Manhattan Dealers logo

ALSO known as Operation Cleanstreets this street fighting game casts you as Cleanup Harry, an undercover cop who's been assigned to duff up all the drug dealers in the city. What it all actually boils down to is really just another variation on the martial arts theme so beloved of computer games designers.

Harry's task is to thump the villains into submission, take their drugs and burn them in a fire conveniently lit in a nearby dustbin.
Every time he incinerates some drugs his health improves - indicated by a bar at the bottom of the screen. Conversely, each blow Harry receives from a thug decreases his well-being.

Among the bad hats that Harry has to deal with are a punk armed with a bicycle chain, bikers, a Hell's Angel with a chainsaw, ninjas and a female clad in thigh-length boots and sporting a whip.

While he's dealing with a member of the underworld, the local neighbourhood usually add their two-penn'orth by throwing bricks, flowerpots and any other objects out of upstairs windows. I even saw Santa Claus appear at one window, hurling out what looked like a Christmas cake.

Manhattan Dealers takes place against an atmospherically designed background. Dark, dirty and dismal litter-filled backstreets, a dingy cellar, a sleazy wharf, white fences, graffiti, and boarded up windows and doors all conjure up the right ambiance for the game. In fact, this is the best part of the whole affair.

The characters inhabiting the game are well drawn but the animation is dire. Everyone, including the hero, moves jerkily and slowly and what atmosphere is generated by the backdrops is instantly lost the moment you start to play. There's some music (pretty ordinary) and a few spot sound effects (unconvincing).

Harry has a variety of kicks and punches at his disposal, but the unrealistic animation and the less than immediate response to joystick or keyboard control make every encounter as unexciting as yesterday's cold rice pudding.

The game offers five levels of difficulty, each basically the same - it's just that the villains are more numerous and vicious. A demo option shows you virtually all that there is to see.

Manhattan Dealers promises much but delivers little. The poor animation spoils what might otherwise have been an above average kick and punch game. Watch the demo in the shops before deciding whether or not to buy.