Sunday, May 6, 2018

Fight'N Rage Review

Fight’N Rage takes me back to the days when beat 'em ups were one of the most popular genres in gaming. Back to the early 90s, when beat ‘em ups were a dime a dozen, and everyone had one. The X-Men, The Avengers, The Tick, The Simpsons, even Nissin Yakisoba had a beat 'em up. Fight'N Rage pays pays tribute to the classics, while adding modern day flair. It comes from developer Seba Games, which is really just one guy, Sebastian Garcia, and it’s available on Steam PC for $19.99.

At its core, Fight'N Rage is a Final Fight clone. It controls nearly identical to Final Fight 3. You have the same 3 button setup with attack, jump, and special. You can dash, throw enemies by holding up or down while finishing a combo, you can press down while in the air to do an alternate attack, and some characters can jump while grabbing an enemy for a big move, like the izuna drop. You can also dodge by double tapping up or down, like in Streets of Rage 3. What sets Fight'N Rage apart from Final Fight and Streets of Rage is the juggles. You can chain your combos, throws, wall bounces, and specials for huge combos, even on a single enemy. You can easily get a 100+ hit combo when groups of 10 or more enemies keep coming at you, and even more when working together in multiplayer. It also has some very Street Fighter-esque moves, like fall breaks, throw breaks, and parries. These little things add a lot of depth and keep the combat from getting stale, which is a problem in a lot of these games.

The main mode in Fight'N Rage is the Arcade Mode, which is structured more like a home version than an arcade game you can just keep pumping tokens into. You get 3 lives per continue and unlimited continues, but when you run out of lives, you start back at the beginning of the zone. The challenge is in making it through each zone with 3 lives. I can get through most of the game on one continue, on normal difficulty, but the last few stages are a real challenge. I had to learn how to make it through most of the zone on one life before I was able to beat those last 2 levels, because the bosses are pretty tough. I wish the game had some kind of save or suspend feature, because I was stuck on those 2 levels for hours. I left the game running overnight once just so I wouldn't have to play the whole thing over again to get back to the last level. There are 8 levels in the game, and each one is split up into multiple smaller zones. Some levels also have branching paths which will lead you to alternate levels and make the story play out slightly differently.

Fight'N Rage’s Arcade Mode can be played co-op with up to 3 players, and with CPU controlled partners after you beat the game and the option. There is no online play, though. The 3 playable characters in Arcade Mode are Gal, F. Norris, and Ricardo. Contrary to what her name might lead you to believe, Gal is not a female version of Guy. She's not really like any Final Fight character. Gal's moves are more reminiscent of Mai from King of Fighters and Blaze from Streets of Rage. F. Norris is totally a Guy clone, though. He’s quick, has a bunch of Ninja outfits, and a lot of Guy’s moves. Ricardo is pretty much a mutant bull version of Haggar. He is the big slow character with pro wrestling inspired moves, like the drop kick and spinning lariat. I like both Gal and Norris, but Ricardo was too slow for me.

The old school nods don't stop with the Final Fight and SoR inspired characters, though This game is full of references to old beat 'em ups and fighting games. I think every enemy has some kind of reference to an old character. There’s dobermans that do Dudley’s Corkscrew Blow, eagle Adons, monkey Fei Longs, kitty M. Bisons, and rat and pig mutants that look like something out of Battletoads. There's a surfing stage that's straight out of a TMNT arcade, a trio of mutant turtle bosses, and the last boss uses a machine gun, just like the last boss in Double Dragon. I had a lot of fun just spotting all of this stuff.

Playing Arcade Modes gives you tokens which you can spend on goodies at the in-game store. There's new costumes for the 3 main characters, extra modes, like Score Attack, Time Attack, Easy Mode, and Training Mode, and playable enemy characters for the extra modes. Completing objectives in these other modes and beating Arcade mode with different characters and in different difficulties will unlock more things to buy in the shop. Having lots of unlockables is cool, but you can't get coins in the modes you unlock, so I felt like I had to keep playing Arcade Mode. I didn't play a lot of the extra modes besides the Training Mode because of that, but they're good for people who get really into the game, I guess.

This game has a gritty super deformed look which sort of looks like what a 16-bit Mighty Final Fight could have looked like. The characters and environments look pretty pixelated, but they nail the 16-bit arcade look. There's also CRT curve and scanline filters if the graphics don't look old school enough for you. The frame rate stays smooth, even in 3 player co-op, with lots of enemies on screen, and weather and lighting effects going on.

The soundtrack was also done by just one guy, Gonzalo Varela. He made a total of 43 tracks for this game, including the short victory and game over themes. Every little section of the game has its own unique song, even though these sections are usually only a couple of minutes long. He could have easily gotten away with half as many tracks. The game has a lot of hard rock music, but there’s also electronic music, jazz, flamenco, and even tropical steel drum music. My favorite track is “Go for it!”, which has a sort of jazz ska sound to it. I think the soundtrack is really something special, and it was one of the highlights of the game.

Fight'N Rage is the Parodius to old school beat 'em ups. It's fun to play and watch. It has great controls, a combat system that stays fresh throughout the whole game, lots of modes and unlockables, and a really good soundtrack. Fight'N Rage gets what makes a beat 'em up fun to play, and knows what games fans of the genre have nostalgia for. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a new beat 'em up like the ones they used to make.