Double Dragon, Final Fight, Streets of Rage. I loved playing all those side scrolling arcade hits back in the day, so Raging Justice piqued my interest straight away.
The game is an unabashed modern love letter to the fighting games of the 90s that took you through dirty back streets full of dangerous types, both men and women, who would happily beat you to a pulp if you let them. But, of course, you’re not going to let them , are you?
Raging Justice also takes with it some of the baggage associated with these games, though. The constant plod through ever growing gangs of cookie cutter thugs and whip-wielding ladies of the night can seem a little repetitive after a while. Thankfully, the game ups the ante by including story elements and speech from some of the enemies, usually the end of level boss, to keep things fresh. It does through a lot of enemies at you as well and some times it feels almost like going back to the games designed to fail the player in order to grab more coins.
Controlling your choice of 3 fighters is easy, though more complicated than those past games. There are punch and kick attacks plus a grapple button that can be a little fussy about placement, something older gamers will feel more at home with from earlier scrolling beat-em-ups like Renegade. The button system makes the game feel a little more like Street Fighter and adds a level of skill to the proceedings. There is also the opportunity to hurt downed enemies, giving you the chance to kill harder combatants before they get back up, and an option to cuff some of the wanted criminals for a bonus. Two players working together produces the most fun in Raging Justice, just as it did in the arcades, and it’s great to see it implemented well here.
While it’s based on the old scrolling fighters, the developer, MakinGames, have brought the graphics right up to date with very detailed character models and some excellent backgrounds. This also helps make weapons and pickups easier to see. The CGI style graphics may make this look quite different to the old coin-ops with their 2D sprites, but I think they genuinely improve the game here.
It may be some 20 years later, but thankfully Raging Justice shows that there is still life in the old side scrolling fighter.