Growl, also known as Runark, is out now on PS4 and Switch


Taito’s 1990 brawler Growl, also known as Runark, is out now on PS4 and Switch. Save animals! See an elephant trample a tank!


If the retro action of Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons hasn’t satisfied your appetite for arcade brawlers, then here’s some good news for you. Taito’s 1990 game Growl, known in some territories as Runark, is the latest release in the long-running Arcade Archives series, and is available to download on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 now.

Arriving just before the belt-scrolling beat-’em-up genre was swept aside by the one-on-one combat of Street Fighter II, Growl separated itself from the brawler pack via two unique selling points: weapons and animals.

Growl’s goofy premise saw you and up to three friends take on the role of hard-hitting rangers, tasked with saving an entire country’s animals from a gang of poachers. Now, I think most right-minded people are against animal cruelty of all kinds, but the rangers’ response to the kidnapping of various elephants, deer, lions and other creatures is hilariously disproportionate. Your campaign of violence against poachers sees you pick up machine guns and rocket launchers – the latter causing crowds of enemies to explode in a chunky mess.

Keep fighting your way through the poachers’ ranks, and you’ll arrive at the occasional set-piece where freed animals will gratefully join in the fray. One particularly memorable scene sees an elephant trample a tank. It’s all brilliantly, absurdly over the top, and that’s before you get to the ending where… well, we won’t spoil it for you, but it’s safe to say that Growl's designers go off-piste in the most 90s, straight-to-video way imaginable.

Growl/Runark was ported to the Sega Mega Drive not long after it hit arcades, and while that version’s serviceable enough, it lacked the four-player co-op mode of the arcade version, which logically enough, is what Hamster Co. has ported to PS4 and Switch. It’s the latest in a long series of interesting choices from the Arcade Archives series, which has previously taken in iconic hits like Contra, but also brought us deep cuts like the magnificent Cosmo Gang The Video

Arcade Archives Growl is available from today, 27 July, on PS4 and Nintendo Switch for $7.99 or £5.79.

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