about the game is how you get power-ups by hitting bad guys and picking up the letter “E” which literally falls out of them.
Not even kidding.
You can also pick up ammo along the way and some of the biggest threats you face during the game, apart from countless clones, include helicopters:
I didn’t crop that wrong, by the way, that’s actually how much of the helicopter they included in those boss battles. You’d think that something relatively visually interesting like a helicopter would at least get an establishing shot!
Good thing that these developers never released a Sonic game…
Your enemies can also throw grenades at you and, although it’s kinda fun to be able to pick them up and throw them back at them, I had the most laughs just watching them explode.
Check this out:
Isn’t that just the least terrifying thing you’ve ever seen a grenade do?
It’s like breaking an Easter egg!
So, ok, we’ve now established that the game is stiff to play, looks a bit rubbish, has very little to do with Lethal Weapon and is basically completely unimaginative to the point of being, at times, just plain laughable.
Needless to add that I don’t really recommend this one.
In the end, you face a bulkier version of yourself:
(note: Mel Gibson is not actually Bruce Lee)
And you get this appropriately lame ending:
A highly unlikely headline suggesting that two cops just went around the city kung-fu-kicking and shooting their way through ALL the crime going on in the streets to the point where the crime rate actually dropped?!
Anyway, that’s Lethal Weapon on the NES: pretty dire, unnecessarily difficult and nowhere near as fun as it could and should have been. Even the music is irritating…
Sad thing is the SNES version of the game is really not much more awesome at all. It looks better, its animation is more fluid and the cartoonish visuals are sort of fun, plus the music is a little nicer. But it’s still deceptive in that it also lies about being Lethal Weapon and has very little to do with the film itself.
You’ve got Murtaugh swimming with alligators, Riggs literally jumping the shark and you’re either fighting knife-throwing cooks or 8-feet-tall mobsters. It’s nonsense and, again, it’s a missed opportunity but at least it’s much more playable than that overall clunky NES effort.
Looks like both the NES and the SNES are, indeed, too old for this…
Well, you know.