Does wearing a little red beret give you the right to go around kicking people in the head? It does if you're a Vigilante, the only person hard enough to stand up to the gangs of howling skinheads who dominate the streets of New York 1994.
Now you won't get much of a thrill or excitement when you hear the plot. Your bit of stuff, Madonna, has been kidnapped by the skins. I don't think this could be THE Madonna - she'd only have to break into a chorus of "Material Girl" and they'd be jumping out of the windows with their fingers in their ears.
Anyhow, you want to rescue 'the girlie, and the only way to do it is to kick and punch your way through skins against some pretty average backgrounds.
If this all sounds like Streetfighter, Renegade, Target Renegade, Renegade 3, Dragon Ninja, Tiger Road and Human Killing Machine - that's because it is. While there's nothing at all wrong with Vigilante, it's coming out much too late, and doesn't really add much to the existing games.
As you move along across the scrolling backgrounds, you are attacked from both sides. To start off, it's easy to despatch your opponents with a high kick or a series of punches. Life gets more difficult when they attack you from both sides at once; it's very difficult to kill one off without receiving huge amounts of damage from the other. Only very precise alternate hits will see you through this problem.
Even more horrifying are the Men Who Put Their Fingers in Your Ear. Though these tubby terrors are easy to kill with a single blow, if they get too close they appear to put their fingers in your ear, and you die horribly. Very strange.
If you can get to the end of a level, you come across a huge leather-jacketed thug who takes a good deal of bashing and beating to dispose of. Then it's back to the tape recorder to load up the next stage, which takes place in a junkyard. The backgrounds here are a little more interesting than the street scenes of level one, but the opponents are largely the same except for a star-chucking ninja.
There are extra weapons such as nunchukas which you can pick up along the way, but for some reason they don't seem to do you a great deal of good; to be honest, it took me so long to get through to level two that I was too exhausted to carry on playing it. Am I getting old, or is Vigilante just much much too hard?
There's an interesting option to switch off the colour, which eliminates the annoying background colour clashes, and apart from some pointless. bleepings the sound's OK. I could live without the tedious introduction screen telling me what I already know, that Madonna is in the hands of the skinheads and only I can rescue.
Overall, then, this one's a jump at the bandwagon which ends up smeared all over the tarmac.
Label: US Gold
Author: Emerald Software
Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Nondescript beat-'em-up with no obvious gimmicks.