Call it nostalgia, but every time I see a new beat ‘em up release I simply HAVE to play it. I’ve been incredibly fond of the genre ever since I played (and adored) the likes of Golden Axe and Streets of Rage in my younger years, and with it seeing a bit of a revival as of late (we’re even getting a Streets of Rage 4!) gamers have been pretty spoilt for choice.
Well, now there’s another release to catch your attention. After hitting PCs back in 2017, developer sebagamesdev’s Fight’N Rage is now available on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, bringing with it old-school action and a heck of a lot of content to play through. Want to know the best part? It’s bloody brilliant too.
Fight’N Rage takes place on a future Earth that has been ravaged by mutants that were part of a globally destructive event that ruined all technology on the planet. With a vicious mutant-dictator known only as ‘The Boss’ ruling over humanity with an iron fist in the aftermath, it’s up to three unlikely heroes to bring an end to his rule and restore peace and balance to the world.
The beat ‘em up genre isn’t one that known for a deep narrative, but Fight’N Rage makes a real effort to give players a story to work through that they’ll genuinely feel a part of. Sure, it doesn’t delve into too much detail and it isn’t exactly rich with lore, but what it does do is give the player some choice in how everything pans out – in fact, there are over fifty different endings to unlock, each of which are tracked in-game to give you a sense of progress and a reason to play through the experience again. These endings are determined by what you do in-game, with things like your actions, what levels you play through, and which character you are all proving to be factors that affect your ending. It’s really neat and something we haven’t seen done so well in the genre before.
Fight’N Rage plays like your typical beat ‘em up, with the player able to button-mash a variety of combos as they bash their opponents up. Putting combos together is easy, with the player able to hit out a basic string of attacks or even launch enemies up into the air to juggle them with even more hits – something which is all the more satisfying when doing it to multiple enemies at the same time. Attacking just feels so fluid and easy to pull off that you’ll begin to feel like you’re unstoppable in no time.
You do have additional tricks up your sleeve though, including a special attack that dishes out heavy damage. These attacks use up your special meter (which recharges over time), but they can also be activated at the expense of some of your HP – it adds an element of risk and reward to proceedings, where sometimes it’s worth losing that little bit of health if it means landing a killing blow on a foe. You’ve also got running attacks, jumping attacks, and weapons to string into combos too, with your ‘beating down enemies’ options far from limited in the game. Each of the three playable characters have different strengths and weaknesses too, so you’ll notice some variety between them.
Stringing together combos of attacks in Fight’N Rage is mighty satisfying, with the multitude of moves you have at your disposal proving both effective and stylish – it’s something that’s made all the more enjoyable thanks to just how accessible the game’s controls actually are. Mashing buttons and juggling foes remains fun from start to end though, whilst the depth found in things like the choices you make through the game help strengthen the experience more and more. In fact, there was only one real flaw that stood out to me across the entirety of the experience: enemies can be smashed off screen, meaning you’ve often got to wait for them to come back in view before you can pound them down some more. It’s something that’s been present in plenty of other releases in the genre in the past so it can’t be held against Fight’N Rage too much, but to me it was the only real flaw in what is otherwise a sublime fighting experience.
Best of all, it can all be played in local multiplayer, with up to three players able to take down ‘The Boss’ and his mutant forces in co-operative action. It’s an absolute blast being able to play with two others, with the game’s robust combo and juggling system complimenting each other perfectly when synchronising attacks with your allies – it’s definitely one of the best ways to experience the game. Admittedly, it was a little disappointing not to have the option to play online too, but these sort of games are best suited for local play with a bunch of buddies together on one couch anyway, so it can’t be held against Fight’N Rage too much.
Those who enjoy plenty of content in their games will be pleased with Fight’N Rage’s offering, with plenty of additional costumes, characters, and modes to be purchased with the in-game currency you earn. Again, it gives you an incentive to keep playing Fight’N Rage, but with things like ‘Survival’ and ‘Score Attack’ being unlocked, you’ll always find a new way to experience the game too. You’ll definitely be kept busy if you want to see everything, but given how fun the game is I don’t think players will mind too much.
Presentation-wise, Fight’N Rage feels like something that’s come straight out of the 90s, but in the best way possible. It’s packed with some fantastic pixel art spread across both the vibrant environments and over-the-top character designs, with each embracing 90s beat ‘em up tropes and giving plenty of references to the games that inspired it. The music is absolutely on point too, with some banging tracks that always seem to fit the action perfectly, whether that’s when its smashing out electro-riffs during fight scenes or going for a slower pace during some of the more melancholic scenes. It’s clear that a lot of love, care and attention went into Fight’N Rage’s presentation and it has really paid off in the end product.
Oh, and those who enjoy a bit of nostalgia will be glad to see there are some neat CRT-style visual effects thrown into the mix too. They’re a nice touch that help set the mood for the game, though those who prefer a cleaner visual experience can turn them off if they prefer.
Fight’N Rage is an absolute blast to play and a brilliant throwback to beat ‘em ups of yesteryear. The combat is stylish and accessible, the visuals are on point throughout, whilst the abundance of endings and unlockables ensure that you’ll keep coming back to the action time and time again. It really is a cracker of a game and one that Nintendo Switch players won’t want to ignore.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC