Prison City | NES-style action platformer out now for PC

prison city

Inspired by the likes of Shatterhand and Power Blade, NES-style action platformer Prison City is out now – and there’s also a demo available to try.


Sneaking onto Steam amid a crush of positively gigantic titles like Baldur’s Gate 3 and the incoming Starfield, Prison City offers a refreshingly retro bit of counter-programming to those time-hogging epics.

Developed by Philadelphia-based studio Retroware, Prison City is a side-scrolling action game with NES-style sprites and luminous colour palette. Mashing together a range of 1980s influences, from cult platformers like Shatterhand and Power Blade to John Carpenter’s sci-fi thriller Escape From New York, Prison City dreams up a future Detroit that has been turned into a city-spanning prison.

You play the Snake Plissken-like hero, ex-cop Hal Bruzer, who’s sent off to the titular Prison City to deal with an army of ‘techno-terrorists’. Much like the aforementioned Power Blade, Bruzer’s weapon of choice is a futuristic boomerang – an item powerful enough to take out rank-and-file enemies and more imposing things like military helicopters.

Aside from all the 2D action – which we can best describe as ‘crunchy’ – the main thing that stands out is how densely packed some of the levels look. There are sections that are positively crammed with intricate networks of ladders, those conveyor belts that commonly had you running frantically on the spot in retro games, and intermittent jets of fire that will need to be avoided if you want to avoid burning Hal’s trousers.

There are some tricky-looking challenges in here, but then, that’s all par for the course if you were raised on the likes of Ninja Gaiden or the incredibly odd Capcom NES title, Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight, a futuristic platformer that had little in common with either Street Fighter or Final Fight. Yes, the late 80s and early 90s were a truly magical time for console gaming, and Prison City is the latest modern title to channel its batty spirit.

If you want to give it a try before you buy, there’s a demo available to download from Steam right now.

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