Consider, for a moment, the humble 8-bit and 16-bit era beat-em-up: from its Double Dragon-y roots, to its Mayor Haggar "The Horrible" apex, it evolved quite a bit.
Oh, enough of this faux-philosophising, let's get down to brass tacks (and iron "Kaiser"-style helmets), and discuss the near-extinction of The Biker in Super Nintendo beat-em-ups!
In the beginning, there were jump-kicking mini-games
You would think that "bikers" would be a good punching-bag for our beat-em-up heroes, and during the reign of the NES, they were:
All you have to do is sprinkle a few parked motorcycles in the background, then have some goofy guy dressed in purple swerve through the screen a few times, awaiting a sound jump-kick to the face, and POW!, you've got a biker!
Renegade's Mr. K discovers he is less tough than a speeding motorcycle.
YO DUDE, it's Target Renegade's bikers!
...a perfectly suitable baddie to add some variety to the humdrum streams of mohawked criminals and sleeveless cloned henchmen employed by every Shadow Boss, Dragon Ninja or Gang Warlord from here to Kalamazoo.
However, the winds of change are blowin'! And boy oh boy, they really blow
But when we got to the Super Nintendo era, the sprites got bigger, and your variety of attacks got more diverse. In a world where HAGGAR can be elected mayor despite (because of?) never covering his mountain-of-muscle torso with anything but a strategically-placed suspender...
I guess it was no longer worth-while to have one enemy who functioned completely differently than the rest of them, such that they're virtually a mini-game unto themselves.
In fact, there's only one Super Nintendo beat-em-up I can think of off the top of my head where they kept the same ol' "drive-by hero-ramming" model of biker attacks:
Yes, Batman has returned to face THE PENGUIN! Uh, and Catwoman. Also Christopher Walken. And despite having THREE(ish) villains, they had to use some goddamned clowns as the enemy footsoldiers.
Honestly, if I were Tim Burton-era Batman, I'd get in touch with my Superunion representative: does EVERY Batman villian have to use clowns as their default henchmen? Even Adam Friggin' West got to BIFF, SPAK, and POW differently-themed flunkies depending on which villain he was up against, even though those flunkies wore their names on their jumpsuits like horrible discount-store halloween costumes.
I think I've gone on a tangent, so to get back on topic: CLOWN BIKERS. Not only have the custom-carved their own motorcycle helmets (masks?) in the shape of giant skulls, but they've "pimped out" their "choppers" to have horrifying mesmer-pinwheel designs on the spokes!
Fortunately for our Caped Crusader, all of their time and care is for naught: after a few punches (or one well-timed batarang!) their ride will explode and fling them to their untimely demise.
Kind of sad, really, but since they don't have enough imagination or initiative to sew henchmen names like "Dumbell" or "Snowball" on the back of their costumes, I guess we're not supposed to get attached to them.
...I have no bike yet I must biker!
Of course, if you remove a biker from their natural habitat (riding a bike)...how do you make sure people know that they are bikers? Our next game takes the clever approach of putting motorcycles in the background, AND in the level title!
You know, I originally thought that it said more explicitly, "you are about to fight a a motorcycle gang named 'The Nuclear Warheads'", but as I re-read what the screen actually says, the phrase "THE MOTORCYCLE NUCLEAR WARHEADS" makes less and less sense to me. Are their motorcycles made out of nuclear warhead? Are these motorcyclist's heads filled with only nuclear war? Are their motorcycles nuclear? The mind (and war-head) boggles!
Anyway, The Combatribes takes a page from Renegade, by putting giant parked "hogs" in the corner of the screen. Additionally L. FISH (the bike's owners, and the unique enemy from Level 1) has some stereotypical "biker"-like traits, to help the audience identify him:
Beard, check. Sunglasses? Also check. Kerchief/bandanna? Well, check, though it seems to be a rather un-biker-ly shade of fuchsia.
Also they're armed with suitably "improvised" weapons -- the world's most sturdy broken bottles. Keeping in mind that you play as the titular "Combatribe" in this game: they're a racially-diverse a group of eight-foot-tall combat cyborgs capable of spinning bulky adult males around by their ankles. But metal alloy endoskeletal chassis or not, L. Fish can clobber you with his broken blue bottle of beer (wine? Cooking vinegar? Soy sauce?) over and over again without even chipping it!
When all else fails...try a POINTLESS FASHION ACCESSORY!
Ok, so we've seen games establish its biker-enemy's street-cred by:
- having them ride a motorcycle
- putting some pixel-art motorcycles in the background
- having them explicitly labeled as MOTORCYCLISTS, and dripping with stereotypical "biker clothes"
But could a game have a biker enemy without doing ANY of those things? Moreover, what game would be insane enough to try?
Well, to paraphrase Hans Gruber: you ask for a miracle, I give you...
How do you establish a goon as a biker without motorcycles or biker clothes?
Why, let's just jam a motorcycle helmet on his head
and call it done!
Meet "Case", professional beat-em-up enemy and motorcycle-helmet-wearer! He's just as big a motorcycle enthusiast as L. FISH, with twice the safety precautions!
Unfortunately for him, he's facing people who regularly destroy dumpsters and oil drums with their bare fists, so his crash-prevention headgear isn't going to cut him much slack from JACK FLAK!
Well, I don't think I can top that line, so I should wrap this up!
...and I got all the way through this without mentioning Sidehackers! Oops, well, I almost got all the way through without mentioning Sidehackers.
Anyway, I hope you've learned a little
nothing something about bikers in Super Nintendo beat-em-ups. And if not, you can at least enjoy this picture of Pitfall Harry being chased by a bat!
I'm Pitfall Harry being chased by a bat, and I approve this message.
— carlmarksguy, 2012-11-16