Developers don’t need to reinvent the wheel to make a great game. Sometimes a heartfelt love letter to games of old can be a lot of fun too. This is what we have with Fight’N Rage, an old school arcade beat ’em up. With beautiful sprites, exciting combat, unlockables, and branching paths to experiment with, there’s a lot to like here.
Taking place in a dystopian future where despotic mutants rule the world (basically animal people a la The Isle of Dr. Moreau), players control some of the few humans left (and their mutant sympathizers) in a fight for their freedom. There are three characters that can be played. First there’s Gal, a girl who escaped from human traders. She’s the most agile of the bunch, able to get in, do damage, then back off quickly. Next there is F. Norris, a runaway ninja with a mysterious past. He’s the glass cannon of the bunch, as he hits very hard but his defenses aren’t great. Finally, there’s Ricardo. He’s a minotaur human rights activist. Seeing as he’s a wrestler, Ricardo has a lot of strength and good defense, but due to his size is the slowest character.
Once a character has been selected, it’s off to go punch mutants in the face. Here players will see that the combat in Figh’N Rage is actually quite robust. Of course, each playable character handles in their own unique way. Adding even more depth, though, is just how varied the enemies are. There are quite a few different enemy types, and they each have their own move sets and behaviors that players must learn. As the game progresses, there will be a lot of these creatures on screen at once all doing their thing. So, players are going to have a lot on their plate between managing the hordes of enemies, how they attack, and how to make the most of each situation depending on which character they’re using.
This doesn’t even begin to touch the bosses in the game. These things are orders of magnitude more difficult. They have powerful moves that are very much so telegraphed, but it takes time to figure out how to get past their defenses. Even when one manages that, it’s usually about the time where the game will decide its a good idea for henchmen to start spawning, making the fight all the more challenging. Players will likely get through these boss fights eventually since there are unlimited continues. However, doing well in these fights is something else entirely. It will take a lot of practice to really nail the fights and make them look easy.
While all of this is going on, Fight’N Rage adds one more layer to everything. There are actually a number of branching paths in the game. Some of these are fairly obvious, with arrows pointing to other areas players can go to. Other times, players’ actions will determine how the story unfolds.
A quick example of this is the first boss of the game. He’ll take a human hostage and threaten to slit her throat if players approach. Ignoring him will result in that outcome, and send the player off to some sewers with a mole man boss in the next stage. However, if the player is holding a weapon and throws it at the boss, he’ll be startled and drop the hostage. After defeating the boss, the hostage will take players to a different underground path that leads to a village. So, players will need to experiment a bit to see all of the different areas that they can go to.
Each time one plays the game, they will accumulate points. These can be used to unlock all sorts of goodies. These include extra game modes, costumes for the main characters, as well as being able to unlock all of the different mutants and using them in the extra modes.
As one can see just by looking at all of the screenshots here, the game goes for a retro, 16-bit look. The pixel work is very detailed, and all of the characters and enemies are oozing personality. Stages are varied and have nice little touches for those who care to look. Meanwhile, the music is high energy, guitar driven fair, just right for facing off with hordes of angry mutants.
There have been quite a few beat ’em ups to come along in recent years. Each is clearly heavily influenced by the classics of the past. They’ve captured what made these games great to varying degrees. However, Fight’N Rage stands head and shoulders above most of these. The sheer quality of the game’s combat alone is reason enough to play. Its quality visuals and music, unlockables, and such are just icing on the cake. People looking for a quality beat ’em up should seriously consider trying Fight’N Rage out.
Figh’N Rage is available for Windows.