The classic Beat-em-up, mainstay of early 90s arcades, a simple concept of moving left to right across a crowded battleground that, when it’s done right, feels like a glorious celebration of pure arcade gameplay. Fight’N Rage doesn’t just understands this. it revels in it.
The 2017 PC hit has finally made its way on to Xbox One and Switch, with the latter being the one I’m playing right now. Right from the title screen through to the end of the game it feels like the developer has distilled the best parts of all those previous gems like Final Fight, TMNT, Double Dragon etc and squeezed the concentrated juice in to a brand new game, adding a pinch of high kicking hyperactivity and a bunch of extra features to extend the experience. All of this is even more impressive when you take into account that the developer, Seba Games Dev, is one lone guy ,Sebastián García, along with an awesome soundtrack from composer and sound designer Gonzalo Varela.
The story, if you need one, is set in a far future in which human beings are enslaved by mutants (naturally). The cast of playable characters include a female kick-boxer named Gal, a minotaur-like rebel mutant called Ricardo, and F. Norris, a mysterious ninja who each need to defeat the evil leader of the mutants to free humanity.
The characters give you different play styles with some pretty impressive moves that feel unique to each of them. The basic moveset is your usual punch and air kick with an added throw (that can be directed both forward and backward) but tacked on to this are more unique special moves that use an SP meter’s power before reducing your own life power but make short work of larger enemies. Mix these up and you have even more moves at your disposal, plus all the weapons you can pick up, including my favourite, a boomerang that feels so good when you time it just right in order to hit the back of an enemy’s head.
Enemies are pretty varied and take their cues from the old arcade games with everything from killer cats and horned mutants to whipping leotard wearing ladies of the night. Boss fights are equally impressive and take some beating, thankfully there’s a generous continue system to keep you going when you die because you’ll want to see the game through to at least one of the multiple endings.
Even when you do finish, there are a huge number of unlocks including 20 characters, costume changes and more. Co-op play is included for up to 3 players and things get really frantic with everyone on screen, you can even turn on friendly fire…if you dare!
Graphically, the game pays tribute to the large 16-bit sprites from the arcade games, as you’d expect, but adds in a load of great effects and plenty of background details. There are some great interludes to move the story on, introducing characters and giving the game more of a personality instead of just letting you beat up nameless bad guys (which it also does) . It’s one of the best looking retro-style games I’ve seen.
For any fan of the beat-em-up genre I can’t recommend Fight’N Rage enough. It feels like both a love letter to the classics and a modern game in its own right at the same time.