Tag Archives: Beat ‘Em Ups

Fight’N Rage

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-1Developers 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.

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-2Once 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.

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-3A 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.

fight-n-rage-gameplay-screenshot-4As 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.

Way of the Passive Fist

way-of-the-passive-fist-gameplay-screenshot-1Beat ’em ups are a genre of game that really took off about 30 years ago. Games like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, River City Ransom, and scores of others were being devoured by people who couldn’t get enough of punching and kicking baddies in the face. Then the genre fell off the face of the earth for a while. In recent years, these games have enjoyed a bit of a return to glory. All sorts of passion projects have come along reminding people how fun it is to clobber virtual street thugs.

As entertaining as all of this is, Way of the Passive Fist takes a very different approach. Here, players don’t punch and kick their way to victory. Instead they block and and dodge attacks until enemies become exhausted. When this happens, a simple poke is all that’s needed to defeat them. The game very much takes a “the best offense is a good defense” approach to how it plays.

The game takes place on the planet Zircon V. It attracted a lot of ambitious colonists eager to strike it rich mining up all of the planet’s valuable resources. However, there were some who warned that the planet was too close to the sun. As such, they feared that this would create incredibly harsh conditions on the planet. Upon arriving, colonists were greeted with the hard truth that Zircon V is a desolate wasteland and living there will be tough.

way-of-the-passive-fist-gameplay-screenshot-2Amidst all of this, the player takes control of a legendary hermit known as the Wanderer. He’s been living by himself in a remote part of the planet and is known for his unusual defensive fighting style. Only now has he emerged to fight the various raiders and other troublemakers of the planet in an attempt to make Zircon V a slightly less terrible place to live.

The art style in Way of the Passive Fist is somewhat reminiscent of cartoons from the 70s and 80s. Character designs have a fairly Mad Max-like look to them. Meanwhile, levels themselves are varied ranging from deserts to mines to exotic jungles among other locales. The sprite work in the game is quite nice, and it manages to set itself apart from other games that use a pixelated presentation. The soundtrack is also very well done with much of the music being guitar-driven. Listening to the music, it feels just like something one would hear from an arcade beat ‘em up circa 1990.

Actual combat is the meat of the game, though, and as was mentioned earlier, it is very unique. While standard beat ‘em ups commonly have crowds of enemies swarm players, this isn’t the case in Way of the Passive Fist. Doing so would break the game. Instead enemies will take turns trying to attack the Wanderer. With that, they’ll give audio and visual cues that they are about to attack, then players need to block and dodge appropriately. As the game progresses, these enemies get smarter and will try to fake out the player. This usually happens with an audio cue, but a delayed attack. So, players need to watch out for this. As attacks are avoided, a stamina bar above enemies’ heads is depleted. Once it is empty, they are exhausted and all the player need do is poke them once to defeat them.

way-of-the-passive-fist-gameplay-screenshot-3Even though players largely deal with enemies one at a time, they need to keep an eye out for ranged attacks and environmental hazards. These can still happen, and may require dashing away in order to avoid being hit by something, breaking a parry chain. These chains are important because they build meter. As the meter fills, increasingly powerful special attacks become available. With them comes a risk-reward system as players need to decide when best to utilize these attacks. These attacks are also necessary for inflicting damage on bosses, so building and maintaining parry chains is very important.

At its core, the game has a 10 chapter story mode. However, there are also additional chapters that are unlocked after completing the main game. Completing the initial game also unlocks a roguelite mode. There players take on all manner of additional battles, surviving as best they can.

As unusual as Way of the Passive Fist might sound, the game is a ton of fun. It takes some getting used to blocking and dodging attacks. There’s a bit of a learning curve to get used to the cues and adjusting as enemies try to confuse the player. Once the player gets a handle on this, blocking and dodging one’s way to victory is quite enjoyable, not to mention a humorous change of pace from basically every other beat ‘em up on the market.

Way of the Passive Fist is available for Xbox One, PS4, as well as PC.