Rival Turf is a by-the-books Final Fight knockoff. There is nothing remarkable about the game in any way except maybe the radical cover design. Part of me really wished the whole game were like that goofy cover, just for novelty's sake, but the name Jaleco is right there on the cart, so it's not like my hopes were that high. I mean, Jaleco has been around for a really long time, but I don't think they've ever made a game I gave a shit about.
My quick internet research this time has yielded a somewhat interesting fact. Rival Turf is actually the first game in a trilogy, but it was only considered as such in Japan where it was known as Rushing Beat. The first sequel came overseas as Brawl Brothers, and the second as The Peacekeepers. In Japan, the main characters were Rick Norton and Douglas Bild, not the dudacious Jack Flak and Oozie Nelson. It seems weird that a game that was obviously based around America would need further localization, but Rick and Douglas just weren't street enough.
There is very little to distinguish this game from any other 16-bit era beat'em up. It did feature a run button, which was atypical at the time. Attacking during a running state will do a sweep, which isn't particularly useful. Sure, it knocks down, but it doesn't do much damage, so it's definitely no Grand Upper or Bare Knuckle or whatever you want to call Axel's fuck-the-world uppercut. The other unique feature is the Angry Mode. Basically, if the player takes a certain amount of damage in under a certain amount of time, Angry Mode is activated, causing the player to flash white, take no damage, and do more damage for a limited time. The only interesting part of this mode is that it changes Nelson's normal power bomb throw into one where he throws the enemy into the air before power bombing them.
Rival Turf, or should I say Rival Turf!, is a bland beat'em, and there is really no reason to play it, especially when there are a ton other games in the genre that are a lot more fun.