The Punisher is an All-Timer Arcade Classic from Marvel & Capcom (Retro Game Review)

by | Mar 31, 2020

On this edition of Retro Game Review, I talk about 1993’s The Punisher from Capcom – an arcade beat-em-up classic that is regarded as one of the greatest comic to game adaptations of all time.

The Punisher is a 1993 beat ’em up arcade game developed and released by Capcom. It stars the Marvel Comics’ antihero the Punisher and co-stars S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury as the second player’s character as they embark on a mission to kill the crime lord the Kingpin and bring down his organization.

Game reviewed on Pandora’s Box using an arcade stick.

The Punisher might be the one arcade title I played the most as a kid in the early 90’s (aside from Golden Axe) and I still fondly remember the moments in the game where you grabbed a gun and started mowing down wave after wave of thug. That’s what makes this beat-em-up so much damn fun and it holds up today just as strongly as it did almost 20 years ago. You still smash trashcans to eat pizza and regain health, which is what you do in every beat-em-up game from that era, but there are moments in each level where you get an unlimited run of handgun ammo to wipe out the badguys and the way they designed these little segments to break up all the stabbing and punching, is the delicious icing on top of this arcade masterpiece.

You can pick between Frank Castle (The Punisher) or Nick Fury and each one has a subtle varying set of hand to hand moves, but I honestly found myself preferring the grizzled leader of SHIELD in my older years. Though that could just be because my son Luke really wanted to be The Punisher – which is was fine with me, because while he was busy hitting criminals with a baseball bat, I sat back and smoked a big ol’ cigar like a total badass. It’s the little character touches like that which really sell the game as one of the best, if not very best Marvel game adaptations. There’s even a moment after defeating your first level boss where Frank interrogates the guy and proceeds to SHOOT HIM IN THE FACE.

The villains are pretty unique as well, pulling from a roster of classics like Jigsaw and Kingpin (the final boss mind you of course) to lesser known foes like Bushwacker and Bonebreaker. The length of the game is solid as well like most arcade stick classics, running around an hour or so and the replay-ability factor never gets old thanks to the perfect controls. I realize this game was ported at one point in time to SEGA, but they censored that release and turned it into garbage. They literally removed the moments where Fury smokes his cigar if you let him stand still for a few seconds, as well as put more clothes on the female ninja assassins… I mean – sure why not, but also screw you SEGA. I played The Punisher on an arcade stick the way it was meant to be played and it felt magical. This game literally takes me back to my childhood where I couldn’t wait to hit the 7-11 after school and submit my precious five bucks in quarters in order to lose myself to the most violent game I had ever played (before Mortal Kombat came into my life that is).

Rating: 5/5