VIDEO GAMES / Summer slugging: Slugfest] Rupert Goodwins is kicked senseless on the Streets of Rage before going a round or two with Prize Fighter

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The Independent Culture
Summer-time, and the gaming is sleazy. Two new releases for the Sega range of consoles - one for the Mega CD, one for the Megadrive - continue the old themes of slug or be slugged, while another brings the spirit of the B-movie to interactive life.

Streets of Rage 3 has a bijou plotlet (Mr X is replacing city officials with identical robots), but aside from that it's a martial arts basharama. Learn the particular combinations of buttons that make your character kick, twist, jump and punch, and try to render the computerised opponents senseless before the game does the same to you.

It's not without ingenuity; for example, there's a fight in a disco, where the strobes and laser lights make it difficult to see what's going on. More fun comes with the mob scenes, where nasty men gang up on you at once, and you always need to keep an eye on your strength and life-force gauges to make sure you have enough in reserve for the devastating but energy-sapping special moves your fighter can make.

Mildly diverting, with slightly more humour and less carnage than others of its ilk. Nevertheless, it's just another rehash of what is, by now, a very well-explored idea indeed.

Prize Fighter is a boxing game for the Mega CD that neatly splices action video footage with computer graphics. The game itself isn't so different from the hundreds of other fisticuff thump-em-ups on the market, but the use of real actors in fights staged by Hollywood choreographer Ron Stein (who worked on the Rocky series) adds considerably to the fun. The live sequences are shot in grainy black-and-white, which makes less demands on the Sega than colour footage and so can be played back in a larger format with less flicker.

The fights themselves are intelligently produced, with the actors creating a number of opportunities for you, 'The Kid', to hit back. In training mode, these are pointed out by the computer; in full-blown fights, you have to spot them for yourself.

If you like boxing games, you should find this one more satisfying than most, although with only four opponents to choose from it might not have much staying power.

Finally, Double Switch, also for the Mega CD, is as close as you'll get to an interactive 1950s B-movie. The plot is corny enough to feed the five thousand - a Victorian mansion, built by an eccentric industrialist with a taste for Egyptology, has been wired throughout with trap-doors, sensors and gizmos by a young descendent called Eddie.

Eddie has been trapped in the basement by agents unknown, while upstairs a cast of, well, tens are engaged in a battle for possession of ancient artefacts, aided and abetted by gangsters, secret societies, beautiful actresses, a rock group, and - yes] - a mummy. Your job is to control the trap-doors to capture the baddies and control the building for long enough to find the secret codes that'll release Eddie and save the day.

Sounds silly? It is, and splendidly so. Unfortunately, it uses much the same techniques as the production company, Digital Pictures, used for its Ground Zero Texas game a few months ago. You have to dash around the screen with a cursor, selecting cameras to play live video from trouble spots, while simultaneously setting up traps and watching your stamina levels; you'll either find this fun or frustrating, but the complexity of the game in no way matches the engaging daftness of the surrounding flim-flammery.

(Photograph omitted)