You pick one of three Combatribes, the balanced dude, the strong dude or the quick dude (basic stuff), all can kick or punch and there are some nice (yet pretty brutal) special moves you can perform.
Then you fight through several small stages (each one is about 2 screens wide) and beat up about 8-10 enemies in each one, including a boss. In the last stage you have to defeat all bosses again until you can battle the final boss, some strange chick that got somehow electrified and wants to kick the crap out of you... well, yeah, okay, makes sense to me.
You don't have too many continues in this game, which makes it a bit hard but it's alright as soon as you get used to the controls and your character. The bosses are quite unfair since they can perform powerful combos (well, actually they just clobber you mindlessly but I call it "combos" here) that hit fairly hard.
That's all about the gameplay. It's pretty shallow but for some strange reason it's enjoyable. At least it worked for me.
The graphics are alright but I somehow feel that the developers could have done better. The sound ... well... most tracks are just generic, forgettable and not even 1 minute long, meaning they will loop again and again.
The bosses are not really creative ... some fat biker, a fire-breathing guy dressed up like a djinn, a punk with a hammer, an Indian with an Axe (yeah...), some military cyborg guy which looks pretty cool, especially when performing his special attacks, and that lightning chick I talked about earlier. Basically, the last two bosses are the only cool ones.
This is a pretty mediocre game, however they put some effort into it when porting it from the Arcade to the SNES. They changed quite a few things, some of which are cool and some of which are ... not so cool.
From what I can recall, the Arcade version didn't really have a story or a quite different / less drawn out one. On the SNES version, you're out to stop the lightning chick, who was turned into a cyborg by the military (along with the other cyborg guy) and went out of control. The SNES version also has some nice "interrogation" scenes (which appear after you finish a stage), showing your character talking to the totally beaten-up boss.
There's also a nice ending cut-scene added in which the Combatribes talk to the cyborg girl before she dies, where she thanks them for killing her (yeah...). There's also some nice inconsistency, in one shot she has earrings and in the other she hasn't (yeah.. sorry but I'm a geek so I had to tell the world about this).
Those changes are all good. However, there's one point where the SNES version is CLEARLY inferior to the Arcade version: The last stage.
On the Arcade version, the last stage takes place at a nice harbor setting with the ocean in the background. There's also a little cut-scene before you fight the electrified girl where she kills off some strong-looking dude (in the first place you think he's the last boss, leaving you quite surprised when that girl charges at you and starts to lightning-kick you).
On the SNES version, however, the last stage is totally different. You fight your way up a skyscraper (which is the 5th stage in the Arcade version - I might be wrong here since I didn't play the Arcade version for several years), where you battle the girl at the top (meaning that they just removed the harbor stage completely and added the skyscraper roof as "6th" stage). The cut-scene where the girl kills the guy is missing (unfortunately, since I think it was pretty cool, but maybe a little too brutal for the SNES).
I really don't get why they changed the last stage. Did they run out of memory space on the cartridge so that they couldn't fit in the harbor stage? Hard to believe when each stage is just about 2 screens wide. It's quite a bit of a letdown actually, since if you played the Arcade version first you're definitely gonna miss the harbor stage. Anyways, it's cool that they added these extra cut-scenes to give the story more depth (it doesn't make much sense though).
Combatribes for the SNES is a mediocre game. It's not bad but it does not offer much either. However, it's clear that they put some effort into the SNES port so the game is playable. I think this is one of those games which most people despise because it seems poorly made and not deep enough.
I, on the other hand, think it's okay. I don't love it, I don't even like it. I accept it. It's a nice little game which falls a bit short compared to the Arcade version. It's definitely worth a try if you just want some mindless Beat 'em Up - action.