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Video Game / Vigilante

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"The police cannot stop the street gangs. As a Vigilante, you must defend your turf!"

Vigilante is a 1988 single-plane Beat 'em Up game by Irem, the Spiritual Successor to their earlier Kung Fu Master. Originally an Arcade Game, it was ported to numerous computers and the Sega Master System and TurboGrafx-16, with the arcade original finally seeing a re-release in 2019 on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 as part of the Arcade Archives lineup.

In the metropolis of New York City, law and order have broken down. As the Vigilante, you must take the law into your own hands and venture into the mean streets of New York in pursuit of your kidnapped girlfriend Madonna (nope, not her), engaging thugs in street combat.


  • The Big Rotten Apple: This game depicts a version of New York City where the Police Are Useless and crime has overrun the city, hence why a vigilante needs to take matters into his own hands.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • In the Master System version, the Skinheads were renamed the Rogues. The ending text was also changed — compare the arcade ending("Law and order failed but, the Vigilante prevailed") and the Master System Ending("You prevailed... and the Rogues bit the dust!"). Part of the text for stage 3's intro was also slightly altered, by removing the "her" from the "Her time is running out!!!" line.
      • Curiously, the eShop/PSN description and in-game manual for the Arcade Archives release also features a similar name change (they're referred to as the "Rogue Gang"), though the game itself retains the original Skinheads name.
    • Likewise, the opening text in the TurboGrafx-16 version (as well as the home computer ports) had the word "law" changed to "power" ("Take the power into your own hands!").
  • Catchphrase: All the bosses constantly say "Hey, come on!"
  • Down in the Dumps: The second stage is set in a junkyard.
  • Dual Boss: The Mad Brothers (a.k.a. the Tough Brothers) at the end of Stage 2. The Master System version just has a standard boss named Mad Dog.
  • Dub Name Change: Besides the aforementioned Skinheads/Rogues change, Madonna was renamed Maria in the Master System version, likely to avoid having people mistaking her for you-know-who. Almost all of the enemy characters are also named differently in the manuals for both, the Master System and TurboGrafx-16 versions.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Whenever the vigilante knocks a gang member off his motorcylce, it skids a few feet then explodes in a ball of fire.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The artwork for the cabinet and flyer for the US version uses Madonna's likeness, from the True Blue era.
  • Police Are Useless: The game's intro states this.
  • Regenerating Health: All of the bosses can slowly regain life energy if not hit often; but only the Japanese arcade version refills your life bar at the start of the next level. For example, if you lose half of your health on stage 2 in the Western arcade versions, it will not be refilled when you get to stage 3-your health will only be refilled if you lose a life. This was fixed in the Sega Master System and TurboGrafx-16 ports.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The fifth and final stage.
  • Save the Princess: Your girlfriend has been taken hostage.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The final level features a billboard advertising one of Irem's arcade adaptations of Lode Runner, though it isn't directly mentioned by name. The TurboGrafx-16 version featured billboards for Mr. Heli and R-Type instead, while the Master System version didn't feature any of them.
    • A cinema present at the end of stage 1 on the Amiga/Atari ST ports is playing Creature from the Black Lagoon, though the sign itself is missing some letters (it's shown as "C____URE ___M _HE _LACK _AGOON").
  • Timed Mission: Each stage has a time limit; the sooner you clear one, the bigger will be the bonus.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Madonna is being suspended from a pulley in the final stage.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: You can see the van holding Madonna at the end of each of the first three stages, but it always drives off after the boss is defeated.