Ask anyone what the PC Engine’s best arcade conversion was and they will always reply ‘R-Type’ with a smug look on their faces. There’s no denying that Irem’s port is an astonishing piece of work, but it’s easy to forget that initially the game was split across two separate HuCards, meaning you had to spend a fair amount of cash to enjoy that ‘authentic’ experience.
Irem was working plenty more magic on NEC’s micro console however, no more so than with its superb port of Vigilante. It featured all the levels from the game and, more importantly, was crammed onto a single HuCard. The visuals were excellent, doing a fantastic job of capturing the mean and moody looking sprites of the original arcade hit, while the gameplay was just as fast-paced and hectic. Yes you could argue that it’s basically Kung Fu Master with a grittier Western theme attached to it, but it remained great fun to play, even if (like many similar fighters) it gets rather repetitive towards its end.
If I wanted to be super picky I’d highlight the fact that your girlfriend’s arms don’t appear through the grills of the van at the end of each stage, or that the sound effects and music aren’t as authentic as the visuals, but I’d be being really churlish. Vigilante is a fantastic conversion, further proof of the PC Engine’s amazing ability to mimic far more powerful arcade machines and a game that needs to be in every owner’s collection. A real gem.