Developer: MakinGames Ltd. Publisher: Team17 Platform: Nintendo Switch [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam Release Date: May 8, 2018 Price: $14.99
Disclaimer: A code was provided by the developer for review purposes.
Anyone who grew up gaming in the 80s or 90s is presumably familiar with the beat’em up genre. Levels scroll from left-to-right, and enemies faced are cleared in sections until you are permitted to advance.
For arcades and home consoles, 2D scrolling fighters were a staple of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. Double Dragon, Battletoads, Streets of Rage and Final Fight were some of the most notable franchises of those times, some still getting modern iterations. With the further development of 3D game environments, it seemed that the genre would have all but died if not for the nostalgia that beat’em ups bring. There’s a sense of challenge when it comes to eliminating floods of enemies on screen, and the neverending climb up the leaderboards leaves room for newcomers to contest your high score.
Raging Justice reintroduces a very familiar feel to anyone who grew up with games like Streets of Rage, Final Fight or any of the aforementioned franchises. The art style of the Raging Justice seems like it could have been torn from any 90s scroller cover art. Along with the trip down memory lane, the game also brings back the frustration and challenges, much like its predecessors, staying true to those who came before it.
There are three selectable characters in Raging Justice. Ashley King is a high schooler with fast hands, quick feet, and backpack to swing about. Nikki Rage is your middle tier player who has decent mobility and is the most well-rounded out of the three. Rick Justice is your heavy hitter and slowest of the group. Each character has a different type of ground attack to use when enemies are knocked to the floor, along with character-specific special and evade moves.
During my first run, I felt that Rick was a little too slow for my liking. The first playthrough of the game was done with Nikki, and admittedly, on the “wimp” or easy setting. I usually opt for the “Normal” mode being that I’m a seasoned gamer. But it was on the easy setting that I really began to understand more of the evade mechanics and timing for attacks, which is a crucial tactic for stacking your combos and not dying from the sometimes unforgiving enemy attacks.
Punch and kick combos start to become more fluid with practice. Some attacks are unavoidable no matter how well you button mash. Your face will still catch the occasional knife or stick of dynamite thrown across the screen. Being able to dash upwards and downwards helps in most cases to avoid flying objects or speeding vehicles. Throwing objects is important too when choosing your attack patterns.
There’s something satisfying about the “pop” you get from sluggin’ an enemy with a sledgehammer, bat, bottle or giant wrench. Using these will help you keep our combos going and take out larget enemies that could put a stop to your streak. The Y-button allows you to swing an item that has been picked up and the X-button throws it. Using items effectively is crucial for many aspects of the game. Bigger enemies won’t bog you down if you eliminate them with weapons, and important if you are wanting to climb the game’s online leaderboards.
One of the best things about Raging Justice is its challenges. There are tasks for each level, such as crushing a score threshold or arresting all of the warrants issued. This is aside from the variety of challenging enemies you will face throughout the game. Although there isn’t a vast difference in many of the enemy types, I did feel that this was executed perfectly to pay homage to the genre, particularly the punny enemy character names.
The most unique part of Raging Justice are the assets used in-game. Each boss has a visibly different design to them, not to mention attack pattern. Levels vary from one another, each having its own set of unique environment and enemy obstacles. I mean, who doesn’t want to fight a circus abomination with a smaller abomination that’s mutated on its back? Or mow down enemies on a tractor while giant steel beams fall overhead? The combat and art style share the stage to create a truly unique experience.
The only thing I can really critique Raging Justice on is its difficulty. The entire game for each character will run you a little over an hour. If you choose to complete each of the challenges in the levels or play 100% as a good cop (arresting and not killing all warrant criminals) it could take you much longer to do so. But, when you are literally getting kicked while you’re down, sometimes thrown like a ragdoll and without any ability to stop attacks, it makes the challenges frustrating instead of delivering a sense of mastery the more you play.
Raging Justice hits at the right price point and the right amount of content for the Nintendo Switch. It performed impressively in both handheld and docked mode.
You might find yourself struggling at first with the difficulty. Though, it’s very much modeled after many of the beat’em ups that came before it, recreating vast similarities in design and difficulty.
Raging Justice is the perfect game to run through in a single sitting or try to complete the list of challenges for each level. Fans of the genre will find many resemblances to games like Final Fight and Streets of Rage. There’s enough replay value to invite you in—just don’t let the difficulty scare you away.