Today Player Two Start pays tribute to one of Capcom’s lesser known and less celebrated titles, Battle Circuit.
For those who don’t know, Battle Circuit (or Batoru Saakitto as it’s known in Japan) is an action “beat ’em up” game developed and published by Capcom for the CPS-2 arcade hardware for Japan and Europe in 1997. Taking place in an alternate future earth, the game revolves around a group of bounty hunters who must capture the mad scientist Dr. Saturn and secure a sophisticated computer disc carrying a program known as the “Shiva System”. The game contains comic-like characters in a futuristic science fiction setting.
Battle Circuit‘s arcade cabinet provided support for up to four simultaneous players who can each assume the role of five possible characters. The five playable characters are all super-powered bounty hunters who each possess their own unique attacks and Battle Download ability. Though each of the character’s real names are mentioned in their individual character profiles during the opening demo, they are mostly referred to by their codenames, each indicating a physical attribute and corresponding color.
Brian Bruno, aka Cyber Blue: A seasoned bounty hunter with several cybernetic attachments to his body, giving him the ability to discharge electricity and project energy from his fists. Cyber Blue makes a cameo appearance in Project X Zone 2 in Captain Commando’s Solo Unit attack.
Andrey Mishucin, aka Captain Silver: A highly accomplished bounty hunter who can stretch and shape his body at will. His powers give him the ability to project ice particles from his body, as well as create a number of objects from his suit, morph into a cannon and even transform into a chair and sit on himself. Because of the vast nature of his powers, they will threaten to overwhelm him if he should ever lose concentration.
Diana Martines, aka Yellow Iris, called Yellow Beast in the original Japanese version): A part-time fashion model whose feral appearance gives her access to a number of clawing and agility-based techniques. She is also skilled with a whip and is accompanied by her pet fox “Fin”.
Yellow Iris makes a cameo appearance in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as a DLC costume for Felicia.
Pinky, aka Pink Ostrich: A large, sentient, pink ostrich with an eye patch and jewel necklace who is always accompanied by her owner, a young girl named Pola Abdul.
Purportedly, she is the “only ostrich in the world who can fly”, and attacks with an assortment of aerial and spinning techniques. Yeah, one of the bounty hunters is a bird, but we’re not gonna make any lame bird jokes.
OK, maybe one:
Alien Green (real name unknown): An alien creature of unknown origin who resembles a large Venus flytrap with leg-like roots and a large eye in its abdomen. Its attacks mostly center around its vine-like arms, which it can quickly swing to create whirlwinds, as well as grab opponents and slam them against the ground. Sorry, whenever I see this thing I expect it to shout “FEED MEEE!”
The Plot: Taking place in the future year 20XX, Battle Circuit follows the exploits of a group of super-powered bounty hunters as they apprehend wanted criminals (identified by special serial numbers) in the city of Neo Koba. The game begins with player attempting to apprehend criminal 9696X, a scientist named Doctor Saturn (who resembles Freakazoid! villain The Lobe with a ring around his head and a Dick Dastardly mustache) and his blob-like sidekick aboard his spacecraft orbiting Earth.
After the battle, the character selected by the player returns to his employer, Harry,
No, not that Harry, but that would’ve been awesome.
….And is promptly given another assignment to capture the leader of the “Delete Gang”, Johnny Fever,
No, not that Johnny Fever, though that too would’ve been awesome.
…Who holds a valuable floppy disk in his possession. The bounty hunter then confronts Johnny at his disco hideout and learns that the disc contains a malicious computer program known as the “Shiva (Tentei) System”, which is capable of controlling all computerized systems in the world. After selecting one of the available characters, players must travel through various levels- fighting through a variety of enemies from the Delete Gang- to obtain the disc and claim their bounty. Stages like this:
And whatever this is.
Players must progress through a number of levels made up of horizontally scrolling screens filled with enemy characters that must be defeated using a combination of attacks and movement abilities each character utilizes. Every character is given a selection of these abilities that can be expanded as game play progress by purchasing special “upgrade discs” after the completion of each level using coins obtained by defeating enemies.
These techniques are often a combination of either of the two action buttons and the joystick, and can add additional varieties to a given character’s arsenal. A player must attack enemies until their health (indicated by a bar under the player’s when the enemy is attacked) is reduced to zero and they are thus knocked out. If a player’s health bar is depleted, they will also become knocked out and must use up one life to continue. If all of a player’s lives are depleted in this fashion, the game will end unless more credits are purchased.
There are also special techniques called “Battle Downloads”, which can be used by pressing both action buttons while jumping, resulting in the player and his allies (if any are present) gaining a certain attribute, the effect of which is unique to each character. Cyber Blue, for example, can use his Battle Download “Power Up” to increase the amount of damage dealt by attacks, while Yellow Iris’ “Speed Up” increases attack speed. A character will start with a stock of two of these techniques to use per life, and can obtain more from capsules scattered throughout the levels, up to a maximum of five.
If you’ve never seen, heard of played this game, I wouldn’t be surprised. Battle Circuit saw a speedy translation effort that effectively made the title available in both Japan and parts of Europe on the same day. Though there are no game play differences between the Japanese and other language versions of the game, a few pieces of Japanese dialogue were omitted from the European release. The game was not released in North American arcades or any other part of the world after its initial release. I remember reading about Battle Circuit in an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly (back when that was a thing) and looking for the game in arcades, only to discover it was harder to find than this guy.
I would have never played it myself if our brother Chaz didn’t have an emulator. It helps to have a hardcore gamer in the family.
So here’s to you, Battle Circuit. This game was weird and wacky, but I’m a fan of weird and wacky. BC never received the exposure or fan base that titles like Street Fighter and Mega Man did, but it gave me some hours of enjoyment. It was just goofy, imaginative, dumb fun, and for that, we at Twinsanity salute you.