Back in the day when Midway was still alive and kicking, the publisher had taken up a fun little beat 'em up title based on everyone's favourite martial artist: Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan Stuntmaster was developed by Vancouver-based Radical Entertainment for the original PlayStation and featured the man himself in an action-packed brawler that took him through the streets of New York to rescue his grandfather from the clutches of a corrupt executive. Needless to say, there were plenty of hilarious moments as Jackie fought through hordes of faceless thugs, using his kung fu prowess and whatever item he managed to get his hands on to beat the living daylights out of those that stood in his way.
Now the game is definitely not something that has aged well since it's release some eleven years ago, but with that said I've had some bloody fond memories of it. For one, the graphics are just hilarious, but surprisingly detailed, as a chunky Jackie Chan (whose face is literally pasted onto a chubby model) traverses the streets of New York, going from garages to restaurants and even to the rooftops. Alleyways, corridors, streets and the like were relatively linear, but whatever was on the screen was always explorable. Invisible walls to keep you on track? None of that rubbish. Jackie could get from Point A to Point B by taking straight to the streets or jumping up onto a balcony, running and jumping across rooftops. Either way has their pros and cons, but one thing was for sure is that there was always something to do be it fighting thugs or looking for secret items and passageways.
For a decade-old PlayStation game, it had the fluidity that you'd expect from titles like God of War. Every move was mo-capped with Jackie himself performing the stunts (would you expect anything less from Jackie?) and not only did you have access to kicks and punches, but a whole slew of combos based on timing. It certainly did a great job of capturing Jackie and the essence that makes all of his films so fun and enjoyable. From the standard punch, punch, kick combo to more delicate sweeping kicks and grapple attacks and even to the more funny ones where Jackie uses his butt to knock a thug unconscious.
Not only that, but Jackie could use any item in the level that was interactive. Umbrellas, toilet plungers, mops, buckets, frying pans, frozen fish, you name it. So long as it can be picked up, Jackie can use it in his already lethal set of combos. Needless to say, table flipping in the literal sense was also present and boy was that fun. Speaking of levels, while the entire game takes place in New York, each level was unique in its setting and never really quite the same. Even enemies that showed up to halt Jackie's progress were designed to be unique respective to their locations. Typical thugs lined the streets of New York while Chinese mobsters challenged Jackie at every turn in Chinatown; even clowns had a bone to pick with him.
Did you think the train level in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was awesome? Well guess what? Jackie Chan Stuntmaster did it eleven years ago. Kung fu fighting atop moving trains, jumping from carriage to carriage and even from one train to the next in order to avoid obstacles was just as challenging and exciting back then as it is today. Before I forget, this is Jackie Chan we're talking about and he is a big proponent of the drunken fist, so it comes as no surprise that the technique is even featured in the game as well. Get Jackie tipsy and his entire move set changes to reflect his state of mind. It's incredibly amusing as Jackie sways and stumbles around while doling out some serious ass kicking at the same time.
Now although Radical is busy with Prototype 2, I can honestly say that I really want another Jackie Chan game. The spirit of his films were captured perfectly with this game and a high definition remake will make me open my wallet and literally throw dollar bills at them. Unfortunately, with Jackie Chan getting older every passing year, it's quite unlikely something as authentic will ever be made. At the very least, I still have my trusty PSX and a hard disc copy of Jackie Chan Stuntmaster.