Street Smart Review—A Blast from the Past


I think as you get older, you become more nostalgic for the days of your youth, because modern day things seem so drab and boring in comparison. Then you sometimes wonder if it’s not just a case of rose-colored glasses. In reality, I think it’s a mix of both, and Street Smart, the latest retro SNK arcade game turned into a Mini by G1M2, is a perfect example of that. It’s very much a product of the ’80s, but other than atmosphere, it doesn’t offer that much fun.

I believe Street Smart is the first and only Mini that is a fighting game. Oh sure, there have been a number of scrolling beat ‘em ups, but this is the first one-on-one fighter, at least the only one I can recall.

The premise of the game is pretty simple: you travel around the U.S. fighting people for money, apparently the top champion of each city (it’s kind of surprising that this concept hasn’t been turned into a reality TV show). You beat up the guy, a scantily clad girl walks out and gives you money and a trophy, then repeat in another stage. Finally, after beating up everyone, you get a fairly interesting cutscene, and the developer credits for the game roll.

When this game came out 22 years ago, I could actually do that.

When this game came out 22 years ago, I could actually do that.

Of course, the catch is beating your opponent up in the first place. As in most early fighters, the controls are not overly complicated—you have three buttons: one to punch, one to kick, and one to jump. These can be combined with the D-pad or analog nub to make directional attacks.

That sounds simple enough in practice, but actually doing it in the game with a moving AI opponent is a lot trickier. I’ve never really been good at 2D fighters except Karateka. A small-ish sprite with somewhat choppy animation is hard for me to read, much less react to, so essentially I just mash buttons. (Though then again, in games with no blocking ability, I’m never sure what you’re supposed to do, other than hit your opponent first.)

You can't touch this?

You can't touch this?

This button mashing strategy only works for the first opponent. Thankfully, though, for people like me, this is one of those games that allows continues. So, it’s relatively easy to progress through all of the game. On the other hand, this does sort of reduce the challenge, and using continues, it takes less than half an hour to beat, as there are only about 8 or 9 stages.

Each stage has its own opponent, though the differences are not always that noticeable, there being a lot of generic guys in karate outfits. Each does have its own attacking style as well as special moves that it does to you, such as picking you up or grappling with you or doing a piledriver (which really hurts). The game doesn’t explain how to get out of these holds, or if it’s even possible, though it seems like sometimes you can wriggle out.

Also something I did a lot 22 years ago...

Also something I did a lot 22 years ago...

Sometimes you seemingly can do special moves of your own, but this isn’t explained anywhere. I’ve been able to somehow pick up and throw a guy (or so it looked like). I wish I knew how to repeat it. Still, you are always stuck with the same old generic karate guy as a playable character. The game was apparently co-op, but obviously that feature doesn’t work here, though the only difference seems to have been in hair color and style. Thus not a whole lot of variety in replaying the game.

As with all of the old arcade Minis developed by G1M2, there are a variety of emulator-related options—changing the controls, setting the difficulty and saving/loading the save state. As you can continue in the game, the latter isn’t that useful, except for watching the glorious ending again and again.

Screens are from the arcade game and look brighter on the PSP.

Screens are from the arcade game and look brighter on the PSP.

The graphics are where Street Smart shines. It has excellent 2D art—maybe a tiny bit blocky and not quite as colorful as modern standards, but it still holds up very well for a 22-year-old game. It is very much ’80s themed, and each stage is unique and well drawn with a variety of animated spectators (though some of these are duplicated). The stages do scroll a little, and this is where a quirk of the PSP comes in—colors change slightly when graphics scroll, and it’s quite distracting here.

Sound is pretty good; the sound effects for punches and kicks are believable, and the crowd cheers when someone good happens to either you or your opponent. When you beat a stage, the girl that comes out to give you a trophy actually speaks, saying “Congratulations.” Unfortunately, she sounds like Lunchlady Doris from The Simpsons.

Considering the graphics, the emulation is very well done. There is a tiny bit of slowdown at the start of each stage, but that’s it.

Yet another thing I did 22 years my dreams, at least.

Yet another thing I did 22 years my dreams, at least.

As it is very slim pickings for fighting games when it comes to Minis, Street Smart might be worth a look for fans of the genre. The continue option also makes it accessible for non-fighting game experts. But while it’s somewhat fun, it just doesn’t seem to be a very deep or long-lasting game. It’s perhaps best as a way of looking back at the United States of the 1980s, at least as seen by the people at SNK (though it does seem fairly accurate, at least for me to enjoy it).


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4 Responses to “Street Smart Review—A Blast from the Past”
  1. thumbbandit says:

    Is Funky Punch not a 1 on 1 beat ‘em up?
    Nice review… the similarities to Street Fighter are unreal… though, I wonder which one came first?

  2. manslayer911 says:

    If you include Funky Punch, these are the only 2 fighters on the psp minis market. Being a fan of the genre, I kind of wish there were more of them.
    @ thumbbandit:
    I believe Street Fighter came first. Afterwords, SNK made a whole bunch of knockoffs like this and Fatal Fury. Thus began the great rivalry between the 2 companies. Since some people from Capcom eventually went to work for SNK, I suppose this is understandable.

  3. onmode-ky says:

    “When this game came out 22 years ago, I could actually do that.”

    I can do that now way better than I could 22 years ago. :)

  4. min says:

    nice!!!( onmode-ky )

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