Colt's Crushin' (video game) (Johnsonverse)

Writer(s): Tabitha Rankin
Rian Abraham
Producer(s): Leslie Oates
Executive producer(s): Phil Stacker
Designer(s): Theo Keene
Samuel Langley
Programmer(s): Adam Thomas
Adrienne James
Bob McDonald
Douglas Monte
Xavier Lauren
Eric Wallace
Composer(s): Tim Follin
Artist(s): Chuck King
John Henry
Andrew Green
Genre: Action-adventure
Platforms: Nintendo Entertainment System
Release Date: November 27, 1985 (US)
January 29, 1987 (PAL)
Developer: Johnson Games
Nintendo of America
Publisher: Johnson Games
Game Engine: Blue Jay
Franchise: Colt's Crushin'
Next Game: Colt's Crushin' II (1991)

Colt's Crushin' is a 1985 action game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It follows a war veteran named Colt, who is assigned with the task of fighting crime for the United States government. It was developed and released by Johnson Games on November 27, 1985, and along with Super Mario Bros., is credited with ending the Great Video Game Crash of 1983. It is also credited with popularizing the beat-em-up genre, and is considered one of the greatest games of all time. It received an updated port in 2015 called Colt's Crushin': The 30th Anniversary Edition, which utilizes full-motion video cutscenes with an all-star cast, and six sequels: Colt's Crushin' II (1991), Colt's Crushin' III (1996), Colt's Crushin' IV (2001), Colt's Crushin' V (2007), Colt's Crushin' VI (2013), and Colt's Crushin' VII (2020), as well as the spin-off series Son of Colt (2000-present). It has also received a series of movie adaptations (1995-present), which features the same actors as the video games.


In the year 2XXX, Colton "Colt" Vargas (modeled after Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger), a veteran of the Red War in his early 50s, is assigned by the new President (modeled after Ronald Reagan, but borrows features from other Presidents) to fight and arrest criminals, as crime and corruption have soared in the country during the previous administration, leading to the previous President being removed from office through an impeachment trial. The game uses synthesized voice samples, as heard in the title screen when an announcer says the game's title; grunts from both Colt and enemies are also heard, as well as the Wilhelm Scream in the cutscene that plays immediately after the final level. Cutscenes are viewed between stages for context. The early stages consist of small-time criminals like drug dealers, pimps and bank robbers, but as the game progresses, they're replaced with corrupt cops, serial killers, mafia bosses, and eventually terrorists on the FBI's Most Wanted list. The final boss is the Ultimate Leader of the New Soviet Union, Nikolaev Chernyshevsky, who reveals that he started the crime wave to undermine American values and take over the country to influence international politics in his bid for world domination. After Chernyshevsky and his entire administration are killed and/or arrested, the game ends with Colt personally being awarded the Medal of Justice by the President for his work in restoring justice to the United States, and restoring the New Soviet Union to a democracy.


The game is said to be a combination of the sidescrolling, beat-em-up, and shoot-em-up genres.


The conception for the game occurred in 1982, when the game was originally going to be released for the Atari 2600. The idea was conceived by Theo Keene. Keene, then 17 years old, worked on programming the game between school days, and described his experience of working on the game as "an excuse to experiment with my skills". The game was completed by mid-1983, and was going to be released in time for the holiday season. However, when the Great Video Game Crash of 1983 happened, the game was canceled, though CEO Phil Stacker personally kept a copy and the source code of the game for himself. They were sold to an undisclosed buyer just before Stacker was sentenced to prison in November 1991, and were eventually acquired by Sheldon Johnson, Jr. The game was officially released for the first time in the 2005 Anniversary Edition as an unlockable for 100% completion.

In early 1984, development for the game recommenced, this time for Nintendo's Famicom. In addition to serving as one of the designers along with Samuel Langley, Keene also served as the voice of Colt, a position he still holds to this day. Stacker personally oversaw production on the game to ensure it would be successful. The game used a special processing engine designed to render graphics that resemble what would later become 16-bit, smoother animations, and parallax scrolling.


The game was released in the US on November 27, 1985, and was released on January 29, 1987 in Europe and other PAL regions.